Answers in Genesis, recognized as one of the strongest advocates for homeschooling in America, has been kicked out of two homeschool conventions.
Update: June 10, 2011
Answers in Genesis Board of Directors’ Statement on Allegations by Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc.
The Board of Directors of Answers in Genesis (“AiG”) conducted an internal investigation of allegations made against our CEO Ken Ham, specifically accusations made by Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc. (“GHC”) and its corresponding banning of Mr. Ham and our ministry from further GHC events. GHC took issue with statements made by Mr. Ham as a speaker at a GHC conference held in Greenville, S.C. in March. In summary, GHC stated that although they agreed with the substance of Mr. Ham’s presentations, they believed Mr. Ham sinned in his spirit. GHC alleged the questioning of the salvation, integrity, and the intelligence of other Christians. GHC later took issue with related internet postings and publications by Mr. Ham. As a result of Mr. Ham’s alleged sin, GHC banned Mr. Ham and the AiG ministry from future engagements.
Because of GHC’s allegations against our CEO, the Board initiated an internal investigation and so informed GHC in April. After initiation of this investigation, in May, GHC publicly distributed a Mediation Report where GHC expressed its views on these issues. GHC did not send this report directly to us, but the cover page and events indicate GHC distributed the report to its speakers, vendors, and many conference attendees. We received the report from a third party who reported receiving it directly from GHC after making inquiry regarding these matters. GHC did not send a copy to us.
AiG never retained a mediator and no mediation took place. We had not determined whether mediation was necessary or appropriate. To the contrary, we explained repeatedly that our Board needed to conduct its own investigation before anything further progressed. Accordingly, we were surprised that GHC authored and publicly distributed a Mediation Report. We take issue with several of the statements made in GHC’s report; suffice it to say that we find it inaccurate in several places. GHC states at the end of the report that it attempted to communicate an “apology” to AiG. We have not received an apology from GHC and note that GHC makes this statement after re-stating its allegations. It is thus unclear as to the nature of the apology.
From March through May of this year, we conducted our investigation. Board members reviewed Mr. Ham’s presentations at the Greenville conference and his subsequent publications. We also reviewed communications, public statements, and interviewed individuals relevant to these matters. At our June 7-9 meeting, the Board corporately reviewed the allegations made against Mr. Ham and corresponding evidences.
In reviewing Mr. Ham’s statements that gave rise to this dispute, the Board finds the substance of his statements entirely consistent with AiG’s mission and historical message. We agree with what Mr. Ham said. Regarding the “spirit” of Mr. Ham’s statements, we find no basis for condemnation. We find no evidence of Mr. Ham questioning anyone’s salvation. To the contrary, Mr. Ham and this ministry have repeatedly stated that salvation is based entirely upon faith in Christ, independent of one’s belief on origins. Similarly, we find no instance of Mr. Ham questioning the integrity or intelligence of another. Mr. Ham appropriately took issue on several instances with the teaching of false doctrine, particularly with false teachings on origins. We find no evidence that these doctrinal criticisms included attacks on anyone’s salvation, intelligence, or integrity.
Our Board unanimously supports Mr. Ham and his statements that gave rise to GHC’s actions. We find no basis for GHC’s allegation of sin made against Mr. Ham.
Don Landis, Chairman
Dan Chin, Vice-Chairman
[The original article starts below.]
Answers in Genesis, recognized as one of the strongest advocates for homeschooling in America, has been kicked out of two homeschool conventions where AiG President Ken Ham had been scheduled to speak. In addition, AiG as an exhibitor has also been expelled. One of the conferences is being held in our “backyard”: at the Cincinnati Convention Center.
So why has AiG been disinvited from the “Great Homeschool Conventions” (March 31–April 2 in Cincinnati) and also near Philadelphia (June 23–25)? Have the organizers accused AiG of promoting anti-biblical teaching and thus have voided its contract with us?
In an email to Ken Ham, the leader of this homeschool group wrote to us (just after midnight last night) to announce its decision. Sadly, the leader of this group did not personally call Ken or anyone at AiG first, nor did anyone on his board, to make sure they got the full background. Just as a common courtesy, not to speak of biblical guidelines (such as Proverbs 18:13; Matthew 18:15–17; etc.), one would expect that one of its leaders would at least have spoken to us before rescinding our agreement.
