Today we have two major global young earth ministries: Answers in Genesis, and Creation Ministries International. Until early 2006, AiG and CMI were one in the same. However, prior to the opening of AiG's creation museum, there arose a dispute among the members of AiG, which led to the splitting of this ministry into two separate ministries. In this page, we will detail the history of this split, with the aid of documents from the ministries themselves, and help paint a picture of the main person who was responsible for this split. Most of the discussion below comes from a document published by CMI, called Chronological_orderSHORT.pdf. At the time of this writing, all documents related to the split have been removed from the ministries' websites, but they are still available in other places on the web. Please note also that throughout the dispute, CMI published many documents, to let their supporters know their side of the story. In sharp contrast, AiG was silent, wishing to hide their actions from their supporters.
This split officially occurred in early 2006. These documents show that the tensions arose as early as 2004. As a watchdog that monitors YEC ministries, we were not aware of these problems until the split was announced in early 2006.
Prior to the split, the two main people who controlled AiG were Carl Wieland, CEO of AiG-Au, and Ken Ham, CEO of AiG-US. AiG-Au was the parent organization to AiG-US. Prior to 2004, these two people conversed almost daily, and "Carl thought that he was Ken's closest friend/confidant. They shared at family events and supported one another through 'thick and thin.'"
Why publish such a history? Is this paper slandering other Christians? The article below paints a grim picture of Ken Ham's true nature. Does it slander him? Perhaps. However, this summarized history is merely a history of his actions, which are less than Christian. I am not making any new accusations against him, I'm merely reporting on his actions as detailed on publicly available websites. Ken Ham did a fine job of slandering himself, and he alone is responsible for his actions.
In early 2004, the home office (AiG International, from this point on referred to as AiG-Au (Australia)) suggested to AiG-US that they adopt a "speaker model and methodology which could make it less dependent on the health/survival of one person." One can only surmise that AiG-Au was becoming concerned about the track that AiG-US was on, in having the entire ministry based around one person (Ken Ham). They must have thought that Ham was given too much authority, or that he was trying to grab power and be the 'top dog' in the organization. It is interesting to note that since the split, this is exactly what has happened. To confirm this, look at the AiG home page, and Ken Ham is prominently featured on the left side. This is also confirmed in my discussions with young earth creationists (YECs), who practically worship anything coming from Ken Ham). At the time of this suggestion, the concept was "taken up enthusiastically by Brandon Vallorani", who was Ken Ham's second in charge (Exec. VP of AiG-US).
In August 2004, things quickly escalated. According to the chronological summary, Carl Wieland phones Ken Ham to discuss the concerns (on 13 August). The Australian Board gives their consent to Carl to audiotape his portion of the phone conversation, "in case they are subsequently misconstrued." The footnote for this discussion notes:
In fact, this was just as well, because Ken later claimed to others that Carl had been aggressive and overbearing, dominating the discussion so that Ken had not had a fair chance to speak. When Australian directors later listened to the tape, they heard no evidence of this and that speaking time was shared approximately 50/50.
A few days later, on 18 August 2004, several senior AiG-Au scientists write to the US Board of AiG, and they express their support for Carl Weiland, and urge them to take Weiland's concerns seriously. This document is not published on the web. From the wording of the chronology entry, one can only assume that the US Board was dismissing Carl Weiland's suggestions. It appears that at this early stage in 2004, Ken Ham was already operating on his own, with his own agenda, that ignored the leadership of the parent organization.
On 19 August, Carl Weiland puts his concerns in writing, which is sent ot the US board. The letter...
"includes a recommendation that management power in the USA be diluted by way of Ken no longer being in total control of hiring and firing, but should take a senior distinguished role as adviser/consultant/speaker, etc.—and to make it easier for him, Carl would do the same in Australia.
The footnote for this entry states "Carl stated that his concern was not just for the ministry, but partly for Ken, as he perceived that the ministry’s excess dependence on him was putting him under pressure." A short time later, this letter is "politely but firmly rejected by the US board.
