Friday, August 15, 2008

CMI responds to AiG dispute summary

Creation Ministries International has updated its website to respond to the trove of documents released by Answers in Genesis. The Answers in Genesis site now includes the U.S. judge's order to compel arbitration in the U.S. (PDF). The court's order requires arbitration to occur in the U.S., but does not put a stop to the legal action in Australia, on the grounds that one of the documents at issue (the Deed of Copyright License or DOCL) says that the parties do "not object to the exercise of jurisdiction by [the Australian courts] on any basis" (to quote the judge's quotation from the document). The judge describes his order as granting in part and denying in part the Answers in Genesis petition, though Answers in Genesis describes it merely as granting their petition to compel arbitration.

The CMI update has a lengthy list of "WHAT AIG IS CAREFUL NOT TO TELL YOU" that makes the point that the U.S. and Australian groups were not as separate as AiG has tried to convey, with interesting examples such as that the U.S. group had appointed a CEO/COO to report to Ken Ham as president, and Carl Wieland of the Australian group was given the task of firing this person. Another is that the letter from Wieland to the U.S. board that AiG describes as "unsolicited" was actually specifically requested by the U.S. board in response to Wieland's criticisms that he had previously made to the Australian board (three members of which were also on the U.S. board).

AiG describes its former executive VP, Brandon Vallorani, as a dupe or co-conspirator with Carl Wieland, but doesn't note that when he was terminated he was given a payment in return for being bound to silence, and so is unable to comment on what actually happened without breaching that agreement.

The CMI summary notes (as I mentioned, via Kevin Henke, in my previous post) that the Thallon document contradicts other testimony from Thallon about whether the Australian board was pressured to accept the October 2005 agreement: "Ironically, there is eyewitness testimony of people having heard Thallon himself claim that they acted under duress in signing, and we have in writing (written back at the time) from a leading creation scientist and professor that Thallon personally told him that Ken Ham had threatened to not buy the next issue of the magazine if they failed to sign. So Thallon is either telling the truth to this scientist, or he is telling the truth in these documents–it’s hard to see how both can be the case." It's also interesting to note that the Thallon document alternates between U.S. and Australian spellings of some words (e.g. "organization" and "organisation" are both used in paragraph 22), which probably indicates a document prepared by Thallon (an Australian) and one or more Americans (such as AiG's attorneys) that was not fully reviewed carefully for consistency.

10 comments:

Nathan Zamprogno said...

Although both sides are as bad as each other, for the sake of balance it should be pointed out that there is also a list of things that CMI have been careful to not tell us. Consider this extract from one of John Mackay's public newsletters.

Ken Evans was a former, senior member of Creation Ministries International staff, and Carl Wieland's former ministry co-ordinator. He was disgusted enough with CMI's double dealing to resign and write a "letter of apology" for the hostility Carl Wieland was directing to a former colleague and friend. Evidently the admonition in 1 John 2:9; "Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness." is lost on Wieland. Wieland’s vaunted Briese report runs to more than fifty pages and Ken Evans is not mentioned ONCE.

This is what Ken Evans had to say:

"You have my permission, without restraint, to circulate the letter through your mailing list. May our Almighty Saviour God be glorified."

"I write to confirm that during the time (mid-1999 to May 2004) I was employed as senior ministry co- ordinator for Carl Wieland (now Creation Ministries International but then the Australian 'branch' of Creation Science Foundation / Answers in Genesis), one of my key tasks was to check John Mackay's movements via his website. One reason for doing so was to ensure that Carl and his team pre-empted any visit to any town or district by John Mackay so as to ensure Carl's ministry received the 'lion's share' of sales, donations, etc. This was never more obvious than in 2002 when John Mackay's bookings in Western Australia were already confirmed and Carl's organisation established alternate meetings for Peter Sparrow and the 'Creation Bus' as close to a week before John Mackay. The other reason was to provide opportunity to send church leaders in the district copies of Carl Wieland's 'Anti John Mackay information pack' so as to turn any potential support for John's ministry across to his own group.

