Monday, November 20, 2006

More from behind the scenes of the Australian/U.S. creationism schism at Answers in Genesis

More information has just come out about the split between the Kentucky-based Answers in Genesis and the Australia-based Creation Ministries International. (UPDATED for clarification: CMI is composed of organizations from Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada which were all formerly united with the Kentucky group under the Answers in Genesis name. The Australian group was the Creation Science Foundation prior to the association of the groups under the Answers in Genesis name.) CMI has published a number of documents on its web site about the split. These documents, which I'll describe below, make the case that the U.S. group has acted in bad faith to appropriate for itself many of the resources of the Australian group, as well as to put it into an untenable position of being potentially liable for certain actions of the U.S. group without getting any financial benefits. These documents, on a website headed with tomorrow's date (today in Australia, where it's currently afternoon), were pointed out in comments on my blog post by "JaneD" (presumably the D is for "Doe"), who appears to have set up a new blogger account to bring the information to public attention.

This split, which I pointed out on my blog back in March 2006, along with some financial data about the U.S. group and some speculation about the causes, occurred in late 2005. In that post, I noted that certain information critical of other creationists (and convicted tax evader Kent Hovind in particular) had been removed from the U.S. group's site. A brochure from the CMI suggested that a difference of approach, including ethical considerations, was the primary reason for the split:
The AiG website was developed in the US and hosted there. It was largely dependent for its intellectual content on the scientists and thinkers in the parent corporation, in particular such as Dr Don Batten, Dr Jonathan Sarfati, and Dr Carl Wieland. These and other writers were heavily contributing to the site until late 2005/early 2006, when the US ministry withdrew themselves from the international ministry group (with the exception of the UK) with an expressed desire to operate autonomously, without e.g. website content being subject to an international representative system of checks/balances/peer review involving all the other offices bearing the same 'brand name'.

At that time, in the midst of discussions about this and other differences in operating philosophy (not involving the statement of faith or similar), the Australian office was formally invited to form its own website. This required a new name to avoid confusion.

The four national ministries (Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa) which were committed to continuing their focus and operational ^Qteam^R philosophy, and to continuing to forge and strengthen a representative international ministry alliance structure (based on Proverbs 11:14), then rebranded as Creation Ministries International (CMI).
The Australian group has long had a policy of publishing material critical of bad creationist work, and its journals have occasionally published some excellent debunkings of standard creationist arguments, such as the shrinking sun and moon dust arguments for a young earth. This apparently was considered by the U.S. group to be bad for business. (UPDATE: This was indeed a major issue in the dispute which led to the split. The Australian organization wanted more international control over the content of material to be distributed internationally, in the form of an international committee with votes weighted based on the size and seniority of the organization. The U.S. organization rejected this proposal, reserving most of the power to itself.)

Roger Stanyard has proposed that the Australian methodology was not actually peer review, but a form of shakedown against creationist authors who didn't toe the group's party line. He attributes the breakdown to the handling of Dennis Petersen's book, Unlocking the Mysteries, which was making money for Answers in Genesis but was criticized by the Australians. While I agree that the Australians' peer review was less-than-stellar (in what it let pass through uncritically), my interactions with the leadership of that group lead me to believe that they are honest and ethical in their behavior (though wrong in their beliefs). (UPDATE: The removal of material criticizing the Petersen book from the Answers in Genesis website occurred after the split. Stanyard appears to base his account on John Mackay, a source of highly dubious quality.)

The new information on CMI's website consists of the following:
1. A letter dated November 15, 2006 (PDF), from CMI to Answers in Genesis setting forth their complaint about a November 1, 2006 letter from Answers in Genesis to the general public, which CMI considers defamatory.
2. An email of November 21, 2006, alerting a number of people to the previous item, which had so far been ignored.
3. A summary of an October 2005 memorandum of agreement (MOA) between the Australian and U.S. groups setting forth the conditions of their separation, explaining how it disadvantages the Australian group and why the Australian group's management attempted to reject and renegotiate it.
4. A section of the "Deed of Copyright License" (PDF) signed by the directors of both groups, with comments pointing out its unreasonable terms.
5. A PDF document setting forth a chronology of the relevant events.
6. The text of a letter from senior staff of the Australian group to their board of directors (PDF) prior to their trip to meet with the U.S. board, setting out their desired reforms.

