Why I took this as practically an assignment is a foreshadowing I fear of what my obituary would look like if I make it to the New York Times - Peter J. Reilly Leading Authority On The Tax Shenanigans of Youth Earth Creationists. At any rate, the story was forbes worthy and kind of a nothing to see here folks type of thing.
As I was doing my research, though, an interesting comment popped up from someone I spoke to. It was that Ken Ham is an Australian. The speculation is that Ark Encounter is in Kentucky rather than New South Wales or the Northern Territory, because Australians have little patience for the mishegas of young earth creationism. I reached out to sometime Hovindologist Nathan Zamprogno.
Nathan is a high school teacher, city councillor, director and actor in Hawkesbury in New South Wales. New South Wales is my favorite part of Australia. Not that I have ever been there or anything. It is because of the song.
Nathan's response was so good that I am making it a guest post. The title is mine. Here you go.
An Australian Apologizes For His Nations Contribution To American Idiocracy
I find myself frequently apologising to American friends for inflicting Ken Ham on you. He's arguably our most disreputable export, despite the fact that your market for swivel-eyed loonies is already saturated with the likes of Kent Hovind and company.
You ask me if Ham saw more fertile soil for his fairy stories in America than in Australia, and I emphatically concur.
Young-Earth Creationism in Australia is far, far less prevalent than in the U.S. The figures I've sourced suggest a figure of up to 47% of Americans adhere to some form of Young Earth Creationism vs 23%* in Australia when questions phrased like "Do you believe that the Earth is less than 10,000 years old" are put.
How to explain this? To claim a fundamental difference in intelligence or the quality of our respective educational systems in our two great nations would be condescending. I'll leave it to others to unwrap the paradox of why the only nation in history capable of putting men on the moon also believes that the Flintstones is an accurate representation of human/dinosaur cohabitation.
However, as an antipodean, I can speak to the prevailing culture in Australia. I say that the milieu that gave rise to the Scopes trial, or the Kitzmiller trial, or the "Ark Park" is next to impossible in Australia. Our education system is centrally governed, in the sense that there are no local school boards.
Our most recent national Census reports that godlessness is continuing an inexorable rise that has been consistent for decades. 29.6% of Australians now report "no religion", nearly double the figure reported in the 2001 Census†.
No wonder that Ken Ham saw the greater opportunities that lay beyond his own shores, in the same way that a gambler is attracted to the winking lights of Vegas across the desert sands.
It is to be remembered, of course, that Ken Ham felt no filial piety to the organisation he left behind in Australia, formerly known as Creation Science Evangelism, and now as Creation Ministries International. Otherwise close kin to Ham's "Answers in Genesis", CMI was raped and left for dead by Ham when he stole CMI's magazine subscriber's list in 2007 (the magazine that CMI produced for AiG's American readers and a substantial source of income for the Australian operation), and substituted Ham's own in-house publication. Ham's recent ploy of recategorising his outfit as a non-for-profit ministry just so he can avoid paying tax is entirely consonant with Ham's consistently unethical, deceitful, mealy-mouthed modus-operandi. CMI, arguably the largest Creationist outfit in Australia, is a shell... a tiny office in the outer suburbs of Brisbane with speakers who are only welcome in fringe churches. I rarely see their material. I've worked in Christian Schools for nearly 20 years. No school I've ever worked at would stock their materials or publications, and all the Christian schools I've worked at specifically repudiate Young Earth Creationism in their foundational creeds.
There is simply no way an "Ark Park" would ever float in Australia. We would look at it with disbelief, and laugh and laugh, until the proponents simply slunk away in shame.
If I was invited to reflect on the differences of character between Australia and the United States, it would be to say that the Australian character is naturally irreligious as an extension of our national character as a bunch of larrakins, blessed with a refined skepticism, a healthy disdain for those professing an inflated sense of authority, a dry wit, resilience and gift for improvisation.
An Australian literary critic, historian and commentator Robert Hughes once stated "Any Australian political candidate who declared God was on his side would be laughed off the podium as an idiot or a wowser (prude, intrusive bluenose)." I don't think that statement could be said of your countrymen. Further, we've had any number of openly atheist Prime Ministers; five since the end of WW2.
I'm also reminded of the words of one of our famous authors, Tim Winton.
Australia is such a resolutely irreligious culture. Given our origins, the European origins of this country, it should be no surprise that Australians are pretty doubtful about men in uniform and authority and suspicious of the church. In America you can rely on some common religious understandings, some spiritual givens, if you like. Here the soil is pretty thin and bitter. There is no religious life without the central necessity of imagination. That historical Australian hostility to the imagination has wounded our culture, I think. It's hard writing against that flow, particularly when it's joined and reinforced by the anesthesia of consumerism.Whether the current American tendency to uncritically accept flim-flam men like Ham, Hovind or Trump is ingrained, or a temporary fever which will pass, is not for me to say, but I can say with the greatest of affection from your Australian brethren, that we are worried about America like never before, and despair almost as much as you at the parlous state of your polity, your civic discourse, and the credulity with which once risible ideas are given mainstream currency.
Peter J Reilly CPA leading authority on creationist tax mishegas appreciates guest contributions which will help him in his goal to become the Tom Sawyer of blogging.