Carl's arrangement was covert, in that it was never discussed openly during planning forums. On several occasions during the above mentioned period Carl Wieland visited the ministry co-ordination department and asked where John Mackay was speaking. Once informed, he then privately instructed me that a ministry tour be arranged for that region slightly ahead of John's advertised schedule.

Carl also went to great length to turn any new ministry co-ordination staff against John Mackay by instructing them to read and become familiar with his 'Anti-John Mackay pack' as part of their orientation.

I am sincerely sorry for any part that Carl was able to use me in such an anti-Christian way to achieve his own bitter ends."

Signed Kenneth Evans.


(End of newsletter quote.)

Furthermore, there is the astonishing claim that, despite CMI's sustained attack of Mackay for a host of sins, CMI was prepared to reverse its position and remove all material damaging to Mackay on their website if Mackay would be prepared to "come over" and support CMI (or at least stop supporting Ken Ham). Note that one of the distinctive differences between CMI's and AiG's websites since the split was that CMI retained material critical to (for example) Kent Hovind as a matter of particular principle, and yet they offered to abandon that principle for the sake of a tactical move against AiG. Mackay confirms this in saying:

Wieland's law suit followed his trying (late 06) to broker a secret deal with us at Creation Research. In return for our NOT supporting Ken Ham, Carl offered to remove the huge amount of anti Creation Research propaganda pages he had posted on the CMI web site soon after he had gotten rid of the original long time AIG Australia Board and re-invented the organisation as CMI. Carl argued that if we accepted his deal, it would leave him free to concentrate on Ken Ham and Andrew Snelling. We told him we do not do such ungodly deals and we don't deal behind peoples' backs!

Ktisophilos said...

Zamprogno is foolish to trust the unsubstantiated word of someone working now in the Mackay ministry. By contrast, there is immense eye-witness corroboration of the accusations against Mackay, such as his bizarre and slanderous accusations of witchcraft and necrophilia, and his official church discipline. This should make us very wary of trusting this source, or one of his proxies. Zamprogno needs to recover some objectivity, presuming that he ever had it in the first place.

Jim Lippard said...

Nathan:

Is there any evidence to support Ken Evans' allegations about schedule coordination to preempt Mackay?

Carl Wieland says, in a response to your comment that he's given me permission to post (I'm considering posting it as a separate comment), that the text you quote from Ken Evans appeared in John Mackay's newsletter, minus one paragraph that has been added. Can you comment on where this additional paragraph came from, or provide me with a PDF of the newsletter you're quoting?

"Carl's arrangement was covert, in that it was never discussed openly during planning forums. On several occasions during the above mentioned period Carl Wieland visited the ministry co-ordination department and asked where John Mackay was speaking. Once informed, he then privately instructed me that a ministry tour be arranged for that region slightly ahead of John's advertised schedule."

Jim Lippard said...

Here is CMI's response to the Ken Evans allegations as published in John Mackay's newsletter in October 2007:

RESPONSE TO MACKAY NEWSLETTER FALSE CLAIMS

Statement by Creation Ministries International, prepared 8 October 2007, in response to John Mackay’s unfortunate newsletter of a few days prior.

We regret very much that such ugliness and vindictiveness has emerged in the public arena.

It is particularly unfortunate that, as Mr Mackay well knew, its appearance was at a time when we would be limited in our ability to defend our Christian reputation.

This is because the verbal agreement reached in Hawaii to seek to end a very inappropriate and unnecessary dispute involved giving our word to AiG-US to keep certain matters confidential.

This statement will therefore seek to maintain as much Christian dignity as possible while giving only indisputable facts that in our understanding do not breach this confidentiality.