As near as I can tell, the documents on the website suggest that the directors of the Australian group were induced to fly to the United States and sign the memorandum of agreement setting forth the terms of the separation of the groups without the knowledge of the management of the Australian group (e.g., Carl Wieland and the Australian staff). The MOA, drafted by the U.S. group's attorneys, set terms for the separation that were entirely favorable to the U.S. group. The Australian group's directors who signed the document then resigned en masse, under the condition that they be given indemnity for their actions--the letter suggests that they were in breach of their fiduciary duties to the Australian group for signing the agreements. (UPDATE: These Australian directors--John Thallon, Greg Peacock, Jim Kitson, and David Denner--asked for indemnity for their actions in return for their resignations after consulting with an attorney. Thallon then moved to Kentucky and is on the board of the U.S. group.)

The description of the MOA states that it gives perpetual license for all articles published by the Australian group's magazine and journal to the U.S. group, including the right to modify the articles and change the names of the authors, including a false statement that the authors had given permission for this. If anyone sues the U.S. group for copyright infringement, the Australian group agrees to pay all costs. All fees and costs for items are set unilaterally by the U.S. group, which the U.S. group has used to increase fees charged to the Australian group for materials (such as DVDs) by up to three times. The domain name answersingenesis.com, an asset of the Australian group, was transferred to the U.S. group, apparently without compensation.

Upon learning of these onerous terms, the Australian management attempted to reject the MOA and requested renegotiation of terms, to no avail; the U.S. group has refused to allow the participation of Carl Wieland in any negotiation.

In short, it looks like this was a struggle over money and control, with the Australian group out-maneuvered by the U.S. group. If the information in these documents is accurate--and I am inclined to believe that it is--it shows that Ken Ham's Answers in Genesis is as sleazy in its business dealings as it is in its misrepresentations of science.

I'll be digging further into this story... watch this blog for updates.

UPDATE (November 21, 2006): I've been informed by Carl Wieland that the page of documents on the website was not supposed to have been made available through the website, but only as individual items for recipients of the email referenced above as item 2 (and given below). The main page and several of the other items are no longer at the locations I had linked to, but I've updated the links based on the below email. Wieland has declined to comment on the actions or motivation of AiG, and expressed a desire to avoid anything that would be used "to smear all creation ministry in general."

The following is the text of that email:
Clarification re innuendo about CMI in email/letter from AiG-USA.

Sent 21 November 2006

From: the Board of Creation Ministries International (CMI)-publishers of Creation magazine (still available in the USA) and the Journal of Creation (formerly TJ) in Brisbane, Australia.

Dear colleague in creation outreach

We write this with considerable sadness. You are likely aware that there are some tensions between the ministries of CMI and AiG that go back some two years or so. We had hoped to be able to settle these peacefully, despite our ministry having suffered significant tangible losses at AiG's hands. We have repeatedly but unsuccessfully tried to get AiG to meet openly with all of us, or failing that, to have both our ministries submit to binding Christian arbitration to see things done justly.

We believe we have acted with considerable restraint in our public comments thus far, despite seriously provocative actions. These include substantial commercial ruthlessness against our ministry as part of what increasingly has the hallmarks of some sort of vendetta. Nevertheless, we have kept the details very quiet for a very long time, not wishing to cause harm or escalation, and hoping for 'peace with honour'.

A most unfortunate and unfair email

Unfortunately, a number of people have contacted us just now, saying they have received a brief email from AiG-USA's chairman (which we have seen) that casts serious slurs against our ministry. In effect, it engages in widespread public slander.