Later in 2004, the #2 in charge in the US, Brandon Vallorani, asks Ken's permission to write to the US Board, expressing his support for Carl Weiland's recommendation. While Ken grants him permission, he also stabs him in the back. Ham shows the letter to the VPs, who "a few days later collectively 'fire' Brandon for 'treason' and 'wanting to dethrone Ken." It appears that Vallorani was the one person in the US organization that sought unity, and was on the AiG-Au side, and with him removed, there was nobody remaining in the US organization to challenge Ham and his devoted followers.
Shortly afterwards, Carl Weiland seeks a meeting with Ham. Carl is informed that he must "withdraw/recant his views totally, prior to meeting, or Ken will not meet." Ken realizes he is in a position of strength. AiG-US is a strong organization, and with the upcoming opening of the Creation Museum, he realizes that they are financially stable enough to break free from the control of the Australian branch, and be independent. Regarding this requested meeting, a personal plea by Weiland is rejected. The reason for not meeting, according to AiG-US, is that either his (Ham's) wife objected, or it was forbidden by the US Board. Ham says he will think about the meeting and get back with Weiland, but he never does. CMI notes that he could have met, but Ham did not want to. At this point it is clear that Ken Ham has no interest in reconciliation, so he must have devised his plans for separating from AiG-Au prior to this point. This means the cause of the separation is not because of any actions by any members of AiG-US or AiG-Au, but because it was a preconceived plan on the part of Ham.
In March 2005 AiG-US rejects what is known as the Style Guide, which explains how to handle spelling conventions between proper English and the English used in the United States. The US then "demands the right to change website articles at any time without consulting authors first," including 'falsely attributing authorship' to other people. When AiG-Au reminds them that they own the copyrights, AiG-US backs off, with Ken Ham stating that something needs to be done about this.
In April, the US ministry, "without informing Australia" (AiG-Au as the parent organization was technically the International headquarters for AiG), applied to regester Creation Magazine as a trademark. This was a year prior to the magazine being formally announced. From this point on, it is clear that AiG-US intended to split from AiG, but the Australian board sought to reconcile. This is a clear indication as to why AiG-US was so defiant towards AiG-Au during this time. They never intended to reconcile.
During this time, Ken Ham had invited Carl and several other AiG-Au speakers to appear at the US 'megaconference.' Carl was to be the co-lead speaker along with Ham. Ham now changes his mind, and uninvites Carl Weiland, but not the others. This will make Ham the lead speaker, and he would not have to share this honor with anyone. The Australian Board disagrees, and says its either all or none.
During these months, it is noted that the Australian Board remains "extremely frustrated" by the complete unwillingness of Ham to meet with Weiland. They keep conferring with the US with this goal, only to be constantly put off and delayed.
Carl Weiland addresses the Australian Board. He perceives there is a division between himself and the board, "despite nearly 20 years of a harmonious relationship." This division concerns the communications of members of the Australian Board with the US board. Weiland pleads for everyone to pull together and solve the problems. The Australian Board comes back a few days later (14 Jun) with a Board directive to "compel Carl to leave the CEO role" and work only as a speaker/writer. The next day, this is shared at a senior staff/Board retreat. The staff protests, as they view it as a move that is meant solely to appease Ken Ham. One board member (Don Batten) presents a "list of inappropriate actions of Ken Ham." The senior staff states that they will resign if Carl is removed. The Board reinstates Carl as CEO.
The Board then writes a letter to Ham, hoping to reconcile some issues. They express their willingness to withdraw from involvement in AiG-US, and they agree to "appease Ken" by not sending Carl Weiland to the megaconference. This letter is never responded to by AiG-US.
