July 9, 1999
LAWSUIT FILED TO STOP MUSEUM--COUNTER-CLAIM FILED BY AiG!
In the ongoing saga of attempting to build a Creation Museum in the Cincinnati area, Answers in Genesis witnessed a new tactic from its vocal (but small) group of opponents: a lawsuit to have the courts stop the rezoning for the museum land. Meanwhile, AiG filed a counter-claim today because the suit is a misuse of the legal process to hinder AiG's work, and because it unlawfully interferes with AiG's contract to acquire the property for the museum.
The county commissioners (i.e., the Fiscal Court) of Boone County had voted 3-1 on May 6 to approve AiG's rezoning application on 47 acres of land fronting I-275 and west of the Cincinnati airport (in Boone County, KY). The lawsuit (AiGand the Fiscal Court are named as defendants) was filed by a family residing near the site and, surprisingly, by a couple who live over two miles away who have formed an unincorporated association to fight AiG.
AiG, a ministry founded five years ago to defend the authority of the Bible from its very first verse, wishes to build a 95,000-sq.ft. facility, leaving most of the 47 acres in its current park-like setting. It would be the home to a museum that would present a "walk-through history" of the world -- from a Biblical perspective, unlike almost all natural history museums -- and a new headquarters. Since 1996, secular humanists and other opponents have aggressively attempted to censor the project; some have resorted to spreading false rumors.
For example, a plaintiff (the one who lives over two miles away) has been circulating false stories that defame AiG as a "cult" and that its executive director, Ken Ham, was expelled from Australia.* AiG attorneys have filed a counter-claim against this frivolous lawsuit to recover the legal expenses/ option fees that will be incurred by AiG in fighting the lawsuit and other damages.
"As Christians, we do not like to file lawsuits," said Ham, "but because we have been following the law -- Caesar, if you will -- while some of our opponents have been abusing the legal process and are continuing to resort to slander and libel to defame us, we therefore, after much prayer and counsel, are appealing to Caesar."
"I am confident that God's purpose will be clearly shown," declared Ken Ham. "I am encouraged by an observation that the intense opposition to our project has actually been a blessing: it has given us national -- even international -- exposure, including stories in English, Japanese, and Australian newspapers, and even on CNN last month. My concern, though, is that the reckless rumors against us have damaged our reputation in some circles."
The lawsuit against AiG's museum was filed in the Circuit Court of Boone County. "I trust the judge will quickly see the frivolous and vague nature of the suit and dismiss it outright, " said Ham. "We have complied with the county's Comprehensive Plan and zoning regulations, proving for example how adequate infrastructure could be placed on the property. Frankly, this infrastructure issue is only a red herring; religious discrimination has been the motive of many in the opposition, and infrastructure is just their excuse."
AiG, an "apologetics" ministry, produces a daily radio program called "Answers," distributes the full-color magazine "Creation," and conducts 300 seminars and other presentations each year in the United States and abroad (with affiliate offices in England, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, and Canada).
*This expulsion rumor is preposterous on the face of it. Nations do not expel their citizens if they have done something wrong -- they put them in jail! Also, Ham returns to his homeland of Australia at least once a year (twice in 1998), and holds an Australian passport. He can return to Australia whenever he wants (including a speaking tour this month and next).