The email alleges that we have engaged in 'unbiblical' and 'factious' behaviour (a word applied in the NT to those who introduce doctrines contrary to the Gospel, and translated as 'heretic' in the KJV). This is an immensely serious and damaging allegation against an evangelical ministry and one that has not been substantiated, and is totally without foundation; our ministry's doctrine has not changed one iota, either in word or in practice.

The email also hints darkly at a 'spiritual problem' as a justification for their breaking off discussions with us. It also refers to a letter the AiG-Board sent us on November 1 to that effect, saying that that letter is available to enquirers upon request. That letter was essentially an expansion of their shorter email; it repeatedly affirmed their own righteousness, and that they were breaking off negotiations until we resolved our 'spiritual problems'. These 'problems' are not specified, which darkens the innuendo ('What? Who?').

Dismayed by this turn of events, we prepared a detailed response that was emailed to each of the Directors on AiG-USA's Board, on 15 November 2006. It outlined and clarified the issues in detail. In it we also pleaded for AiG to urgently withdraw from this action, giving them three days to respond-i.e. to contact us, to make some move to draw back from this abyss, to avoid us making our response public. We have received no response or acknowledgement from AiG, even to this date, some six days later.

Worldwide libel distribution

The same AiG email defaming our ministry has also been sent out by an Australian creationist running his own ministry, who had split with Ken Ham in 1986 (this man had been excommunicated by an Australian church, a still unresolved issue-see www.CreationOnTheWeb.com/mackay for Ken Ham's own words about the seriousness of these actions against our ministry and an individual at that time). So this defamation has been sent to a substantial worldwide email mailing list, which would include overlap with many of our own supporters. This AiG email was clearly sent to that 'distribution source' by AiG; the covering comments state that 'Ken Ham advises', and refer to AiG's permission for the recipient to spread it still further.

(The aim appears to be to encourage as many people as possible to lose confidence in our ministry, and of course AiG will have a commercial 'bonus' in that the more that are encouraged to 'enquire', the more email addresses they will have, making it easier to further undermine CMI ministry in this country.)

We deeply regret that AiG/Ken Ham have seen fit to engage in this most serious escalation. Even in the face of this defamation, our overwhelming preference would have been to have had AiG respond to our urgent letter, to continue talks in openness and light as the Scriptures enjoin us to do rather than for us to have to publically stand against the libel.

In the absence of any evidence of remorse or willingness to undo this most recent and grave public attempt to damage us, we solemnly, before the Lord, believe we now have no choice but to protect the public reputation of the ministry organisation that has been entrusted to us, in as dignified and God-honoring a way as we can.

So we have chosen in the first instance to provide, within this email, a website link (below) to the full text of our formal 15 November response to AiG, which should substantially clarify CMI's position.

Of course, we do not know who all the many folk to whom AiG's defamatory comments have been emailed are, or how many times it has multiplied on the internet. So we are sending this email you are reading to the following:

1) To any who actually enquire of us.

2) To our corporation's members (an outer layer of protection which holds the directors accountable), our staff and our volunteer workers/speakers, local reps, etc.

3) To the management of our four national affiliates (CMI offices in Canada, NZ, US and South Africa, as well as affiliates in the UK) for providing to their staff, so that they will be able to answer these allegations as they inevitably spread. Sadly, some mud always sticks, especially when it comes from a 'big name'.

4) To those we know of who are involved in creation outreach of any sort, since we are aware that at least some of these have been targeted with this AiG email and previous ones.

5) To any (including those within AiG itself) that we have reason to believe have been contacted by AiG with similar intent and have likely received similarly misleading statements and views.

The link

Our letter of response to AiG is reproduced at this link on our site, www.CreationOnTheWeb.com/dispute

If you did not receive the AiG email, we ask for your compassionate understanding of the dilemma we were facing; we know from those who have already contacted us that it went out widely to creationists, but do not know exactly who did and didn't receive it.

