Pharyngula

We’re seeing a lot of news about Ken Ham’s creationist lie, this so-called “museum” he has built out in Kentucky. What we’re not seeing from our media is any scrutiny of the finances behind the construction, or behind the evangelical boiler room called “Answers in Genesis”. Has any editor or reporter considered the possibility that there might be something juicier behind the story than “Preacher pretends church is a museum”? Is anyone—dare I say it—investigating this organization?

Their finances are a matter of public record. Everyone talks about how the museum cost $27 million to build, but the fact that their board of directors is sucking down over a million in salaries, benefits, and expenses is ignored. This is a profitable racket they’re running; I don’t think they’ve taken vows of poverty.

Other tidbits would include the seedy and rather acrimonious schism between Ham’s group here in America and the parent sister organization in Australia. Ham really is a kind of underhanded scoundrel and control freak, in addition to being a dishonest creationist fraud.

Anyway, if you want a good angle, stop treating this as a matter of a religious organization making a brave effort against the forces of godless science. It’s not. It’s an exceptionally lucrative business organization profiting off the ignorance of large numbers of people making a major push to increase their influence and income.

Comments

  1. #1 Steve P
    May 30, 2007

    Great idea, I’m sure that Kent Hovind is getting lonely in prison and could surely use a cell mate companion.

  2. #2 Churba
    May 30, 2007

    I apologise on behalf of my country for this man, if one can venture to even call him that.

  3. #3 Bob
    May 30, 2007

    It’s an exceptionally lucrative business organization profiting off the ignorance of large numbers of people making a major push to increase their influence and income.

    Jesus, just look at those salaries! I’m totally in the wrong racket. Why the hell did I ever want to teach at the university level, anyway?

  4. #4 Tom
    May 30, 2007

    The Cincinnati Enquirer certainly won’t be taking up your challenge. As papers go, the Enquirer is about worthless and too worried about offending any of their few remaining subscribers to do anything remotely gutsy. Gannett owns both Cincinnat Papers and their Northern Kentucky counterparts, so there’s no chance of the competition picking this up either…

  5. #5 Arnosium Upinarum
    May 30, 2007

    “It’s an exceptionally lucrative business organization profiting off the ignorance of large numbers of people making a major push to increase their influence and income.”

    Bingo. This kind of straightforward crystal clear heart-of-the-matter talk is why we like you so much, PZ. (Just remember your breathing exercises whenever you come across the F-thing. I use post-hypnotic suggestion myself. It doesn’t work either ;).

    A hundred to one there’s been financial nefariousness behind this this…this THING.

    Root it out.

    Arnosium

  6. #6 Jameson
    May 30, 2007

    Seems like a promising lede. I’ll be looking into it.

  7. #7 Michael Patrick Leahy
    May 30, 2007

    PJ,

    Thanks for picking up Christian Faith and Reason Magazine’s article “Fellow Christians Aggrieved at the Business Practices of Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis.”

    A slight correction to your posting.

    Creation Ministries International (in Australia), the aggrieved party, is not the parent organization of Answers in Genesis here in the United States. For a dozen years the two were “sister” organizations promoting the same Young Earth Creationist ideology.

    Based on what appears to be a verbal agreement only, Answers in Genesis distributed Creation Ministries International’s Creation Magazine here in the United States. It is unclear if Answers in Genesis legally owned the subscription list of 35,000 American subscribers to Creation Magazine. It is clear that they refused to give this list to their Australian partners who published Creation Magazine, abruptly ceased distribution in February,2006, failed to inform the American subscribers that Creation was still available, and mislead them to believe that Answers in Genesis new “Answers” magazine was the legitimate successor to Creation Magazine.

  8. #8 Christian Burnham
    May 30, 2007

    Back when I used to be a contributor to Wikipedia’s AIG page I found this out:

    The website of WCPO TV[48] has reported that in 2003, Answers in Genesis-US “did not meet all of the Better Business Bureau’s accountability standards” (emphasis in original).[49] Bill Wise, then CEO of Answers in Genesis, answered that this was due to a “miscommunication, understanding regarding document submittals back in August of 2002.”[49

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Answers_in_Genesis

    I stopped contributing after a month or so given that it was a daily battle with anonymous editors (probably connected to AIG) who would revert anything I wrote that appeared critical.

  9. #9 waldteufel
    May 30, 2007

    It has been a long time since this country had a functional investigative press.

    Many reporters don’t actually do research and investigation using independent and cross-checkable sources anymore.

    These drones of reportage today just repeat and copy and paste press releases.

    Just a quick look at the blank faces and blow-dried hair of your local TV news anchors illustrates the level to which
    journalism has sunk.

    There are obvious exceptions, of course, and maybe . . just maybe one of the real ones left will pick up AiG and and shine a bright light on it.

  10. #10 HappyPig
    May 30, 2007

    Talk about squeezing the gullible! With that $27 million bankroll, I’m amazed that the admission is $20 for adults/$10 for kids.

