A Warning from the USA
© Roger Stanyard 2010
Answers in Genesis UK, at first face, looks to be a spent force. According to its accounts filed with the Charity Commission, its income for the year ending 30th June 2009 was £279,730, a wopping drop from £352,227 during the previous financial year (when it lost the best part of £200k). Whilst this may partly be attributable to the economic recession, its annual income has been dropping for years. It peaked at £833,224 for the year ending 30th June 2005.
Clearly a huge part of the decline is a result of the split with the Australian head-quartered Creation Ministries International and the consequential fall in subscription revenues from its creationist publications. However, reading the commentary accompanying the accounts suggests a far worse position – its volunteer base has also collapsed – down to 200 hours of work over a year. It received donations of £101k in the year and, in turn, this generated gift aid tax funds of £17k, The number of employee, full time equivalent, fell from 11 to 6. It also had an 'AiG USA Museum Fund' with £10k in it at year end. This was intended for Answers in Genesis's Kentucky 'museum'.
Interestingly, the submission did not show where its offices and warehouse are now located but, presumably, the need for the latter has seriously declined as it admits to a huge stock clearance exercise during the financial year. As far as we can make out, Answers in Genesis UK now operates through a PO Box number in Leicester. It's senior speaker, Paul Taylor. Appears to currently have only one speaking engagement a month.
Rival Creation Ministries International UK now looks to be a bigger operation in Britain. It's UK accounts for the year ending 30th June 2009 show an income of £310,028, up from £229,043 over the previous year., its first year of operations.
A word of caution, though. Answers in Genesis can, and does, sell directly through its US web site – there isn't a separate one for the UK. There is no technical reason why such sales to people in the UK would be recorded in the financial accounts of Answers in Genesis UK if the goods are shipped or posted directly from abroad to the customer.
As the BCSE detailed some years ago, Answers in Genesis UK's problems are a direct result of Ken Ham's ambitions in the USA. It was dispensable to the ruthless and determined Ham.
The long established Portsmouth-based Creation Science Movement doesn't appear to have benefited from Answers in Genesis's troubles; its accounts for year ended 31th August 2009 show its annual revenues still static at £89k. (£90 previous year). It's roughly on a par with Cambridgeshire-based Biblical Creation Ministries which had an annual income for the year ending 31st March 2009 of £67,989, up from £42,265 the previous year. However these figures appear to exclude the revenues of the Biblical Creation Society which, although closely associated, is not registered with the Charity Commission.
Interestingly, Biblical Creation Ministries says it had some 80 speaking engagements during the year, shared amongst its two evangelists.
The real oddity is Genesis Agendum, a purely speakers operation, whose annual revenues shot up from £4,523 in the year ending 31st March 2009 to £31,549 for y/e 31st March 2010. It's costs shot up to £29k as well. As no details were provided to the Charity Commission, we remain puzzled by this. As far as we can make out Genesis Agendum is now largely defunct.
Australian John Mackay's UK arm of his Creation Research Trust raised £21,700 in the year ending 31st December 2009, much the same as in the two previous years. However, we suspect this will fall in 2010 as he is not expected to be in Britain during the period.
The tiny West country-based Creation Resources Trust reported an increase in income resulting from the Darwin 150/200 year activities – from £22,826 for year ending 31st December 2008 to £30,158 the following year. It's a one-man-band operation.
We've long wanted to know more about Truth in Science's finances but it is still not registered with the Charity Commission and, if it were to, the BCSE would make a formal complaint. Truth in Science has spent the last five years unsuccessfully trying to get creationism into schools.
We've also got no data on two Northern Irish operations, Creation Outreach Ministries or the fundamentalist evangelical Caleb Foundation. Neither are registered with the Charity Commission or the new Charity Commission for Northern Ireland.
Moreover, this brief insight into the world of professional creationists ignores recent developments such as the Centre for Intelligent Design, registered as a charity in Guernsey, operations such as Noah's Ark Zoo Farm near Bristol , various one-man-band operations and the Democratic Unionist Party. The latter has a strong movement within it promoting creationism.
We can stab at a guess at the Centre for Intelligent Design's revenues for 2010. It's main revenue generation came from Michael Behe's tour in November. Behe is one of the leading American protagonists of Intelligent Design. He attracted an aggregate audience of around 3,000. Assuming that eight events attracted 2,700 each paying £6.50 and one paying £50, the total is £32,500 plus book and DVD sales and donations.
The overall picture is one of a professional creationist movement that is stable, neither significantly growing nor declining. What the data doesn't show at all, though, is the effectiveness of the movement in terms of the number of people who accept either creationism or Intelligent Design. The evidence we have indicates that organised religion is increasingly accepting creationism, especially in Northern Ireland. However, it has not had even the slightest impact on the scientific world.
Of the creationist organisations we have detailed above, though, there is one that we seriously fear – Answers in Genesis.
Recent developments in the USA have yet to impact on Britain. The US operations of Answers in Genesis have now turned into a giant cash flow machine which, sooner or later, will have ripple effects on these shores.
Answers in Genesis USA has moved from an $8 million a year operation to an expected $40 million a year set up. Its new 'creation museum' in Kentucky has been a huge “success” and it is now launching a stupendously tacky $150 million 'Ark Encounter' theme park. It has become the dominant creationist organisation world wide and its head, Ken Ham, is now 'Mr Big' (by a long margin) of the creationist movement. We expect further developments – perhaps a TV channel distributed world-wide or even attempts to replicate the Ark/museum set up in Europe. It is clear from comments by Answers in Genesis that Ark Encounter will be marketed internationally.
Answers in Genesis has become an international mega-church; its church buildings are theme parks; it's head a theologically unqualified and unordained autocrat unaccountable to its congregation, its ambitions, theocracy. As its absurd name implies, it is a church that worships the Bible, not God. A sink of ideology, scientific and theological ignorance and bigotry. A very dangerous combination, indeed.
(Notes: BCSE has a very big wiki covering the background to the above report. It can be accessed through or web home page at www.bcseweb.org.uk. There is also a search engine available there to navigate you way around.)