Kent E. Hovind
January 15, 1953 (age 59)
Kent E. Hovind (born January 15, 1953) is an American young earth creationist. Hovind speaks on creation science and aims to convince listeners to reject theories of evolution, geophysics, and cosmology in favor of the Genesis creation narrative from the Bible. Hovind's views are contradicted by scientific evidence and some of his ideas have also been criticized by young earth creationist organizations like Answers in Genesis.
Hovind established the Creation Science Evangelism ministry in 1989, and frequently spoke on young Earth creationism at seminars at private schools and churches, debates, and on radio and television broadcasts. Since January 2007, Hovind has been serving a ten-year prison sentence after being convicted of 58 federal counts, including 12 tax offenses, one count of obstructing federal agents, and 45 counts of structuring cash transactions. He is incarcerated at the FPC Satellite Camp of the ADX Florence prison in Florence, Colorado.
[hide] 1 Biography 1.1 Education
1.2 Creation Science Evangelism and Creation Today
1.3 Dinosaur Adventure Land
1.4 Earnings and assets
2 Creationism 2.1 The "Hovind Theory"
2.2 Hovind's $250,000 offer 2.2.1 Responses
3 Criticism 3.1 From creationists
3.2 From non-creationists
4 Controversial remarks 4.1 Politics and conspiracies
5 YouTube copyright controversy
6 Legal problems 6.1 Property taxes and zoning ordinance
6.2 Federal civil tax matters, bankruptcy, and renouncing citizenship (1996–2006)
6.3 Federal criminal tax-related trial and convictions in 2006
6.4 Sentencing, appeals and imprisonment (2007–current)
8 External links
On February 9, 1969, at the age of 16, Hovind became a born again Christian. In 1971, he graduated from East Peoria Community High School. He holds three degrees in Christian education (1974, 1988, 1991) from unaccredited institutions. He is married and has three adult children and five grandchildren. One of his sons, Eric Hovind, travels doing creationist presentations and debates using many of his father's arguments.
Between 1975 and 1988, Hovind served as an assistant pastor and teacher at three private Baptist schools, including one he started. As these were private schools, Hovind was not required to have any teaching credentials or accredited qualifications. In 1989, Hovind started Creation Science Evangelism. In 1998, Hovind created his Dr. Dino web site and began producing articles and selling video tapes, books, and fossil replicas. Prior to his convictions, Hovind spoke at churches, private schools, and other venues each year. Hovind also hosted a daily internet radio talk show and has established Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, Florida.
In 1971 he graduated from East Peoria Community High School in East Peoria, Illinois. From 1972 to 1974, Hovind attended the non-accredited Midwestern Baptist College and received a Bachelor of Religious Education.
In 1988 and 1991 respectively, Hovind was awarded a master's degree and doctorate in Christian Education through correspondence from the non-accredited Patriot University in Colorado Springs, Colorado (now Patriot Bible University in Del Norte, Colorado, which no longer offers this program). Having a website called "Dr. Dino" has provoked some academics to look closely at how Hovind presents his education and credentials. Chemistry professor Karen Bartelt has said that it is "very unusual for a person with a Ph.D., even a real one, to list oneself in the phonebook as "Dr Hovind", as Hovind has done." [emphasis in original]. Barbara Forrest, a professor of philosophy, expert on the history of creationism and activist in the creation-evolution controversy, wrote that Hovind's lack of academic training makes it impossible to engage him on a professional level.
Other critics of Hovind have pointed out that Patriot Bible University is a diploma mill, as it has unreasonably low graduation requirements, lack of sufficient faculty or educational standards, and a suspicious tuition scheme. The school's current policies allow students to attain bachelor's degrees, master's degrees, and even "Doctor of Ministry" degrees in months, rather than years, for as little as $25 per month. Currently Patriot offers a monthly fee, unlike most universities, which only charge per-credit fees.
Bartelt has stated that Hovind's doctoral dissertation is evidence of the poor requirements at Patriot and that Hovind lacks knowledge of basic science. Bartelt noted that Hovind's dissertation is incomplete (it contains four chapters totaling 101 pages, but Hovind's introduction claims the work is 250 pages with 16 chapters), of low academic quality, with poor writing, poor spelling, and poor grammatical style. Bartelt asserts that pages are repeated, references are absent, and it is not an original work with original ideas.
In the past, when questioned about his education and qualifications, Hovind has said his critics use ad hominem arguments, and Patriot has issued similar comments. In 2010, Patriot responded to Wikileaks' claim to have revealed Hovind's dissertation, writing that the Wikileaks file was not the "finished" product, but because they do not "retain ownership to student thesis’ [sic] or dissertations, as is commonly practiced by many schools", they "cannot release student work to the public". Patriot will not send copies of Hovind's doctoral dissertation, which is unusual for an institution to do since dissertations are made available to the public. As a general rule, doctoral dissertations are published by the associated university and made available to the public, so that other students conducting research in similar areas may use the information in the dissertation as a reference. Bartlet wrote that the copy she viewed is on file at the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), but the organization cannot distribute it due to copyright restrictions. The NCSE's copy was received from Skip Evans, who obtained Hovind's dissertation from Patriot with Hovind's permission in March 1999.