This sorry development will bring shame on the Name of our Lord and Saviour, and give cause for the enemies of God to gloat. Would you please consider committing these matters, which also have the potential do damage to creation ministry in general (even more than has already occurred), to prayer.

Yours very sincerely in Christ,

The Board of Creation Ministries International Ltd. (Australia)

Mr. Kerry Boettcher (Chairman)
Mrs. Carolyn McPherson (Vice-Chairman)
Dr. Carl Wieland, M.B., B.S. (Managing Director)
Dr. Dave Christie, B.Com, M.Admin, Ph.D., FAICD, FIMC (Director)
Mr. Fang, Chang Sha B.Sc (hons), M.Sc. (Director)
Rev. Dr. Don Hardgrave, B.D, M.A., D.B.S., Dip. Theol, Dip. R.E. (Director)

UPDATE (November 21, 2006): I have inserted a number of minor clarifications and updates throughout the above text.

Creation Ministries International has a USA branch now, in Atlanta, Georgia, to ensure distribution of its materials in the United States. This means that they will be competing for dollars with Answers in Genesis of Kentucky.

UPDATE: The link above regarding defamatory material from John Mackay and background information about Mackay was a broken link that has now been corrected, and I've devoted a separate post to this issue. The information there shows why Mackay left the Creation Science Foundation in 1987, and raises concern about Mackay's image being rehabilitated without having retracted the charges that he brought in the past. Mackay has now been attacking Creation Ministries International and siding with Ham and Answers in Genesis in the dispute--Answers in Genesis must be questioning whether having Mackay as a friend is a benefit.

UPDATE (December 29, 2006): I've added a new item to the list of materials now available on the AiG website, which is the text of a letter from the staff of the Australian group to their own board of directors listing the items of reform that they wanted from the international organization (and AiG-U.S.). This letter was sent to the Australian board members a few days before their flight to the U.S. in October 2005, which resulted in the separation agreement.

The letter specifically called for the creation of a class of non-director membership for the non-profit, composed of eight people to be chosen from a list of 20 suggestions, independent of each other and not employees of the organization, to provide better oversight and to adjudicate disputes between the board and the CEO. This group of people is intended to be analogous to the shareholders of a public company. This mechanism has now been put in place at CMI in the wake of their split from AiG-U.S.

27 comments:

deadman_932 said...

QUOTE:
"The Australian group's directors who signed the document then resigned en masse, under the condition that they be given indemnity for their actions--the letter suggests that they were in breach of their fiduciary duties to the Australian group for signing the agreements"
COMMENT:
I wonder how many pieces of silver the resigning directors got. Oddly enough, I don't think I'll shed tears for any of these charlatans.

steviepinhead said...

Gloat!

Jim Lippard said...

deadman: When I initially wrote this post, I wasn't sure I understood the circumstance of the indemnification--whether it was offered or requested. I've added a clarification. It seems that after consulting with an attorney, those directors asked for indemnification from the Australian group in return for their immediate resignations, and that was accepted.

Whether their motivation in making such a one-sided deal was a result of being duped by the Americans, being given some other kind of incentive by the Americans, or some other reason is not clear to me. What is clear is that the management and staff of the Australian organization felt completely betrayed by the deal, and with good reason.

Nathan Zamprogno said...

Rarely has a post, on any topic, in any forum, caused me more unalloyed pleasure than this one. CMI's demise (as it certainly is- CMI without the resource of AiG is a fading shadow), is as unsurprising as it is satisfying. Carl Weiland and his crew have poisoned the faith of thousands of Christians and seekers with their self-serving lies. I can just imagine Wieland and Sarfati et al slaving over their nine-page flail for days, knowing in their hearts that Ham has signed the Australian operation's death warrant.

I will have more to say on AiG/CMI at another time (much more). Here's what I've written in the past.

