Kent Hovind and the Civilized Society

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When there is an income tax, the just man will pay more and the unjust less on the same amount of income. –Plato

Taxes are what we pay for civilized society. –Oliver Wendell Holmes

Kent Hovind, the creationist and tax resister, has made only a few cameo appearances on PT, but he was recently the subject of an article in Intelligence Report (Camille Jackson, “When Giants Roamed: A Florida Theme Park Sells Creationism - with an Antigovernment Twist,” Summer, 2004, p. 49), a publication of the Southern Poverty Leadership Center. The New York Times describes Hovind as the operator of a creationist theme park but, unfortunately, in a fairly credulous article, glosses over some of Mr. Hovind’s other activities (Abby Goodnough, “Darwin-Free Fun for Creationists,” May 1, 2004).

Mr. Hovind, also known as Dr. Dino, is a young-earth creationist and runs Creation Science Evangelism, in Pensacola, Florida. He claims to have a doctoral degree from Patriot University in Colorado. If PU is accredited, they hide the fact very well; their “Frequently Asked Questions about ACCREDITATION! [sic]” states in many ways and with many exclamation points why accreditation is not required (http://www.patriotuniversity.com/ac[…]ditation.asp). Brett Vickers, writing for Talk Origins, notes that PU is accredited by an association of theological institutions, which charges $100 for accreditation (http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/credentials.html), but that supposed accreditation is not mentioned on PU’s FAQ page.

Karen Bartelt, who holds a real PhD in chemistry from Montana State and teaches writing at Eureka College, has managed to get hold of Mr. Hovind’s thesis. I say “managed to get hold of” because the thesis is not generally available from University Microfilms or any other source, according to Dr. Bartelt. The gist of her evaluation is that the thesis contains no original research or scholarly references and, indeed, is written at a level typical of high-school writing, and certainly not college or post-graduate writing. If PU accepted the thesis, says Dr. Bartelt, then it must be no more than a diploma mill (http://home.austarnet.com.au/stear/[…]d_thesis.htm), a view apparently shared by Mr. Vickers.

Mr. Hovind, nevertheless, runs a creationist theme park in Pensacola, Florida, and claims to deliver 700 lectures a year. He boasts that 38,000 people have visited his theme park, each paying $7 for entry (Goodnough). Answers in Genesis, another creationist organization, has accused Mr. Hovind of using “material that is not sound scientifically”; I have no comment on that accusation (Ted Olsen, “IRS Raids Home and Business of Creationist,” Christianity Today, http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct[…]16.11.0.html; see also Carl Wieland, Ken Ham, and Jonathan Sarfati, “Maintaining Creationist Integrity: A Response to Kent Hovind,” 16 December 2002, http://www.answersingenesis.org/doc[…]11hovind.asp).

The Internal Revenue Service says that Mr. Hovind has evaded taxes on over $1 million, and it raided his home and office on April 14 of this year (Brett Norman, “IRS Raids Business, Home of Creationist,” Pensacola News Journal, April 17, 2004, http://cgi.pensacolanewsjournal.com[…]/ST006.shtml#). Mr. Hovind’s business is not registered as a nonprofit with the IRS. Mr. Hovind has further been charged with failure to obtain both a building permit and a license to do business.

Mr. Hovind referred questions to Glen Stoll, director of the legal firm, Remedies at Law. Mr. Stoll also represents Embassy of Heaven, a cult that believes it is the embassy from the Kingdom of God to the US government and therefore does not need to abide by federal, state, or local laws, a view Mr. Hovind apparently also holds (Ed Brayton, “The Religious Fringe, Part 1: Embassy of Heaven,” http://www.mblog.com/dispatches_fro[…]/036309.html). Mr. Stoll’s Web page features a short, unclear essay on the corporation sole (Glen Stoll, “What Is Corporation Sole?” http://www.remediesatlaw.com/corporation_sole.htm). A corporation sole is a corporation consisting of a single person and is a device that allows religious leaders such as bishops to be incorporated in order to ensure continuity of ownership of church property. Mr. Stoll says that the corporation sole is historically Christian and “is exempt from federal, state or local license or tax by its very nature.” The IRS, by contrast, warns that unscrupulous promoters are falsely selling the corporation sole as a legitimate way to avoid paying taxes (“IRS Warns of ‘Corporation Sole’ Tax Scam,” http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article[…]1566,00.html).

Mr. Hovind’s museum sells material such as Fourth Reich of the Rich, which Intelligence Report describes as alleging a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world (Jackson). Further, he recommends books that are popular with the anti-government “Patriot” movement, including a book by Irwin Schiff (about whom more in a minute) and an anti-government magazine, Media Bypass. According to Intelligence Report, Mr. Hovind also recommends The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a well-known anti-Semitic forgery. He thinks that democracy is against God’s law, and that environmentalism and income taxes are plots to destroy the country (“Radical Religion,” Intelligence Report, http://www.splcenter.org/intelrepor[…].jsp?aid=205).