Creation Science Evangelism and Creation Today
After receiving his first correspondence degree, Hovind started the Creation Science Evangelism ministry (CSE) in 1989. The ministry aims to evangelize people by teaching them creationism. During Hovind's trial, the prosecution said the ministry does not have the proper licensing nor is it registered as a nonprofit, which resulted in legal troubles mentioned below. In January 2007, Eric Hovind, Kent's son, announced that he will run CSE due to his father's ten year prison term. After finishing high school at Pensacola Christian Academy in 1996, Eric attended Jackson Hole Bible College a one-year non-accredited institution. In November 2007, God Quest Inc. filed to do business under the trade name CSE with Florida. God Quest Inc. was incorporated by Eric Hovind, Bill Nadolny, Scott Porter, and Stephen Lawwell in July 2007.
In February 2008, Eric Hovind signed a letter on behalf of God Quest Ministries for the Florida Family Policy Council to the Florida Board of Education opposing the statement: "Evolution is the fundamental concept underlying all of biology and is supported by multiple forms of scientific evidence." In June 2008, Eric announced that the CSE website would incorporate the CSE blog and change format allowing for "only positive comments" about Hovind and CSE. During the 2008 election, CSE issued political articles for evangelical voters and linked to material by David Barton.
In 2012, Creation Science Evangelism's DrDino.com website was redirected to Creationtoday.org, which was described by Kyle Winter, in CSE's newsletter, as part of "a new brand name" and "transition" to a new website. The new website announced "Creation Today is a ministry of God Quest, Inc." with focus on "creation, apologetics and evangelism."
Dinosaur Adventure Land
Entrance to the park
Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Dinosaur Adventure Land
In 2001, Hovind started Dinosaur Adventure Land (DAL), a young Earth creationist theme park located behind Hovind's home in Pensacola, Florida. The park depicts humans and dinosaurs co-existing in the last 4,000–6,000 years and also contains a depiction of the Loch Ness monster. Dinosaurs are central to Hovind's website and creation advocacy because "the creation world view says dinosaurs have always lived with man and there might still be a few alive today." A 2004 Skeptical Inquirer article explored visiting Hovind's dinosaur theme park and concluded that the park is deceptive and deliberately misleads visitors. The Southern Poverty Law Center noted the park also "claims that a few small dinosaurs still roam the planet." George Allan Alderman wrote it was "essentially a playground with a few exhibits, several fiberglass dinosaurs, a climbing wall, and a couple of buildings." He said it can be "summed [up] in a word: shabby. The dinosaurs looked shabby, the displays were shabby, the attractions and activities were shabby, and above all the ideas were shabby."
The venture has encountered legal issues, as the owners failed to acquire a building permit for the park (see below). In 2008 Eric Hovind and Glen Stoll attempted to prevent the forfeitures of Hovind's ten properties, including DAL, in connection with Kent Hovind's federal tax problems. The government sought the property, deeded to Stoll and Eric prior to Hovind's convictions, since cash that Hovind withdrew from his bank accounts cannot be recovered. In July 2009, the courts ruled that the properties could be seized and sold to satisfy Hovind's federal tax debts. On August 24, 2009, Dinosaur Adventure Land's website announced it was "closed until further notice". In November 2010, CSE announced the "re-opening" of the "Creation Store" in central Pensacola."
Earnings and assets
Property on Dinosaur Adventure Land.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
Kent Hovind Property Seizure Ruling
According to the IRS, Hovind reportedly earned $50,000 a year through speaking engagements and, in 2002 alone, the ministry sold more than $1.8 million in merchandise. Also, Hovind's theme park and merchandise sales earned more than US$5 million from 1999 to March 2004. On average, they say, Hovind "has made deposits to bank accounts well in excess of $1 million per year." Eventually that grew to about $2 million a year. About half that income went to employees who were salaried or were paid hourly wages. However, Hovind derived "substantial revenue" from these activities that appeared to be "income to [him] personally."
Prior to his prison term, Kent Hovind also owned at least 10 properties, including DAL. As of 2009 the government is seizing the property for money owed, but in a court filing Eric Hovind said he owned one of the properties and "took active control over the lot by personally building a home on it with $70,000 he borrowed from CSE." The court accepted Eric's ownership due to improvements made on the property and allowed Eric to keep that property, but is allowing the government to seize the other nine properties.
The "Hovind Theory"
Hovind summarizes his version of the young Earth creation story in the self-titled "Hovind Theory" taken from a variety of creationist sources. The "Hovind Theory" was presented at Hovind's lectures and in his work "Unmasking the False Religion of Evolution".
Hovind explained the Biblical account of Noah as follows: Noah's family and two of every "kind" of animal (including young dinosaurs) safely boarded the Ark before a −300 °F (−184 °C) ice meteor came flying toward the Earth and broke up in space. Some of the meteor fragments became rings and others caused the impact craters on the moon and some of the planets. The remaining ice fragments fell to the North and South Poles of the Earth, concentrated towards those regions by the Earth's magnetic field.
He explains the fossils were created by billions of organisms that were washed together by the mass destruction of the worldwide flood, buried, and fossilized.
