Legal controversy between Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International

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Answers in Genesis is an organization promoting Young Earth creationism that was started from the merger of two Australian creationist organizations in 1980. However, in February 2006, the AiG "family" split over several issues. AiG's branches in the United States and United Kingdom retained the AiG brand name and the website. Meanwhile, the Australian, Canadian, New Zealand, and South African branches rebranded themselves as Creation Ministries International (CMI).[1]

Lawsuit[edit]

Legally, AiG comprised six separate nonprofit organizations in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa. However, the six branches had very close organizational ties. There was considerable overlap between the boards of the organizations; for instance, AiG founder Ken Ham, based in the United States, served on the Australian organization's board, while several leading members of AiG Australia served on the US board.

A legal and personal dispute broke out between the Australian and US arms of AIG in 2005, involving claims of unethical dealing in the handling of magazine subscriptions and autocratic leadership on Ham's part. AIG, in return, accused the leaders of the Australian ministry of "spiritual problems",[2] asking, in correspondence to AiG CEO Carl Wieland, if he had issues with immorality, and enlisting a former enemy to exhume decades-old allegations[3] of witchcraft and necrophilia against a CMI staffer (now Wieland's wife). A brief analysis of the situation is described in an account in the Reports of the National Center for Science Education.[4]

In March 2006, the ministries split, and the offices in Australia, Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, "by unanimous vote of their respective Boards, rebranded" as CMI.[5] Only the US and UK offices still retain the AIG brand.

A lawsuit was filed on 31 May 2007, by CMI in Supreme Court of Queensland against Ken Ham and Answers in Genesis, seeking damages and accusing "unbiblical/unethical/unlawful behaviour" in Ham's dealings with the Australian organisation.[6]

CMI produces Creation Magazine and the Journal of Creation, formerly distributed by the US and UK AIG offices to their respective countries prior to the split. The Australian group maintains it was disconnected from all its American subscribers when the US office "announced on its web site (without telling us, the publishers) that it was ceasing to distribute both of these publications (and simultaneously announced its own magazine)." [7] CMI further alleges in the lawsuit that AIG misrepresented their own magazine to subscribers as a replacement of Creation. CMI is claiming $252,000(US) in damages for lost revenue by misleading and deceptive conduct in relating to lost subscriptions.[8] The case also concerns use of the trademark "Answers in Genesis" within Australia, and alleged misuse by Ken Ham of his position as a director for the Australian group to cause it detriment.

Answers in Genesis has had little to say in public to these accusations, but in comments to news reporters Ken Ham dismisses them all as "totally preposterous and untrue".[6] When a Christian publication attempted a telephone interview of Ken Ham and mentioned the dispute, he hung up. When the editor of that publication attempted to meet Ham at the opening of the Creation Museum, the response was "abrupt and aggressive" and the matter was again shut down.[9] Creation Ministries had made a large collection of documents available detailing its side of the case.[10]

In July 2007, CMI posted an addendum on its website, stating "settlement meetings [will be] taking place... in Hawaii on August 14 and 15, 2007." CMI went on to comment that the meetings were "the first time that [CMI] have been permitted [to meet] with no restrictions on any of [their] director’s participation" since the dispute started.[11]

In November 2007, CMI again updated their website to inform readers that, although the Hawaii talks resulted in a verbal settlement acceptable to both parties, AiG had subsequently reneged by substantially modifying the written result of the talks through the omission of major planks of the verbal agreement and the insertion of new, unagreed clauses (which were not specified) in a new written proposed contract.[12]

Throughout early and mid-2008, AiG and CMI filed various legal documents with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. According to CMI the filing were for AiG to avoid "accountability under the Australian legal system before Australian courts. It has also ignored/rejected several previous offers by CMI of Christian arbitration under that Australian legal system.".[13][14] In August 2008, AiG "objected to conditions" in a "relationship-restoring mediation" with a Christian judge, who then dropped out of the mediation.[15][16]

In February 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered Australian-based Creation Ministries International into arbitration in the USA with Answers in Genesis (as sought by AiG) over copyrights and control of affiliates in other countries.[17][18]

In April 2009 the ministries reached a settlement and ended their dispute.[19]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Answers in Genesis in legal turmoil". National Center for Science Education. June 21, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  2. ^ Creation Ministries International
  3. ^ http://www.creationontheweb.com/images/pdfs/mackay/information_package.pdf
  4. ^ Trouble in Paradise: Answers in Genesis Splinters, Jim Lippard, Reports of the National Center for Science Education, 26 (6): 4-7, November 2006.
  5. ^ Creation magazine and Journal of Creation
  6. ^ a b "Biblical battle of creation groups". The Australian. June 4, 2007. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  7. ^ Creation magazine and Journal of Creation, Creation Ministries International
  8. ^ Photocopy supplied at the CMI website; Official court files listing
  9. ^ Christian Faith and Reason Magazine
  10. ^ CMI-AiG, What's the Dispute All About
  11. ^ Briese Committee Menu
  12. ^ Lawsuit Breakdown
  13. ^ "Our response to AiG-US’s latest legal maneuverings". Creation Ministries International. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  14. ^ "The very first of several proposals of Christian arbitration totally ignored by AiG-US". Creation Ministries International. 2008. Retrieved 2009-03-10. 
  15. ^ "A brief chronology of events". Creation Ministries International. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  16. ^ "Judge withdraws from mediation meeting". Creation Ministries International. 2008. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  17. ^ "Court: Creationists should settle outside court". Associated Press. Feb 13, 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  18. ^ "Answers in Genesis vs Creation Ministries International". United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. Feb 13, 2009. Retrieved 2008-04-06. 
  19. ^ Dispute settled

External links[edit]