Tuesday, November 21, 2006

John Mackay and Answers in Genesis

The link regarding information about John Mackay wasn't working when I first posted information about the split between Answers in Genesis and Creation Ministries International, but it can now be seen here. This links to a set of web pages which makes some devastating charges about the circumstances under which Mackay left the Australian organization in 1987.

Creation Ministries International is composed of all of the non-U.S. groups which were formerly part of Answers in Genesis, based in the countries of Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada; the U.S. group is the only one which continues to use the name Answers in Genesis.

The Creation Science Foundation came into existence in 1980 as the merger between Dr. Carl Wieland's Creation Science Association (which had a magazine called Ex Nihilo) and Ken Ham's Creation Science Supplies and Creation Science Educational Media Services. Ken Ham ran the CSF, and John Mackay became editor of its magazine, then called Creation Ex Nihilo.

In 1987, Mackay left the CSF and started another creationist organization called Creation Research, and Wieland took a leadership role as Ken Ham began spending more time in the United States. This history is recounted in the CreationWiki article on the Creation Science Foundation.

According to the information assembled on the CMI webpage, which was originally assembled in 1986-87:

The pack was originally prepared in response to the aftermath of a horrific attack (February, 1986) on our ministry (then called Creation Science Foundation) by Mr Mackay. The mechanism of attack involved a monstrous series of allegations without evidence—the basis was alleged ‘spiritual discernment’, involving ‘black cats’ and similar. These slanderous allegations concerned Margaret Buchanan, at the time a well-regarded Christian widow working for the ministry as Ken Ham’s personal secretary. John said she had been ‘specially sent by Satan’ to undermine him and the ministry, involved in covens, attending séances, etc.—never was there any eyewitness testimony or other evidence, merely ‘discernment’.

When his attempt to sack her and take over the ministry failed, due to the Board’s refusal to violate biblical principle, Mr Mackay resigned. This was followed by a campaign of widespread innuendo and slander, involving actual fabrications which if accepted would tend to bolster his claim of ‘demonic infiltration’ of our ministry and thus would tend to undermine public confidence in our ministry. This included the bizarre and incredibly offensive claim that Margaret had claimed to have had intercourse with the corpse of her late husband (!).

Sadly, these horrific sins have never been repented of, nor forgiveness sought, nor restitution offered—despite a Baptist church excommunicating Mr Mackay and urging people to respect this decision in the Lord. When Ken Ham left ICR in about 1996, the rumour mill from this source again swung into action; the story this time was that Margaret was to blame for this ‘split’, somehow using demonic ‘powers’ to damage another creation ministry. Again, the real ‘target’ of the rumours was clearly public confidence in our ministry; if it could be undermined, it would be more likely to leave the Australian ‘creation public’ diverting the support in other directions. It might also be seen as a ‘vindication’ of the original offensive actions.

Currently, the issue has surfaced again in the context of the recent tensions between the Australian ministry and AiG-USA, with John Mackay’s newsletter suddenly urging supporters to pray for the ‘attack’ the US ministry is allegedly under.

In fact, it appears that new alliances are being forged, and talk of ‘reconciliation’ is being used to rehabilitate Mr Mackay in creationist circles—again the aim appears to be to undermine the Australian ministry, only from a different angle. Reconciliation is a wonderful and most desirable thing, but can never occur except on a biblical basis; the original slander must be withdrawn, and there must be a repentance and forgiveness sought from the main victim, Margaret, for a start.

No one likes to keep things alive that are best forgotten, but to cover up serious sin or attempt to sweep it under the carpet can never earn God’s approval. There is a cost to taking a strong stand in defence of truth and integrity, not the least being that it can easily be misrepresented.

However, we will quietly but persistently maintain our stand, especially as the ugly stain of these rumours is encouraged to resurface to once again undermine the ministry—until and unless these seriously sinful actions are dealt with under the cross, not whitewashed for ‘political’ convenience or excused on the basis of any ‘personalities’ involved. Anything less would not only dishonour God, it would ultimately be running away from our responsibility of Christian love to the perpetrator himself.

The web page with this text contains two documents--one with the text of an account of these attacks titled Salem Revisited (PDF, 59 pp.), by Margaret Buchanan, and the other additional supporting documentation (PDF, 63 pp.).

Buchanan, who was a widow at the time, is now the wife of CMI managing director Carl Wieland.

