If you’ve read through a physical or pdf copy of an Acts & Facts magazine you may have seen on the back page an appeal for federal employees to donate to their cause, via some kind of “combined federal campaign.”
It seems that the ICR has something similar for Texas state employees as well – they’re part of the State Employee Charitable Campaign. They can be found on page 14 of this pdf of the 2011 directory for Dallas/Fort Worth, sandwiched between the Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund and the Kidney Cancer Research and Education Association:
According to an article in the Austin American-Statesman called UT professors object to creation institute’s inclusion in charity list Alfred W. Roark Centennial Professor of Biology David Hillis spotted this inclusion and was “startled” by it. It’s not hard to see why, as a quick look through the directory shows up nothing comparable – even the other religious ones are all about “bringing food, clothing, shelter, medicine, education, and Christian compassion to people in need,” to quote the Christian Community Charities entry, which is fairly typical of that type. The ICR sticks out like a sore thumb.
The SECC works by the employee taking a small percentage of their pay and having it donated to the charity of their choice – provided that it’s on the list. To be on said list the charity must meet the following requirements:
They are recognized by the IRS as 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations and registered with the Secretary of State.
They are audited (or reviewed) annually by an accountant in accordance with generally-accepted auditing standards.
They provide direct or indirect health and human services.
They spend no more than 25 percent of funds raised on administration and fund raising — unless they qualify for an exception due to special circumstances.
The question, then, is if they do “provide direct or indirect health and human services.” To quote the AAS article:
“The Institute for Creation Research is an anti-science organization,” Hillis said. “They work to undermine the mission of the university and of science in general, and especially the science that is the very basis for health and human services. How could such an organization possibly be listed as a charitable organization to be supported by state employees?”
A good question. This was apparently scheduled to come up in the meeting of the State Employee Charitable Campaign Policy Committee on the second of December, that is today from the point of view of Texas. The result was apparently “disappointing,” with the committee deferring making any decision until a new group takes over running the thing next year, but anyway…
Prior to it the ICR published two articles on their site – a press release and another article, both of which landed up on the Daily Science Updates page. They’re taking the ‘religious discrimination’ tack, with the press release titled: State University Professor Sponsors Religious Discrimination in Texas.
There is a problem with this already – it’s only religious discrimination if they’re being discriminated against based on religion. Just because it has been shown in court that Creation Science is religion doesn’t make any attack on it religious discrimination. There is no law prohibiting discrimination against pseudoscience that I know of, and that seems to be Hillis’ angle. The ICR also says:
ICR is concerned that a state employee is attempting to dictate to his fellow state employees how they give their own money to charities, or whether it is ethical for a state employee to sponsor discrimination against a Christian or other religious entity.
Whether UT officials will hold a formal hearing on Professor Hillis’ conduct is yet to be seen. It is also unclear what steps state educational agencies will take against the UT professor or the school if it is shown that a state employee or entity sought to sponsor religious discrimination against an approved charity. ICR also wonders if Professor Hillis or other UT employees have previously attempted this type of discriminatory action, essentially trying to make Christian organizations “back of the bus” charities.
That’s an…interesting counter. They give no evidence that they fulfil the “direct or indirect health and human services” requirement – they don’t even mention it – and conclude:
The Institute for Creation Research, founded in 1970, conducts scientific research in geology, genetics, astro/geophysics, and much more, communicating its results through a variety of degree and non-degree programs, and through books, magazines, videos, and radio broadcasts.
The other groups on the list that conduct scientific research are all about curing AIDs and cancer – the ICR really is out of place. The press release also appears on the Christian News Wire website, and is written by Lawrence Ford.
The other article is by Henry Morris IV, “Director of Donor Relations.” It’s called Freedom of Giving Threatened by Secular Forces.
In it Morris says that the “assault” has “risen to a new level” on the scales of attacks on the ICR. He continues:
In an effort to eliminate the freedom of state employees to support Christian-based charities of their choosing, a University of Texas biology professor has filed a formal grievance against ICR’s inclusion as an approved Texas-based charity. Dr. David Hillis, an outspoken opponent of ICR’s scientific research and education programs, asserts that ICR “is an anti-science organization” that should be stripped from an extensive list of charities already approved by the Texas State Employee Charitable Campaign. ICR was approved by the Texas program two years ago after an exhaustive review process. Pledges made by state employees—representing donations from individuals, not state government funding—are only directed to those eligible charities of the employee’s choice.
Again, the reason behind the attempt to remove the ICR from the list does not appear to be religiously based.
Please know that ICR receives minimal support through workplace giving programs like this, so any potential loss of financial support through this program is of little concern. Yet, state employees should be free to give to any approved charity of their choosing. Eliminating ICR as a viable choice would also eliminate the freedom of those Bible-believing state employees who desire to support our work.
They should “be free to give to any approved charity of their choosing” – it’s just that the ICR shouldn’t be approved. The system has rules, and the ICR doesn’t seem to follow them.
The attempt of our adversaries to temporarily disrupt our operations is confirmation that ICR remains on the path of His truth.
Because that’s totally the litmus test for these things…
The pursuit and communication of His truth is still the singular focus of ICR’s work, and by God’s grace and provision our ministry continues to expand and is now reaching more people today than ever before. But there is still much work left to do, and our agenda is positively bursting with exciting new initiatives to uncover the scientific evidence for creation and communicate the relevant truth of Christ our Creator. This Christmas season, please continue to pray, and give as you are able, to see that this vital work continues.
Yes, but that’s got nothing to do with what the rules demand – nowhere does the ICR in any of its articles defend against the accusation that it does not provide health and human services. Unfortunately, it seems that it didn’t need to – as I mentioned above, Hillis doesn’t seem to have been successful. Better luck next year?
- More creationist lunacy in Texas – Why Evolution is True
- Creationism as Charity? – Texas Freedom Network
- ICR challenged in charitable campaign – National Center for Science Education