AIG has been attempting to rezone land for a first-class Creation Museum in the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky area, but over the past 2½ years has received intense opposition from secular humanists and county authorities.
Even though AIG’s proposed 30,000-sq.-ft. museum will be built on private property using private funds, a very vocal minority (the overwhelming majority of people in the area, however, are welcoming the project) have been circulating all sorts of wild rumors, innuendo, and outright false statements to stop the project. The old “cult” rumor, however, is not as widespread this time around because prominent Christian leaders in the community are standing up for AIG and have been blunting the reckless rumors
Some of the real nature of the opposition was revealed in an inflammatory letter written by one of the museum opponents that is now a part of the public record of the county, with many of its contents having been read at a public forum on February 24th and in front of the Planning Commission on March 3. The letter below in rebuttal to the wild accusations was written by Ken Ham and Mark Looy, co-blockquoteectors of AIG. It will prove eye-opening as you will see to what level people will stoop to oppose a God-honoring project like a museum to defend the authority of the Bible from its very first verse.
March 17, 1999
Boone County Planning Commission/Boone County Fiscal Court
2950 Washington St.
Burlington, KY 41005
Dear Commissioners of the Planning Commission and Fiscal Court:
This letter is in response to the derogatory comments made by J________ in her March 5 letter to the Boone County Planning Commission and also in statements she has made in a public forum (February 24) and at a public hearing before the planning commission (March 3). Her standing as an historian is at stake because of her distribution of false statements, rumors, innuendo, etc., in her effort to defame our ministry.
Notably, none of her allegations has anything to do with substantive zoning issues, but instead represent a vicious, personal attack aimed at inciting prejudice against the AIG ministry.
As I quote from her March 5 letter to the Planning Commission, I would like to comment on her statements, with a rebuttal to each. Incredibly, all of her allegations are either blatantly false or highly misleading, hardly traits of an accurate historian.
1. She declares that AIG felt a “need to hide their philosophy” by purposely making its web site inaccessible (March 5 letter, paragraph 2; and March 3 public comment before the planning commission).
As we wrote to her on March 5, our site was not intentionally shut down. A secular company which oversees our Internet site developed technical problems for a few days, for which they will be compensating us. Frankly, to think that we would prevent thousands of people worldwide from accessing our site so that a few opponents to our zoning application would be kept off is bordering on paranoia.
2. She claims that AiG “condemns everyone who differs” with them on creation and labels any opponent as a “despicable humanist” (paragraph 3).
This is absolutely incorrect, and she has yet to provide any primary-source documentation for this claim. In fact, we have written in our newsletters that there are even many Christians who are not literal creationists, but we do not judge their commitment to Christ or to the Bible. The only local group to which we have applied a tag of “humanist” is to the Free Inquiry Group and its followers, which sought to censor AiG 2 ½ years ago on a previous piece of property. By the way, the Free Inquiry Group proudly calls itself “humanist.”
3. She claims that AIG attorney Tim Theissen misspoke when he “said last Wednesday that AIG wasn’t allowed to present their position before the Fiscal Court last fall” (paragraph 4).
What Mr. Theissen actually said was that the Fiscal Court did not allow a public hearing so that county residents could speak and AIG present its detailed plan. Just before the prior Fiscal Court voted, it granted AIG only a few minutes to speak, but this was not a public hearing, even though AIG requested such a hearing after being turned down by the previous planning commission.
4. She claims that attorney Theissen declared that AIG would not “include a distribution center, or ornamental monuments, or space for religious assembly” (paragraph 5) in its plan.
Mr. Theissen never said this. Either she has totally misunderstood what Mr. Theissen said or is making this up. Why would Mr. Theissen ever say something so obviously contrary to our submitted plan and public statements made by AIG representatives?
5. She claims that “Ken Ham has said repeatedly and been quoted by the media as saying this property is zoned Industrial” (paragraph 6; and March 3 planning commission hearing). At the planning commission meeting on March 3rd she claimed that “we have all heard it on radio, television, and seen it in print that this area is already zoned Industrial.”
