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Friday, 8 June 2007

Stuck on Stupid

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From the AFA:
For the 13th month out of the last 15, the boycott of Ford Motor Company by AFA and other pro-family groups has helped cause Ford to lose sales. Sales dropped 6.8% during May when compared with May 2006.

The drop came as sales for GM [up 9.6%], Chrysler [up 4.3%] and Toyota [up 14%]were all increasing. Of the big four, only Ford showed a loss.

AFA has identified Ford as a leading corporate promoter of homosexual marriage and the homosexual agenda. More than 700,000 individuals have signed the Boycott Ford Pledge.

Even while losing billions of dollars and laying off of thousands of employees, Ford continues to financially support various homosexual groups.
*
I must admit I'm at a loss to see what Ford's purpose is in all this. Surely they realize that the conservative voting bloc outnumbers the pro-homosexual voting bloc by several orders of magnitude in this country. Or did no one notice when Jerry Falwell died?

One of my hobbies is taking surveys, and now that I think of it, even though I've taken several automobile-related surveys in the past year, none of them linked to my conservative stance--unlike all of the political surveys I took, and I don't even vote.

It appears to be a bad case of Head In The Sand Syndrome. Or Stuck On Stupid Disease.

UPDATE 2013
Ford Motor Company sales zoomed after AFA called off their boycott.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

Head Covering and History

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Should Christians be baptized in the nude?

My readers may wonder why I've started out an article on head covering with such a startling question. What reason, they may further inquire, could there possibly be for such a practice?

Well, this is an important question to keep in mind as we consider the historical ramifications of The Head Covering. Because you see, it is recorded in Church History that the early Christians practiced Nude Baptism. Despite a widespread desire to return to the practices of the Early Church, I know of no such practice today among adult Christians--in fact even the most modesty-obsessed sects today practice Mixed Baptism, as opposed to the practice of our spiritual forefathers who were accustomed to being surrounded only by members of the same gender when they emerged from the baptismal waters in their Birthday Suits.*

No Nude Baptism? Then we cannot use the practice of the Early Church as an infallible guide for own own. But how about the beliefs of the Church Fathers--can we not use them as a guide to understanding Scripture?

Is it of any significance that the women of the Early Church covered their heads in prayer, and that it was universally believed that such a covering must consist of something other than their own natural covering of long hair?

As it turns out, an entire treatise on the subject has come down to us from antiquity. Let's take a look at it. It's by Tertullian, who wrote around the turn of the 3rd century, and it's called On the Veiling of Virgins.

Let's establish a few things right off the bat:

1) By veil, Tertullian refers to a cloth covering coextant with the unbound hair:
The region of the veil is co-extensive with the space covered by the hair when unbound; in order that the necks too may be encircled.

2. In Tertullian's world, all Christian women recognize a need for such a distinct covering, although they are not always consistent in wearing one of sufficient size:
(who) even when about to spend time in prayer itself, with the utmost readiness place a fringe, or a tuft, or any thread whatever, on the crown of their heads, and suppose themselves to be covered?

3. It can be seen from the above quote that the recognized primary purpose of the Head Covering was to comply with the specific requirements of 1 Corinthians 11, although Tertullian's main point in this tractate was to urge the use of the Head Covering for reasons of modesty as well.

Tertullian assumes three basic points about the Head Covering; these are the undisputed facts, universal custom based on Scripture:

1) It is to characterize, along with long hair, the feminine gender
2) It is to be worn in conjunction with public worship and prayer
3) It serves two purposes: not only as a symbol of headship, but also as a protector of modesty.

Building on these assumptions, Tertullian makes the following applications, which he realizes are not universal in the Church, but supposes that they should be:
1) All females who have reached puberty should wear this sign of their gender--not just wives.
2) Women should customarily wear their hair completely covered so as no not have to grab for any old thing to plop on their heads when circumstances arise to require it.
3) Women should keep their hair out of view, not only among strangers, but also in the relaxed confines of the church.

Did Tertullian's applications establish an obligation for Christians of all time? No, he was giving his opinions and was certainly entitled to them, but they do not reflect the direct teaching of Scripture, nor the universal understanding of the Church.

But do Tertullian's writings serve any other purpose? Yes, they certainly do. They demonstrate that the undisputed interpretation of 1 Corinthians 11, among those who were in the best position to know, did not allow for the modern notion that Hair is the Covering. Whatever else it may have going for it, this interpretation flies in the face of two millennia of Church History.

Should we baptize in the nude? We have no reason for it, nor has any enduring sect of Christians seen any need to resurrect this ancient custom. It is not so much as hinted at in the New Testament, and goes against so much of what we do find there.