Mr. Schiff is the author of The Federal Mafia: How It Illegally Imposes and Unlawfully Collects Income Taxes and has recently been indicted for tax evasion, conspiracy to defraud, and abetting thousands of false returns. Apparently, Mr. Schiff enters 0 on every relevant line of his tax return and counsels others to do the same - and ask for a refund of all withheld taxes. (“Anti-Tax Rebel Indicted on Tax Rap,” CBS News, March 25, 2004, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004[…]608572.shtml). The government charges that Mr. Schiff has evaded taxes on around $4 million over at least 6 years. (The government has also obtained an injunction against publishing Mr. Schiff’s books and other materials [Catherine E. Smith, “Taxing the First Amendment,” Intelligence Report, Summer, 2004, pp. 44-45, 48]. At the risk of getting off-task, I think the court has made an egregious decision: Freedom of the press is more important than preempting a handful of would-be tax evaders.)

The “Patriot” movement is one of several Christian Resistance movements. It does not take a conspiracy theorist to deduce that Mr. Hovind is, at least, sympathetic with these organizations. Will he or nill he, his activities link creationism to “Patriots,” tax resisters, unregistered churches (“Church vs. State,” Intelligence Report, http://www.splcenter.org/intelrepor[…].jsp?aid=199), and other organizations of the far right. In short, Mr. Hovind and his minions are dangerous because they threaten to drag the already reactionary creation movement well past reaction and into the lunatic fringe.

It is, I assume, no accident that PU, a religious institution, is called Patriot University.

16 Comments

A few years ago, when I emailed Hovind’s organization, a secretary sent me a pretty canned reply about how Hovind’s critics attack his credentials because they can’t disprove his ideas etc etc etc

I would be happy if all the creationists loudly stopped paying their taxes.

It’s ‘Will he, nill he’, btw

To fully appreciate the quality of Kent Hovind’s education, may I recommend the virtual tour of Patriot University

That IRS warning about “Corporation Sole” tax scams set of my warning bells. Phrases like “legitimate religious groups and church leaders” coming from government officials are just wrong. I am extremely warry of the government claiming to have the power to decide who is a “legitimate religious group” or not. That seems to me to go against several constitutional provisions. Constitution problems with identifying “legitimate religions,” i.e. people we want to give tax breaks too, is why I feel that all “religious” tax breaks are unconstitutional and should be ended.

I cannot disagree with Mr. Cartwright, but legitimate churches can be recognized, for example, by the facts that they have membership lists and (usually) employ clergy. The corporation sole scam, as far as I know, consists of setting up a phony church with no members and declaring yourself minister. I do not know exactly how that exempts you from income taxes, but at a minimum you can claim a parsonage allowance, if they still have those. As a church, your house is most likely exempt from property taxes as well.

Will he, nill he: Sorry, I did not remember that I was quoting Hamlet; I thought it was just an idiom. It is the progenitor of willy nilly, and I suppose I should have deduced something from that.

That Karen Bartelt review of his thesis should be required reading. I knew Hovind sucked, but lordy.

Mr. Cartwright,

It is obvious what religious groups are legitimate and what religious leaders are legitimate. Only those groups that follow a traditional interpretation of the bible and accept Jesus as their lord and savior are legitimate. Everyone else is following false religions and thus can’t possibly be considered legitimate religious groups or leaders. Haven’t you been listening to the President, Speaker of the House and the rest of the goodly godly leaders of our government. Why do you question them so? Don’t worry about the separation of church and state, the goodly godly politicians will make sure that all other religious classes are treated decently as second class citizens–being the fine upstanding Christians that they are.

PS. I’m including the URL encoding as a hint so that would be religious folks don’t actually take what I said seriously–if they don’t think that way already.

Hi Folks:

The heat of the debate on Creationism/Intelligent Design versus Evolution often distracts from the fact that the perspective of the C/ID folks is far from representative of all religious viewpoints.

In that regard, The essay Non Overlapping Magisteria by Stephen Jay Gould, discusses in a conciliatory and fairminded way the Catholic Church’s acceptance of evolutionary theory in terms of the distinct teaching domains of Religion and Evolution/Science.

Antonio

I just read the Bartelt review. Hovind is clearly the Ed Wood of science.

When someone opens up a discussion about his education with “I’m not ashamed of my education.…”

.…

Aren’t there ways around copywrite laws if you’re just doing small quotes of articles? For reviews and the like? If so, I’d love to actually read some snippets of his thesis.

Well gwangi, first of all, yes, fair use means you can make public selections of a work without permission.

But I think we should campaign Hovind to demand he give permission for her to give it to anyone interested. There is no legitimate reason for witholding it. Because the point of getting a real PhD is, you’ve contributed to the collection of human knowledge. It shows you have not only mastered your field, but extended it. If you refuse to release this research, you are violating that principle. If you refuse because the research will be revealed as obviously inadequate, you violated the integrity of the PhD degree. He has no reason to hide the research that earned him the title Doctor, if he deserves that title.

Well now hold hard here - none of this lumping the tax protestors (very different from tax evaders) in with the rest of the garbage there. Tax protestors are making a civil protest against what they view as illegitimate use of government power. Whatever you happen to think of that, you should certainly respect their right to the civil disobedience of their choice - I’d fully expect you lot to be up there being civilly disobedient in the event of Federally mandated bans on the teaching of evolution.

Is this blog getting linked to by creationist sites or something?

steve wrote:

But I think we should campaign Hovind to demand he give permission for her to give it to anyone interested. There is no legitimate reason for witholding it.

That’s an excellent point. Science, above all else, is not done in a vacuum. The exchange of ideas and results is what really drives the field. If Dr. Dino is the scientist he claims to be, he should know that.

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This page contains a single entry by Matt Young published on August 14, 2004 10:54 AM.

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