The resulting "super-cold snow" fell near the poles, burying the mammoths standing up. Ice on the North and South Poles cracked the crust of the Earth, releasing the fountains of the deep, which in turn caused certain ice age effects, namely the glacier effects. This made the Earth "wobble around" and collapsed the vapor canopy that protected it.
During the first few months of the flood, the dead animals and plants were buried, and became oil and coal, respectively. The last few months of the flood included geological instability, when the plates shifted. This period saw the formation of both ocean basins and mountain ranges, and the resulting water run-off caused incredible erosion – Hovind states that the Grand Canyon was formed in a couple of weeks during this time. After a few hundred years, the ice caps slowly melted back, retreating to their current size, and the ocean levels increased, creating the continental shelves. The deeper oceans absorbed much of the carbon dioxide in Earth’s atmosphere and thus allowed greater amounts of radiation to reach the Earth's surface. As a result, human lifespans were shortened considerably in the days of Peleg.
The level of support for evolution is essentially universal within the scientific community and academia, while support for creationism is minimal among scientists in general, and virtually nonexistent among those in the relevant fields: Biology, Paleontology, Geology, etc.
About the Hovind theory in particular:
Karen Bartelt, a chemist, commented that Hovind's "message appeals to those who are unaware that his 'evidence' is without merit."
Furthermore, the plausibility of the Hovind Theory has been criticized by both scientists and other young Earth creationists.
Hovind's ideas have been published in the controversial Chick Tracts, comic strips intended to convert people to fundamentalist Christianity.
Hovind's $250,000 offer
According to Hovind's website, he has offered $10,000 since 1990 to those who can "prove the theory of evolution." He has since raised the amount of the reward to $250,000.
I have a standing offer of $250,000 to anyone who can give any empirical evidence (scientific proof) for evolution.* My $250,000 offer demonstrates that the hypothesis of evolution is nothing more than a religious belief.
*NOTE: When I use the word evolution, I am not referring to the minor variations found in all of the various life forms (microevolution). I am referring to the general theory of evolution which believes these five major events took place without God:
1. Time, space, and matter came into existence by themselves. 2. Planets and stars formed from space dust. 3. Matter created life by itself. 4. Early life-forms learned to reproduce themselves. 5. Major changes occurred between these diverse life forms (i.e., fish changed to amphibians, amphibians changed to reptiles, and reptiles changed to birds or mammals).
Critics view this offer to be spurious because of the conditions which Hovind imposes. The 'theory of evolution' as defined by Hovind covers not only the process of evolution but also abiogenesis, astrophysics, and cosmology. Also, unlike Hovind, scientists in the field of evolutionary biology do not distinguish between micro- and macro-evolution as distinct processes, instead contending that evolution takes place as microevolution, and that macroevolution is cumulative microevolution.
Critics argue that the offer is merely a publicity stunt designed to be impossible to win because it requires the claimant to disprove all possible theories for the origin of species, no matter how ridiculous: his FAQ states that claimants must "prove beyond reasonable doubt that the process of evolution ... is the only possible way the observed phenomena could have come into existence."
Hovind has said a panel of judges would decide if a claim had met his criteria, but he has refused to say who would be (or is) on that panel, or what their qualifications might be. Challengers who have submitted claims to Hovind say they have become convinced that he does not actually use a panel of judges, in spite of his promise to do so. In one case, after twice stating that he would send a particular response to his judges (according to his website any responses he sent were considered "legitimate"), Hovind stated, "Thanks for reminding me about not sending minor changes to the committee. This would be a waste of time for everyone involved. If you ever get any evidence that does support evolution please send it to me". The respondent felt that this indicated dishonesty on Hovind's part and confirmed public suspicions that he never intended to pay.
People have approached Hovind in regard to the challenge, addressing it from perspectives ranging from "Large-scale Evolution" to the "Big Bang Theory" to polar bears. In 2001, biologist Massimo Pigliucci attempted to collect Hovind's prize. During a debate with Hovind, Pigliucci said Hovind did not send any details or names of scientists judging the evidence and Hovind "could have decided on his own" to dismiss the evidence. Pigliucci later issued a "counter-challenge" as "a spoof meant to uncover Hovind's challenge for the gimmick that it is" by asking for "empirical evidence, that Christianity is the only true religion and that a god with the exact characteristics of the one(s) described in the bible actually exists".
The winter 2005 issue of Skeptic included an article titled "Doubting Dr. Dino" by Adam Kisby. Kisby lays out Hovind's arguments in formal logic, and says that the assumptions "God is a necessary cause of the universe" and "The universe is eternal, i.e., un-caused" lead to contradictions. Kisby sent his proof to Hovind and reports that "many weeks later I received a terse reply from Hovind in which he dogmatically rejected my proof." Hovind's reason was "the universe is evidence of a Designer – not proof there is no Designer." Kisby concluded "I contend that either my proof is technically correct or Hovind's $250,000 offer is fundamentally flawed. If my proof is correct, then Hovind is constrained by the terms of his offer to release the money. On the other hand if Hovind's offer is flawed then he is morally obligated to withdraw it or modify it." The Spring 2006 issue of Skeptic contained criticisms of Kisby's proposed proof.
