Christianity Today, the prominent magazine founded by evangelist Billy Graham over 50 years ago, has come under fire for allegedly misreporting the public’s enthusiasm for the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.
Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis, or AiG, the ministry behind the Creation Museum, published a blog post blasting the magazine for an article that reported the Museum’s revenues have fallen and funding for its planned “Ark Encounter” project is lagging.
Instead, Ham insists, AiG fundraising efforts are on target and the museum’s finances are actually exceeding projections.
“In recent times, we have seen a concerted effort by secularists who are so opposed to AiG that they spread such misinformation concerning revenue and attendance about the Creation Museum, Ark Encounter and AiG in general,” Ham writes. “It’s sad that Christianity Today is now a party to this spreading of misleading and false information – and primarily to a Christian audience.”
The controversy stems from an article in Christianity Today’s June edition spotlighting eight relatively recent attempts by various ministries to build life-size replicas of Noah’s Ark, including AiG’s “Ark Encounter.”
“Answers in Genesis hopes to build a $73-million theme park with a full-scale ark and zoo,” Christianity Today reported. “Despite heavy media attention, funding is slow, and revenues from AiG’s nearby Creation Museum have declined.”
Baloney, says Ham.
“Our museum revenues have not declined. They are consistent with last year and are above our projections for this fiscal year (about to conclude). For all of AiG, our revenues are up from last year,” Ham reports. “Also, had they contacted us directly about Ark donations, [Christianity Today] would have learned that funding is steadily coming in for the Ark Encounter.”
According to Ham, an inquiry into Christianity Today’s reporting revealed the magazine relied on a pair of area “leftist tabloids” about its fundraising and an old financial report – inaccurately interpreted – for its information on the museum’s revenues.
“You have to be very careful reading these records,” Ham explains. “The CT reporter saw a figure from our former fiscal year, ending June 2012. … In the public records, it could appear that 2011 was better than 2012, but that’s not true: We had just spun off a part of AiG into another non-profit, and figures for that new non-profit of ours are now in a separate public document. When you add both our non-profit groups together, revenue for 2012 and 2011 was consistent.
“Bottom line: Nobody at CT called us to get the museum’s financial data from the past 12 months,” Ham says. “Instead, it relied on old numbers and three secondary sources (two of which can’t be trusted to cover us accurately).”
Ham claims Christianity Today has refused to retract its errors and AiG has been hit with concerned callers who have read the report “asking if the museum is in trouble.”
Still, Ham says AiG’s work has hit snags before and has surprised the naysayers.
“I even recall people in the early 2000s – and as they say now about the Ark – that the Creation Museum would never get built and that it was a ‘white elephant,'” Ham writes. “[Yet] over the past six years, the Creation Museum has drawn 600,000 more visitors than we estimated and budgeted for before we opened in 2007. By the end of this summer, we’ll be near the 2-million-total visitor mark. And the museum revenue is consistent with last year’s, regardless of what CT and others might claim.”
Full disclosure: Drew Zahn is a former employee of the Christianity Today magazine company.