Should we cover our women? We have every reason to: the direct teaching of the Apostle, the testimony of saints of every age, and the unbroken custom of Christian women down through the centuries. Should it militate against the customs of our age, so be it; since when can any feature of Christianity be made comfortable to the unrepentant?

Postscript on Febuary 3, 2010:
Philip Payne posted the following interesting list of patristic quotes on the topic:
Macarius Aegyptius (d. c. AD 390), Homiliae spirituales 12.18, explicitly identifies the covering: “Question: Why is it said, ‘a woman praying with uncovered head?’ Answer: Since in the present apostolic time they have been permitted hair instead of a covering.” He specifically interprets 1 Cor 11:5 as referring to hair, not to a veil. Cf. See H. Dörries, E. Klostermann, and M. Kroeger, Die 50 geistlichen Homilien des Makarius (PTS 4; Berlin: DeGruyter, 1964.

Ambrose (c. AD 339–397), Duties of the Clergy 1.46.232, writes, “Is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered; doth not nature itself teach you that ‘If a woman have long hair, it is a glory unto her’? It is according to nature, since her hair is given her for a veil, for it is a natural veil.” NPNF2 10:37.

Chrysostom (c. AD 354–407) quotes 1 Cor 11:6b followed by 11:14b–15. He notes in hom. 26.4, “he said not, ‘let her have long hair,’ but, ‘let her be covered,’ ordaining both these to be one … he both affirms the covering and the hair to be one. . . But with regard to the man, it is no longer about covering but about wearing long hair, that he so forms his discourse. ‘Every man praying or prophesying, having any thing on his head, dishonoreth his head.’ He said not, ‘covered,’ but ‘having any thing on his head;’ signifying that even though he pray with the head bare, yet if he have long hair, he is like to one covered. ‘For the hair,’ saith he, ‘is given for a covering.’”

Clement of Alexandria, Paed. 3.11, writes, “It is enough for women to protect their locks, and bind up their hair simply along the neck with a plain hair-pin, nourishing chaste locks with simple care to true beauty.” ANF 2:286.


A detailed commentary by John Chrysostom on 1 Corinthians 11 can be found here. Clue: It can't possibly refer just to hair.

*UPDATE JULY 2014
It has come to my attention that the audiences at Christian baptisms were not this restricted.
 "Another Syrian woman, a servant called Mahya, was also stripped naked at her trial, but instead of feeling ashamed, she responded by saying:
It is to your shame … that you have done this; I am not ashamed of myself … I have been naked in the presence of men and women [referring to baptism] without feeling ashamed, for I am a woman – such as was created by God."  --Brock, S.P. and S.A. Harvey, 1987, Holy Women of the Syrian Orient, Berkeley.

However, I don't believe it. I looked up this quote, stripped of all the ellipses, and there is no reference to baptism--just to a loud, boisterous, and masculine woman who bragged of having been publicly naked many times.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

Blog Survey

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I now have considerably more than 12 readers, although by far most of the people who visit this blog don't read a thing.

Just in case someone wants to stay around long enough to fill out a survey, here is the link (feel free to skip any of the questions):
Please take my Blog Reader Project survey.

Why I won't be visiting the Creation Museum this weekend--or maybe ever

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Addendum March 2013:
Well, I have visited the Creation Museum after all. Several times. But only because I was given a gift membership. I intend to return, but not as a paying member. Quite a bit of the museum can be accessed without a ticket.
Some of the information no longer available from CMI will be entered as a new post.

Addendum January 2011:
I may someday visit the Creation Museum--though I still have no such plans--but clearly I was not one of the first million people to do so.

Addendum May 2009:
All links to the CMI site now end up at this page:
CMI and AiG are pleased to inform you that the dispute between the ministries has been settled to their mutual satisfaction.
Each ministry is now focused on its respective mission, having put this dispute behind them in April of 2009.
Finally.

Creation Answers is an excellent magazine, and I'd like to give it as a gift subscription to my doctor's waiting room. But I won't be doing that any time soon, and I don't intend to renew my current subscription.

I have tracked the progress of the recently opened Creation Museum since before Answers in Genesis bought the land to build it on, but I've canceled my plans to visit it this weekend with my family.

I am interested in AIG getting out 'the other side of the story', but not at the expense of the truth.

Is Ken Ham telling the truth about why AIG no longer carries the Creation Magazine?