I just wanted to note that the explanations offered by each side could not be more at odds. CMI's plaintive letter makes repeated complaints that the boards or staff of the two organisations were NOT meeting and SHOULD have met to resolve it. In contrast, see this extract from the "History" section of AiG-US's own site:

"At the same time, differences in philosophy and operation were becoming more apparent between the U.S. ministry and AiG–Australia (which were two separate, autonomous organizations with separate boards—yet had a common statement of faith). For example, the U.S. ministry had a decentralized leadership structure (i.e., where a “leadership team” runs the ministry’s day-to-day operation, with only general oversight by the president, Ken Ham). This was a different approach than that employed by the Australian organization.

As differences involving organizational and philosophical issues grew, the two boards met on many occasions to try to deal with these matters. Meanwhile, the Australian board met with its own CEO and senior staff numerous times about these matters.

Eventually, it was realized that the issues between the two leadership teams could not be resolved, and so it was mutually decided by both boards in 2005 that AiG–U.S. and AiG–Australia (now called CMI) had to totally separate and instead move on to have a formal, business relationship (yet to work cooperatively on joint projects). In October 2005, the Australian board cordially met with the U.S. board in northern Kentucky to work out the formal arrangements."



Interestingly, there are shades of the other criticism the CMI letter makes in the preening Ham makes of himself. The same article ends with:

"Meanwhile, the eight-person leadership team of AiG–U.S. (including the CEO/president) has received the full, unqualified support of the U.S. board of directors, and has been complimented by the board for the vision, leadership and performance of the fast-growing ministry."

It's worth going to the AiG site and reading the entire bit- it's obviously been updated with the current events in mind.

Can we get our hands on the AiG letter to its supporters that make the allegations about CMI? Wieland's implication is that it was being widely circulated. Where can we see it? Jim?

Jim Lippard said...

Nathan:

Thanks for your comments and useful references. I have not yet obtained either the AiG-US email or the John Mackay email.

I would be interested in communicating with you further in email. You can reach me as lippard-web at discord.org.

Anonymous said...

Jim, you do realise that Nathan Zamprogno is a great fan of Ian Plimer and Barry Price, right? He wrote gushingly to the Skeptics saying:

‘It has proven to be an invaluable resource since in the many discussions I have had with my peers since [sic]. Thank you!’

And there should be something suspicious in the claim:

"Meanwhile, the Australian board met with its own CEO and senior staff numerous times about these matters."

How on earth people in America know what the Australian board did, apart from what they were told? Carl Wieland (which Nathan can't even spell) claims that the old board went behind their backs to sign that copyright agreement. And the incredibly one-sided nature of that agreement supports Wieland, not AiG-US. And why would the old board ask for indemnity if they had done nothing wrong?

Nathan Zamprogno said...

Wow. You can use Google. Yes, I read and met with Plimer during the Roberts/ Fasold "ark" trial some years ago in Sydney. His was the only resource I had in my hand at that time. I acknowledge the shortcomings of his methods and conclusions but regard his aims as broadly defensible. Keep in mind that was nearly 15 years ago.

Nathan Zamprogno said...

And yes, I did mis-spell Wieland's name (although in my defence it is spelled incorrectly once and correctly twice.) Mea Culpa. My argument lays in ruins!

Lei Gillan said...

Come on Nathan, your gushing on the Skeptics site was well within 10 years ago. And most importantly, it was **well after Jim used Plimer and Price as "how not to argue with creationists**." So if you thought that these people were decent sources, it shows you must have be as discerning as a professing alien abdutee.

This all shows that Nathan has a *pattern* of a complete lack of objectivity -- grasping for any dirt you can use against CMI, regardless of how disreputable the source. Unlike Jim, Nathan can't keep his disagreement with creation from becoming bitter hatred for creationists. So he must be regarded as an unreliable source.