In late June, Ham is in Australia. He calls a church meeting to bring grievances against Don Batten, who had presented the list of inappropriate actions by Ham. Here is the summary:
Ken’s brother accompanies him, claiming that the chairman of AiG–USA had given him the right to shut down the meeting at any time if he felt it was ‘heading in the wrong direction.’ Ken makes gestures to leave several times, but the Australian board pleads with him to stay. The pastor manages to steer him to a limited interaction with Carl. This ‘inadvertent’ meeting6 is the closest ever permitted to face-to-face interaction with either Ken or the whole US Board with Carl present. At the main meeting, Ken is asked by Carl about the whole idea of an international system of checks and balances on such things as the magazine and website (which potentially affect all countries) and Ken specifically states that there is no way that the US ministry will accept in principle any system of voting whereby other countries could outvote AiG–USA on anything. When Carl asks what other countries could do if, for example, things were put on the website that caused them real problems as wearers of the same brand, he said, ‘You can always change your name’. The Australian Directors react strongly, making it clear that to them, such a possibility (re-branding) is unthinkable.
Ham's actions here are in line with his plans to break off and form a new ministry. Note however, that he tells the Australian Board that they can re-brand. At this point, Ham clearly intends to keep the name of the parent organization, Answers in Genesis.
Ham's conditions for this meeting was that it had to go how he wanted it to go, and if it didn't, it would end. It was "Ham's way or the highway", to borrow from a popular saying.
During mid-2005, the Australian Board worked on what they considered essentials that AiG-US and the international AiG brand would agree to, in order to for there to be an ongoing relationship. This list was sent to the US Board, who tabled it, not wanting to consider it at the time. The reason was because they already knew they would be splitting from the Australian group, so this list would be pointless. Despite the lack of response, the Australian Board continues to work on these issues, in the hopes of reconciling (this letter was sent to AiG-US).
A meeting is scheduled for the AiG board, in October 2005. This may have been an annual meeting between all the AiG boards from the various countries. Concern is raised by staff members at AiG-Au. Due to several issues, the staff questions the board's relationship "with Ken Ham and its potential effect on their duties under Australian law to safeguard the Australian ministry." The staff members were concerned that the Board would make an agreement, or sign some documents, that would harm the Australian ministry. This is the first time any indication is given to what might happen to the organization after they split. Up until this time AiG-US, and Ham, have been planning on a split, and have laid the groundwork, thus this pre-planning left them in a better legal position than CMI. The Board members reply that they "won't be signing anything without consulting you."
The Board returns, and presents the two documents they have signed (without consultation). These documents essentially gut the Australian ministry in favor of the US ministry (click here for a review of the document). It appears that the AiG-Au board members are either on Ham's side, or were strong-armed into signing the document. Clearly AiG-US, and Ham, had been preparing for the split all along, so when they presented the formal idea of a split at this meeting, with documents drawn up by lawyers, it apparently took the AiG-Au Board by surprise.
Carl Weilend expressed his concern about the signed documents, telling the Board "How could you do this? You've sold the ministry down the river." On 1 November, a memo from Ham is received, confirming the formal separation of the ministries. This memo did not offer any proposed terms, but stated fact (its a done deal, here are the facts, deal with it.)
November 7 was a key day. here is the summary:
While senior staff are still waiting for the requested meeting, one of the four Australian directors makes an unannounced and rather traumatic incursion into the office. He tells Carl that he has just been removed as CEO, and then asks Carl to give instant and unquestioning allegiance not just to the decision, but to himself as the new CEO. When Carl asks for time to think, he is told, ‘That’s not good enough—you’re on suspension.’ And he orders Carl to immediately leave the building, which he does. The same director then goes immediately to Don Batten’s office, and asks him to sign a written ‘unswerving oath of allegiance’ to the new regime, and again to himself as CEO. Don says he cannot in conscience do so under the circumstances and is similarly suspended and evicted from the building.12 While on a Creation Bus tour, Peter Sparrow likewise says he can’t swear allegiance to this new director-turned-CEO. Several of the speakers are away on ministry engagements, but upon returning, they are suspended, via letters left in mailboxes without talking to the speakers, for alleged (and unspecified) ‘disloyalty to the ministry’. Part-time speakers Drs Mark Harwood and John Hartnett phone the new director-CEO to ask why their colleagues had been suspended. Failing to get satisfactory answers, they withdraw their services until reinstatement of the suspended staff takes place.
