In early March of 2020 a former Answers in Genesis employee wrote about her experience of employment inside Ken Ham’s organization. The organization was described as being toxic and allegedly not in compliance with labor law due to a number of issues.
“Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work.”
You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.
Galatians 5:13 NIV
From the Museum of Natural History in New York City
This fell through the cracks because of the pandemic in March of 2020, but its notable and worth reading. A former employee at Ken Ham’s Answers in Genesis wrote about the toxic employment atmosphere of the controversial organization on Facebook. In a post that was published in March that looks at the issues with Answers In Genesis. It does not appear that the organization believes that they have to abide by labor law. Discrimination, bullying, and workplace problems abound at Answers in Genesis. In her Facebook post Leah Jessie boldly states that Answers in Genesis is not a Christian organization. Read the post below and my apologies for the coding issues that have made this quick post trickier than normal.
My experience of employment at Answers in Genesis
In December 2016, I began work in the housekeeping department at the Answers in Genesis Creation Museum. I worked for three years as a seasonal employee (working up to 10 months each year, usually 40 hours per week, no benefits) and then the last month, December 2019, as a technically full time employee.
I generally enjoy cleaning, did some fun projects, and liked talking with guests from around the world. But it was often physically demanding and the hours that I worked were always difficult. For the first two years I worked shifts that varied daily from as early as 07:00-15:30 to as late as 13:00 to 21:30, and for the third year I worked 3rd and 2nd shifts.
As a child I grew up visiting the Creation Museum, reading Answers in Genesis books and magazine, watching their videos and even attending the conferences in my teens. As a 20 year old I was very excited to work at what I believed to be a Christian ministry.
During my employment, I did have many positive experiences and made good friends with some very kind people. Workmates helped fix my car, went to the doctor with me, or gave hugs and spent some time with me.
However, there are serious problems with the way that Answers in Genesis operates and especially in the way that it treats employees. I personally experienced and/or had workmates who experienced dishonesty, bullying, overwork, illegal discrimination, harassment, and blackmailing. Here are a few of many examples that I personally experienced:
June 2017. The Creation Museum is open on Sundays, and most employees who work on Sundays are unable to attend church, which forces hypocrisy because they are required upon hire to sign a statement promising to faithfully and regularly attend church.
There are several reasons that I and many workmates thought the Museum and its employees would benefit by being closed on Sunday. One day as we discussed this and considered bringing up our thoughts to management, one of my workmates said a joke about going on strike on a Sunday. We made it clear that we were NOT for a strike, but because we simply said the word “strike”, we were falsely accused of attempting to incite a strike. People who knew me well enough to know that it was something I would not do spoke up for me, and I only received a warning.
January 2018. There was a time during my employment that I struggled with serious physical and mental health problems, to the point that I was suicidal (unfortunately I felt too afraid to tell anyone). As I mopped the bookstore early one morning before the museum opened, a lady who was stocking shelves asked how I was doing and stopped to pray for me for 2-4 minutes, then we both continued with our work. It was going to be a slow day, and no one was in a rush to get things done. She received a warning from management for “being idle and chatting” for praying for me.
May 2018. Once when my car was broken down, a workmate who happened to get off work at the same time as me gave me a ride home. I’ve known this man for years and have always felt completely safe and comfortable with him. He got into trouble with management for it for zero reason other than that he was alone with a woman, and was forbidden from giving women rides in the future, even when off work. It would’ve been okay if it had been his own choice, but it was nonsense for AiG to force the Graham rule on him. It resulted in inconvenience for me, and totally unnecessary shame for him.
December 2019. I injured my back one evening while lifting bags of trash. I had to lift them out of a deep container that goes up to my waist, which made it impossible for me to lift while bending my knees rather than my back. I had to lift them out of the container and onto a cart. Most bags had an average weight that I was used to but one was much heavier than usual (it probably weighed more than half my own weight).
I filed an injury report and asked for a rule to be made limiting how much the bags could be filled (I was told that cafe workers filled that bag as much as possible to save themselves time), or that they would have to notify us of unusually heavy bags so that a stronger person could be the one to lift them. Several days later when I was unexpectedly asked to be on trash duty again, nothing had been done and… so what that I had recently been injured doing that task. Being short-staffed was always a problem that worsened. For quite some time I was the only person on housekeeping night shift when there should have been 3-4 people, and got very overworked and lonely (it was worth it to me at the time for consistent schedule). By the time I left I was the longest remaining employee in the department besides the manager.