Some creationist groups also do not approve of Hovind's offer. Answers in Genesis said it "would prefer that 'creationists' refrained from gimmicks like this."
Hovind has been criticized by other creationists, including young Earth creationists and old Earth creationists, who believe that many of his arguments are invalid and, consequently, undermine their causes. Disagreements over how to respond to Hovind's claims have themselves contributed to acrimony between creationist organizations. The Australian and U.S. arms of Answers in Genesis (AiG) were critical of Hovind after he had criticized a position document from Creation Ministries International, "Arguments we think creationists should NOT use". In particular AiG criticized Hovind for "persistently us[ing] discredited or false arguments" and said Hovind's claims are "self-refuting".
The U.S. arm of AiG, led by Ken Ham, had an acrimonious split with its Australian parent in 2005. The Australian organization then split itself entirely off from its parent group, now styling itself Creation Ministries International. Material critical of Hovind was no longer available on the U.S. Answers In Genesis website, whereas the Australian CMI website retained the critical material. In the 2002 article and a 2006 update, written by Carl Wieland and Jonathan Sarfati stated that the claims made by Hovind are "fraudulent" and contain "mistakes in facts and logic which do the creationist cause no good." CMI also criticized Hovind for using "fraudulent claims" made by Ron Wyatt in his claims. In August 2009, the Australian CMI website has since published an article praising Creation Science Evangelism for removing some faulty arguments, but decided against deleting its article altogether because "there are lots of 'free-to-copy' DVDs of Kent Hovind’s old talks circulating widely around the world and it will be some time before they disappear from circulation.
Creationist astronomer Hugh Ross, of Reasons to Believe, debated Hovind on the age of the Earth during the John Ankerberg Show, televised nationally on the Inspiration Network in September through October 2000. Ross said Hovind was "misrepresenting the field" of different sciences, and Ross told Hovind: "Astronomers view the credibility of the 'Young Earth' as being much weaker than that for a flat Earth." Hovind and Ross previously debated in July 1999 on the Steve Brown Show.
Hovind has stated that carbon dating – a method used by scientists to estimate the age of various objects and events – is unreliable. He has been criticized by Greg Neyman of Answers in Creation (an old Earth creationist group), who says that in Hovind's statements "Hovind goes on to show that he knows absolutely nothing about the science of Carbon Dating." Neyman says that Hovind's claim that "scientists assume the amount of carbon-14 is constant" is wrong, and Neyman writes "there are many periods of decreasing C-14, which disproves his theory that the Earth is young based on C-14 equilibrium."
Prior to his convictions, Hovind debated atheists, non-YEC Christians, skeptics, and scientists. In May 2004, Michael Shermer debated Hovind in front of a predominantly creationist audience. In Shermer's online reflection, while claiming he won the debate with intellectual and scientific evidence, he felt it was "not an intellectual exercise," but rather it was "an emotional drama." While receiving positive responses from creationist observers, Shermer concluded "Unless there is a subject that is truly debatable with a format that is fair, in a forum that is balanced, it only serves to belittle both the magisterium of science and the magisterium of religion." Others, like evolutionary biologist Massimo Pigliucci, have debated Hovind, and have expressed surprise at Hovind's ignorance of evolutionary theory. Pigliucci indicated surprise at hearing Hovind try "to convince the audience that evolutionists believe humans came from rocks" and at Hovind's assertion that biologists believe humans "evolved from bananas." In addition, William Reville, Biochemist and Director of Microscopy at University College Cork, wrote about Hovind, explaining "Creation science is not science. Science is based on ideas that are testable. What the creationists believe is not rational, but it cannot be disproved."
Others criticize Hovind for his involvement with Arkansas state Representative Jim Holt's Anti-Evolution Bill in 2001 (House Bill 2548). This bill "would have required that when public schools refer to evolution that it be identified as an unproven theory." Some politicians claimed this bill "would have made Arkansas a laughingstock." Holt called upon Hovind as an expert who "testified for Holt before the State Agencies and Governmental Affairs Committee, alleging much of the information pertaining to evolution in our science textbooks is false." As for the legislation, "Holt admitted much of the information in his bill came from Jonathan Wells' Icons of Evolution."
Critics charge that Kent Hovind's presentations on creation and evolution are a mix of Christian Fundamentalism and conspiracy theories. The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has criticized Hovind because of his selling of books such as Des Griffin's Fourth Reich of the Rich and Peter Kershaw's In Caesar's Grip, and recommending The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, a well-known antisemitic hoax. The SPLC reported that Hovind accuses Darwinism of having produced "Communism, Socialism, Nazism, abortion, liberalism and the New Age Movement." It also quotes Hovind as claiming that "democracy is evil and contrary to God's law." In response to criticism, Hovind has stated: "I love the Jews. But The Protocols of Zion [sic] was written to explain how to control the world, I mean, it lays it all out. But it’s really carefully done so that if it is ever discovered the Jews take the blame for it."