Mackay's charges seem a lot like the fabricated charges of Laurel Willson, a deeply disturbed woman better known as Lauren Stratford (pseudonym), author of Satan's Underground. Her account of being a victim of Satanic ritual abuse was debunked by Gretchen and Bob Passantino and Jon Trott, who were also instrumental in exposing the fake claims of "Satanist turned Christian comedian" Mike Warnke.

UPDATE (June 10, 2007): CMI's main point about Mackay is that (a) he made these charges and never apologized for them, (b) Ken Ham agreed that Mackay was in the wrong, and that he shouldn't be associated with until he retracted these charges, but (c) Ken Ham and AiG-US have been associating with Mackay despite his failure to retract, in order to use him as a conduit to supporters in Australia.

The CMI position on (c) is supported by the fact that when Mackay sent out the AiG "spiritual attack" email to his supporters, he left attached this email from Ken Ham:
From: Ken Ham Sent: Saturday, 2 June 2007 1:13 PM
To: John Mackay
Subject: Letter: AiG under Spiritual Attac

John-the attachment is the letter you are free to send to your entire
mailing list and anyone else you want to send it to. Also send to
pastors etc.



Lippard said...


I agree that an attempted coup by Mackay makes no sense--I think the best explanation is not one which attributes rational reasons to Mackay, but that he really does suffer from the kind of delusions about demonic activity that have led to numerous cases of false accusation of Satanic ritual abuse, along the lines of my comparison to Lauren Stratford.

I believe the reason CMI brings it up is because of Mackay sent out the AiG-US email to his Australian supporters, and CMI is attacking the messenger--but also attacking Ham for his apparent willingness to reconcile with Mackay, knowing full well of his past. The wording of the email referenced by CMI suggests that Mackay sent it out after interacting with Ham. Mackay's web site also suggests continuing dialogue with Ham: "KEN HAM has also been in the UK and reported to John Mackay 'Some of the media who interviewed me also asked about you-the Telegraph thought we had planned a blitz through the country with you and us'." And apparently Mackay has visited AiG-US and been photographed with Ham.

As a result of this schism, CMI has to rebuild in the U.S. and AiG-US has to rebuild in Australia, and they are in competition in those locations. It appears that AiG-US is willing to entertain dealings with Mackay as a way to gaining supporters in Australia, and CMI is attacking them for that.

Anonymous said...

The papers show that Ham (and his father) attested to Mackay doing those crazy things. If we presume the existance of the documents mean that Mackay never repented, it makes sense that CMI would be against Ham teaming up with Mackay again. Christians are supposed to forgive someone only after repentance. Looks like Ham is buddying up with Mackay both as a doorway into Australia and to rub Wieland's nose in the crap.

Anonymous said...

From page 27 of the supporting documentation:

"I must totally dissociate myself from John, because of what he has done and because of aspects of his theology that would not be accepted by evangelical Christians, I cannot afford anymore to be connected with John. My Christian reputation is important and must not be associated with such bizarre actions."

Guess his vendetta became more important than his reputation.

sylas said...

Jim, can you please give a bit more detail as to how you obtained the attachment from Ken Ham on the copy of the "Spiritual Attack" letter sent to John MacKay? Did MackKay put that as part of his newsletter? Is it online anywhere?

Lippard said...

I received it from someone who received it from a recipient--it was apparently sent by Mackay to a list of his supporters.

CMI now has it, so it may show up on their site.

The message was an email from Mackay, that was a forward of this email from Ham, which was a forward of the AiG "spiritual attack" email, which was sent out by AiG-US chairman Don Landis to AiG-US supporters.

BDM said...

Reading this sad saga to date of the conflict between all the parties, I see unmistakenly the hand of 'Old smutty face'! But it also reminded me of the story of Admiral Nelson coming on deck on an occasion to find his immediate subordinates engaged in a furious argument, to which he declared: "Gentlemen, the battle is out there" ---- pointing to the enemy fleet! Come on, all of you, demonstrate our saviour's grace and mercy and in repentance be restored to each other and to Him.

Anonymous said...

Dave Powell
Brian you have hit the nail on the head. "The battle is out there..." however some do try and bring it "in here".

I see in comments the call for John repent. Do you think there is the possibility that he has nothing to repent of?

I "use" his ministry as much as I can and am never disappointed. Great ministry we had with John at the Warwick 09 Easter convention(Aus).

Lay your swords down fellas.


Lippard said...

Dave: If bearing false witness is a sin in your view, then I'd say he has something to repent of simply for continuing to make bogus young-earth creationist arguments, let alone the unfounded charges of witchcraft and "demonic infiltration."