Are Nathan and AiG really serious that the old Australian board would have signed such a one-sided agreement with the agreement of the management there, many of whom are writers? Who would agree to giving the right to falsely attribute authorship to someone else? So yeah, I do believe Wieland when he says this was a falsehood. And how sleazy must AiG be to insist that such an unconscionable agreement done behind people's backs was still binding? Fair-minded skeptics should not condone blatantly unfair behavior, even to creationists.

Nathan Zamprogno said...

I am happy to accept that if Plimer advanced an argument that was deficient in fact, then those elements of his arguments should no longer be used, whilst continuing to accept those of his objections which remain true. As far as how not to argue with creationists, I take the view that Atheistic prosecutors of Young Earth Creationism, although entitled to their view, ignore their allies in Christendom who are equally opposed to Young Earth Creationism. My preferred text on the debate, should you wish to pigeonhole me, is Ken Miller's "Finding Darwin's God".

As to whether my antipathy towards Creationists clouds my impartiality: I say no. "Bitter hatred" is entirely the wrong term and I deny it. To be sure, I am angry and disappointed that these people purport to speak for me as a Christian, because I believe their simplistic, reality-denying, arrogant worldview is entirely at odds with the Gospel, and indeed, have caused many to reject it.

lastly, dear Lei, blogger without a blog, I do not suggest that the old CMI board signed their onerous agreement with the consent of the CMI writing staff. I merely draw your attention to the fact that Ken Ham says they did. Ken Ham and Carl Wieland are both such adept liars I would not dare claim to know who is lying here.

Nathan Zamprogno said...

The page
http://www.creationontheweb.com/dispute/
has gone down if you try to go there. All content and links have been saved to my hard drive. I wonder why it's gone down?

Anonymous said...

It's not down. You incorrectly used the filename as a directory.

http://www.creationontheweb.com/dispute

Anonymous said...

Ironically, the history section at AiG doesn't state -when- the management met with the board. I'll bet they are playing dirty with the timeline.

Anonymous said...

Jim, Where did you find that Thallon moved to KY? He's still listed on whitepages.com.au as living in Australia. (He's probably just a long-distance board member.)

Interesting that you found he joined the US board after CMI says he (and the others) asked for indemnity for illegal actions with the Australian ministry.

But Ham seems to have a penchant for climbing into bed with the nutters (Hovind, Baugh, Mackay).

Anonymous said...

FYI, the info critical of Dennis Petersen's book is still onthe AiG-US website as of 03/21/07

http://www.answersingenesis.org/docs2003/0113peterson.asp

Oz girl said...

Oh what gullible people we have become since the advent of the internet, blogs, etc!

Do you actually believe all that has been posted on CMI's website?! Come on, of course they're going to paint themselves as the 'good' guys who have been left with no choice but to sue! Anyone can post anything on their site, give it a spin, and we all lap it up like it must be the truth cause it's now on the internet.

Who are these 12 witnesses in the Briese report - clearly CMI people? Who is Briese clearly affiliated with, and has been before the investigative committee was established? CMI! Who would have guessed? Who has made all the gracious gestures to resolve the situation in the last 2 years? Shock, horror, CMI again!

Doesn't it make you suspicious how holier than thou they come across? How do we know that the timeline of events, what was said and written, which they have presented is actually true? We don't, because we're not insiders, we're not eye witnesses, and I suspect most of you don't know eye witnesses!

Just because we may want the 'big bad US goliath' to be at fault doesn't necessarily mean what 'poor little David' is claiming to be true!

Stop making foolish rash judgments before ALL the facts have come to light.

Jim Lippard said...

Oz girl: CMI has posted a lot of documentary evidence to support their claims. In the past, I've investigated issues involving CMI (when they were the Creation Science Foundation), and they provided me with volumes of documentary evidence to support their accounts. In my experience, Carl Wieland is honest and sincere, though he holds many erroneous beliefs about evolution.

AiG, on the other hand, has demonstrably made false claims in this controversy and has not been forthcoming with evidence to support their claims.