    By comparison, AMNH’s adult price is $14 and MoS:Boston is $16, and our little Montshire Museum of Science in Vermont is $9 for adults.

  11. #11 Kristine
    May 30, 2007

    Great idea, I’m sure that Kent Hovind is getting lonely in prison and could surely use a cell mate companion.

    *Grins* I think it’s just a matter of time before Hammie complies with some good ol’-relijun finanshul scanduhls…

    Creation Ministries International (in Australia), the aggrieved party, is not the parent organization of Answers in Genesis here in the United States. For a dozen years the two were “sister” organizations promoting the same Young Earth Creationist ideology.

    Uh-huh. “She’s my daughter, she’s my sister…” *Slap*

    Watch for that admission rate to climb as the CEO salaries do. Maybe someone can convince these guys to make some dubious real estate investments…

  12. #12 Art
    May 30, 2007

    Suggestion for a museum “fund-raiser” – pictures of the houses of the AiG crew. To show the faithful what they are paying for.

    (It ain’t salvation, or education.)

  13. #14 Nathaniel
    May 30, 2007

    Hmmmm.. I have absolutely no grounds, but my suspicion is that they aren’t making that much money. Rather, they’ve raised that much money in “venture capital” from religious organisations and are paying themselves fat checks out of the capital.

    It all depends on how many people actually go. A good museum like (googlegoogle) the Tyrrell dinosaur museum gets 375000 people per year. At an average of 15$ per head, that’s about $6 mil per year, gross proceeds. 15% going to the board of directors? Sounds prety high to me.

    But then, I’m a physicist making less than 20k per year, so I’m hardly one to talk about money.

  14. #15 Spectre
    May 30, 2007

    Damn, where’s Spider Jerusalem when you need him?

  15. #16 Corey Schlueter
    May 30, 2007

    Ministry Watch does look at ministries’ finances. They have given Answers In Genesis an A rating in transparency, but it ranks 407 out of 430 overall.

    Their finances are up to 2005, so that may not be good for them.

  16. #17 Joshua
    May 30, 2007

    What, you expect investigative reporters to actually do investigations? Don’t be ridiculous.

  17. #18 Dylan Stafne
    May 30, 2007

    ——-
    But then, I’m a physicist making less than 20k per year, so I’m hardly one to talk about money.

    Posted by: Nathaniel
    ——-
    A physicist can make only 20k per year? Are you working full time? That’s outrageously low, unless you get free housing, meals, paid vacations, frequent sensual massages, etc… as benefits.

  18. #19 John Ponder
    May 31, 2007

    The lavish lifestyles and apparent misappropriation of funds by such pious frauds isn’t news to anybody, including their sheep. The only things that rank as scandel in their world are the petty indiscretions they fret over — like putting one’s genitals in the wrong place, or snorting some plant-derived alkaloid that makes one feel too good.

  19. #20 Thony C.
    May 31, 2007

    Anyway, if you want a good angle, stop treating this as a matter of a religious organization making a brave effort against the forces of godless science. It’s not. It’s an exceptionally lucrative business organization profiting off the ignorance of large numbers of people making a major push to increase their influence and income.

    Isn’t this true of almost all right wing evangelical protestant organisations. They’re all snake oil merchants out to shake down the naïve and gullible in order to line their own pockets.

  20. #21 Slippery Pete
    May 31, 2007

    I regularly fly out of Dayton International Airport (don’t laugh) and so, unfortunately, does Ken Ham. I always wondered who the crazy, short, bald Australian behind me was, boring fellow passengers to tears with his stories of faith healings and the like. I was aching for him to try to pull that crap with me. I intentionally sat close by, hoping he’d try to engage me so I could lay into him.

    The last one was about a faith healing he either performed or witnessed (couldn’t figure out which). He said there were flashes of light and so on, and then the victim’s pain was relieved. More likely his wallet. What a clown.

  21. #22 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    I stopped contributing after a month or so given that it was a daily battle with anonymous editors (probably connected to AIG) who would revert anything I wrote that appeared critical.

    AFAIK you can make sure to get them banned (at least temporarily) on grounds of the 3RR.

  22. #23 David Marjanovi?
    May 31, 2007

    I stopped contributing after a month or so given that it was a daily battle with anonymous editors (probably connected to AIG) who would revert anything I wrote that appeared critical.

    AFAIK you can make sure to get them banned (at least temporarily) on grounds of the 3RR.

  23. #24 Nathaniel
    May 31, 2007

    Dylan #18:
    A physicist can make only 20k per year? Are you working full time?

    I’m working full time. I’m just not getting paid full time.

    The problem: I’m current trying to get a tenure-track professorship. (Didnt’ get one this year, unfortunately). I need to do research to improve my CV. I can’t get a full-time job doing what I want. (At least, not without moving, which would disrupt my wife’s career.)

    What I’m really worried about is the part-time thing drying up.. not because I won’t get paid, but because I won’t be able to work anymore, so I won’t be able to improve my CV, so I’ll never get the job I want.

    Academia sucks.