(Guest post by Dan Phelps)
Many of you are aware that Answers in Genesis (AiG) has a very strict Statement of Faith (SOF). Until early this year the SOF was in this form. This original version was retrieved via an internet “Wayback Machine” search. On March 5, 2021 this updated and expanded version of the SOF was posted to the AiG website without fanfare. This newer SOF is even more strident than the old one and actually adds several requirements that previously were not mentioned. One has to wonder if there was some internal conflict in AiG’s ranks that led to the additional dogmatic statements.
The original version of the SOF was problematic to most thinking people for a number of reasons. Scientifically, it required signers to believe in a young earth and universe as well as ascribe most of earth’s geologic record to Noah’s Flood. Even more damming is the statement:
“By definition, no apparent, perceived or claimed evidence in any field, including history and chronology, can be valid if it contradicts the scriptural record. Of primary importance is the fact that evidence is always subject to interpretation by fallible people who do not possess all information.”
This statement is a very clear science stopper. How could science be done when the results are already known dogmatically? Furthermore, the SOF has specific statements concerning non-scientific subjects that exclude non-Fundamentalist Christians and anyone who is pro-choice or partakes in sexual activity that AiG finds offensive or belongs to groups AiG finds offensive. Here is a sample:
“The only legitimate marriage sanctioned by God is the joining of one naturally born man and one naturally born woman in a single, exclusive union, as delineated in Scripture. God intends sexual intimacy to only occur between a man and a woman who are married to each other, and has commanded that no intimate sexual activity be engaged in outside of a marriage between a man and a woman. Any form of sexual immorality, such as adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, bisexual conduct, bestiality, incest, pornography, or any attempt to change one’s gender, or disagreement with one’s biological gender, is sinful and offensive to God.“
Making questions of sexual orientation equivalent to bestiality and incest is particularly hateful. However odd and bigoted as these tenants are, AiG has every right to require the above tenets of their SOF when hiring staff for the AiG ministry itself or the Creation Museum (which is officially part of AiG’s ministry). However, these strict faith-based requirements almost lost the for-profit Ark Encounter $18.25 million in Kentucky Tourism tax incentives in 2014. The Ark Encounter’s for-profit corporation (officially called Crosswater Canyon) repeatedly and publicly told the state of Kentucky that they would not discriminate in hiring or require workers to sign the SOF when the project was announced in late 2010. The entire project was promoted to government entities as a way to bring “JOB JOBS JOBS!!!” to a financially troubled area. Simultaneously, Ken Ham and AiG’s spokespeople would slyly tell religious audiences that the project was about religious proselytizing. Rick Skinner, Mayor of Williamstown, Kentucky, home of the Ark Encounter, posted this statement to Facebook in March 2014 (since removed) when defending the creation of $62 million in junk bonds for Ark Encounter:
In July 2014, in the midst of the controversy over the Ark Encounter receiving the $18.25 million in tax incentives from Kentucky Tourism, AiG posted a help wanted advertisement for the Ark Encounter requiring that potential employees sign the SOF (and adhere to numerous other religious based requirements). This was a major mistake on their part. I discovered this and wrote an op-ed for the Lexington Herald-Leader. This op-ed led to closer scrutiny and Kentucky revoked the incentives. In late 2014, AiG sued in Federal Court for the right to simultaneously receive the incentives and discriminate against anyone who would not sign the SOF. Surprisingly, a Federal Judge agreed with AiG in an early 2015 decision. By this time, Kentucky had a new, religiously conservative Governor, Matt Bevin, who would not appeal the decision. Governor Bevin also appointed new members of the Tourism Cabinet. These appointees were all supportive of the Ark project. Thus, the Ark Encounter was legally allowed to discriminate in hiring and only hire workers that will sign the SOF. Ark Encounter continues to receive $1.825 million dollars every year in tax incentives from the state and will continue to do so until 2026.
On March 5, 2021, AiG posted a new version of their SOF. This is somewhat more lengthy, detailed, and (remarkably!) strident than the original version. The new SOF is also more detailed on various sundry theological requirements. Especially disturbing are new tenets that attack social justice, transsexuals, and other non-gender conforming individuals. The SOF states:
“The concepts of “social justice,” “intersectionality,” and “critical race theory” are anti-biblical and destructive to human flourishing (Ezekiel 18:1–20; James 2:8–9).”
“Gender and biological sex are equivalent and cannot be separated. A person’s gender is determined at conception (fertilization), coded in the DNA, and cannot be changed by drugs, hormones, or surgery. Rejection of one’s biological sex (gender) or identifying oneself by the opposite sex is a sinful rejection of the way God made that person. These truths must be communicated with compassion, love, kindness, and respect, pointing everyone to the truth that God offers redemption and restoration to all who confess and forsake their sin, seeking his mercy and forgiveness through Jesus Christ (Genesis 1:26–28, 5:1–2; Psalm 51:5, 139:13–16; Jeremiah 1:5; Matthew 1:20–21, 19:4–6; Mark 10:6; Luke 1:31; Acts 3:19–21; Romans 10:9–10; 1 Corinthians 6:9–11; Galatians 3:28).”
Another bizarre addition is that one must believe that hurricanes, earthquakes, and tsunamis are caused by human sin:
“Human death (both physical and spiritual) as well as all animal death, disease, bloodshed, suffering, extinction, thorns and thistles, and all other natural evils (e.g., earthquakes, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.) entered this world subsequent to, and as a direct consequence of, man’s sin (Genesis 2:16–17, 3:8, 3:19, 4:4–8; Romans 5:12, 8:20–22; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22).”
I recently learned that Answers in Genesis (AiG) has rented Northern Kentucky University’s (NKU) Grant County facility to use for job fairs to interview perspective employees for positions at the Ark Encounter. These job fairs are scheduled for April 22, May 6 and 20, June 2 and 17, July 15 and 29, and August 12. I am not a lawyer and cannot comment on the legality of NKU allowing AiG/Ark Encounter to use the Grant County property. In fact Northern Kentucky University could actually be legally obligated to provide the site to AiG. I informed NKU of the contents of the SOF and made them aware that they have a reputation to protect and should be aware that AiG and the Ark Encounter have a history of bigotry, hatred, and discrimination against numerous protected groups. I also mentioned that the Creation Museum had accepted the donation of a dinosaur skeleton valued at $1 million from a white supremacist and former board member of the neo-Confederate League of the South. The reply I received only indicated that NKU’s attorneys had already reviewed their rules for room rental, but I was not provided the actual policy.
It remains to be seen if AiG will continue to use government entities for their benefit. AiG has been particularly talented at using Kentucky, Grant County, and Williamstown to their advantage with relation to the Ark Encounter. One suspects that this behavior will continue in spite of their discrimination and bigotry.