When I met Kent Hovind, he was in the backyard of his Pensacola home. He was wearing a sport coat and tie in spite of the balmy weather, checking in on a guided tour of his backyard “theme park”, Dinosaur Adventure Land. The tiny area was covered with women in long, baggy skirts and dresses, and children (the female of these were similarly clad). Kent Hovind was an evangelist and a “Young Earth Creationist” who traveled from Independent Baptist church to Independent Baptist church, teaching a doctrine of a 6,000 year young earth, a living Loch Ness Monster, a need to rid ourselves of social security numbers and a discomfort with environmentalists, homosexuals and “Bud-dumber”. He had quite a large following in his own niche, and sold in person and by catalog his 18-video seminar set, charts and related literature. With a squeaky-clean-cut voice and the the personality of an infomercial, he was a fundamentalist church’s dream. The fundamentalists’ golden boy turned out to be electroplated.
While he has faced previous charges of assault and battery, burglary and building a theme park without a permit, he is currently in prison on conviction of some fifty-eight charges of tax evasion, obstruction and falsely declaring bankruptcy. Upon arresting him for these tax violations the government also seized about forty-five thousand dollars and a collection of his church’s guns. (Apparently, Armageddon was coming sooner than we expected it.) The court papers say, “Notwithstanding the debtor’s listing under penalty of perjury in his schedules and statement of affairs that he has no income, has no expenses, and owns no property, the evidence shows otherwise. Records from the State of Florida, Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (“DHSMV”) reflect three motor vehicles, a 1987 Mercury, 1989 GMC, and 1984 Honda titled in the debtor’s name. Real property records from Escambia County, Florida reflect that the debtor and his wife purchased a home on December 16, 1993 from Ernest and Voncile Hicks and gave the Hicks, a mortgage in the amount of $60,000 encumbering the home. The testimony of Mrs. Hicks together with a closing statement from the sale, reflects a purchase price of $90,000 for the house with the debtor paying $30,369.43 down. Mrs. Hicks’ testimony further established that the debtor makes regular payments on the mortgage and has in fact paid in advance on the mortgage. Typically, payments are made with third party checks made payable to the debtor and endorsed over to Mrs. Hicks. In February, 1995, the debtor paid $3,265.00 for the installation of central heating and air conditioning in the house. Additionally, the debtor has three children all of whom attend a private Christian school for which he and his wife pay approximately $4,800.00 per year in tuition and fees. An inventory of the debtor’s van following seizure by the IRS revealed video and audio tapes and printed literature on creationism published by the debtor. Included in the literature is an order form containing prices designated as “suggested donations:” The “suggested donation” for the video tapes ranged from $9.95 each to $14.95 each with the “donation” for a set of all eighteen (18) of the debtor’s videos of $180.00. “In the face of all of the foregoing, the debtor apparently maintains that as a minister of God everything he owns belongs to God and he is not subject to paying taxes to the United States on the money he receives for doing God’s work. While in his correspondence to the IRS he denies being a tax protester, the evidence overwhelmingly establishes otherwise. At the hearing on this motion, debtor’s counsel represented to the court that the debtor was now ready to do everything which was required of him to comply with the Bankruptcy Code and the Internal Revenue Code including the filing of tax returns and payment to the trustee in accordance with the plan filed immediately prior to the hearing. However, the debtor himself never took the stand during the hearing to testify to that nor has he ever filed any amended schedules and statement of affairs to reflect his true financial status. Given this debtor’s history and the documentary evidence presented, I cannot find that this debtor has any intention of complying with the Bankruptcy Code nor with the Internal Revenue Code.”
Here’s a one of Hovind’s lectures, full of radical “scientific” and political commentary. Watch at your own risk, and then consider that this is the sort of radical stuff being taught to children in private schools that use A Beka Book and many, many other private curriculums – without any countering viewpoints.
According to a recent Gallup poll, 46% of Americans believe in Creationism. What they don’t seem to poll is how many of the believers have ever studied evolution. Having attended private schools and being homeschooled (all of the above solidly featuring A Beka Book curriculum), I can say for certain that I was never taught evolution in any sense except for why we don’t believe in it and how carbon dating is inaccurate. Consequently, I’ve never been able to contribute to an intelligent conversation about intelligent design. (Is that an oxymoron?)
The good news is, ignorance is curable. To that end, I picked up The Darwin Experience: The Story of the Man and His Theory of Evolution, a nifty boxed coffee table book with plenty of religious and scientific history predating and surrounding Darwin and his theories, featuring lots of fascimiles of his papers, letters, and other memorabilia. It’s suitable for a coffee table book, and good for sharing with my little budding scientist in bite-sized chunks. I sat up late the night I brought it home and read, and read, and read.