The SPLC also criticized Hovind for "point[ing] his followers to Citizens Rule Book, popular among antigovernment "Patriots"; Media Bypass, an antigovernment magazine with strong antisemitic leanings"; and books by tax protester Irwin Schiff" (Schiff has since been convicted and sentenced to 13 years in prison).
While Kent Hovind is in prison, Eric has continued operating CSE and has received criticism for errors in his claims. Biologist PZ Myers criticized Eric and CSE employee Jonathon Sampson for their comments on cephalopods, writing "We do have explanations of cephalopod evolution" and "they lack the intelligence to grasp it." In his criticism, Myers criticized Hovind for failing to look up the evolutionary scholarship on cephalopods and linked to his blog article on cephalopod evolution.
Politics and conspiracies
Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Kent Hovind
Hovind has made controversial remarks regarding conspiracies, science, creation, equal rights, religion, and government over the years. Hovind's creationist presentations have asserted that the reason creationism based on the Genesis creation narrative is not taught in public schools is tied to "an international conspiracy" of "'The New World Order' (NWO) consisting of Ted Turner and his wife Jane Fonda, the British Royal Family, the State of Israel, the American Civil Liberties Union, and a smattering of former and present US government officials, business leaders, and social activists (particularly those advocating population control) — shades of the Trilateral Commission." In May 1999, he claimed "the implementation of the NWO's world-domination plan was May 5, 2000."
Hovind has several conspiracy theories about the U.S. government. He believes that the cyanide-releasing compound Laetrile is a "cancer cure" and argues that the US government is conspiring to suppress a cure for cancer. On his radio program, he has said that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks, killing nearly 3000 people and that a "lot of folks were told not to come to work." He also believes the Oklahoma City bombing was carried out by the government. "Did you know the Federal Government blew up their own building to blame it on the militias and to get rid of some people that weren't cooperating with the system?" Regarding UFOs, Hovind recommends books by conspiracy theorists who believe "some UFO’s are U.S. Government experiments with electrogravitic propulsion as opposed to jet propulsion, while others are Satanic apparitions." Additionally, Hovind believes that the Federal Reserve, the Council on Foreign Relations, the United Nations, and various other groups are planning to create a one world government and that the 1993 World Trade Center attack was staged by the US Government in order to pass "anti-terrorism" legislation that restricts civil liberties. He says, "I love my country, but fear my government. And you should too." He also believes there is no such thing as the separation of church and state, and opposes public schools.
Hovind has also alleged that there is a conspiracy surrounding taxes, the New World Order, and communism, while he promotes tax protesting. Hovind wrote "Although it is tempting for me to go off on a tangent from my creation ministry and spend much time warning people of the communist origin (Karl Marx thought it up in 1848 and pro communists Colonel E. House, Roosevelt, Rockefeller and Sen. Nelson Aldrich implemented it in 1913.) and unconstitutional nature (it violates the 4th, 5th, 13th and 14th amendments) of the current tax system, I will resist that temptation and leave it to others to fight that battle." Hovind further alleged "I sincerely believe that I am not a person required to file a Federal Income Tax Return. This belief is a result of extensive research that I have done." On obeying tax laws, he argued "Some will say the Bible teaches us to obey the authority over us. I agree and I do. The IRS is not the authority over me any more than the government of Japan is." Hovind further offered information and resources for people to avoid paying taxes by claiming to not be residents of the United States.
As part of his "one world government" conspiracy theory, Hovind also believes that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), HIV, West Nile virus, Gulf war syndrome, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple sclerosis, Wegener's disease, Parkinson's disease, Crohn's colitis, Type I diabetes, and collagen-vascular diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's were all engineered by "the money masters and governments of the world" for the purpose of global economic domination. Hovind believes "Satan has been using the great pyramid as his symbol for the New World Order" and that "the Great Pyramid could have been built by Adam's relatives" He believes that the United States government is secretly plotting to implant an "electronic ID" microchip in the body of every US citizen, which is the Mark of the Beast. The aim, he believes, is to put "a chip into each of the major muscles and network them together so that a paralyzed person would be able to get some movement from their muscles" so that there "is going to be a system where you cannot buy or sell without the mark in the hands or in the forehead." Yet, the mechanisms and history of such a project do not withstand scientific and historical scrutiny.
Regarding barcodes and the security strip on money, Hovind stated they are tied to a government plot in which barcodes and the "magnetic tape through the center of the paper" money "is of the same type that is on the back of your credit card" for tracking money and people. Thus, the government "want[s] to be able to track the money and find out where it goes." Hovind has also stated an opposition to democracy, saying: "If Evolution is true, there is no Creator, so laws come from man's opinion. That is called a democracy, which is a terrible form of government. Democracies always degenerate into dictatorships. In America, it is sad to say, has become a democracy." Hovind also stated: "democracy is evil and contrary to God's law" and "democracy is a horrible form of government." While speaking at Kent State University on an invite from Truth in Love Ministry, Hovind said about protesting evolution, "You should have another rebellion here at Kent State and do it for the right reason," but "This time, don't get shot."
He believes all findings of science will eventually be found to agree with Scripture – which he says is a priori known to be true. He claims that scientists also have an a priori assumption, namely that God does not exist (or at least not one that performed special creation).