What follow are two versions of the story: that of Ken Ham, strongman at Answers in Genesis of Kentucky, and that of the board and membership of Creation Ministries International, AIG's estranged parent organization. CMI begins the article, with quotes interspersed from the AIG statement to which it is responding.
[FOR A BETTER FORMATTED EDITION, CLICK ON THE BLOG TITLE FOR A LINK]
----------------------------------------------------------
Having seen the below statement from AiG-US, that has gone to thousands across the world, we regret that the astonishing distortions of truth it contains necessitate a response (in the form of interspersed annotations) in the interests of truth. If you have not been one of the many who have been exposed to this amazing document, please accept our apologies for the inconvenience.
Sincerely,
Creation Ministries International

Answers in Genesis under Spiritual Attack June 1, 2007
(With interspersed responses, dated June 4, 2007, from Creation Ministries International. Although large numbers got this sent to them by AiG, CMI was not included. We are filled with dismay at the many distortions of truth and misleading comments in this, as we think will become apparent from our response, sadly. A document like this, which is in effect an ‘accusation against the brethren’, cannot be just ignored—truth matters. Perhaps reading this will help those unfortunate enough to have received it to become aware of why we had to, in an effort to be as open and transparent as possible, invite a formal ecclesiastical/judicial committee of enquiry to form under Clarrie Briese, the reports from which, plus other important documentation, can be found at http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/briese2 )

