Independent Baptist minister and young earth creationist Kent Hovind nearing the end of a long federal prison sentence finds himself facing new charges. His trial in mid-March resulted in a conviction for contempt of court and a hung jury on more serious fraud and conspiracy charges. Retrial is scheduled for May 18.
Jonathan Schwartz has been covering the trial and investigating its Pensacola background. Creation Science Evangelism and its Dinosaur Advertureland Theme Park was part of the Pensacola evangelical scene which included a strong pro-life movement, the Brownsville Revival and Pensacola Christian College, where men and women ride in separate, but presumably equal, elevators.
Supporters of Kent Hovind have built a vigorous social media campaign. The flagship website of the movement is #FreeKent and Rudy Davis's youtube channel LoneStar1776. Rudy has deferred discussion of other matters that concern him such as geocentrism and the illegitimacy of the Obama presidency to focus on Hovinidication.
The essential elements of Hovinidication are that Kent Hovind is an innocent man being subjected to religious persecution, that he is not a tax protester, has not broken any laws and has paid all the taxes that he owes. I have issues with that narrative, but I won't detain you with them here.
Something that is a puzzle to both me and Hovindicators is the lack of support for Hovind in his old stomping ground in Pensacola. As noted, Pensacola has a very strong evangelical community and Kent Hovind's Creation Science Evangelism was part of that rich mosaic. His son Eric has continued the ministry with his Creation Today.
Yet the people inside and outside the courtroom supporting Kent Hovind were almost all from out of town. Here Rudy Davis relates his discussion with local minister Brian Donovan who was unwilling to help. Rudy goes on to note the large number of churches in the area and that none of them are doing anything to help Kent Hovind, because they seem to think he is a "tax cheat".
Perhaps talks like this one by Kent in which he indicates that he has not filed a federal income tax return in 28 years are still in the minds of the Pensacola Christians who believe in rendering unto Caesar.
Ironically Proof Number 1 of Hovind's innocence according to the #FreeKent site are letters from "tax professionals" that are a pastiche of frequently debunked tax protester arguments. If those letters are correct, hardly anybody is required to file an income tax return. They're not, by the way - at least not according to any federal court that has considered the arguments.
To get another view on why Pensacola might not be rallying behind Kent Hovind. Jonathan Schwartz and Abigal Megginson interviewed Bill Caplinger. Bill Caplinger has been the president of the Unitarian Church of Pensacola. As a religious liberal, he can have an appreciation for the warm loving embrace of evangelical Christianity, (In Pensacola it is largely Baptist and Assembly of God, apparently) while acknowledging it tendency to sometimes slip into intolerance (Not that religious liberals don't also have issues with tolerance).
Bill ran into Kent Hovind in two different contexts. Bill managed the physics lab at the University of West Florida. As Kent was building up his video library and giving his lectures he would call the professors there with notions he had picked up that he believed supported intelligent design. Eventually they started referring Kent to Bill who had more patience with him.
Bill also served as an escort at the clinic where abortions were being performed shielding patients and clinic personnel from pro-life demonstrators. He would often see Kent riding by on his motorcycle and sometimes stopping apparently checking to make sure that people who had committed to be there demonstrating were covering their assigned shifts.
The pro-life/pro-choice dispute got extremely heated in Pensacola. Bill relates one time explaining to one of the pro-life leaders John Burt that you can't be a "thug for Jesus".
The speculation is that Pensacola Christians have had enough radical confrontation to last a while and that out-of-towners trying to import that will not find a warm welcome.
Which brings us back to Rudy Davis. If you don't have time for this entire clip below go to about 14:00 and draw your own conclusions.
The full interview with Bill Caplinger is available here.
Peter J Reilly CPA hopes to be the first tax blogger to give up his day job. He has a long way to go.