Why would AIG ever say such a thing since the whole purpose of its meetings before the planning commission is to rezone the property? Mark Looy of our staff has accompanied me to almost all my media interviews and edits most of the literature that comes out of the office, and he does not recall a misspoken comment like that. We have asked her for primary source documentation (in our letter to her dated March 5), but have not received it. If any such misstatement was made, it was inadvertent and not intentional.
What I have said is that this property is designated to be industrial-1 on the future land-use map, which is why we applied to have it rezoned industrial-1. On the other hand, she incorrectly stated at the public hearing that the Comprehensive Plan (which includes the future land-use map) only designates the property as RSE. As noted, while the current land-use map says RSE, the future land-use map says I-1.
6. Perhaps her silliest claim was that at the Florence Y’all Festival last year, AIG “in an effort to gather a crowd, they claimed to be giving money away and blocked the street. When asked to desist, they simply resumed” (paragraph 7).
We have absolutely no idea what she is talking about here. Actually, AIG gave away thousands of booklets, dinosaur cards, and other materials, and did not even ask for a donation. The only thing that we can come up with that even remotely ties into her false claim is that a magician, a friend of AIG who donated his services, performed a few illusions in front of our booth.
We talked to the magician. He informed us that he was never told to move out of the way, and he never promised anyone money to visit our booth. It was certainly never advertised throughout the festival that a man was giving away free money at the AIG booth. It was a free performance of magic tricks.
In fact, the magician was shocked to learn that such a crazy rumor like that could be circulating! Also, according to the AIG staff who attended the festival, they say that no official with the festival ever asked us to stop “giving money away” or to stop blocking the street.
7. She states that “AIG representatives offered to buy a Florence house at the asking price from some friends. When a real estate contract was produced, they changed the offer, saying the homeowners could write off a $20,000 tax donation to AIG” (paragraph 8).
What in the world is this? AIG categorically denies that this ever occurred. Where is the so-called “real estate contract” she refers to and other primary source documentation?
8. She accuses Commissioner Robert Hay of going “door-to-door attempting to gather support for AIG” (paragraph 9).
While we are aware that Mr. Hay has talked with neighbors on Bullittsburg Church Rd., our understanding is that this was just a fact-finding effort to try to come up with a solution acceptable to both the neighbors and AIG. In this regard, Commissioner Hay should actually be commended for his efforts.
9. She claims that: “From their pulpits, Baptist preachers carefully cultivated by AIG have repeatedly badgered their congregations into signing petitions and sending letters of support to you [the planning commission] and the fiscal court.” She says that AIG has demonstrated a “lack of ethics” in orchestrating this campaign (paragraph 10).
There are dozens of pastors - of various denominations - who are in support of AIG, and have very willingly left petitions at information desks and other locations in their churches.
We are confident that none of these pastors has “badgered” anyone, but simply made their congregations aware of the need and opportunity to support AIG. The choice of whether to do so was entirely up to the church members.
10. She claims that some museum opponents “have been damned and condemned by their own church members for not jumping on the AIG bandwagon” (paragraph 11).
We have never heard of such a thing and any pastor who would “damn” anyone for not supporting AIG would be wrong and un-Biblical. I do not know of any “heavy-handedness” on the part of pastors, and have absolutely no reason to believe that this ever occurred.
11. In her letter, she challenges the credibility of our General Manager, Mike Zovath. She wrote that “Mike Zovath had already told the group [at the Bullittsburg Baptist Church] that AIG began in San Diego, but then - only after I questioned him - corrected himself to Australia. What is fearful about the truth?"(paragraph 12).
Indeed, Answers in Genesis began in San Diego five years ago. Its sister (but independent) organization was founded in Australia in the 1970s, but changed its name to Answers in Genesis after AIG in the United States did so. Mr. Zovath was not “correcting” himself, but explaining that there are two different, independent organizations with the same name (but with a “sisterly” relationship).
12. She states that “information I obtained elsewhere said yes, Ham misused funds, but charges were not filed” (paragraph 13).
This is probably the most outrageous accusation of all. We presented much documentation to her (mailed to her on March 5), which clearly revealed that ten years ago the Australia ministry’s money had been entrusted to an Australian broker for investment. This investment firm failed because some of the principals of that firm broke laws and embezzled money. Hundreds of people and organizations, including the creation organization in Australia, were affected. Thankfully, the people involved were jailed, and a considerable amount of the money was eventually recovered. The Australian organization was one of the victims, not a perpetrator.
