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Creationist Ken Ham's potential successor? A fellow conspiracy theorist from Australia
Martyn Iles is a MAGA cultist who was fired from his previous conservative Christian ministry
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In 2019, Israel Folau, one of the most famous rugby players in Australia, announced that he was suing Rugby Australia for terminating his contract over an Instagram post in which he said gay people (along with alcoholics, adulterers, and atheists) would burn in Hell.
He set up a GoFundMe campaign to raise $3 million for his legal bills, but the page was quickly pulled down because the site doesn’t permit fundraisers that promote discrimination.
That’s when the Australian Christian Lobby came to his defense. The non-profit group launched its own Folau fundraiser and later said they raised over $2 million “from over 20,000 donors in just two days.”
The ACL’s managing director Martyn Iles made sure his group got credit for it: “On behalf of the Australian Christian Lobby, I have spoken to Israel Folau to let him know that ACL will be donating $100,000 to his legal defence, because it’s right and it sets an important legal precedent.” (By the end of the year, both sides announced they had reached a confidential settlement to put the matter to rest.)
The ACL’s involvement was notable, though, because it had previously been led by Lyle Shelton, a conservative activist who once said he feared marriage equality because people might think he’s gay and once compared an LGBTQ inclusion program in schools to the Holocaust. The group’s board is not listed on its website.
This was a hate-group defending a fellow faith-based bigot, and Iles was at the center of the story.
That is, until earlier this year, when Iles was fired by the ACL. The reasons for his departure were unclear, but Iles said publicly that “the Board has reviewed ACL’s strategic direction and decided I am not the right person to lead the revised strategy, which focuses more primarily on political tactics, less on the gospel.” (That’s ironic given Iles’ political leanings. More on that in a moment.)
A couple of months later, Iles had a new job: He would be working with Answers in Genesis, the group that oversees the Creation Museum and Ark Encounter, as their new “Chief Ministry Officer.” Iles described his role as continuing to “advance and adapt the ministry to an emerging generation and a changing culture. I will produce a lot of content, speak at live events all over the world, write books, design education programs, and more.” He also said he’d lead the Australian office of the ministry.
He must have had quite the impact in Cincinnati, though, because on Friday, Creationist Ken Ham implied that Iles (rhymes with “denials,” anagrams to “lies”) would be his unofficial successor.
Iles will still be Chief Ministry Officer for the foreseeable future, but Ham appears to be setting him up to take over the whole joint whenever he retires or dies. (Which may come as a shock to some of his younger relatives who also work at AiG.) Ham didn’t directly say Iles would take over, but he wasn’t subtle about it either.
A number of years ago, our board of directors started asking, “What happens when the bus hits Ken?”…
It has been on my mind for some time to do all we can to stop mission drift and ensure the ministry doesn’t compromise like so many churches and Christians have regarding the woke culture…
I have been praying for a long time for someone like Martyn to ensure AiG has dynamic visionary leadership for the future—someone who is committed to biblical authority and the gospel and has an unwavering commitment to never compromise God’s Word and to continue the mission for which God raised AiG up.
If and when that day comes, Iles would be someone who promotes political as well as scientific conspiracy theories.
In 2021, after the Australian state of Victoria banned conversion therapy, Iles claimed he would eventually be imprisoned for his beliefs.
… If [Victoria premier] Daniel Andrews wants to call that bigoted quackery and wants to send me to jail for it, well, I guess I'll have to go to jail with half the Christians in Victoria, because there is no way you can expunge that message and that truth because it is the Gospel and it's never been expunged before, despite people's best efforts.
His Persecution Complex wasn’t limited to Australia either. Shortly after the 2020 elections in the U.S., Iles posted a video suggesting (without evidence, naturally) that Democrats stole the election.
… There's a radical strand [of people on the left]… Do you really think that they wouldn't—they wouldn’t have a little tamper with a vote to stop a man who they believe is literally Hitler?… I mean, forgive me for thinking that someone who sets fire to a church wouldn't mess with 10,000 ballots. Of course they would. Of course they would.
They didn’t mess with the votes. Trump just lost. Republicans have been whining about it ever since.
Iles has also described climate change as “cultural Marxist rubbish.” He opposed vaccine mandates. He believes church/state separation “was invented to protect the church from the state, not actually the other way around.” He thinks the World Economic Forum wants to impose “communism” everywhere.
And now, like Ham, he’s become another Australian export to the U.S. with the intention of spreading scientific misinformation. If his past tells us anything, he’ll do even more to merge his brand of faith-based bullshit with the Christian Nationalists in the Republican Party.
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