Dear Friends of AiG,
On behalf of the Board of Directors of Answers in Genesis, we want to invite you to praise the Lord with us in the opening of the Creation Museum (and in the blessing He has poured out on the entire ministry). On the museum’s opening day, May 28, over 4,000 visitors attended, with more than 100 news media (over two days) also on hand to give the museum wide coverage all over the world. We enjoyed receiving well wishers from other ministries, such as the Institute for Creation Research (its president and chairman were present at the museum’s ribbon-cutting ceremony), the Christian Law Association, and others. We give thanks for the tremendous support from God’s people in prayer, gifts, and in museum attendance.
We pray and trust that the museum’s message will be heard by hundreds of thousands of people each year, and will not only affect the lives of many of God’s people, but see many others receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
CMI comment: CMI staff had input into the early stages of the museum planning, before we were ‘cut off’. As we have said on our web site and in our Infobytes email newsletter, we are pleased that the museum is open and also hope that many will come under conviction and be saved through the museum’s message. This has nothing to do with the dispute.
The AiG board is committed to honoring the Lord and His Word not only in the museum, but in all the ministries of AiG. Our commitment to financial integrity, for example, is evidenced by our membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) arid by a special designation from MinistryWatch.com as a “top 30” ministry that people can give to with confidence.
CMI comment: Nor has this much to do with the dispute, as we don’t doubt that AiG-US follows proper audited accounting procedures, as required for a non-profit corporation under US law. However, from our experience of appealing to the ECFA for them to intervene re AiG’s switching our Creation magazine subscribers to their new ‘replacement’ magazine, an effective theft of hundreds of thousands of dollars that involved deceiving subscribers into thinking that our magazine was no longer available in the USA, we doubt that its imprimatur means much in terms of guaranteeing ethical behaviour overall.
In recent days, we received museum opposition from protestors, some media outlets, and through emails and on the internet. Indeed, AiG finds itself in a continuing spiritual warfare. Yet in all this, we give thanks to our Lord, for the Lord will use it for His glory.
CMI comment: Such opposition is the common lot of all who will stand for the truth of God’s Word. It has nothing to do with the CMI–AiG-US dispute. CMI is also subject to major opposition. However, such opposition does not of itself prove our godliness, righteousness, etc.
While we have received opposition from the secular world during this time, the most disappointing attack has come from our former sister ministry, Creation Ministries Int’l (CMI). On the eve of the opening of the museum, CMI sent letters and used the internet to publicly report on a dispute that is well over a year old. CMI sent us a letter, only 24 hours before the museum ribbon-cuffing ceremony, informing us they were filing a lawsuit against AiG and its president, Ken Ham, in an Australia court. They have now done so. Immediately after the opening of the museum, they sent letters to numerous (perhaps hundreds) of people and used the internet to publicly report the dispute.
CMI comment: This makes it seem as though CMI timed these events to be as nasty as possible. However, the reality is otherwise. Firstly, legal processes like the serving of writs (lawsuits) cannot be timed like this; such processes are determined by the legal process. Legal proceedings were initiated months ago (we told AiG-US of this, associated with one more offer to meet to resolve the dispute, and that being rejected (ignored), and then another offer of binding Christian arbitration—see below). Secondly, when it looked like the serving of the writ was going to coincide with the opening of the museum, we asked for it to be delayed, if possible. Furthermore, to avoid public embarrassment of a sheriff of the court serving papers in person, we asked if there was another way. We were told that if AiG-US told our lawyers the name of their lawyers for service of the writs, they could be lodged with them rather than in person. Why the communication with AiG-US ‘only 24 hours before the ribbon cutting ceremony’? AiG-US was having a board meeting over the weekend of the opening, a rare face-to-face meeting of the directors at which the directors of AiG-UK would also be present. We thought it only fair that the directors had the opportunity to discuss the matter in such a setting, rather than by telephone or email, piecemeal, at a later time. Furthermore, we thought that this would have the maximum likelihood of a change of heart (although from the track record of the last twenty months we thought this was only a remote possibility, our directors wanted to pursue every avenue for resolution).
One of CMI’s claims is that AiG–USA refuses to meet with its board. To the contrary our board met in person with the legally recognized and appointed board of directors of the Australian ministry (called AiG-Australia at the time) and signed a Memorandum of Agreement in October 2005, which had peacefully resolved the differences at that time (which included an agreement to arbitrate any future dispute).
CMI comment: This is amazingly deceptive, even astonishing in its brazenness. The refusal to meet that we repeatedly bring up is a refusal to meet with the current Board, the ones in office for nearly 18 months now in this time of major dispute. Whereas the Board to whom AiG refers here is not the legally constituted Board of the ministry, but the previous Board which handed over the company after resigning en masse and seeking indemnity from penalties for their actions signing that ‘agreement’.
Furthermore, when we talk about a refusal to meet, it is clearly in the context of the present dispute, which only really erupted as a serious legal issue because of and therefore after the signing of the agreement drawn up by AiG-US’s lawyers, with all the terrible ramifications for our ministry.
So how can reference to a meeting before that time, with people who are no longer part of the ministry, be anything other than a ‘red herring’ attempt to confuse the public on the very serious matter of their nearly two-year refusal to meet properly face-to-face to sort out the issues, as befits brethren?
Unfortunately, the management of AiG-Australia later disavowed the agreement and, after an impasse and much frustration with management, the full Australian board resigned.