The claim that I misused funds has no basis in fact, and is an old rumor that has been passed around by critics to discredit our ministry. If the Australian group - audited annually - had misused funds, its non-profit status would have been revoked by the government!
13. At the public forum at Bullittsburg Baptist Church on February 24th, she brought up the tired rumor that I was “expelled” from Australia.
I have no idea how this rumor started. On the face of it, of course, this rumor is absolutely preposterous. Nations do not kick their citizens out if they have done something terribly wrong - they put them in jail! Also, I continue to be an Australian citizen, and I still hold an Australian passport though I am a legal resident of the United States. Furthermore, I go back to Australia regularly (I was there twice last year); I could return to live in Australia any time I want. With the exception of one traffic ticket, I have never been in trouble with the law.
14. She attacked Pastor Charles Wagner of Calvary Baptist Church - a supporter of AIG - as someone who “condemns those who had the audacity to ask questions [about AiG’s ministry]” (paragraph 14, referring to a letter submitted by Pastor Wagner November 12 to the Cincinnati Enquirer, which was never printed).
Enclosed is a copy of Pastor Wagner’s letter to the Enquirer for you to judge whether or not he was condemning at all.
15. She is worried that AIG has her mailing address (paragraph 15).
Actually, we wrote inviting her to our offices (twice) to find out more about AIG first-hand, and her address was very easily obtained by our staff. It’s printed in her history book, which is in the Boone County Library System. We understand that there are hundreds of other copies that have been distributed in the county.
16. In her March letter, paragraph 18, and in her error-filled letter to the Recorder of October 1 she has suggested that AIG is a “front” for Martin Marietta. At the commission hearing on March 3rd, she declared that “we do not want Martin Marietta in there and people see this as a step away from it, and don’t realize that the two are related.”
None of our staff has had any contact with Martin Marietta. Her suggestion is simply a scare tactic that once we rezone the property, we will sell it to Martin Marietta. (And she says in paragraph 16 that we are the purveyors of fear?)
She also incorrectly stated at the planning commission hearing that we were applying for I-4 rezoning, which is a designation associated with mining.
Because she has already demonstrated a bias against our ministry (dating back to her incredible, error-filled letter to the editor of October 1), we cannot help but conclude that her intention at public meetings and through public letters is to damage the reputation of this ministry.
In fact, since she is supposed to be an historian, we are absolutely amazed that she has not checked out her facts through primary sources before going public. If she cannot accurately report on current events, then we should be skeptical about what she has written about Boone County’s past or anything else for that matter.
We have endeavored to be as open as possible with the public as to the nature of our ministry. As noted, we have twice invited her to visit our offices, but to our knowledge, she has not chosen to do so. We wrote her last on March 5 (responding to most of her allegations) asking if she would like to meet with me, but we have not received a response. She continues to regurgitate old, tired rumors and false and irresponsible misinformation.
Our reputation means a lot to us in this community. We are saddened by her lack of journalistic ethics, and respectfully ask that you disregard completely such unfounded commentary, which was submitted after the public hearing was closed.
October 5, 1998
7736 U. S. 42 #D4
Florence KY 41042
We, the undersigned, have known Answers in Genesis since it began in Northern Kentucky four years ago. We have been appalled at the uninformed comments and false rumors being spread by AiG opponents, some calling AiG “a cult” and “anti-science.”
For the record, AiG is a reputable, Bible-believing ministry, beyond reproach in their theology, business dealings, and in their various scientific endeavors.
What was to have been a straightforward process of rezoning land for a museum and office buildings has instead become a time of lashing out against a ministry that is proclaiming the authority of the Word of God from the very first verse.
Their museum project clearly frightens a vocal minority who wants to censor a project that obviously fits with Boone County’s Comprehensive Plan for the future.
We stand behind Answers in Genesis. AiG and its staff are good citizens and great assets in our community.
Judge David Grossmann (ret.)
Dr. Eric Norman, Ph.D. (biochemistry)
Pastor Charles Wagner, Calvary Baptist Church
Pastor Tim Alexander, Florence Baptist Church
Mr. Jerry Croucher, General Manager, WAKW
23 pastors of the Ohio Valley Baptist Association