Facts:

• The account of the dispute in Mr Mackay’s newsletter is seriously misleading. For example, Carl Wieland did not undertake any legal action of any sort. This is more than semantics, as those who know the details of our ministry’s dilemma would well know. (We removed these details from our website as a gesture of good faith after shaking hands on the agreement in Hawaii, hoping it would be finalized on paper soon). Almost all who read through the details of the legal dangers and dilemmas our ministry had been embroiled in, and who worked through our attempt to have a careful biblical approach to the matter, ended up being highly supportive.
• There is additional serious misrepresentation in Mr Mackay’s account concerning secular newspapers. No representative of this ministry ever approached any newspaper or used it for ‘releases’. We were rung by reporters who had ‘sniffed out’ the details of the dispute which were on the public record.
• For Mr Mackay to attempt to impugn the reputation of former NSW Chief Magistrate Clarrie Briese (see www.creationontheweb.com/briese is almost unimaginable to us.
• Concerning Mr Mackay’s account of an ‘agreement’ or ‘deal’ allegedly sought with him: this borders on the bizarre, as no-one in any responsible or management position in this ministry has even had any contact with Mr Mackay or anyone in his ministry for many years. The account is rejected by us as a fabrication. Sadly, there is a track record of such things—see www.creationontheweb.com/mackay. This almost 20-year-old documentation has important and pertinent comments by Ken Ham, despite attempts by Ham family members and supporters to have this documentation removed since John Mackay recently became Ken Ham’s Australian defender.
• The account in Mr Mackay’s newsletter attributed to Mr Ken Evans is nothing short of astonishing, and is refuted by the eyewitness testimony of our current head ministry coordinator, Mrs Fran Bates. Mrs Bates worked as a colleague of Mr Evans in the same ministry department for over a year until Mr Evans departed under unfortunate circumstances of his own making. These circumstances seem to have left him with a desire to harm the ministry somehow, particularly Carl, whose leadership responsibility meant he was Mr Evan’s boss and charged with the responsibility of the best outcome for the ministry. This bitterness is made even more hurtful and sad given the ministry’s ex gratia help to Mr Evans, i.e. doing things to help him that it was not obliged to, after his time of service had drawn to a close.
• Mr Evans’ claim about CMI targeting ministry in locations where Mr Mackay was scheduled to do ministry is patently false. Ironically, the converse seems to be the case—we had noted that Mackay seemed to be doing ministry where CMI was scheduled too often to be just coincidences.
• Mr Evans’ claim about CMI sending Mackay packs in an unsolicited manner to church leaders is also highly misleading and largely false. For many years now, information has been supplied in response to queries and almost always only when the enquirer was persistent in wanting to know. In the last 10 years it has been rare for such information to be supplied, contrary to the implication in the newsletter. And when the information was supplied, particularly in the early years, it was part of a policy strongly encouraged by Mr Mackay’s former church (in an attempt to bring him to the point of reconciliation and restoration) and enthusiastically supported by Ken Ham.
• The obvious thing would be for us to seek Mt 18 resolution of these issues of serious sin against the ministry and Carl. Regrettably, as the above web documentation shows, Mr Mackay has a track record of not only seeking to undermine this ministry’s activities, but evading all responsibility under Mt 18. At the time of his initial attack on the ministry, he was excommunicated unanimously by an entire Baptist church of some 80 people, yet evaded any consequences by changing his attendance to another church of another denomination, where he had kept a previous membership. Concerning Mr Evans, the last we knew, his ‘church’ consisted of himself and his family, so there seems little point following that approach there either. However:
• CHALLENGE TO FACE ACCOUNTABILITY:
We would challenge Mr Mackay and Mr Evans to do the decent Christian thing and be prepared to join with us in submitting these latest claims (along with our counterclaim that they are, in those few areas where they are not outright fabrication, severe distortions of truth) to an open and formal Christian forum in the spirit of Matthew 18, and cease their ‘onslaught by newsletter’. We suggest that Mr Mackay and Mr Evans each nominate an ordained minister of the Gospel, we nominate two, with an additional one to be selected by the head of the Evangelical Alliance (whom we have not approached). With the parties to share the expenses of these good folks’ time.[1] Based on the track record of similar offers to meet to discuss issues ‘in the open’, and being confident in what we know to be the truth of the matter, we would think it highly likely that this will never have a positive response, despite whatever excuses and evasions might be proffered.
• We would hope and pray that this brief set of comments would be limited to folk who have been exposed to this unfortunate slander, and that it will help them reach their own judgements according to John 7:24. It is so sad that in an age of rampant evolutionism, the Enemy is able to get professing believers to attack their brethren instead of getting on with the job.

