Sunday, June 03, 2007

Creation Ministries International sues Answers in Genesis

Creation Ministries International has filed a lawsuit against Answers in Genesis in Australia.

From The Australian:
A week after former Queensland science teacher Ken Ham opened the world's first Creation Museum - a $33 million facility in Petersburg, Kentucky - he is being sued by the Australian evangelical organisation he helped to set up and which served as a springboard for his leap into the US evangelical movement two decades ago.
...

The suit focuses on a dispute over the Australian organisation's production of a creationist magazine, sold in the US to more than 35,000 subscribers, and has led to revelations about the three-year battle between the two ministries.

A 40-page report, written by Mr Briese and obtained by The Australian, reveals a bitter power struggle across the Pacific that began with a challenge to the power Mr Ham allegedly wielded over the ministries.
...
A magistrate between 1982 and 90, Mr Briese found in his report that Mr Ham and his US organisation had launched a campaign after his leadership was challenged by his US deputy, Brandon Vallorani, who was then sacked, and Australian leader Carl Wieland, who was later allegedly the subject of innuendo about his private life.

According to Mr Briese's report, the campaign last year also involved John Mackay, a former associate of Mr Ham in Queensland, who was excommunicated in the 1980s after making allegations of witchcraft and necrophilia against a fellow member of the ministry.

The joint Australian-US push for reforms came amid concerns over Mr Ham's domination of the ministries, the amount of money being spent on his fellow executives and a shift away from delivering the creationist message to raising donations.

In his report, Mr Briese said Mr Ham and the US organisation responded with sackings, bullying and, in some instances, "unbiblical/unethical/unlawful behaviour" towards the Australian ministry that he suspected was intended to send it into bankruptcy.

"The report recommends that if CMI is to fulfil its fiduciary responsibilities to protect and safeguard the Australian ministry, CMI, and have a recalcitrant Answers in Genesis-USA brought to account for the serious wrongs it has committed," he said, "CMI has no option left except to bring AiG-USA before the secular courts, the 'powers that be ordained by God' under Romans 13."

I've previously reported on the details of CMI's complaints here, on the John McKay witchcraft and necrophilia accusations here, and on the CMI/AiG schism here.

UPDATE (June 4, 2007): P.Z. Myers gives his take, as does Bartholomew's notes on religion blog.

The Clarrie Briese report and related documents, including the text of the legal complaint, is online at the Creation Ministries International website.

UPDATE (June 5, 2007): Answers in Genesis has responded to the lawsuit with an email to supporters, and Creation Ministries International has commented on that email--I've got the full text on my blog, with some color commentary of my own.

4 comments:

Duas Quartuncias said...

Hey Jim; do you know that a suit has definitely been filed? I am keen to find some confirmation of this from somewhere.

I was struck that this newspaper report was pretty thin on details, and mostly spoke about a 40 page report by Clarence Briese that recommended a lawsuit. Briese was also heavily involved in fights between Aussie Skeptics and CSF that you covered so well at the time. The report does say that a suit was filed; I'd just like to confirm it. I'll be trying some more myself as well.

Thanks -- Chris

Jim Lippard said...

Chris:

I've only got the newspaper's statement that one was filed--like you, I'm trying to obtain confirmation, including the venue. It is interesting that the newspaper article focuses on the report and not on the complaint.

I'll post an update when I find out more.

Duas Quartuncias said...

OK Jim, I can confirm on my own behalf. I have just been talking to a very helpful person in the Queensland Courts who showed me how to use their systems.

You can search for recent filings at Queensland eCourts search page.

The point in question here is a claim that was filed on May 31. Here's a link File Summary.

In brief, the case is listed as follows: 4690/07 Creation Ministries International Ltd & another -V- Answers In Genesis Of Kentucky, Inc & another

The parties are as follows:

Plaintiffs:
Creation Ministries International Ltd
Answers In Genesis International Pty Ltd
both represented By Hopgood Ganim Lawyers

Defendants:
Answers In Genesis Of Kentucky, Inc
Ham, Kenneth Alfred

Jim Lippard said...

Thanks, Chris!

BTW, I'm enjoying reading your blog.