We are quoting the entire email so we don’t misrepresent in any way the group’s claimed motivations:
After much prayer and deliberation over the weekend, Great Homeschool Convention's Advisory Board has unanimously decided to disinvite Ken and AIG from all future conventions, including the Cincinnati convention next week. The Board believes this to be the Lord's will for our convention and searched the Scriptures for the mind of the Lord and the leadership of the Holy Spirit before arriving at this decision. The Board believes that Ken's public criticism of the convention itself and other speakers at our convention require him to surrender the spiritual privilege of addressing our homeschool audience.Please know that our Board is 100% young earth and we largely share AIG's perspective from a scientific standpoint. That is why Ken was originally invited and treated so graciously and extremely generously in Memphis and Greenville (far beyond what we do for other speakers or their ministries). Our expression of sacrifice and extraordinary kindness towards Ken and AIG has been returned to us and our attendees with Ken publicly attacking our conventions and other speakers. Our Board believes Ken's comments to be unnecessary, ungodly, and mean-spirited statements that are divisive at best and defamatory at worst.
One of the core values of our convention is that we believe that good people can disagree and still be good people. We believe that Christians do not need to personally question the integrity, the intelligence, or the salvation of other Christians when debating Biblical issues. Ken has obviously felt led to publicly attack our conventions and a number of our speakers. We believe that what Ken has said and done is unChristian and sinful. A number of attendees are demanding explanations from our board and we must respond to them.
We believe that Dr. Ham is very intelligent and deliberate and that he decided that publicly slandering our conventions and defaming a number of our speakers is what he wanted to do. Whereas Ken chooses to conduct himself in a way that we believe to be unscriptural, we cannot countenance that spirit as we believe it would not honor the Savior whom we serve.
A public statement will be prepared for distribution at the convention explaining our Board's decision. Anyone who inquires regarding Dr. Ham or AIG will be referred to that statement. We have no intention to defame or publicly slander Dr. Ham, the Creation Museum, or the work of AIG. Our Board would respectfully request that Dr. Ham and AIG prayerfully consider doing the same. Our Board takes seriously the admonition of Jesus in John 13:35, "By this shall all men know that ye are My disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
Great Homeschool Conventions, Inc.
These are serious accusations. Are we really guilty of “public criticism of the convention itself and other speakers at our convention” that require Ken Ham “to surrender the spiritual privilege of addressing [their] homeschool audience”?
While Ken was highly critical of the compromises and teachings of one of the presenters at a previous convention that was organized by Mr. Dean, he certainly did not question anyone’s intelligence or salvation.
We won’t dwell much into the fact that another speaker, Dr. Jay Wile, made personal attacks on Ken on his blog before the convention, and his attack was supported by two other speakers, John Stonestreet and Susan Wise Bauer. Maybe Mr. Dean has talked with them already.
Ken did write Facebook and blog items sharing his concerns about the teaching of one of the speakers at the homeschool convention—Dr. Peter Enns. For a long time now, Ken has been alerting audiences to what Dr. Enns believes and teaches. Since he was there at the convention to promote a Bible curriculum to homeschoolers, Ken could not in good conscience speak without warning people about him. Also, the conference organizers were aware back in November that we would be talking about the beliefs of BioLogos at upcoming conventions. Because Dr. Enns of BioLogos was speaking at Mr. Dean’s conventions to promote a Bible curriculum to homeschoolers, which we consider very dangerous to the spiritual upbringing of kids, we wanted to make sure that people knew what he believed.
(We will be providing a detailed critique of the Bible curriculum in the near future. For the moment, you should be aware that Dr. Enns makes it clear that sin should not be discussed with young children because it will cause problems with their view of God. He also doesn’t believe in a literal Adam and literal Fall. Yet he sometimes describes Adam and the Fall in a way that he appears to believe in them, but only later do you understand he merely uses these words metaphorically.)