[1] Alternatively, a panel of three, with one only nominated by each side, would suffice as far as we were concerned.

Nathan Zamprogno said...

Far from taking sides, as ktisophilos suggests, I wish to make it clear that I regard CMI, AiG and Mackay's Creation Research organisations as all equally bad, equally damaging to the cause of Christ, equally embarassing, and all as equally mired in self-deception and/or self-aggrandizement. I am merely making the comment that so long as CMI tries to hide behind the high moral ground of "total disclosure" by showing all their dirty laundry to the public, they should not be as selective as they accuse their opponents to be. I trust neither Ken Evans nor John Mackay to lay straight in bed. The least that can be said, however, is that it is both plausible and logical that CMI, like any money-focused corporation, would try to a) Corner their respective market by squeezing their competition (pre-empting Mackay's ministry schedule), and b) Be prepared to compromise a principle for the tactical advantage of potentially neutralising a foe (stopping Mackay from being Ham's proxy).

Any suggestion that Evans' public letter which I quoted has an "extra paragraph" of which Wieland was unaware - well, the copy passed to me by someone deep inside a "fifth column" in one of the protagonist's organisations, had it, in the body of the quote attributed to Evans and above his signature. The context in which it appeared was:

Mackay's October 2007 Newsletter:

SOME NOT SO GOOD NEWS FROM CREATION RESEARCH.

"How was our law suit against Ken Ham going?" was the very public
challenge to Creation Research during question time at our August 07 debate in Melbourne University. Likewise on recent ministry trips and via the press and the net, we have had lengthy questioning both public and private re the Wieland/Ham saga and our role in it. You all need to know that it is not Creation Research that had taken a lawsuit out against Ken
Ham - it is Carl Weiland and Creation Ministries International who had sued Ken Ham personally and Answers in Genesis corporately at the time the debate was held (August 2007). 

We have already printed in a recent (limited distribution) e-Prayer News,
a rebuke to Carl Weiland and CMI, for their very public announcement via
the Australian Newspaper of their lawsuit against Ken Ham. As stated
previously Weiland obviously does not believe the Bible's teaching in 1
Corinthians 6 applies to him, since it forbids a Christian taking a
Christian brother to the world's courts. Ken Ham has our full support and
we would ask you to pray for him at this tragic time. 

Weiland's law suit followed his trying (late 06) to broker a secret deal
with us at Creation Research. In return for our NOT supporting Ken Ham,
Carl offered to remove the huge amount of anti Creation Research
propaganda pages he had posted on the CMI web site soon after he had
gotten rid of the original long time AIG Australia Board and re-invented the organisation as CMI. Carl argued that if we accepted his deal, it would leave him free to concentrate on Ken Ham and Andrew Snelling. We told him we do not do such ungodly deals and we don't deal behind peoples' backs! 

This year's media 'infomercials' on the law suit, leaked to the media by Weiland, beginning with the Australian Newspaper, have been revelled in by both the media and the Skeptics. They and others worldwide are now questioning us at Creation Research (despite the fact we have nothing to do with the law suit), because Weiland has repeatedly included anti Creation Research propaganda in media reports wherever he could. It's
been a very obvious vengeance for our refusal to do a deal, and has led to the necessity of this public statement from Creation Research. 

At the time of this printing (October 07), Weiland has temporarily put the lawsuit on hold pending the outcome of a negotiated settlement, but it is still a threat hanging over Ken Ham and AiG if Ken Ham doesn't do as he wants by mid October. Carl Weiland has dressed this position to his
own advantage via items to the world's press and on the CMI website, with the spin that he had withdrawn the slanderous Anti Ken Ham Briese Report from the CMI website in the hope of reconciliation. Weiland's and CMI's
ungodly and worldly antics have brought shame and disgrace on the whole Christian community, and given the enemies of the Lord Jesus an excuse to pour scorn on His Name. 