CMI comment: This is a reversal of the order of events, giving another deceptively false impression. The management did not have the authority to ‘disavow the agreement’, and did not do so. The Australian management tried to meet with the Board to discuss the ‘agreement’, which was signed at AiG-US’s urging behind the backs of all management here in Australia. (This was contrary to those previous directors’ commitment to several senior staff before the joint board meeting that they would ‘not sign anything’ without consultation.) The Australian directors at the time failed to meet, and events culminated in their resignations. Their resignations were due to their own rash actions, not any ‘rebellion’ as AiG-US spokesmen have told third parties, poisoning the well for CMI. Furthermore, contrary to the impression given in this email from AiG-US, the Board of CMI (not the management) did not formally reject the ‘agreement’ until 28 February 2006, just before our re-branding as CMI.
AiG-Australia management then appointed a new board,
CMI comment: This makes it seem as though the appointment of the new board was somehow improper. This is untrue. The outgoing directors specified that the CEO, Dr Carl Wieland, should be made Managing Director and given responsibility for appointing new directors. They said through their lawyer that if Dr Wieland had been on the board (MD instead of CEO) that the recent catastrophic events would not have transpired. In consultation with senior staff and scientists, Dr Wieland chose directors with a proven track record of hands-on involvement with creation ministry. For the details of what happened, see A brief chronology of events http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/images/pdfs/dispute/chronological_ordershort.pdf (scroll down to Oct 2005). CMI Board has also instituted another level of accountability for the board; an extra-board membership that outnumbers the directors, which now appoints directors and holds the board accountable at an annual meeting. ‘There is safety in a multitude of counselors’ (Prov. 11:14).
and changed its name to CMI.
CMI comment: AiG-Australia was forced to change its name when AiG-US told us to do our own web site. AiG-Australia was given this directive in response to our earliest pleas to AiG-US for peace talks, to find a way forward together, in mid-November 2005. This of course forced us to re-brand, since one cannot have two totally separate organisations using the same brand on two separate global websites—a recipe for total confusion, especially for our Australian supporters.
CMI continues to refuse to follow the directives of its former board (as contained in the October agreement), and the restoration of harmony so hoped for in October 2005 was derailed.
CMI comment: It is a strange way to bring ‘restoration of harmony’, to damage, plunder and pillage the other party, which is what the ‘agreement’ did. For a summary of the way that the agreement damaged CMI, please see What’s our concern with the situation? (http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/content/view/4770)
Furthermore, by what reasoning should a lawfully constituted current Board feel itself bound to continue to ‘follow the directives’ of a Board which has abdicated en masse, especially when their actions have led to so much damage for the ministry?
In subsequent months, CMI continued to deny our requests for the new CMI board and AiG-USA board to meet. At one stage, the AiG board offered to meet with the CMI board at a mutually convenient location for a day or two to get to know each other, and then have the CEOs of both ministries join the boards to try to resolve the issues. To this end, we offered to fly the entire CMI board and its CEO to the U.S., at our expense. But CMI refused this and all other invitations.
CMI comment: This is bizarre in the extreme, a reversal of reality. See Mr Clarrie Briese’s summary of the attempts CMI has made to find resolution, which were all rejected or ignored (mainly the latter) by AiG-US: look for the section titled Documents showing Genuine Efforts to Reconcile/Settle the Dispute (http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.biz/chairmans_report.html) and following. The truth is that there was NEVER an offer to meet with the entire Australian Board, face to face, all at once, up front. Note how this is covered over by cleverly referring to the Australian Board ‘and its CEO’. AiG knows full well that ever since the old Board’s abdication, our ministry has not had a CEO. It insists on using such terminology, because otherwise it becomes a lie to say that it agreed to meet with the Board, because Carl Wieland is and was then a member of that Board. And all of their three (really 2 ½) offers were completely neutralized by coupling them with the following conditions:
Not wanting to meet with Carl present, or excluding him for the first two days (Ken Ham’s brother later stated that this was so that Ken’s Board could persuade the new Australian directors ‘why Carl could not be trusted’) AND/OR
Insisting that the meeting was not permitted to discuss the very issues at stake, namely the ‘agreements’ signed which plunged the ministries into crisis. We would counter by asking that they drop such preconditions, but to no avail.
It is obviously quite misleading to talk about ‘inviting the Board’, when one is actually refusing to include one member of that Board. But even more importantly, Carl Wieland was the only director who had first-hand knowledge of the events leading up to November 2005. The exclusion was clearly tactical.
CMI offered to arbitrate the disputes between the ministries, but they insisted on their own set of strict terms and pre-conditions.
CMI comment: No. CMI offered to submit to an arbitration process (CMI was not the arbitrator!), along with AiG-US. The proposal by CMI was never responded to by AiG-US to indicate which ‘terms and pre-conditions’ were not suitable to them. There was no statement by CMI that the conditions were not negotiable, only that if they were accepted the proposal ‘as is’, then CMI would be immediately bound to the process (i.e., CMI could not back out). This was the first of two ‘binding arbitration offers’ refused/ignored by AiG-US. They did not even bother to discuss the conditions.
Instead of relying upon a neutral and recognized arbitration body, CMI proposed its own unique arbitration method and insisted that it be conducted in Australia, under Australian law, and by Australian attorneys or judges. Frankly, CMI’s proposal did not comport with normal and accepted rules for arbitration.