Now, perhaps I'm biased against AiG because they're promoting nonsense in my own country (they've got the largest share of creationist dollars and the most influence, as my series of blog entries on creationist finances demonstrated) and in favor of CMI because of my interactions with them. But you've offered absolutely nothing in the way of counter-evidence. Is it your thesis that all of the documents and timelines CMI has put up were specifically fabricated to support their claims, and yet AiG has not bothered to refute them by rejecting their authenticity?

Note that CMI and AiG agree that the October 2005 memorandum was signed by the old CMI (AiG-Australia) board--that is a fact that goes *against* CMI's case , legally, yet they are quite open about it.

In my opinion, the evidence is overwhelming that AiG is run with power firmly consolidated in the hands of Ken Ham with little in the way of independent oversight by his board, and that the Australian group's attempt to reduce his power resulted in Machiavellian maneuvers by Ham to eliminate what he saw the cause of the challenge--Carl Wieland.

Jim Lippard said...

BTW, oz girl, perhaps you haven't seen the blog post which includes AiG's response to supporters about the lawsuit?

Oz girl said...

Mr Lippard: You suggest my thesis is: "that all of the documents and timelines CMI has put up were specifically fabricated to support their claims."

Hmmm, I wouldn't necessarily say entirely fabricated (though many, yes), but definitely massaged to their advantage.

The supposed recommendations Carl made to "reform" the structures of AIG-US, were in fact attempts by him to take over the whole show - he attempted a coup, was found out, and therefore disciplined. His claims about this in the Reports and 'documents' on the CMI site are false.

As to the claim that AIG's refusal to reject their (the documents and timelines) authenticity seeming therefore to support their veracity - perhaps AIG is remaining silent at this stage a) Because there is now a lawsuit filed against them b) They have integrity and want to settle the dispute in private rather than publishing their version of events on the web and letting the peanut gallery rub their hands with glee, and c) You all wouldn't believe them if they did refute them! So pardon me if I take their silence as dignified rather than a sign of guilt.

As to counter-evidence, let me just say I know a lot of people intimately connected with all involved. And they would hardly testify to Carl being "honest and sincere". For example, Carl and several of his henchmen have threatened Christian book distributors in Australia, and other individuals, to stop selling AIG material and using the AIG brand, or they will be sued - hardly ethical I would think?

As to the reasons for the former AIG-Aust board seeking legal indeminification - your insinuations that it was because they were in the wrong are false; it is because they were (and are) seriously afraid of reprisals from said Carl W.

I know Carl W personally - he is as slippery a snake as I have ever come across, and will use any means, and anyone, to his advantage. And the sad thing is, he's taking many people down with him...

Jim Lippard said...

Oz girl: If Wieland attempted a coup to reduce Ham's power, why did he also offer to similarly have his own power reduced at the same time? What is your explanation for the dismissal of Brandon Vallorani, that he was part of Wieland's coup attempt?

The legal threats against bookstores in Australia selling "AiG"-labeled material from AiG-US are necessary to defend CMI's ownership of the AiG trademark in Australia--if you don't defend your trademark, you lose it.

Oz girl said...

I don't believe Mr Wieland would ever present a proposal which would see a reduction in his power - note the fact that he is now the Managing Director, CEO AND on the board of CMI? Not to mention that all present members of the CMI board were hand-picked by him.

As to Mr Vallorini's dismissal, maybe you're closer to the mark than you think...

And to your last remark about defending their trademarks, I should have added that it was not simply AIG materials that these book distributors were told to stop stocking, but other creationist materials that do not bare the AIG brand. THIS is not a fabrication, and to me, is neither ethically right, nor an action you would expect from self-proclaimed Christians.

Jim Lippard said...

Ozgirl: Can you name these book distributors? I would like to contact them to compare your account to CMI's.