Hovind tells his audiences, "Evolution is the foundation for communism, nazism, socialism, Marxism and those who want a one-world government." He maintains that biology textbooks are lying and that he considers evolution to be a religion supported by false evidence that is used to brainwash youth. He claims, "Satan is using evolution theory to make kids go to hell." Hovind claims he is not trying to eliminate evolution from schools, but says "schools should teach both viewpoints." He has claimed that everything is a religion, including mathematics. Hovind disregards all fossil evidence, saying that "no fossils can count as evidence for evolution" because "all we know about that animal is that it died", and we do not know that it "had any kids, much less different kids." In regards to different races, Hovind believes the best explanation for the origin of races is that "all families, countries, nations, and tongues were created or developed from" the Tower of Babel Bible story (Genesis 10:20). In 2000, he alleged "global warming is a communist conspiracy."
During a debate with Farrell Till, Hovind made the following statement about Donald Johanson: "[He] found the leg bones of Lucy a mile and a half away from the head bones. The leg bones were 200 feet deeper in a deeper layer of strata. I would like to know how fast the train was going that hit that chimpanzee." This was clearly contrary to the published statements of Donald Johanson. After Hovind had been informed in 1993 that his statement was false, he agreed to stop using the claim but continued to make the statement. When he was again corrected in 1995, he agreed that he was in error, promised not to repeat the claim, and said he would remove it from his audio tapes.
YouTube copyright controversy
Wikinews has related news: Kent Hovind's ministry files DMCA complaints though the group released material into public domain
On September 16, 2007, Wired reported, "YouTube has banned a group called the Rational Response Squad (RRS) after it complained its videos were being taken down due to spurious DMCA requests" from Creation Science Evangelism. Furthermore, while the article noted the lack of "any kind of review" with a DMCA request is a problem, the ministry's own website said that "none of the materials ... are copyrighted, so feel free to copy these and distribute them freely." CSE later said that for some of the videos they may not have had copyright claims. In response to the copyright claims, the RRS has posted a message stating it is ready to sue CSE and/or Eric Hovind.
Kent Hovind/Creation Science Evangelism copyright policy prior to September 2007.
Five days later, on September 21, 2007, the CSE copyright page was changed to say that their material may be copied but must be unedited. Previously, Hovind's website stated, "None of the materials produced by Creation Science Evangelism are copyrighted". According to a spokesperson for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group dedicated to preserving free speech on the internet, CSE's claim was "clearly bogus". As of September 25, 2007, some of the videos had been put back up and the Rational Response Squad's accounts had been reinstated.
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Property taxes and zoning ordinance
On September 13, 2002, Hovind was charged for failure to observe county zoning regulations with respect to Dinosaur Adventure Land. Despite arguments that the owners did not need a permit due to the nature of the building, the park was found in violation of local regulations.
After a 5-year misdemeanor court battle over the $50 building permit, on June 5, 2006, Hovind pled nolo contendere as charged to three counts: constructing a building without a permit, refusing to sign a citation,[dead link] and violating the county building code.[dead link] Hovind was ordered to pay $225 per count. That month Hovind complied with the county law: Hovind estimated he spent $40,000 in legal expenses on this case, but, in a 2002 CSE newsletter, Hovind requested donations stating that the costs approached $100,000.
Federal civil tax matters, bankruptcy, and renouncing citizenship (1996–2006)
Hovind's ministry is not listed as a tax-exempt organization by the Internal Revenue Service, nor is it considered a church by people who work there. The ministry's organizational structure was described by the United States Tax Court as appearing to be "based on various questionable trust documents purchased from Glen Stoll, a known promoter of tax avoidance schemes", leading it to conclude that Hovind used these trust documents as well as other fraudulent means to conceal the ownership and control of his activities and properties.
Hovind was originally reported to the IRS by Pensacola Christian College senior vice president Rebekah Horton in the mid 1990s, after she learned of Hovind's anti-tax stand.
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The Hovind Bankruptcy Decision
In 1996 Hovind filed a Chapter 13 bankruptcy petition to avoid paying federal income taxes, claiming he was not a citizen of the United States and that he did not earn income. Hovind was found to have lied about his possessions and income. He claimed that as a minister of God everything he owns belonged to God and he is not subject to paying taxes to the United States on the money he received for doing God's work. The court ordered him to pay the money, upheld the IRS's determination that Hovind's claim "was filed in bad faith for the sole purpose of avoiding payment of federal income taxes" and called Hovind's arguments "patently absurd". It also noted that "the IRS has no record of the debtor ever having filed a federal income tax return," although this was not the court's reason for denying the bankruptcy claim. On June 5, 1996, the Court dismissed Hovind's bankruptcy case.
