Here is the original interview
They included the still anonymous, as far as I can tell, creator of #FreeKent. They talk a bit about me and raise an interesting question around 1:40:00 or a little after. Essentially they are trying to figure out why I have put so much energy into the Kent Hovind drama. Another person who has been asking the same question is my covivant. She doesn't put it this way but the essence of her questioning of my attention to the Hovind matter is "Shouldn't this be a case of not your circus, not your monkeys?"
So this post is about me, but I will be giving a bit of background and some definitions before I get to me.
About Kent Hovind
Kent Hovind is one of the leading lights of Young Earth Creationism, the notion that there is scientific evidence that supports a hyper literal reading of the Book of Genesis (KJV). Among the implications of YEC are that the physical universe is about 6,000 years old and that people and dinosaurs existed contemporaneously. Kent has been in federal prison for over 8 years on tax related charges. With his release nearing he is facing new charges related to filings on properties which the government seized.
I have coined the term Hovindicator, but credit should really go to the #FreeKent creator who inspired me by coining Hovindication as the true goal of the Free Kent movement. Kent Hovind should not just be released from prison and the current charges dropped. His previous conviction should be reversed and Congress should investigate. Rudy Davis, the most vocal Hovindicator has boiled their arguments to a handy mnemonic HAIR58V
H- other people have done much more heinous stuff
A - atheists are the ones after Kent
I - Kent is innocent
R- Judge Rodgers is anti Christian
5 - 501(c)(3) is a trap designed by the government for churches
8 - He has already done eight years (BTW that is the argument I find persuasive)
V- If there is a crime, it is a victimless crimes
Ernie Land is more or less Hovindicator in chief. He is an old friend and counselor to Kent and other Hovindicators defer to him. I also interviewed Ernie
Here is the big thing I learned from Ernie that resolved something that has always puzzled me. In order to accept either YEC or the alternative income tax theories that Kent Hovind has embraced, while insisting he is not a tax protester, you have to accept the existence of massive conspiracies. In the case of YEC, it is virtually the entire hard science community and in the case of the income tax theories it includes the entire federal judiciary.
Ernie is quite up front in maintaining that those types of conspiracies are going on ultimately controlled by Satan. The Hovindicators seem to be quick to see the conspiracies at work. Starting around 33:00 I give Ernie a hard time about Rudy Davis knocking the Jesuits, who are a staple of conspiracy theorists. I had eight years of Jesuit education and admire them quite a bit. If you go back to the Sam and Dan interview you will note that his somehow got translated into me having been a Jesuit for eight years. I have to tell you we had very inspiring Jesuits at Xavier High School. I think one of my classmates actually became one, but I didn't. At Xavier we also had Junior ROTC and wore uniforms issued by the Army, marched and saluted and had classes in military science. Major Smullins the Senior Army Instructor, just back from Vietnam, gave us lectures on the psychology of leadership and counterinsurgency. That doesn't make me a Vietnam veteran, although I may have created that impression by accident once. So Ernie, despite what his detractors claim Kent has a much stronger case for putting Doctor before his name than you have for putting S.J. after mine.
The most prominent Hovindicator, so far, is probably Wiley Drake, who was second vice president of the Southern Baptist Convention in 2006 and a Fox News staple for a while when he prayed for our President's death. He may well be in Pensacola as I write this.
The aggressive attitude of the Hovindicators brings to mind the tenacity of Joshua Chamberlain, who unable to retreat and out of ammunition decided to charge reasoning that there would be the advantage of moving down the hill.
The Hovindhaters are pretty scattered and mainly engage in schadenfreude. This is the most egregious example of their work. You should probably skip it, but I'm putting it there to be thorough
Bob Baty, whose thorough coverage on Kent Hovind and Jo Hovind v USA - IRS qualifies him as a Hovindologist, can slide into Hovindhate from time to time as when he speculates on Kent's relationship with a young lady. Hovindicators have encouraged me to renounce him entirely, but if I dropped a source due to an unfounded speculation I'd have to stop listening to just about everybody. Still I'm a little aggravated at Bob for that one and also his somewhat obnoxious combative style.
Hovindologists have for one reason or another become fascinated by this story and have taken to investigating it. They have varying opinions about Kent and the various issues and unlike Hovindicators and Hovindhaters will modify their opinions as new information appears or they think more deeply on the subject. I think Bob Baty still qualifies as a Hovindologist, although his combative style makes his status as an unbiased observer shaky.
Nick Lally of the Creation Science Hall of Fame would qualify as a Hovindologist, although he has not been active. He greatly admires Kent and thinks he is in prison out of principle, a perspective that I share, actually, but he has not bought the rest of the Hovindication package.
Probably the sharpest up and coming Hovindologist is Dee Holmes, to whom I must credit the term Hovindology. She just put together a really good FAQ, which promises to be revised.
And of course, I count myself a Hovindologist. Good evidence of that is that both sides will toss brickbats at me from time to time. Of course the point of this post is to examine why I am a Hovindologist and we've taken a long time getting there, but I must mention one more term I have coined.