The volunteer Support Group13 leaders in every state have to be informed, as ministry is planned. They all notify the Board that they are withdrawing their services pending the reinstatement of the Australian speakers so that matters can be discussed instead. The ministry is grinding to a halt. The majority of the staff and volunteers are devastated at teh Board's actions.
A few days later, Carl Weiland receives a phone call from the company's Christian solicitor, who says a new board is being formed, and they wanted Carl on it. While waiting for the formal proceeding, Carl is informed that members of Ham's family is in Australia, lobbying for a totally different board, so they can wrest control of the Australian ministry from Weiland. After a couple of days the new board with Carl Weiland becomes official.
One of the first things Carl does is send a reconciliatory email to AiG-US, offering to negotiate a "peace with honour." Ten days later, someone at AiG-US inadvertantly sends a message to a AiG-Au staff member, Don Batten. This draft response was full of accusations, and demanded that Carl Weiland apologize for "allegedly struggling for two years to 'take over' the US ministry!" It is clear from the evidence that Carl had no intentions of "taking over" the US ministry, but that Ham had every intention of splitting off and creating a new ministry in which he was the sole leader. Ham clearly endorsed the lies put forth in this draft response, and gives us good insight into the type of person Ham is.
Despite these false allegations, AiG-Au offers to discuss the concerns mentioned in the draft. This shows that despite all the wrongs committed by AiG-US and Ken Ham, AiG-Au and Carl Weiland remain cordial and open, displaying great Christian virtues through some very difficult times. In response to these offers of discussion, AiG-US Chairman Don Landis responds, by making new allegations against AiG-Au. He also states the agreement to split is good, and legal, and there is no need to renegotiate or reconcile.
In early 2006, a decision is made by AiG-Au, along with the AiG boards of Canada, New Zealand, and South Africa, to rebrand as of 1 March 2006, as Creation Ministries International. The largest part of this discussion concerns Creation magazine. This magazine has been solely produced by the Australian branch of AiG. CMI knew that AiG-US intended to launch their own magazine. CMI decided to include a booklet/letter in the March 2006 issue, explaining the situation. At this point, the new Answers Magazine had been in the works, as a replacement for Creation Magazine. Due to AiG-US, and Ken Ham's fears about CMI putting derogatory information in the March issue, AiG-US did not distrubute the March issue, and merely told subscribers that they were replacing this magazine with the new one, beginning with the premeire issue in June. Because AiG-US handled the distribution of Creation in the US, CMI had no access to the subscriber lists, and could not notify subscribers that they had the option to continue receiving Creation Magazine. This unethical 'bait and switch' on the part of Ham tells volumes about Ham as a person.
In another bit of unethical behavior, on 21 February 2006, Paul Taylor, of AiG-UK (which remained associated with Ham), registered the domains CreationOnTheWeb and CreationMinistriesInternational in the .co.uk and .org.uk formats, as well as .eu, and redirected them to the AiG website. When questioned, these were later turned over to CMI.
On 28 February 2006, CMI makes a formal letter offer to AiG-US, to discuss issues related to the split. They state "Our total willingness to negotiate sensibly and to make substantial concessions, including our willingness to give you many of the things you sought." AiG responds that they will meet, but that the "godly" agreement itself is non-negotiable. Since the agreement is the item that CMI wishes to discuss, there is no point on meeting. AiG, knowing they hold all the cards with the signed agreement, have no incentive to meet, and they don't care how badly this agreement hurts the CMI ministry, or their brothers in Christ. AiG clearly is acting self-absorbed, and could care less about other ministries and other Christians, so long as they get what they want.
In April, another attempt is made, in which some pastors try to act as intermediaries. Answers in Genesis simply ignores this attempt. A few weeks later, one of these pastors comes to CMI, claiming to have some proposals from Ken Ham, and he gets their reaction to the proposals on the spot, and then departs. In hindsight this appears to merely be a fact-finding foray by Ham, to see how CMI would respond to some of his requests.