Carl Weiland's previous ministry coordinator Ken Evans, has forwarded us
a letter of apology for his role in Weiland's actively undermining our
Creation Research ministry, a policy we know Weiland and team have
pursued for the last 20 years. Ken Evans' wrote,

(And there follows the Evans letter in full, as quoted in my previous comment, including the paragraph claimed as "added", followed by (to confirm it is in the body of Evans' words)),

"Signed Kenneth Evans."




Now again, the events recounted here have largely been superceded, and I have no opinion on the claims made or the rebuttal CMI offer, beyond this: Ktisophilos asks rightly if the claims on either side are substantiated. Consider that the statements of all parties (AiG, CMI, Mackay and Evans) are all offered with emphatic oaths "May our Almighty Saviour God be glorified.", etc. The sorry lot of them seem keen to outdo each other in playing the the "sinned against" card, and witlessly they pin their entire integrity on the veracity of their accounts.

And yet, one characteristic of the war of words in the whole tragi-comic saga is the degree to which the accounts are all at total, 180 degree odds to one another. As a peripheral, bemused follower of these events, excuse me and most others from concluding that they are all bare faced liars.

Ktisophilos said...

Zamprogno has a history of a glaring lack of objctivity when it comes to CMI. He trusted such demonstrably unreliable sources as Barry Price and Ian Plimer, and now one of John Mackay's stooges.

The hyper-piety of AiG and Mackay's lot is indeed sickening. Conversely, the documentation adduced by CMI mostly sticks to a plurality of eye-witnesses and states the facts. Does Zamprogno have any evidence that there are any lies in this documentation?

Peter henderson said...

If you take a look at AiG's current prayer requests, AiG (UK) is collaborating with John McKay on an anti Darwin DVD to be released next year. I'm not sure if there's any significance to this or not but it would appear that Ham and McKay have both "made-up", so to speak. McKay also visited the creation museum last year

Project: Darwin DVD

Purpose: AiG-U.K. is planning and filming a documentary biography of Charles Darwin. This project is being closely coordinated with John Mackay of Creation Research, who is producing a related DVD documentary. The two documentaries will therefore be like part 1 and part 2, as they will contain different material. Interest in the documentaries has been expressed by some of the Christian satellite TV channels which broadcast to the U.K.

Specifics: Please pray for both these projects. The AiG-U.K. filming has already begun with a great deal of film taken in Shrewsbury, Darwin's birthplace. Pray for organization and planning for the Darwin DVD and for filming at Down House and Westminster Abbey, both of which could be problematic.

Deadline: We want to get all filming done by the end of September to leave plenty of time for production.

Jim Lippard said...

Peter: That is correct--and the reconciliation between Mackay and Ham is something that CMI has objected to for reasons given here.

Jim Lippard said...

Nathan: I don't think the accounts are 180 degrees out of sync with each other--there are clearly a lot of commonalities between the accounts. I also don't agree that the cases are equivalent on both sides. For example, I find the affidavit from Carl Wieland to be a more solid document than those from Looy (a complete waste of a filing), Landis, or Thallon (due to its inconsistencies with other evidence). I also find AiG's PowerPoint presentation to be quite instructive in that several of the arguments it presents as though they obviously indicate the superiority of their position are actually arguments that undermine their position--such as that Wieland was concerned about Ham endorsing a book (Lubenow's _Bones of Contention_) that makes arguments that AiG's website had already said creationists should not use. AiG expresses no concern about such inconsistency, but instead faults Wieland for raising the issue.

BTW, in addition to the Lubenow argument mentioned in the presentation (that all mutations are harmful or neutral), the main argument of Lubenow's book is another such argument--that the continuing existence of ancestral species contemporaneous with descendant species is somehow a problem for evolution. See AiG's web page, where these two arguments are called "If we evolved from apes, apes shouldn't exist today" and "There are no beneficial mutations."

Ktisophilos said...
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