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Religion Last Updated: Jan 4th, 2007 - 01:08:31

�Dr. Dino,� global warming, civil equality: The evangelical campaign against reality
By Mel Seesholtz, Ph.D.
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Nov 27, 2006, 01:07

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You remember Kent Hovind, a.k.a. �Dr. Dino,� although his claim to the �Dr.� and academic credentials are questionable, at best. He�s the founder of Florida-based Creation Science Evangelism which, among its other quaint novelties, offers Dinosaur Adventure Land and this hokey promo on its homepage:

Hey families! Dinosaur Adventure Land has got so many wonderful events coming up that you may want to stop in sometime! Since the success of our Home School Appreciation Day of 2006, we have decided to do more themed-events at Dinosaur Adventure Land. To start things off, we have decided to make April fool�s Day (April 1st) �Darwin Day.� We will have tons of great rides, puzzles, treasure hunts, and prizes to fill out the day. We sure hope to see all of you here at Dinosaur Adventure Land, where Dinosaurs and the Bible meet!

Creation Science Evangelism and Dinosaur Adventure Land are dedicated to Young Earth Creationism at its most ludicrous: human children playing with dinosaurs in Eden, Mr. and Mrs. Tyrannosaurus Rex among the passengers on Noah�s ark.

Holier-than-thou Dr. Dino got into a spot of trouble with the Internal Revenue Service. The IRS charged him with 58 counts of tax fraud. Specifically, Dr. Dino was �charged with failing to pay nearly $474,000 in federal income, Social Security and Medicare taxes for employees at his Creation Science Ministry. Hovind maintained the workers were missionaries and are exempt from taxes and that all his money and possessions belong to God and were not subject to taxation.�

Dr. Dino claimed he was �employed by God� and, therefore, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Attorney�s Office did not �have jurisdiction in this matter.�

Hovind and his wife, who was herself charged with 44 counts of tax fraud, entered a unique plea: �I would like to plead subornation of false muster.�

As Mark O�Brien noted in his Pensacola News Journal article about the case, that�s �a defense I haven�t heard in 30 years of hanging around courtrooms. The precedent is not good. A man in the state of Washington tried a similar defense a few years ago, claiming he was a �citizen of heaven� and not subject to state laws. But a court there ruled that when in Washington, do as Washington law requires, and found him guilty� [link added].

So what does �subornation of false muster� mean?

1: to induce secretly to do an unlawful thing
2: to induce to commit perjury; also: to obtain (perjured testimony) from a witness

1: a representative specimen
2a: an act of assembling; specifically: formal military inspection b: critical examination

c: an assembled group

But those are dictionary definitions. Perhaps the phrase has other meanings when used as a plea in a court of law.

After consulting defense attorneys and other legal experts, I learned the basic definitions are essentially the meaning of the plea. Hovind was claiming that, under false pretenses, he was forcibly being called into service as a member of a group to which he claimed he did not rightfully belong -- namely those subject to paying taxes -- for the sole purpose of then being wrongfully prosecuted.

But here�s the kicker: Kent Hovind and his wife were represented by a public defender, at taxpayers� expense.

The �subornation of false muster� plea aside, as Mark O�Brien noted Dr. Dino�s legal track record was not good. He had already lost cases �with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court and with Escambia County�s right to require building permits for his Dinosaur Adventure Land.� It seems Hovind believes no man-made laws apply to him, only �God�s.� But apparently he�s not familiar with the Bible he claimed to be the sole source of �Truth� and �God�s law,� as one person who commented on O�Brien�s article noted:

Dr. Dino . . . says that he works for God, that he believes the Holy Bible is the inerrant Word of God, and that because he works for God he does not owe any income taxes. Yet in Matthew 22:21 the Bible plainly says that Jesus said � . . . Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar�s; and unto God the things that are God�s.� So it sure seems that Dr. Dino�s (alleged) Boss is also (along with the I.R.S.) expecting Dr Dino to pay his income taxes. Some faithful employee!

Of course, the Court will not be concerned with whether Dr. Dino interprets that Bible passage correctly, but will decide whether Dr. Dino properly interprets I.R.S. (or, �Caesar�s�) law. I suppose that even though Dr. Dino had a withdrawable $430,500 in the bank and withdrew it (as has been reported), he will present to the Court as a defense that, being employed by God, he has no income, no expenses, and owns no property. Oh yeah, THAT�ll impress the Court! [italics added]

The indictment showed that the Hovinds had repeatedly made cash withdrawals from a sizable bank account at AmSouth Bank in a way calculated to evade federal requirements for reporting cash transactions. The withdrawals were for $9,500 or $9,600. Was it coincidental that those amounts were just below the federally mandated $10,000 threshold for reporting cash transactions?

Well, dear Dr. Dino and his wife have been convicted on all counts:

[A] 12-person jury deliberated for 2� hours before finding Hovind and his wife, Jo, guilty of all counts in their tax-fraud case, according to a report in the News Journal.

He was found guilty of 58 counts, including failure to pay $845,000 in employee-related taxes. He faces a maximum of 288 years in prison. Jo Hovind was charged and convicted in 44 of the counts involving evading bank-reporting requirements. She faces up to 225 years in prison but was allowed to remain free pending the couple�s sentencing on Jan. 9, the News Journal said.

