Saturday, December 30, 2006

Creationist finances: Institute for Creation Research

After looking at Answers in Genesis of Kentucky's financial results for 2005, several people have asked whether their decline is unique. (Though, due to my error in reading their 2005 Form 990, we now know that they have not seen a decline.) What I've decided to do in order to answer that question is to make a series of posts about the finances of the creationist ministries which were previously reported in Reports of the National Center for Science Education in 2000 in an article by John Cole: the Access Research Network, Answers in Genesis, the Creation Evidences Museum, Creation Illustrated Ministries, Creation Moments, the Creation Research Society, Creation Worldview Ministries, the Institute for Creation Research, and the Discovery Institute. For good measure, I'll throw in Walter Brown's Center for Scientific Creation. I'll then sum up in a final post. I've already posted about Answers in Genesis, and I'll begin with the Institute for Creation Research since I've already got the numbers handy.

The Institute for Creation Research (ICR) has been around since 1970, when it was founded by Henry Morris and Duane Gish with financial support from Tim LaHaye, through his Christian Heritage College. The ICR became independent from CHC in 1981. It operates a creationism museum and a graduate school in Santee, California, and produces the small monthly publication "Acts & Facts" (among others). The ICR was once the dominant young-earth creationist organization in the United States, but has been overshadowed for years by Answers in Genesis. Founder Henry Morris turned over the reins to his son John in 1995, and Henry Morris died in February of this year. Duane Gish, the noted creationist debater, has greatly reduced his public appearances in his old age (he's nearly 86). John Morris has never been the enthusiastic creationist superstar that his father or Gish were.

The ICR's revenues have remained fairly flat for years--which means they've declined in real terms, after inflation. In John R. Cole's "Money Floods Anti-Evolutionists' Coffers" in Reports of the National Center for Science Education 20(1-2, 2000):64-65, he reported that the ICR's 1998 revenue was $4,167,547 and expenses were $3,997,419.

The last three years of ICR Form 990s at GuideStar.org show little change from 1998:

2003:
Revenue: $4,478,918
Expenses: $4,545,220
Net assets at end of year: $5,285,382
Salaries: $1,973,712 (44.1% of revenue)
($226,854 directors/execs, $1,746,858 other salaries)

2004:
Revenue: $4,245,441
Expenses: $4,453,622
Net assets at end of year: $5,091,069
Salaries: $2,090,231 (49.2% of revenue)
($232,053 directors/execs, $1,858,178 other salaries)

2005:
Revenue: $4,341,000
Expenses: $4,231,885
Net assets at end of year: $5,228,062
Salaries: $2,003,648 (46.2% of revenue)
($306,346 directors/execs, $1,697,302 other salaries)

The ICR seems to be doing OK financially, but they clearly need to keep an eye on their salary expenses. John Morris took a small pay cut in 2005, but the other directors and staff with salaries over $50,000 have been getting regular annual pay raises. Despite Gish's reduced public appearances, his salary has continued to climb, from $78,198 in 2003 to $80,544 in 2004 to $84,969 in 2005.

Here are the specifics of other salaries reported in the Form 990--I've included two contractors, geologist Andrew Snelling (formerly associated with AiG-Australia) and tour leader Mike Riddle, who has worked for ICR, AiG, and other young-earth creationist groups. He appears to have disappeared from the ICR payroll in 2005, which may just mean they paid him less than $50,000.

2003:
Executives/Directors:
John Morris, president: $79,671
Duane Gish, vice president: $78,198
Donald Rohrer, treasurer: $68,985
---
Employees making $50K or more:
Kenneth Cumming, dean of grad school: $73,049
Larry Vardiman, head physics dept: $66,843
Russell Humphreys, research scientist: $66,414
Donald Barber, systems admin: $75,000
Henry Morris III, strategic ministry: $74,984
---
Contractors (not counted in above salary totals):
Andrew Snelling, geology research: $96,960
Mike Riddle, tours: $67,468

2004:
Executives/Directors:
John Morris, president: $82,524
Duane Gish, vice president: $80,544
Donald Rohrer, treasurer: $68,985
---
Employees making $50K or more:
Kenneth Cumming, dean of grad school: $75,240
Larry Vardiman, head physics dept: $68,847
Russell Humphreys, research scientist: $68,407
Donald Barber, systems admin: $77,250
Henry Morris III, strategic ministry: $77,234
---
Contractors (not counted in above salary totals):
Andrew Snelling, geology research: $98,587
Mike Riddle, tours: $79,686

2005:
Executives/Directors:
John Morris, president: $74,915
Duane Gish, vice president: $84,969
Donald Rohrer, treasurer: $71,055
Larry Vardiman, COO: $75,407
---
Employees making $50K or more:
Donald Barber, systems admin: $79,567
Henry Morris III, strategic ministry: $79,551
Kenneth Cumming, dean of grad school: $77,497
Patricia Nason, professor: $72,100
Russell Humphreys, research scientist: $70,459
---
Contractors:
Andrew Snelling, science research: $85,527

Larry Vardiman's ascent to the COO position suggests to me that he's the likely successor to John Morris to run the show.

To sum up the ICR--they're not particularly hurting for cash, but they aren't growing, and appear to be stagnating. In real, inflation-adjusted terms, they're not doing as well as they were a decade ago, and they're clearly not the force for creation evangelism they used to be. It appears to me that they are in a long-term decline.

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