In late July 2006, a board meeting by phone is conducted, but which excludes both Ham and Weiland. At the conclusion, the CMI board states that future discussions need to include Carl Weiland. All future interest in board to board meetings ceases. CMI states that " Our Board members get the strong impression that the full US Board is not being permitted to talk to Carl."
In early August 2006, AiG-US violates CMI's lawful trademark in Australia with the announcement of some preaching visits by an AiG-US staff member. Here is the summary:
AiG–USA violates our lawful trademark in
Australia with the announcement (and later carrying out) of a small
series of preaching visits by one of their staff, which visits are
1) An announcement by creationist John Mackay’s newsletter that ‘Ken Ham re-launches ministry in Australia’, and publicizing the meetings themselves.
2) A precisely timed (after being embargoed at an Australian address) formal demand to hand over all our trademarks—timed to coincide with the web announcement of the meetings. The intention could not have been clearer: a clever legal manoeuvre.
3) The appearance of a button on the front page of their website designed to attract Australians and encourage harvesting of Australian newsletter names, along with a ‘welcome back to answersingenesis’ announcement to Australians.
4) We hear from some Australians that they have been emailed about the meetings directly by AiG–USA.
Legally, if we do not defend the trademarks at this point in some way, we are again ‘trapped’ into accepting a full-blown incursion and trademark violation at a later date, as it can be argued that we didn't care. We write a formal letter explaining that if they persist, we will have no choice to to issue injuctions, copying the churches involved in the meetings. We are painted as the 'bad guys' to churches for issuing 'legal threats' and 'inhibiting outreach'.
This incursion by AiG-US into Australia appears to be AiG's attempt at legally wrangling the trademarks away from CMI.
On 10 August 2006, CMI sends AiG-US board a proposal for both parties to submit to binding Christian arbitration. First, they hold the upper hand, since the Oct 2005 documents give them everything they wanted. Second, inviting a third party Christian to arbitrate would expose the underhanded tactics used by AiG-US and Ham. Since they have nothing to gain from this arbitration, they ignore it.
In late August, another letter is sent to AiG-US, which they characterize as "very seriously worded legal letter." AiG-US responds, and agrees to appoint two directors to negotiate by phone with two from CMI, and to empower the reps to make decisions. Per CMI, "It becomes clear during the discussions that the two on the US 'committee' have no power to make decisions, and always have to go back for approval." This shows that Ken Ham has total control of everything that happens at AiG. Although there is a Board, no decisions can be made without the 'dictator's' approval. Nothing comes of these discussions.
In November 2006, CMI receives what they call 'the innuendo letter' from AiG-US:
stating they are cutting us off permanently due to alleged ‘factious and unbiblical conduct’ and unspecified ‘spiritual problems’ at CMI. Then we find out from several people, including leaders of prominent ministries, that a short version of the same letter, also saying we have ‘spiritual problems’, and offering the ‘longer version’ on request, has been sent to them. Also, John Mackay’s worldwide newsletter reproduces this short version, saying that ‘Ken Ham advises’, and that it may be freely shown widely (including the offer to get the ‘full version’). Later we come across an email by accident that Ken Ham sent to John Mackay urging him to send negative things about us out to his Australian mailing list and ‘to pastors’.
Here we see Ken Ham launching a smear campaign against his former collegues, for "unspecified 'spiritual problems.'" In other words, Ham had no evidence of any wrongdoing, but could merely claim these 'unspecified' problems as justification for his actions. CMI responds to this letter, and you can read the response here. This response is well worth the reading, if you want to understand the underhanded tactics of Ken Ham and the puppets on his Board of Directors.
In late 2006, an independent group of Christians looked into the situation. Thsir report puts AiG in a very negative light. I will not discuss this report at length, but here is a summary from the report about Ken Ham and the strategies he uses during disputes:
To read the full 40-page report from Clarrie Briese, a highly respected lawyer and Christian in Australia, click here.