Ken Ham did mention Peter Enns by name in one of his five talks at an earlier South Carolina convention in Greenville organized by Mr. Dean. Ken showed two video clips of Dr. Enns, done in the context of showing how some modern Christian speakers are compromising God’s Word in Genesis. Ken did say that Dr. Enns was also speaking at the conference and had connections to another convention speaker, Susan Wise Bauer. In another talk about a common Christian viewpoint that compromises Genesis, Ken briefly mentioned that one of the speakers at this convention took that view.
You can read for yourself what Ken wrote in his blog and Facebook (by the way, we are not at all ashamed of what we have done to warn Christian families, and we would do it all over again):
Also, we have written prior blogs posts showing photos of convention resources to warn parents about compromising materials distributed at homeschool conventions:
Ken’s main Facebook entry is the following: http://www.facebook.com/aigkenham#!/notes/ken-ham/warning-all-homeschoolers/186020768110064
Our Creator and Savior, the Word, the Lord Jesus, certainly confronted compromisers publicly. He taught, “whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were thrown into the sea” (Mark 9:42).
In Jude we read, “Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3).
We at AiG are burdened before the Lord that parents may choose to use the Bible curriculum from Dr. Enns, without being aware of the destructive teachings in it. The church is already losing two-thirds of our young people. Someone needs to stand against the compromise that is pouring into the church from many directions.
Interestingly, the Great Homeschool Convention’s website states the following:
While are Christians – gratefully and unapologetically so – and whereas this helps to guide how we structure the convention, we do not require that an attendee, speaker or exhibitor “affirm” their agreement to our own Statement of Faith. Neither do we require that you PAY to join our organization (we don’t have one) or any other organization in order to receive a discounted admission to the convention. Further, if you elect to PAY to join a homeschooling-related group of some sort that you saw at our convention – – – we do NOT receive commissions on your membership fees.
Similarly – – – whereas we may not schedule a speaker or approve an exhibitor that is speci?cally “anti-Christian” – – – we do have Speakers and Exhibitors that are not speci?cally “Christian” but that DO provide knowledge, information and/or curriculum that is applicable and valuable for homeschoolers, both Christian and non-Christian alike. Accordingly, you should note that we do not necessarily endorse everything you may find in the Exhibit Hall or that you may hear in a Seminar or Workshop session.
Because this is an education forum, we do not propose to “filter” everything–allowing you to see or hear only what “we” have approved. We believe that you, as parent educators, are very capable of judging and making intelligent decisions for yourself and for your family. Our conventions are designed to help a broad spectrum of homeschoolers and people considering homeschooling. They are not, however, denominational meetings to formulate unity of belief and practice.
Isn’t a “forum” a place where various competing views have a place to speak their position? Well, despite their rhetoric, it seems that Answers in Genesis has been filtered! Because we publicly exposed one of their speakers and his curriculum because his beliefs clearly undermine the authority of Scripture, we apparently come under the heading of “anti-Christian” in our actions.
In the homeschool board’s email to Ken they stated the following:
We believe that Christians do not need to personally question the integrity, the intelligence, or the salvation of other Christians when debating Biblical issues.
We certainly questioned a person’s stand on Scripture, but we did not question his integrity, intelligence, or salvation. Our focus was upon the error of his teaching, not his personal relationship with Jesus Christ or his character. Furthermore, we are unaware of anything said or done at previous a convention that could be viewed as an attack on the conference itself. That certainly was not our intention, and if we attacked the conference or our hosts, we would want to fix that problem. After appearing at two recent conferences now, we note that not one person we have met at the conferences or who has written to us later has suggested we attacked the conference. Instead, what AiG did was to attack ideas—ideas being represented at the conference that are clearly outside the pale of orthodox Christianity. If the conference organizers were sincere in their concern for Christian charity, why did they make no effort to talk to us before unilaterally disinviting AiG? And to confront us first and have some dialogue? Is this really about Christian charity, or something else altogether?
We should also add that many months before Ken spoke, AiG made it quite clear to the leader of this convention that we speak against those who compromise Scripture, including those who might be speaking at his convention. AiG’s CCO, Mark Looy, had a very frank but cordial discussion with Mr. Dean about this BioLogos/Dr. Enns matter in November. Mark took notes during the phone conversation; here are excerpts from his summary:
Since I know Brennan a little, I called him a few weeks ago and told him our deep concerns about BioLogos [being at the convention]—but informed him we will not be pulling out.