CMI comment: Which arbitration offer is being referred to here? CMI made two offers (August 2006 and March 2007), both of which were completely ignored by AiG-US (no response whatsoever). The second proposal was formulated under the guidance of a Christian barrister at law (senior counsel in the USA) and as the proposal stated, it would have been under the jurisdiction of the Commercial Arbitration Act 1990 (Queensland), which sets out the procedures in detail. So it is completely wrong for AiG-US to claim that ‘CMI’s proposal did not comport with normal and accepted rules for arbitration’. This is yet another example of a baseless claim by AiG-US, and they have been informed otherwise some time ago in writing. This is amazingly prejudicial and misleading statement that has no basis in fact. You can read the proposal at http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.biz/offer-binding_christian_arbitration.pdf and see that it is absolutely fair, with AiG-US choosing three possible arbitrators and CMI having to choose one of those three; what could be fairer? It is in effect saying, ‘Pick your own Christian judge’. But having completely rejected all such things, though trying to shift the goalposts at the last minute, they are now able to cloak themselves in the mantle of ‘godly persecution’ and amazingly, make it look as if AiG has wanted binding arbitration all along!
More importantly, as a ministry in Kentucky, USA, we do not believe the law of Australia is even appropriate in this case.
CMI comment: The arbitration proposal above, reproduced in full on the web, sets out clearly why the arbitration should most definitely be in Australia. This is not some minor issue, and if one is only concerned with a fair verdict, why not use a formal process that involves the very jurisdiction (Australia) which one’s own documents have stipulated?
At the least, this is an issue that a neutral arbiter should be allowed to determine.
CMI comment: How would an arbitrator chosen as per the procedure proposed above not be neutral? If anything he/she could be biased in favour of AiG-US, since they would choose all three options!
Having reached an impasse with CMI on numerous issues, we asked the independent, internationally recognized Christian conciliation organization, Peacemaker Ministries (which also has conciliators in Australia), to moderate and resolve the dispute.
CMI comment: This again is highly misleading. It makes it sound as if AiG-US was interested in mediation all along. However, as the Briese Chairman’s report documents, it not only ignored such efforts, it formally cut us off with a widely distributed letter containing serious innuendo and libel/slander, which it refused to withdraw when we pleaded with them to do so. The sudden Damascus-road-like conversion to mediation was only after we said we would hold them accountable at law, failing an urgent meeting to settle the issues (which they again refused/ignored).
Under Peacemaker’s direction, AiG will meet anywhere to resolve these disputes with CMI and under any arbiter or arbiters that Peacemaker Ministries finds appropriate. CMI refused three offers to settle the issues through Peacemaker Ministries—reusing Christian mediation and binding arbitration (and CMI even rebuffed Peacemaker Ministries directly). We are saddened that CMI rejects neutral Christian arbitration and conciliation, and instead opts to publicly try the dispute in the secular courts.
CMI comment: Once again this is a bizarre twist on what happened. After 18 months of our pleadings being ignored we told AiG-US that we had no choice but to hold them accountable at law. Suddenly AiG-US got interested in Peacemakers mediation, but at that stage, they were not suggesting going straight to arbitration. This is a very important distinction, as will become clear. (And we are only aware of one such formal proposal, not three.) They said that the process might lead to arbitration, but there was no formal proposal for binding arbitration. (See later re the informal phone call at the very, very last minute, when they had our lawsuit wording in their hands, about binding arbitration after all.)
Furthermore, the statement: ‘CMI even rebuffed Peacemaker Ministries directly’ is clearly and misleadingly designed to make us sound evil by innuendo. The truth is that we gave AiG-US our carefully-considered reasons why we could not take part in a process of mediation prior to binding judgment, because of the delays their intransigence had caused, which would permit them to drag things on past the point of our rights to redress expiring. Nevertheless, we gave them the last offer of binding arbitration, making it clear that because they had used Australian law (paying Australian lawyers, specifying the legal jurisdiction as Australia) to tie us in legal knots, all would have to be settled under Australian law, as it would be if we chose not to be merciful and proceeded to hold them accountable. However, instead of coming back to us, or even discussing our arbitration offers, AiG-US had Peacemakers approach us. So, our courteous response was of course to Peacemakers, who seemed to be acting as a proxy for AiG-US. As CMI said at the time, we would be happy to engage Peacemakers in a mediation process leading to reconciliation, after the legal noose is removed from CMI’s neck. Since AiG-US would not willingly agree to such noose-removal, it could only be achieved by arbitration or, failing AiG-US agreeing to that, court action. Engaging in mediation before resolving the legal issues could well have jeopardized our ability to later find redress for the legal matters, as even Peacemakers’ own information points out. At the very last minute, (everything was already in train. They had our lawsuit wording in their hands and had seen the Briese report) AiG-US finally indicated, via a third party phone call, that they would be now willing to go to binding arbitration but only via this same organization, and still rejected arbitration under Australian law. But without ever once saying to us why our proposal was unacceptable. This was literally only DAYS before AiG wrote this document to which we are responding, so it is highly misleading to give the impression as if all along they were willing to have binding arbitration. It’s easy to say things, but it’s documents that speak for themselves; which is why Mr Briese’s report, analyzing the documents, turns out to be so vital.
We are grieved that CMI chose to make this matter public world-wide via the web and an email campaign;
CMI comment: AiG-US engaged in an email campaign by innuendo against CMI (CMI has a ‘spiritual problem’; ‘contact us for more details’). We don’t know who received such emails or what they were told by AiG-US when they made contact. CMI’s efforts are aimed at bringing resolution. If the only way this can happen, it seems, is to bring things into the light, then so be it. Scripture says that things whispered in secret will be shouted from housetops (Luke 12:3). If people do nothing wrong in secret then there is nothing to fear from public exposure.
