These days, Ken Ham is the chief purveyor of young-Earth flavored propaganda in North America. And that makes him, de facto, the most prominent creationist not just on our continent, but the whole planet.

He's certainly the most successful of late at building mailing lists and war chests, precisely because the lion's share of his public effort is addressed at young people. That's what you'd expect from a guy who has a background as a school teacher, when you think about it.

Look at this new venture he's working on.

Used to be, I gave most of my attention to the ID people, rather than YEC (Young Earth Creationist) types because YEC in all of its incarnations has been throughly rejected multiple times by the court system in this country and has zero chance of ever persuading anyone that it is anything other than religious in nature. To my way of thinking, people like Michael Behe and (especially) Jonathan Wells were more troublesome, in that they conceivably could offer tidbits that could make it into public school science classes.

That's due, to, um, design. The Disco Institute and their lawyers continue to claim that their formulation ('intelligent design') is by no means religious, and should pass muster with the Establishment Clause. They also claim that their viewpoint was not actually adjudicated by Judge Jones in the Dover case. They also claim that teachers like me are violating the Establishment Clause by mentioning the fact that there are varieties of religion which do not oppose evoution. Well, none of that is true from where I sit, but ultimately it doesn't matter, because the truth is, the Disco Institute has simply not been successful at building the broad political coalition they pursued.

There are a lot of reasons for this, but one major reason is that some creationists actually hold their views in a consistent way. Such as Ken Ham, who has never made any bones about the fact that he is defending the Bible "from the very first verse", and feels no desire to be a part of some 'big tent' that won't affirm Biblical literalism. Ham has been quoted as describing 'intelligent design' as a Trojan horse for religion, ironically echoing the extremely effective talking points of Barbara Forrest---whose testimony at the Dover trial was so devastating to the defense of the ID-friendly board.

What in the name of Sam Hill is going on? Well, Ham is concerned that "the intelligent design movement is not a Christian movement."

Now, the irony is that for years the ID people have gotten most of the mainstream press, precisely because they were pushing a new strategy that seemed to have the potential to form a 'big tent'. Well, that tent has collapsed. The Dover decision, the departure of William Dembski from Baylor University and the indifference in the popular culture to the documentary 'Expelled' have been major setbacks for this group.

Meanwhile, Ken Ham built the biggest, slickest public face for YEC on the planet. Now, with the aid of a friend who poses as an independent research group, he has enlisted the support of Kentucky politicians to secure tax breaks to build a for-profit amusement part that will trump anything that another former competitor (and present felon) Ken Hovind ever dreamed of.
Do I see Ken Ham as a direct threat to science education, like the Discovery Institute? Not at all. He has publicly acknowledged that the courts shoot down attempts to put creationism in the public schools, and he and similar-minded YEC's actually do understand that as a legal and political strategy that ID was not all that forthright. I don't think he and his group would ever be interested in making a full-fledge assault on the public school curriculum.
But, make no mistake, Answers in Genesis is all about getting the kids early. They will continue to indoctrinate (there is no other word for it) as many young Christians as possible with the viewpoint that acceptance (or even open-minded consideration) of evolution is a threat to their salvation, because Ham and his ilk believe that the Christian faith hangs on the question of whether the Bible is literally true. Ham's approach will not change what is taught in the public schools, but it will cause many kids who could potentially make a contribution to science or medicine to choose other careers. I've seen more than one bright evangelical who has what it takes to make a contribution experience a deep-seated emotional crisis in the middle of their college career. Tragically, some take the unnecessary step of flushing their scientific career down the toilet.