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Overview: This is the second of a four part series done on September 13, 1995 at the Dayton Answers In Genesis Seminar with Ken Ham. We will present the rest in the coming year along with other interviews. Your comments are appreciated. These interviews will maintain the verbal format with only changes to simplify repeats done in informal conversation. This interview will cover Leadership and Financial Accountability. Ron: I'm reading a book by Carl Sandberg who wrote the definitive biography of Abraham Lincoln, The Prairie Years & The War Years. You have compared yourself to Abraham Lincoln because of your appearance and other things. Do you think there are some qualities that Abraham Lincoln would or did have that you have that also brings you together in some similarities.
Ken: Well, I'll tell you one of them. I get accused of not smiling much, and that's me. You know some people are smilers and some aren't. My wife will tell you I smile with my eyes and so you got to watch my eyes. I'm just not a smiler with my mouth. As you know, if people get to know me and listen to my talking you realize that I have a real sense of humor and that comes through and all the rest. Abraham Lincoln was accused of the same thing. He had a serious face and he was also accused of not smiling much I have read somewhere.
Ron: Especially after the Presidential years and the war years, he was extremely sorrowful.
Ron: He took being a President and all the people who died very seriously. Which is similar to the Christian message, in terms of, there are a lot of souls that are dying out there; and I don't know if that affects you, but I'm certain it is part of your prayer life. Would you like to comment about that in your mission.
Ken: Well certainly, I think one of the things that affects me more then anything is to see the Christian leadership that is compromised. And by the way, that's why I really would compare myself to Abraham Lincoln in some ways. He was a man who was prepared to stand up for what he believed in and was prepared to speak authoritatively. And I think that is what people liked about Abraham Lincoln, that he would speak authoritatively and stand for what he believed in. He was a good orator and I guess I like someone who is a good orator.
But I really get burdened for the church because so many Christian leaders have compromised the Word of God and have really added pagan ideas to the Bible if you like. And they don't support this ministry. The number of pastors that might even be interested, but they just see it as a side issue or something like that; and yet I know that the people in their church desperately need to hear this. I think that is one of the greatest burdens I have and that is in regard to Christian leadership.
Ron: Abraham had some other similarities. He had some detractors who said several things about him. People believed Abraham Lincoln for a lot of reasons. One, he was sincere, he came across that way; he was very personable. But he had a lot of detractors; some of them said that he may be using money unwisely or making too much money or his relatives did, etc. In recent days several ministries have come under attack because of financial gains that may have went to one of the leaders. As a prominent person in this organization, what kind of controls do you have? Is your salary set by a board or those kinds of things? How do you control the outside debate on criticism or concerns in those areas.
Ken: Well, yes, we have a number of things. We have a board that has three of us from within the organization, but also has members outside the organization who are the majority on the board. They certainly set the salaries and basically have control of the ministry, because they are the majority on the board. We also have people from Australia on the board, who are outside our ministry, but have a wealth of experience as well. In our organization, we have a full time CPA employed. We have put ourselves under the guidance of an outside accounting firm who specialize in nonprofit organizations. We will be having yearly audits, now some Christian organizations don't even have yearly audits; but what we want to do is have them yearly.
We are really only a brand new organization and have now set the stage for all the controls necessary for us to join the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA). Well, we have put all those controls in process which are there right now; and so they look at our books, they guide us, they direct us in regard to all of that, plus we have just been approved by the IRS as a non-profit organization. They wanted to know what salaries we are paying people, so we had to be up front about all that; and there was no problem whatsoever with any of that.
In fact, one of the interesting things is some of my books which were written outside of the organization and published, the IRS, to grant us our non-taxability status, would not allow me to receive royalties; and that little bit of finances is what helps us put our kids get through college, etc. Whereas some of the Christian leaders across this nation make incredible amounts on books and things, and what we are talking about is a pittance really compared to a lot of other Christian leaders. So what we agreed to do is sign all of that over to the organization; so we account for that as salary instead; that's as far as I am concerned.
The organization is more important, so we have made sure that we have fulfilled all of the IRS criteria even though they are more stringent with us than other nonprofit organizations at the moment; and we have all of those financially accountable controls there, so we've got the board, the financial people, Cappud and Crouce is their name; and we'll be applying for ECFA--you have a 12 month waiting time as a new organization, because you have to have audited accounts; and you have to have a year's experience first to be audited. So by the end of this year, I think, we will have fulfilled the criteria, and we will be making that application once we have our audit for this year.
We, of course, will be getting an unqualified audit because if we can't get a unqualified audit, I wouldn't want to be in this ministry. So even here at our seminars we have had to put certain controls in regard to the money and in regard to books; you know we have two people who have to count the money here at the seminar, and everything is recorded and all of those things, to take it back to our accountant at the office. It all has to match up and everything else. So we aim for the highest of financial integrity. In fact, we have controls in place higher than what would be deemed necessary by the IRS for a non-profit organization.
To Be Continued Next Month