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Kent Hovind 2005 Affidavit
On May 13, 1998, Hovind and his wife filed a "Power of Attorney and Revocation of Signature" document with the Escambia County Clerk of Courts which would nullify any of their promises, debts, or legal agreements made prior to April 15, 1998. The document reads, in part: "I/we do hereby revoke and make void... all signatures on any instruments...". The Hovinds claimed they had signed government documents "due to the use of various elements of fraud and misrepresentations, duress, coercion, under perjury, mistake, 'bankruptcy'." In this document, the Hovinds argue that Social Security is essentially a "Ponzi scheme", referred to the United States Government as "the 'bankrupt' corporate government", renounced their United States citizenship and Social Security numbers to become "a natural citizen of 'America' and a natural sojourner", and referred to their home state of Florida as "the State of Florida Body-Politic Corporation." Judges and the IRS did not appear to honor this as a legally relevant document in future decisions.
In 2002, Hovind was again delinquent in paying his taxes, and unsuccessfully sued the IRS for harassment.
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Kent Hovind v Scott Schneider
In 2004, IRS agents raided Hovind's home and business to confiscate financial records. IRS agent Scott Schneider said Hovind's businesses had neither business licenses nor tax-exempt status and stated that "Since 1997, Hovind has engaged in financial transactions indicating sources of income and has made deposits to bank accounts well in excess of $1 million per year during some of these years, which would require the filing of federal income taxes." On June 3, 2004, the IRS filed notices of Federal tax liens of $504,957.24 against Hovind and his son and their businesses due to previous legal maneuverings to evade taxation by moving property between himself, his son, and other legal entities.
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Kent Hovind v Commissioner of Internal Revenue
On July 7, 2006, the United States Tax Court (Docket number 011894-05L) found that Hovind was deficient in paying his federal income taxes in tax years 1995–97 in the amount of $504,957.24. The Tax Court ruled that the IRS had a valid, perfected lien on Hovind's property in that amount and noted that Hovind's defense was based on "bizarre arguments", "some of which constitute tax protester arguments involving excise taxes and the alleged '100% voluntary' nature of the income tax." Starting in 2006, the IRS began levying against Hovind's property to satisfy his unpaid tax liabilities.
Federal criminal tax-related trial and convictions in 2006
On July 11, 2006, Hovind was charged in the District Court in Northern Florida in Pensacola with twelve counts of willful failure to collect, account for, and pay over federal income taxes and FICA taxes, forty-five counts of knowingly structuring transactions in federally insured financial institutions to evade reporting requirements, and one count of corruptly endeavoring to obstruct and impede the administration of the internal revenue laws. Twelve of the charges were for failing to pay employee-related taxes, totaling $473,818, and 45 of the charges were for evading reporting requirements by making multiple cash withdrawals just under the $10,000 reporting requirement (a technique known as "smurfing"). The withdrawals, totaling $430,500, were made in 2001 and 2002. Jo Delia Hovind, his wife, faced 44 charges.
The government charged that Hovind falsely listed the IRS as his only creditor in his bankruptcy, filed a false and frivolous lawsuit against the IRS in which he demanded damages for criminal trespass, made threats of harm to those investigating him and to those who might consider cooperating with the investigation, filed a false complaint against IRS agents investigating him, filed a false criminal complaint against IRS special agents (criminal investigators), and destroyed records.
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United States of America v Kent Hovind and Jo Hovind
After being indicted, Hovind maintained his innocence, and claimed incomprehension of the charges, a claim that the magistrate rejected. Hovind stated that he did not recognize the government's right to try him on tax fraud charges, and initially attempted to enter a plea of "Subornation of false muster". Hovind's legal argument hinged on his claim that he was not an employer and therefore owed no taxes for payments to workers. The plea was rejected and Hovind then entered a not guilty plea "under duress" when the judge offered to enter a plea for him.
At the time of the arrest Hovind's passport and guns were seized. Hovind protested, arguing that he needed his passport to continue his evangelism work, and that "thousands and thousands" were waiting to hear him preach in South Africa the following month. The court refused to reconsider, accepting the argument that "like-minded people" might secret Hovind away if he left the country. Because of reports of weapons on the Hovind property, the indictment was originally sealed for fear of danger to the arresting agents. More than a half-dozen guns were seized at the Hovind's home, including an SKS semiautomatic rifle. Also, "During an IRS raid at the home, agents found and seized numerous cash stashes totalling $42,000."
Evidence produced at the trial revealed that Jo Hovind had requested financial assistance from Baptist Healthcare claiming that the Hovinds had no income. "'Dr. and Mrs. Kent Hovind do not earn salaries,' wrote Martha Harris, the trust secretary of Creation Science Evangelism to Baptist Healthcare. 'As health insurance is not provided for this couple, we would appreciate (financial assistance).'" However, continues the article, "Kent Hovind, a tax protester, makes a substantial amount of money". The Pensacola News Journal noted, "On the day the IRS searched the Hovind home, Kent Hovind withdrew $70,000 from the Creation Science Evangelism account. Half in a check; the other in cash."
At the time of the indictment, Hovind's defense appeared to be that although there were 30 people working for him, all of whom received remuneration in cash, none of them were employees. According to Hovind, "Nobody's an employee, and they all know that when they come. They come, they work ... The laborer is worthy of his hire – we try to take the purely scriptural approach. We do the best we can with helping people with their family needs. There are no employees here." Hovind had also claimed that he was not liable for taxes that he and his ministry did not have to "render unto Caesar" because his workers are "missionaries", not "employees".