At the end of December 2019, I broke down with a mental health crisis and the physical pain from the back injury, suddenly making me literally unable to work.
I’m glad to finally be out of that situation and wish I had gotten out sooner. I’m not sure how and why I stayed for so long. Part of it was the seasonal opportunity which enabled me to take a couple of months off each year for overseas missions trips. Also, I was used to similar environments and treatment from the past so it felt normal to me. I have a usually quiet and submissive personality, am highly motivated and gave my best effort for work.
I often looked for other jobs in the area, especially so that I could afford my own place to live (AiG is known for its low pay). Except for a couple of times that I stayed with friends who were safe and kind, my living situation was incredibly stressful and is a long story itself.
I also tried a few times to transfer into other positions within AiG and always got either turned down for unknown reasons or talked out of it.
Answers in Genesis has been confronted by many people for mistreating employees, and given professional counsel on how to change. They haven’t cared to listen, and continue to be a corrupt organisation that subsists on manipulation and unconditional submission to authority.
My main purpose for writing this, rather than to confront AiG, is to promote awareness and freedom of thought among the employees. I want them to be able to protect themselves and realise that their personal well-being is massively more important than AiG and its true ambition. A person is a worthy image-bearer created by God, an organisation is not.
Those who know me know that I’m personally very much for making sacrifices for the Gospel, but at AiG the sacrifice is for upper management’s dream to build something “bigger and better than Disney” and awe the public.
The talk is contradicted by the walk and even by itself.
I haven’t approached AiG as described in Matthew 18. AiG couldn’t have made it more clear both to myself and to others that it is closed to any criticism or dialogue. While there are some Christians who work at AiG, I do not consider it to be a Christian organisation.
Christians are individual PEOPLE, not families, organisations, or governments.
I haven’t heard this discussed before and think it should be discussed: AiG claims that questions about evolution cause young people to leave Christianity/church. First, leaving church is not necessarily the same thing as leaving Christianity. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian. Not going to church doesn’t make you not a Christian. It is entirely possible to worship God, listen to Bible teaching, and get regular fellowship/discipleship without attending church services. I’m glad for Christians who attend church services, but I have a problem when they accuse those who don’t of disobeying God.
Second, AiG is the only place that I’ve heard that claim. Since my early teens I’ve talked about Christianity with many people who grew up Christian and later left it, but never has one told me that evolution had anything to do with it.
I think that creation ministries, while they can be somewhat useful, are way over-prioritised and are a huge distraction from helping young people in ways that we actually do need help. The problem of evolution has been turned into a distraction from the real problems in Christianity… whether intentionally or not, I don’t know.
Close friends out west are helping me with a place to rest, heal and get professional help. I’m so grateful for them and for my friends who patiently talk and empathise with me. Trying to process the pain and confusion is quite unpleasant, and at this point thriving is mostly unimaginable to me. I’m honestly struggling in my faith, but I’m sure that with time my relationship with God will be strengthened and I’ll be back to working and sharing the Gospel with people.
I apologise to anyone who feels surprised by this. I didn’t want to openly talk about this because I don’t want to be negative and because of the personal things in it.
I won’t think less of anyone for choosing to use AiG resources, visit the attractions, or work there, however if you actually try to excuse or minimise the abuse then I won’t trust you. AiG preaches good messages and makes a positive impact on some people, and I wish for that to continue. But it does not justify their bad actions against some other people. Only cults teach that good can outweigh bad, and only those who have things to hide have fear when silence is ended.
I love and miss my friends and former workmates at the Creation Museum and am so thankful for you and everything you’ve done to show me kindness. I think of you every day.
Please do think and speak for yourself. It is very hard to recognise the damaging effects of any religious and authoritarian group while being in it.
Be brave. You are meant to live free!
A caution to anyone currently working at AiG: this post will be monitored by AiG. If you publicly comment on or react to this post, you could be targeted by management as others have been in the past.