Case Study

Answers in Genesis

ALRC navigates Answers in Genesis through attacks by atheists and liberal groups, helping propel positive messages through local and national coverage.
case-study-product-shot

Challenge

As a biblical apologetics ministry taking a literal stand on God’s Word and Earth’s origins as recounted in Genesis, Answers in Genesis (AiG) is a somewhat polarizing organization. The ministry’s “young earth” worldview is in direct opposition to current mainstream scientific thought and even many Christian denominations with an interpretation of Scriptures that accommodate evolutionary theology. For this reason, AiG and founder Ken Ham have found themselves in the cross hairs of other organizations and ministries and face repeated attacks from liberal scientific and atheist groups.

Strategy

ALRC began representation of AiG during the planning stages of the ministry’s Creation Museum, which opened near Cincinnati on Memorial Day 2007. ALRC enacted a public and media relations campaign to take strategic advantage of AiG’s non-mainstream positions, highlighting the unique ministry position the museum platform can offer in the national religious landscape, as well as emphasizing AiG’s willingness to engage with media and dissenting scientists on these important issues.

This has continued through the years, enabling AiG leadership – in consultation with ALRC – the opportunity to respond in an engaging way, answering critics where beneficial and turning the other cheek when it served no purpose or harmed their higher objectives. Recent examples include homosexual couple “crashing” the museum’s Valentine’s Day date night; Ken Ham’s dis-invitation to speak at certain Christian homeschool conventions; and controversy surrounding the announcement of a proposed Noah’s Ark themed attraction which has been approved to receive rebates under the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Tourism Development Act.

Results:

At the launch of the Creation Museum, the Agency was able to generate significant media attention for the Museum’s grand opening, emphasizing uniqueness and the ministry’s adherence to, and defense of, biblical literacy despite popular, mainstream opposition. More than 200 media outlets from around the world either sent media to attend the grand opening, or featured interviews with museum representatives, including a Ken Ham media tour in New York with multiple national TV appearances just before opening week. Local groups in opposition to the museum staged a protest and a mock communion service, not only making fun of the museum, but also of most of Christianity’s dearly-held beliefs. By remaining quietly confident and letting the museum’s quality speak for itself, engaging openly and rationally with legitimate media and questions, the ministry came out the winner in the tone of coverage surrounding the protest.

The ministry has continued this precedent during recent controversies. When the date night situation occurred, the museum didn’t go on the attack, but stated the facts in the case, helping the media and public understand the party crashers’ misrepresentation and obvious intent to generate media exposure, including blog posts on gay websites, which dispelled potential negative media coverage regarding the museum’s refusal to grant refunds after the guests’ expulsions. ALRC assisted in preparing and disseminating factual statements, and determining to which media outlets to grant interviews that would most help the situation rather than inflame negative coverage.  During the homeschool controversy, when Ken Ham was dis-invited for speaking out against a Christian group for allowing other speakers who did not hold to biblical inerrancy, the ministry, in consultation with ALRC, did not engage with the media, as this would have brought attention to dissension among believers. The homeschool organization’s statement made it clear there was more to the story, and ALRC directed media to where they could find the “back story” online, without the need to make a spokesperson available or issue any sort of statement. This was sufficient to once again turn the story to a positive for AiG in its consistency and integrity to the Gospel.

Finally, the launch of the Ark Encounter, scheduled to open in 2014, has generated much negative coverage regarding the Commonwealth of Kentucky granting incentives in the form of rebates to the Ark Encounter. While the ministry can’t change the opinions of reporters minds who view this as tax money going toward a religious institution, ALRC has assisted AiG in communicating why they believe this is not the case. However, in consultation with ALRC, AiG has allowed the Commonwealth of Kentucky to be the one to respond to these issues, as it is operating within the letter and spirit of the law, and it is the law with which the more liberal groups and media have an issue – The Ark Encounter is just the first entity to put this law to the test. By-and-large, AiG has been able to reframe the picture by communicating reasonably to the media – which large, national outlets have understood and included – and has responded with Letters to the Editor in papers around the country where coverage has been too biased to allow for reason and this was the only way to incorporate AiG’s perspective.