Essay:AiG - Exploiting Credulous Fools Since 1995

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The Kentucky-based company Answers in Genesis Incorporated (AiG) is a non-profit corporation founded by Ken Ham for the purpose of spreading the idea that the first book of the Bible contains the literal truth of the origins of the Earth (colloq. lies.) While the company professes to be a "ministry" and to be "doing the Lord's work", it is clear it exists only to part the faithful from their cash in the most efficient manner possible.

Show me the money[edit]

Since AiG claims not for profit status, its filings are necessarily detailed and publicly available. A copy of the latest filing, for the first half of 2005 can be found online here [1]. AiG takes about $8m dollars annually in cash donations, and about half that again in sales of products.

Of this income, Ham himself receives a salary of roughly $120,000 a year. Neatly, this is a little over 1% of all the takings of the "ministry" per annum. To put it another way, for every dollar donated, Ham creams a cent off the top. In context, the median personal income in the United States for 2005 was $32,140.

AiG Inc. owned around $12m worth of real estate in 2005 (less an outstanding mortgage balance of some $2m.) A large part of this is the new Creation Museum [2] which opened today, estimated to cost something in the region of $27m. [3]

AiG takes millions of dollars both in revenue from sales of stock, and from private donations and ploughs this money directly in to commercial activities. It sells its literature and other goods at well above cost, as evidenced by the declared gross profit on sale of stock. The margins it makes on its items must be approaching 100%. In addition, the new museum will be another source of revenue, charging as it does $20 dollars per person admission.

Not a single penny of the money taken by AiG has been used for any purpose that could be described as "charitable." The activities of AiG make a mockery of type of organisation the 501(c)(3) non-profit law was supposed to protect. It diverts millions of dollars annually from worthwhile causes that actually help people in to an organisation spreading junk-science and ignorance, and that the same time making its founder wealthy.

A random walk[edit]

Here's an interesting little experiment you can do with the AiG website. Start at the main page [4] and visit a random link. Keep a score as you go, subtracting one point for every page that you visit, and adding two points for any page that you visit that contains an advertisement for one of AiG's commercial products. I guarantee that for almost every path through the site, your score will be positive.

The sheer grasping nature of the website is astonishing to behold. Why would a non-profit organisation that takes over $8m annually in donations be so desperate to sell its publications? Shouldn't a true non-profit sell things at cost and give away as much of its material as is practical on the internet, e.g ebooks, etc.? The only possible explanation is greed. The corporation is not truly interested in disseminating the word of their God, but rather in enriching the company officers at the expense of the ignorant and credulous.

Whom would Jesus exploit?[edit]

You know who had a problem with people exploiting religion for private profit? Jesus. [5] The poor will always be with us [6] but Ken Ham we have for but a short time. Alas that it couldn't be shorter.

Of course, to be fair to Ham, I'd have to point out that as a biblical literalist he no doubt believes Matthew 21:12 to be a specific injunction against changing money and selling doves in temples.