In March 2007 CMI again requests a meeting with AiG-US to settle issues, and no response is sent to CMI. Then in April, CMI receives a lot of letters from AiG, telling CMI that going to court against another ministry is "always sinful under any circumstances (of course, this does not apply to AiG. They threatened to take CMI to court over several issues, and they threatened to take this ministry, Old Earth Ministries, to court over our name (formerly Answers In Creation). In response, CMI again offers Christian Arbitration (see the letter here). AiG refuses, again not wishing their actions to be revealed to a third party Christian arbiter. CMI is left with no choice but to fight for its rights in court. Although the letter explaining why they had to do this is not available, here is a personal response to a Christian explaining the action.
This action by CMI leads to AiG-US accepting a meeting to discuss the situation. Despite being led to believe that Ken Ham would be present, he does not show up. The meeting ends with a verbal agreement on many points, sealed with a handshake and a commitment to put it in writing. A draft was written by CMI's lawyer, and sent to them within 21 days. Having agreed to meet again at the 60 day point if no written agreement was finalized, at the 53 day point there was still no reply from AiG. Finally, at exactly 60 days, a reply is sent from AiG, but it is a brand new document, which "seriously reneges on a number of points and undermines the agreement radically."
CMI responds with another document, detailing their disappointment at AiG going back on their agreement. CMI offers a way forward, to continue negotiations. All this is rejected.
This is the point that the Chronological summary ends. There are several documents after this point:
10 July 2008 - CMI-AiG What's the Dispute All About? (From CMI)
Throughout early and mid-2008, AiG and CMI filed various legal documents with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky. According to CMI the filing were for AiG to avoid "accountability under the Australian legal system before Australian courts. It has also ignored/rejected several previous offers by CMI of Christian arbitration under that Australian legal system.". In August 2008, AiG "objected to conditions" in a "relationship-restoring mediation" with a Christian judge, who then dropped out of the mediation. In February 2009, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ordered Australian-based Creation Ministries International into arbitration in the USA with Answers in Genesis (as sought by AiG) over copyrights and control of affiliates in other countries. In April 2009 the ministries reached a settlement and ended their dispute.
We are left guessing about the contents of the final settlement between the two ministries. One thing is clear, however--you don't want to cross Ken Ham. He will stoop to any depth to get his way, as the 40-page report details. His efforts to build the largest young earth ministry have clearly gone to his head, and anyone who opposes him is fair game for all sorts of slander...just ask Carl Weiland, and the rest of the CMI staff.
LIST OF DOCUMENTS: Documents highlighted in yellow were not accessable as of March 2015.
Chronological Order of Dispute (an excellent summary of the dispute)
Oct 2005 - AiG-Australia Staff Letter to AIG-USA
Oct 2005 - Summary of MOA for the Split (From CMI)
Unknown Date - Deed of Copyright License
Mar 2006 - The Lippard Blog Report
Nov 2006 - Trouble in Paradise (NCSE Report)
15 Nov 2006 - CMI Response to AiG
15 Nov 2006 - Letter from Philip Bell to CMI Supporters
13 Apr 2007 - CMI Letter to AiG-US offering Christian Arbitration
April 2007 - 40-page report from Clarrie Briese, a highly respected Australian lawyer
26 Jun 2007 - CMI Letter explaining actions to a reader
~ 1 Jun 2007 - Reply to AiG email of 1 Jun 2007
After Aug 2007 - CMI's response to AiG-USA's Latest Legal Maneuvering
Jan 2008 - Are Supporter's Funds being Squandered in Legal Action? (CMI)
10 July 2008 - CMI-AiG What's the Dispute All About? (From CMI)
To learn more
about old earth creationism, see
Old Earth Belief,
or check out the article
Can You Be A
Christian and Believe in an Old Earth?
Feel free to check out more of this website. Our goal is to provide rebuttals to the bad science behind young earth creationism, and honor God by properly presenting His creation.