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/accreditation.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/bartelt_dissertation_on_hovind_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/2004/116.11.0.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/docs2002/1011hovind.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/news/041704/Local/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_from_the_culture_wars/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/0,,id=121566,00.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/intelreport/article.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/2004/03/25/national/main608572.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/intelreport/article.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.