in this manner, so many distortions and untruths have been scattered abroad.
CMI comment: No distortions or untruths have been pointed out by AiG-US. This is yet another example of AiG-US making grand claims without substance (Mr Briese also documents such tactics by AiG-US regarding emails by Dr Sarfati. When asked to produce evidence in the light of day, nothing happens).
One of the links they provided connects to something called the “Briese report.” This report was issued by a group of people -- selected by CMI itself -- to conduct an “investigation.” Because of concerns over the perceived bias of this panel (since it was selected by CMI and headed by a “member” of the CMI organization, and since CMI itself set the “objectives” of this panel), AiG and others associated or familiar with this dispute declined to be involved.
CMI comment: Please read the credentials of the committee members at: http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.biz/briese_committee_menu.html. All have independent reputations that they would not risk to rubber stamp some subterfuge of CMI or anyone else. This charge by AiG-US is astonishing in its brazenness. Mr Briese’s reputation as a corruption fighter is unblemished (you could have read about Mr Briese on AiG’s web site, except they recently removed the Creation article about him). You can read it at: http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/briese. This was published well before any of the current troubles erupted. Yes, Mr Briese is one of the wider members of CMI, mentioned by us above, one of the body that holds the Board accountable at an annual meeting (that’s all; he is not on the payroll, etc.). Also, Mr Briese chased the paper trail, which is a legal procedure that uncovers documents that have been not divulged (deliberately or inadvertently).
Indeed, it is shocking that CMI, which is a Christian organization, would employ such tactics
CMI comment: Tactics? This is a ‘smear statement’, with no substance. In desperation, we asked this eminent committee to form, to try to once again avoid the legal road. We not only invited AiG to participate, but said that if they did, we would also participate with a similar committee of their choosing, provided only that the rules of total openness were followed. The same Clarrie Briese, incidentally, helped save this ministry with a similar enquiry from damaging libel by a renowned humanist opponent, something for which Ken Ham, as a director at the time, was very grateful for.
and then publicize this report as fact, when it is filled with half-truths and blatant advocacy of the CMI position.
CMI comment: Once again, AiG-US makes unsubstantiated accusations. What half-truths? Mr Briese would certainly like to hear about them! Mr Briese’s findings are backed by extensive quotes from AiG-US documents and some 700 pages of documentation are indexed to his report. Yes, Mr Briese certainly arrived at a point of supporting CMI’s contentions, because that is where the evidence led. But he also added, of his own volition, his own observations, which only strengthened the gravity of the matters. If AiG had evidence to the contrary, and had provided it as invited, the Briese committee would have certainly wanted to follow the evidence wherever it led. In fact, Clarrie Briese’s membership of the company is precisely to be in a role of watchdog, to hold the directors accountable.
Up to this point, our Board had chosen to remain silent and was trying to resolve this matter privately.
CMI comment: Yes, the silence even extended to completely ignoring almost every request that CMI made to meet to resolve the difficulties. But it has not extended to silence on the telephone to other parties, or the whispering campaign against CMI personnel, as documented by Mr Briese. As we have shown in http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.com/images/pdfs/dispute/chronological_ordershort.pdf and as Mr Briese also independently documented, AiG-US have resisted every effort to settle this dispute.
CMI has now made this dispute public, and we are now compelled to provide information to you to clarify this matter.
CMI comment: It would be fine if it was accurate and not disinformation, as most of this is.
Unfortunately, we live in a time when even Christians have become highly litigious and are increasingly eager to use a secular court system to settle matters,
CMI comment: It is with tears that CMI has embarked on legal action. It is a total misrepresentation of the directors’ attitude to suggest that they were ‘eager’ to use the secular court system. AiG-US has no basis whatsoever for such a grave smear. Any reasonable person would see that we have gone the third, fourth and fifth mile in trying to resolve these matters privately, and then proposing Christian arbitration. All efforts rejected. Court action was the last resort, having tried all else. Their last-minute shift, ‘dragged kicking and screaming’ to the position of themselves informally proposing going straight to binding arbitration, should not be portrayed as a keenness for resolution. We asked them to explain what was wrong with our proposal (you can check that proposal for yourself). We cannot help but think that they are fearful of jointly submitting to arbitration under Australian law (despite having invoked Australian law themselves) perhaps because they know that there are issues of breach of Australian company law, etc. Should we permit those engaging in the breaches to choose their own jurisdiction, but let them knock back a much fairer, cleaner and more straightforward offer, using established rules of long standing? The other thing about Australian arbitration is that it is governed under law, which means that if the Christian judge makes an error of law in favour of CMI, e.g., then AiG could appeal it on those grounds. In short, if they were serious about peaceful resolution, they would have been able to choose their own Christian judge, and the whole matter would never have reached the public eye. The incredible distortions in this document give strong support to Mr Briese’s sober judge’s analysis of what is driving this whole thing and the need for it to be dealt with.
even trying to justify such actions by declaring that somehow Romans 13:1 overrides I Corinthians 6.