�Nobody likes to pay taxes,� Assistant U.S. Attorney Michelle Heldmyer said in her closing argument. �But we do because it's the law, and he is not above the law.�

The jury also granted the prosecution�s request for the Hovinds to forfeit $430,400, the report said.

U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers released Jo Hovind until sentencing but denied Kent Hovind�s request to be released. He most likely will be detained at either Escambia County Jail or Santa Rosa County Jail until sentencing, the newspaper said.

So much for Dr. Dino.

Global warming

Religion has always sought to silence science. In the Bush administration and the climate it�s created, religion has often won. But science is fighting back:

Steven Weinberg, a Nobel laureate in physics, warned that �the world needs to wake up from its long nightmare of religious belief,� or when a Nobelist in chemistry, Sir Harold Kroto, called for the John Templeton Foundation to give its next $1.5 million prize for �progress in spiritual discoveries� to an atheist --Richard Dawkins, the Oxford evolutionary biologist whose book �The God Delusion� is a national best-seller.

Overwhelmingly the vast majority of the world�s scientists and climatologists agree global warming is a fact. But not for Rev. Jerry Falwell. He thinks global warming is bogus science and a political ploy. To be sure, Falwell should know all about bogus science: �The Bible is the inerrant . . . word of the living God. It is absolutely infallible, without error in all matters pertaining to faith and practice, as well as in areas such as geography, science, history, etc.� [italics added]. And the founder of the �Moral Majority� is certainly more than familiar with political ploys . . . in the name of �God,� of course.

But more importantly Falwell is concerned about the cost of dealing with global warming. After all, expenditures to address a problem that affects everyone on the planet and generations yet to come might have the effect of cutting into �donations� sent to the rotund reverend for his crusades that benefit only those who share his �biblical worldview.� A decrease in donations could also stifle Falwell�s ability to damn and blame others for all the world�s ills -- as was so acutely seen after 9/11: �I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians . . . I point the finger in their face and say �you helped this happen� -- in his ongoing efforts to demean and disenfranchise those �other� citizens who disagree with him and his theopolitical dogmatic agenda.

Civil equality

Civil equality is also a godly goal except, of course, for Rev. Falwell and the Alabama state branch of the Southern Baptist Convention, �the latest [group] to condemn Wal-Mart for barring discrimination against gays and lesbians in its code of ethics.� This is not surprising since the fanatics of the Christian Right are dedicated and determined to discriminate. It�s their raison d�etre.

The imp encouraging them and the campaign against Wal-Mart is Rev. Don Wildmon of the American Family Association. Aside from Wal-Mart�s nondiscrimination policy, what irked Wildmon and other like-minded bigots was the company�s $60,000 donation to Out and Equal, a �national organization devoted to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in the workplace.�

Although primarily focused on workplace equality, Out and Equal also supports equality for gay and lesbian Americans in other areas as well. That, coupled with the fact that Wal-Mart had joined the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, were just too much for Wildmon and his �klan.� A campaign of deception naturally followed:

Justin Nelson, president of the Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, said earlier Tuesday [November 21, 2006] that conservative activists had misrepresented his business-oriented group as a leading advocate of gay marriage in order to tarnish Wal-Mart. �Their campaign has not been to educate, but to mislead,� he said.

Of course Wildmon had no problem with Wal-Mart�s other donations and activities. As James Dobson�s CitizenLink reported, the $60,000 donation to Out and Equal was �miniscule compared to the total of $245 million Wal-Mart gives out annually, a large portion going to more conservative and Christian-related causes and organizations.�

The bigoted hypocrisy of Wildmon and the evangelical Christian Right comes shining through yet again.

Wildmon�s deceptively named �American Family Association� has been boycotting Ford Motor Company for some time because Ford instituted company policies that forbid discrimination against gay employees and their American families. More recently, Wildmon has cast his evil eye at electronics retail giant Best Buy because they are using the term �Happy Holidays� instead of �Merry Christmas.�

Dawn Bryant, spokeswoman for Best Buy Co., Inc., responded to Wildmon�s and the AFA�s hysterical objections with cool common sense: �We are going to continue to use the term holiday because there are several holidays throughout that time period, and we certainly need to be respectful of all of them.� But common sense and expressing respectfulness toward others are not part of the Wildmon way or �thinking.� In his �mind,� common sense and respectfulness toward others are �anti-Christian.�

From tax-cheat Dr. Dino and his Young Earth Creationists, to Wildmon�s taking offense at recognizing the holidays of religions other than his own, to Lou Sheldon�s cover-up confessionthat he and �a lot� of others [the leaders of the Christian Right] knew about [Rev.Ted] Haggard�s homosexuality �for awhile . . . but we weren�t sure just how to deal with it'� [link added], the leaders of the Christian Right have become ludicrous caricatures defiling the very religion, virtues and values they claim to be advocating.

They all ceremoniously wrap themselves in the American flag, as if that could hide their rotting core. Their beliefs, statements, actions and tactics are as un-American as beliefs, statements, actions and tactics can be unless, of course, one considers the beliefs, statements, actions and tactics of Joseph McCarthy to be those of a �great American� uninterested in furthering his own agenda and political power.

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