He told me that many h.s. conventions are becoming “less Christian”—that they will have vendors there to cater to the secular and even Jewish families that are becoming good-size segments within the h.s. movement . . . . Brennan made it sound as if he might avoid BioLogos in 2012 and beyond, but he did not promise that. I told him that Ken would still mention compromise in the church, and might bring up BioLogos by name in his keynotes, and Brennan replied: “I would expect nothing else from AiG.”
Ken and I decided that we will just live with BioLogos there. At least we can counter their compromise messages with solid teaching from Ken.
We often find today that if we speak against someone’s theological compromise, we are accused of being “un-Christian” or “unloving.” This is a bigger topic for another time, but for the moment let us state that we need to understand what the Bible means by “love.” It does not mean one doesn’t publicly stand against error.
Being kicked out of these conventions is sad, but AiG notes this is not the major issue here. What is troubling is more and more churches have been infiltrated by academics who compromise God’s Word, and many Christians are simply unaware of the danger. This is the saddest part of all: a convention that will attract thousands of parents wanting direction in their choice of materials and information to give their children may be led astray and end up unwittingly undermining the faith of their children—children whom they want to train to serve the Lord.
We at Answers in Genesis are on a crusade—a mission. We continue to move ahead to call the church and culture back to the authority of God’s Word.
It is sad that a speaker and ministry, which stand boldly and uncompromisingly on the authority of God’s Word, are eliminated from a homeschool convention. Yet speakers and exhibitors who obviously undermine the authority of God’s Word are welcomed.
Incidentally, have you ever noticed individuals at BioLogos and elsewhere cry the loudest for what they call tolerance and free speech, but tend to be the most intolerant and censorious of others? The position of Answers in Genesis is that when it comes to biblical truth, there is only one truth, and we are called to be intolerant of all other opposing claims of truth. AiG is, therefore, at least willing to admit our “intolerance” in this area. Those who have joined together in a harmony of accusations against AiG over this homeschool convention incident have one thing in common: a double standard. At the end of the day, they are censors. They claim to want open debate and discussion, but when we engage them in the battle of ideas, they launch invectives and ad hominem arguments, and then seek to exclude AiG from the debate. In our view, there is nothing “Christian” about that.
In the convention’s email to us, it was stated, “Please know that our Board is 100% young earth and we largely share AIG's perspective from a scientific standpoint.” We have made this point over and over again: we recognize that Christians who believe millions of years, evolution, Adam is a metaphor, etc. are undermining the authority of God’s Word. The issue comes down to one of authority.
This sad situation clearly illustrates a massive problem in our churches today about God’s Word.
Update: AiG tried to contact the conference organizer, Mr. Dean, by phone on the morning we learned of the cancellation (March 22), and then followed up with an email. In the email, we indicated that because people would soon be contacting us to inquire why Ken was “disinvited” from next week’s convention (e.g., noticing that Ken was no longer shown on the convention’s website), AiG wanted a “phone conversation with you as soon as possible as we will have to make our own determination about how we will word our advice to supporters that we will not be at the conference. We are going to meet to make this determination at 2pm today so please call me before then to discuss.”
We added that per a prior phone conversation about the inclusion of BioLogos and Peter Enns in the conventions, Mr. Dean had already “informed us that you expected us to carry on our normal focus of pointing people to the authority of the Word of God and exposing compromise damaging to the historical foundations of our faith.” We also inquired as to what AiG might have said about his convention speakers that led him to conclude that we questioned other people’s salvation, adding: “Please tell me where it happened. We are careful never to do this.” AiG later pleaded: “Please call me urgently. We would hope that a decision of this magnitude requires audible and more intimate dialogue rather than an email.”
Mr. Dean’s reply to our email was: “I am extremely busy at work today. We may be able to connect by phone at some point over the next several days ... perhaps Sunday afternoon. As I get a better handle on my schedule, I'll follow up with you.”
Editor’s note: check out Ken Ham’s Facebook page for up-to-date information on his journeys, activities around AiG, etc.