CMI comment: So is this saying that the CMI Board should allow CMI’s supporters and staff to be defrauded by AiG-US? (How about 1 Cor. 6:8?) This would be an option for an individual, but not necessarily for a corporation governed by the laws of the state. To say otherwise is close to the same sort of reasoning that has led some Christians to think that a president of a country should never defend its citizens, because the Bible says individual believers should turn the other cheek.
But we totally agree that it is a shame for Christians to have to use secular authorities – as Paul said, they should be able to sort things out ecclesiastically. That should be something they agreed to ages ago, not just after it’s clear that we will be taking them to court.
We are deeply concerned that a para-church ministry would refuse Christian arbitration and then decide to sue brothers in Christ with a lawsuit, thus disobeying the Spirit of God’s instructions in I Corinthians 6. AiG encourages people to be like the Bereans in the Book of Acts and read these two passages for themselves.
CMI comment: As part of this process, the whole counsel of God should be considered. As part of this, please consider: Why CMI-Australia is holding AiG-US legally accountable for its actions (http://www.webproclaim.com/emailmarketing/lt/t_go.php?i=1672&e=Mjk1MjgwMQ==&l=http://www.creationontheweb.biz/lawsuit_justification.html ) Note that we have documentation of a written legal threat by AiG-US against us, so this position that it is always under any circumstances ‘disobeying the Spirit of God’ appears to be a position of current convenience. (Obviously, every Christian corporation potentially relies on the power of the law when it goes into any sort of contract, or registers a trademark, or gives a copyright warning on its work, for example. The point is the desire to sort it out between brethren if at all possible, and this is where the problem has been, as the Briese documentation makes clear.)
Our heart is particularly sad for the churches and pastors, and even book distributors, in Australia who have also been warned or threatened with legal action by CMI for their affiliation with AiG-USA. Notwithstanding the myriad of details about the issues involved, this legal threat by CMI against churches and others constitutes a serious disobedience to our God.
CMI comment: Note: ‘notwithstanding the myriad of details about the issues involved’. In other words, if the reader were apprised of these it would not be as AiG-US insinuates. AiG-US’s attempts to act deceptively in Australia by passing themselves off as Answers in Genesis in Australia when many (most?) still think of CMI as ‘AiG’ here, will be resisted, with good justification to avoid confusion (trademark law protects against such deception / trading off confusion). If AiG-US would walk in the light, it would not be trying to further undermine CMI-Australia by ruthless commercial actions, on top of what it has already done. This whole matter being raised by AiG-US to paint us in a bad light is also addressed in the Briese report. This judicial analysis is based on the documents, most of them exchanges between CMI and AiG-US, not on hearsay, emotive rhetoric or ‘spin’.
AiG is committed to honoring God and His Word. We covet your prayers during these trying days. Yet, the Lord be praised.
CMI comment: It would bring a real, tangible blessing to us if AiG-US would really honour the whole of God’s Word, including such strong admonitions as Micah 6:8 (God calls us to do justly, love mercy and to walk humbly with God).
If you have questions concerning the basics of this issue, please call Mark Looy, AiG’s chief communications officer, at (859) 727-2222, ext. 450 (please note that AiG is in the eastern time zone). If you have theological questions concerning our understanding of the Scriptures as they relate to this issue, please contact our board chairman, Pastor Don Landis (through Mark, who will pass it on to Pastor Landis).
CMI comment: If you contact Mr Looy, or Mr Landis, could you please get them to put their comments in writing (print) so that what is said can be tested to ascertain that you are being told the truth, or given accurate exegesis? Proverbs 18:17. Sadly, many have been just too willing to believe what they are told without checking it out (be good Bereans as AiG-US has said!). In fact, one of the tragedies in all of this has been that AiG-US’s standard pattern has been to ask people to ‘contact us and you’ll get the facts’—but always declining if asked if a CMI person could be there to give the other side of the story. And/or people are sworn to secrecy not to reveal to CMI what they are told. Which is why it was so important to have the open (Briese) enquiry at last, where evidence could be presented, and tested at cross-examination.
We plead with you to help us inhibit this unbiblical internet gossip and rumor mill by contacting us directly and/or simply committing it in prayer to the Lord. Thank you.
CMI comment: What CMI has put on the Internet is not gossip or rumor. No one has demonstrated any factual error in what we have made available, and as we have said, if anyone will demonstrate such error we will correct anything we have written and we are sure Mr Briese would also. It is ‘whispering’ in telephone calls, swearing people to secrecy, as has been the pattern, that is gossip by definition, and that generates dark deeds and poisons relationships. So people are being urged to avoid gossip by partaking of gossip! We have with tears pleaded and pleaded for even the courtesy of open meeting for resolution, yet now we see this document that claims the very opposite, as if black is white, and good evil. Enough! If we had had the chance to talk all together in the open, even once, then maybe AiG’s Board, or at least some of them, might have come to see how seriously ‘filtered’ their understanding of events is. Sadly, this was never once permitted.
Sincerely,
Board of Directors Answers in Genesis —USA
Pastor Don Landis, Chairman Dan Chin, Vice Chairman Dr. Mark Jackson, Dan Manthei, Tim Dudley
With sadness, but resolved to see righteousness reign,
The Board of Directors,Creation Ministries International (Australia)Kerry Boettcher, Chairman, Dr David Christie, Rev. Dr. Don Hardgrave, Carolyn McPherson, Dr Carl Wieland

Monday, 4 June 2007

The Catfish with nine lives

Counter
Biologists on a field trip to Suriname discovered to their amazement that the armoured catfish wasn't extinct after all; no, it was alive and well all along, despite mining activity which is usually associated with the mass extinction of species, other than on Navassa Island.

Actually, it seems that driving a species to extinction really is harder than we thought. The armoured catfish turns out to have successfully established itself in creeks throughout the Southern US. Far from hovering on the brink of extinction, it is rapidly increasing its range.

Bad science makes for bad policy.