What kind of reprisals did the board fear from Wieland? Keep in mind that they had actually already put John Thallon in charge and fired Wieland and many of the staff prior to the en masse resignations. Only after facing protest from the staff and consulting with an attorney did they resign and turn the organization back over to Wieland.

On your account, what is the explanation for the clearly one-sided agreement that the board signed, turning over all rights (including rights they didn't have!) to the Australian-produced content to the U.S. organization and getting nothing to speak of in return?

Oz girl said...

Sorry, Jim, but I am not at liberty to discuss further the last 2 questions of your post.

However, I can reveal that the two Christian book distributors who were threatened were Word and Koorong, the 2 largest in Australia.

Can I just say, from my posts, all I am trying to do is open people's minds to the fact that perhaps we're not getting the full picture here, and we really need to wait until ALL evidence has been heard - including a possible soon to be released statement/report from a very bipartisan third party...

Jim Lippard said...

Oz girl: Thanks for the bookstore names--I have contacted both of them in email with a series of questions about the matter and will post about the results.

Please be sure to post a comment here if the "bipartisan third party" report/statement is issued, as I'd very much like to see it.

Ktisophilos said...

Ozgirl's charges against Carl Wieland are absurd even on the face of it. CMI in Australia is in no way "Carl Wieland Ministries", but it is certainly very easy to gain the impression that AiG is "Ken Ham Ministries".

CMI seems genuinely to be a team effort, with Dr Wieland in no way hogging the limelight.

And although Dr Wieland was the founder of Creation magazine, most readers would not know that given that a team now edits it. Conversely, I happened to see the first issue of AiG's new magazine (i.e. the one foisted on Americans who had subscribed to Creation), and Ken Ham's picture was splashed all over it.

So I think KH's charge that CW wanted to take control is a classic case of projection.

The copyright "agreement" indeed seems to contain a falsehood. Does Ozgirl seriously think that authors would have consented to have their articles falsely attributed, as the agreement claims? Does she think it's fair that CMI would bear the costs if a disgruntled author sues AiG for something AiG did? Can she support AiG's claim that this agreement is "godly", despite containing a falsehood and causing CMI to be liable for AiG's actions?

Could it be that the old board fears "reprisals" because they know that their betrayal of their company they were meant to be protecting was contrary to Australian company law? Why would they seek indemnity unless they had something to be indemnified from?

Jim Lippard said...

ktisophilos: Good points, all. The example of projection you cite is far from the only one--it seems to occur again and again. For example, the claim that Wieland was trying to stage a coup against AiG-US, when in fact it was Ham who attempted to take control of the Australian organization by trying to persuade the resigning directors to hand over control to members of his family and their supporters.

It's also been pointed out to me that AiG-US has removed favorable references to Briese from the AiG website, replacing them with blank pages, which you can still find via Google's cache (http://www.google.com/search?q=briese+site%3Awww.answersingenesis.org). These pages strongly defended the reliability, integrity, and independence of Briese, yet now those defenses are inconvenient for AiG-US since Briese has condemned their actions.

I have sent emails to both of the Australian Christian bookstore chains Ozgirl mentioned, but neither has responded to me. It has been pointed out to me that CMI actually still displays and sells AiG-US materials, so I think the best explanation is that their actions with respect to the bookstores are strictly to protect their Australian trademarks, unless someone can prove that CMI tried to suppress AiG-US material that did not use the Answers in Genesis name.

Ozgirl's "statement/report from a very bipartisan third party" may refer to a Baptist Church in Brisbane that has members of Ham's family (including Ken Ham, who joined subsequent to the start of the dispute) and CMI staffers as members which has set up a three-person panel of laymen (i.e., not lawyers or pastors) to specifically address the effect the AiG-US/CMI dispute has had on relationships within the church. If that's what Ozgirl is referring to, it is misleading to portray that panel as offering an evaluation of the legal issues of the dispute.

Jim Lippard said...

If you have trouble with the Google cache link I gave in the last post, use the clickable link here.