Conventionally Tax Compliant
One of the more difficult claims to discuss with Hovindicators is the notion that Kent Hovind has not broken any laws. This is one of the bedrock principles of Hovindication. In order to advance that discussion I have coned the term "conventional tax compliance". CTT people obey the tax law, as most people understand it. The quickest way to tell whether a CTT person should file a tax return is to go to the instructions and look at the "Who Must File" section. Of course that is not itself the law, but if you have time and patience you will always be able to find law that backs it up. I have made up a handy mnemonic for the law that backs up the 1040 26-1-61-6012. Title 26 of the United States Code - Section 1 imposes an income tax on individuals - Section 61 defines income very broadly including by way of example compensation for services - Section 6012 requires filing for individuals whose income is over pretty low thresholds.
Kent Hovind may be sincerely stating that in his view he has not broken any laws, but I don't think even he would maintain that he is CTT. His son Eric, on the other hand, runs his creation science ministry in a conventionally tax compliant manner and apparently, knock on wood, has not had any IRS troubles as is true of other creation science ministries. Even Ernie Land agrees that a CTT Kent Hovind would not have had the IRS knocking on his door. That is the basis for my belief that from the government side it is about the taxes not the dinosaurs.
How I Became A Hovindologist
I'm a tax blogger. If you want to know about the tax blogosphere, you might want to read my post The Discerning Person's Guide To The Tax Blogosphere. The longer I am at it the more I start feeling like a journalist. It's been five years and I have over 1,200 posts up. Over 30, maybe 40, now, mention Kent Hovind and his travails. That' quite a lot, although hardly the level of obsession that Sam and Dan initially attributed to me.
There are other ways I come up with material, but Hovind starts with the most common one. A decision of the United States Tax Court. For many years, I have at least looked at every single one of them and have read many if not most in their entirety. I often find that the story behind the tax story is even more interesting than the tax story. So I often do additional research. Easy stuff like googling. E-mails to experts and principals. Sometimes even interviews. I also like to spice up posts with quirky video clips and pop culture references.
So the Tax Court decision in the case of Jo Delia Hovind in the fall on 2012 was right up my ally. It is a really great story in and of itself and it allowed some really good video clips. But when I googled Kent Hovind. Holy shit.
The post got pretty good traffic and lots of comments. Among the commenters was my most constant commenter Robert Baty who had been trying to get me interested in Young Earth Creationism, one of his three. as far as I know, obsessions. The great advantage of following one of Baty's obsessions is that he will do a lot of research for you even if you don't ask him. I probably would have missed the Tax Court's order in Kent's case, for example, since it was not a full decision, but Bob Baty was on top of it.
So in a sense the answer is simple. It is a tax story. I find it interesting. My readers find it interesting. I follow it. Now it seems, thanks to the Hovindicators, that it might be one of the very few tax stories that breaks out of the tax ghetto making me willing to actually spend some money to follow it more thoroughly. The last time I did that was when I got to interview presidential candidate Jill Stein
There Is More
The Hovind case is something of a perfect storm of many things that I find very interesting. I have followed churches getting in trouble for using corporation sole. I have followed people with alternative views of taxation such as Irwin Schiff. Talking to Ernie Land makes me feel like I have stepped into some of the books of my favorite horror writer F. Paul Wilson whose Repairman Jack lives in a universe where the world really is in the grip of a mind boggling conspiracy. The theories that the Hovindicators tap into have deep roots in American history, my original calling. Now I find that Kent Hovind has done a brilliant send-up of the prison industrial complex which give me significant common ground with him.
If you look at my blog you will find other story arcs running through it. There is the Son-of-Boss debacle, the tax implications of gay marriage and the parsonage exclusion, which happens to be Bob Baty's primary obsession.
The Kent Hovind story may be the most absorbing, but it is not really sui generis. Clearly I will be on it for a while longer. The building mainstream coverage will allow for some more forbes.com posts soon.
How I See It Now
I'm still virtually certain that from the government side, this is not at all a matter of religious persecution. For all his talk of not being a tax protester, Kent's behavior is tax defiant.
On the other hand Kent's view that it is a matter of religious principle, is probably sincerely held. The best evidence of that is that he clearly could have organized his life to legitimately pay very little in the way of income tax.
I also think that Kent is an original thinker and in a way brilliant. The King James Version of the Bible is, with the works of Shakespeare, the bedrock of modern English. The Bible has an enormous amount of deep spiritual wisdom and is in many ways part of the basis of Western civilization. One of the primary reasons for widespread literacy in early modern times was so that people could read the Bible. It is understandable that some people become attached to the doctrine of scriptural inerrancy. When you combine that with hyperliteralism there is enormous amount of cognitive dissonance with post Enlightenment science.
One way to resolve the dissonance is to figure the establishment science must be wrong. That implies a massive conspiracy. Once you buy that Kent and Ernie and Rudy and Sam and Dave start making sense.
I don't buy it myself. Fundamentally it is because I have at a deep level an optimistic view of human nature, except for sociopaths. And the one thing that sociopaths are not very good at is conspiring with one another. Sociopaths need minions who at a deep level are mensch. I think that there are sociopaths involved in creating the material that supports the alternative tax theories, but I am virtually certain that Kent and any of the Hovindicators I have named are not among them.
I don't think the cause of tax compliance is being furthered by Kent's prosecution and I hope that the case goes away without egging on further tax mishegas.
If Kent ever gets to testify before Congress, I hope it about prison issues, where I am pretty much with him - except for the flogging and the increase in executions.
Stay tuned. And be compassionate.