Can “Christianity Today’s” Research Be Trusted?

It’s the magazine that describes itself as the publication “Christian leaders everywhere trust.” Well, we’ll put that claim to the test in an instance that involves AiG, our Creation Museum, and the future Ark Encounter.

In the current (June) 2013 issue of Christianity Today, the magazine published a “briefing” on a number of Noah’s Ark projects being built around the world. Our evangelistic Ark Encounter project (a full-size, all-wood Ark to be built south of Cincinnati) was on its list, of course—but Christianity Today literally didn’t do its research about our Ark or our Creation Museum.

The briefing (www.christianitytoday.com/ct/content/pdf/108104.pdf) on the Ark Encounter included the following:

Despite heavy media attention, funding is slow [for the Ark], and revenues from AIG’s nearby Creation Museum have declined.

Now, 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.  But did the reporters at Christianity Today ever contact us at the Creation Museum and Answers in Genesis to ask  us about our museum revenue or Ark fundraising? No, they didn’t, and yet this Christian magazine that claims that it is a trusted source says that museum revenues have declined. Also, had they contacted us directly about Ark donations, CT would have learned that funding is steadily coming in for the Ark Encounter. Instead, CT used old figures.

So where did Christianity Today get  its financial information? Well, one of our publicists contacted Christianity Today about the inaccuracies in the CT write-up. Not only did the magazine refuse to retract its errors, it wouldn’t even admit to having made any! Here’s what we learned through our publicist.

The Christianity Today staff told our publicist that for three of their sources, it used  secondary sources not primary ones. That included Cincinnati’s CityBeat magazine. But it gets worse. The CityBeat article they referenced was from November 2012—seven months before CT’s June article on the Arks!

And now it gets even worse. CityBeat is a leftist tabloid in our area with a track record of blasting us. It calls itself an alternative magazine and is known to heavily push the gay agenda. It is hardly a reliable source about Christian matters, and yet CT treated it as if it was a credible source.

Here’s more: another source used by CT—a secondary one as well—for information on Ark funds was LEO Weekly of Louisville, CT told our publicist. Incredibly, this too was another leftist tabloid: one that has relentlessly opposed the Ark project for more than two years. The article was written by perhaps the most vocal Ark opponent of all in the state. If that’s not bad enough, LEO’s mocking, anti-Ark article appeared in December.

So CT relied on dubious, secondary sources that were hardly objective—using their old news—for its June article. CT could have contacted us for newer information—and CT would have discovered that December and January were very good months for Ark donations. Over $3 million  was raised towards the $25 million goal!

What happened to the possibility of checking with us first to see what revenue had been raised since November and December? Why weren’t we even contacted?

We should add that our publicist shared with us that CT also referenced a Yahoo.com article about the museum as well as the future Ark, apparently to assure us that it wasn’t just using stridently leftist sources.

As for the museum supposedly seeing a decline in revenue, we point out that the figures available to the public that CT accessed was even older. (And you have to be very careful reading these records any way: you can easily misinterpret the figures.) The CT reporter saw a figure from our former fiscal year, ending June 2012—one year before  the CT magazine article appeared!  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. This example only underscores the importance of contacting an organization to get the facts straight.

Bottom line: nobody at CT called us to get the museum’s financial  data from the past 12 months; instead, it relied on old numbers and three secondary sources (two of which can’t be trusted to cover us accurately). Now, even if it’s a brief item in a magazine, you need to get the latest and most reliable information—and from the primary source—or you can make errors.

Our publicist told us that CT “refused to admit to any error,” and said that CT considered the piece to be “round-up” type item and thus felt it didn’t need to contact any individual at AiG/Creation Museum. But how can such a well-read magazine for Christian leaders and other believers have relied mostly on secondary sources for their research and not have called us  to check whether our museum revenue had truly declined (which it has not)?

Meanwhile, people are contacting us—after reading false reports on blogs and websites—and asking if the museum is in trouble. We wonder if there will be many people who may now re-think giving to the evangelistic Ark outreach because of this false information.

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.  These secularists are either just regurgitating false information that others have recklessly published or posted to a website or blog, and/or they have deliberately made up false information in their attempts to undermine these AiG ministries.

Personally, I think these opponents of AiG have found that they can’t stop people from pouring into the Creation Museum and supporting AiG (and this financial support of our ministries continues to strengthen each year). In response to the way God has blessed us, secularists (and, yes, even some compromising Christian bloggers) have developed a tactic of spreading false information in the hope that even some of the Christians who support AiG’s ministries will question their support.  It’s sad that Christianity Today is now a party to this spreading of misleading and false information—and primarily to a Christian audience.

If you want to know more about the Ark Encounter project and its progress this year, I encourage you to visit our website, ArkEncounter.com. There you’ll find what exactly we’re planning to build and how much we’ve raised to date (a much higher figure since November).  A great bulk of the finances will actually come from people investing in this project, not through donations.  With cash donations, AiG specially raised $3 million in the past several months primarily for the necessary Ark-related permits and some associated costs.  We should have all the permits in hand by late Fall.

Yes, it all takes time and hard work to design and build a first-class facility. And I wished we could be opening the Ark as soon as possible. The Creation Museum, even during a good economy, took several years to design and build. In fact, 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.” 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.

I urge you to prayerfully consider supporting the Ark Encounter project—we hope that once it’s built, it will stand as a beacon of light in a dark world.

Thanks for stopping by and thanks for praying,
Ken