On October 21, 2006, the trial began in which he hoped to convince a jury that his amusement park admission and merchandise sales belonged to God and cannot be taxed. Former and current workers, IRS agents, a bank employee, and a lawyer of a non-profit Christian organization testified in the trial. Workers testified that they had to punch time cards, and had vacation and sick days, while others testified that Hovind claimed he had "beat" the tax system. During the trial, the judge "admonished" Hovind's attorney for wasting time and asking irrelevant questions.
The trial concluded on November 1 with the defense deciding not to present a case. After closing arguments were presented on November 2, the jury deliberated three hours before finding the Hovinds guilty on all counts, 58 for Hovind and 44 for his wife. The Pensacola News Journal noted, "The saddest thing: Had they cooperated with the agents, they probably wouldn't be worrying about prison sentences now."
Sentencing, appeals and imprisonment (2007–current)
On January 19, 2007, Hovind was sentenced to ten years in prison and ordered to pay the federal government restitution of over $600,000. After his prison term finishes he will serve another three years of probation. During the sentencing phase, a tearful Hovind, hoping to avoid prison, told the court, "If it's just money the IRS wants, there are thousands of people out there who will help pay the money they want so I can go back out there and preach." However, Hovind's court room behavior was in stark contrast to phone calls he made while in jail and played by the prosecution. The tapes, posted online by the Pensacola News Journal, included one conversation with Kent and his son, Eric Hovind, plotting to hide a motor vehicle title and property deeds to prevent the government from collecting the property to pay for owed debt.
In February 2007, Hovind argued to the judge that the convictions for structuring transactions to evade reporting requirements should be thrown out. On April 18, 2007, the court rejected the defendants' "unit of the crime" arguments, and the motions for acquittal were denied.
After the convictions, Hovind was incarcerated in the Escambia County Jail as a "danger to the community" and a flight risk. Following his sentencing in January 2007, Hovind was incarcerated at the Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola (minimum security), at Saufley Field, Pensacola, Florida, and was later moved to the Federal Correctional Institution, Marianna (medium security), at Marianna, Florida. In May 2007, he was listed as being an "administrative security level" inmate at Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee, in Tallahassee, Florida, and the United States Penitentiary (USP) in Atlanta, Georgia, until being placed at Federal Correctional Institution, Edgefield, in South Carolina. In August 2010, he was placed at United States Penitentiary, Atlanta; in September he was moved to Federal Correctional Institution, Jesup. In June 2011, he was moved back to Federal Correctional Institution, Tallahassee then to the FPC Satellite Camp (minimum security) under the administration of ADX Florence in Florence, Colorado.
On June 29, 2007, Jo Hovind was sentenced to one year of imprisonment (out of a possible 225 years) and three years of supervision upon release. She was also ordered to pay $8,000 in fines. In court, Jo Hovind told the judge "I really did not have a leadership role in CSE" and finished "I would never knowingly do anything illegal." The prosecutor said that Jo Hovind's statement contradicted the evidence, stating, "I do not believe she's being truthful to the court". The judge stated that "Mrs. Hovind was in charge of the payroll," and that while "Mr. Hovind was the decision-making authority" at CSE and Dinosaur Adventure Land, Jo Hovind had cashed some 200 checks, all under $10,000, for a total of $1.5 million during a four year period. The judge stated that Jo Hovind's sentence was imposed to engender "respect for the law" and as a deterrence to others who might be tempted to break the law.
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Kent Hovind's Eleventh Circuit Court Criminal Appeal
On July 2, 2007, Hovind's appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court for the 2006 U.S. Tax Court judgment (Kent E. Hovind v. Commissioner of Internal Revenue) was denied. Hovind "filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit claiming he was prevented from challenging the amount of his tax liability." But "a three-judge panel ruled that Hovind failed to raise the issue at the right time, so he waived his rights to contest his tax liability."
Dinosaur Adventure Land billboard.
In 2007, the government placed liens on Hovind's 10 properties for money owed. This action stemmed from the June 27, 2007, judgment, which included an order that Hovind's property be forfeited under 18 U.S.C. § 3613 for costs of $5,800, a fine of $2000, and restitution of $604,874.87. If payment should not be made in full, the Hovinds would be required to pay the principal at an additional 5.1% interest.
On December 30, 2008, the Hovinds' criminal appeal was denied by the Eleventh Circuit Appeals Court. The Court stated that the Hovind's attempts to dismiss their convictions were "without merit". With the appeal denied, wife Jo Hovind began serving time on January 20, 2009, at Federal Correctional Institution, Marianna, and then moved to Metropolitan Correctional Center, Orlando, where she was released on December 3, 2009. The court ruling allowed forfeiture proceedings on Hovind property to continue to satisfy the debt. Eric Hovind kept DAL and CSE open throughout 2008, but in July 2009 a judge allowed the government to seize Hovind property for restitution. On November 30, 2010, Hovind filed a motion in U.S. District Court Northern District of Florida claiming the prosecution and defense erred at various stages of the case. According to the Federal Bureau of Prisons (BOP), Kent Hovind, BOP Register number 06452-017, is scheduled for release from prison on August 11, 2015.