Kent Hovind is a creation-science evangelist and Baptist minister who has already served eight years of a ten-year prison sentence for alleged tax evasion. Kent has a master's degree in education. He founded and operated Creation Science Evangelism and has traveled extensively presenting creation-science lectures. He has debated evolutionists in over one hundred debates across the country. Kent also operated Dinosaur Adventure Land in Pensacola, Florida. This was a very popular creation-science museum/theme park. Kent also produced scores of videos on the subject of creation-science that have circled the globe and been translated in over thirty languages. Many people affectionately refer to Kent as "Dr. Dino." He and his wife have three children; and all three of their children (all grown) worked alongside of him in the ministry.
Kent and I were college classmates for one year in Michigan. I was a sophomore when Kent transferred to the school from Illinois. I transferred colleges after that year. Kent stayed and graduated from the college in Michigan. After graduation in 1975, my wife and I moved to Pensacola, Florida, to begin our ministerial work. Some years later, Kent and his family also moved to Pensacola. So, I've known Kent a long time.
Kent considered his ministry a church and the people who worked for him as missionaries. He did not incorporate under the 501c3 non-profit organization status. Of course, the Internal Revenue Code states that churches are not required to do so; that, as a church, they automatically have tax-exempt status. Accordingly, Kent believed his ministry was tax-exempt.
Nevertheless, in 2004, IRS agents raided Kent's home and ultimately brought multiple counts of tax-evasion-type charges, including "structuring," against him. "Structuring" means deliberately making cash deposits or withdrawals of just under the supposed reporting level of ten thousand dollars. (Egad! God forbid that the IRS not know the details of our banking transactions.) In 2006, Kent went to trial and was convicted on all counts and sentenced to ten years in federal prison. He has been there ever since.
But now the story gets bizarre. Federal prosecutors are currently bringing charges of mail fraud against Kent for using the mail system from inside prison to challenge the lien that the IRS placed upon his property. And, are you ready for this? They want Kent to serve an additional twenty to one hundred years in prison. Obviously, even if he received twenty years, this amounts to a life sentence.
See this report:
By contrast, the Rev. Al Sharpton is reported to owe nearly $1.5 million in overdue taxes and penalties from many years ago. But our federal government doesn't put Mr. Sharpton in the Big House; it invites him to the White House instead.
See the report here:
Regardless of where one comes down on the whole tax-exempt status issue for churches and non-profit organizations, here is a very relevant fact: the average time spent behind bars for tax "crimes" is between two to five years. For instance, Pete Rose served five months; Chuck Berry served four months; Aldo Gucci served one year; Sun Myung Moon served eighteen months; and Leona Helmsley served four years. Kent has already served much more time than any of those people did.
To help put it in perspective even further, the infamous Chicago gangster, Al Capone, was released after eight years in prison. And, as everyone knows, the only reason the government put him prison for tax evasion was because they couldn't obtain the evidence they needed to convict him of murder, racketeering, bribery, etc. Yet, our federal government wants to keep a Christian minister--who never committed an act of violence against anyone--in prison for the rest of his natural life. In truth, there are thousands of people who have been convicted of some form of homicide who have not spent as many years in prison as Kent has already.
Back in 2001, restaurant owner, fisherman, and ship builder, Frank Patti (also of Pensacola, Florida) was indicted on 24 counts of tax evasion of more than $12 million. He was sentenced to 79 months in prison and released after serving but 39 months. Kent has already served almost 100 months.
After witnessing the Frank Patti case, I wrote this in 2002: "The prospect of local businessman Frank Patti spending 8 years in federal prison for tax evasion causes me to once again reflect upon the justness of throwing people in jail for nonviolent crimes.
"I believe it is past time for America to examine its practice of locking people up for nonviolent crimes. Even though the United States is far from being the most populous country in the world, we incarcerate more people than any other nation. According to recent reports, there are more than two million people behind bars in U.S. jails and prisons [now the number exceeds six million]. Many of these people are there for crimes in which no one was physically injured or killed and, therefore, pose little or no threat to society.
"Furthermore, it seems that this infatuation with locking people up serves more the interests of ever-burgeoning government bureaucracies than the interests of justice. A breadwinner behind bars means more welfare, more food stamps, and more dependence upon government, not to mention more government jobs, of course.
"With the federal government increasingly encroaching into the area of crime and punishment and with an exploding number of new laws continually being created, more and more people are losing their freedom over crimes that have more to do with offending the powers of government than injuring the lives of innocent people. Such a system hardly promotes justice."
These comments do not even take into account the question as to whether refusing to pay personal income taxes to Uncle Sam should even be regarded as a crime at all. The income tax was initially sold to the American people as being a "voluntary" tax, remember? Regardless, the federal government treats the income tax as obligatory and most jurors have the attitude, "If I have to pay taxes, so does this defendant," which is why most juries never acquit folks charged with tax evasion.
In Kent's case, the argument was that his ministry was a church and as such should have been automatically tax exempt.
What Kent's case does show is that the IRS can make its own decisions as to who and what owes taxes, the 501c3 non-profit organization status for churches notwithstanding. Charges of tax evasion are very subjective to the whims of the IRS--as Al Sharpton proves. And let's not forget the Lois Lerner version of selective tax enforcement that targeted conservative organizations. And there is nothing new about that. The federal government has been using the IRS to intimidate or silence individuals or groups it does not like for many, many years under both Republican and Democrat administrations.
While I will not elaborate on this issue here (I've done so many times already in this column), this is just another example of the danger of the 501c3 tax exempt status for churches. With the way the IRS can subjectively interpret and enforce the tax code with impunity, a church or so-called non-profit organization that accepts tax-exempt status, can literally be "damned if you do and damned if you don't." It's mostly to do with politics. Remember, it is the IRS--NOT THE CHURCH--that ultimately defines whether an organization is qualified to be tax-exempt. What the Internal Revenue Code stipulates about churches being automatically tax-exempt means NOTHING to the IRS. You must remember that!
In the case of Kent Hovind, one has to wonder if he is actually being treated as a political prisoner. A life sentence for tax evasion? Whoever heard of such a thing?
Then again, I am reminded of the way our government treated former Idaho Congressman George Hansen. His book "To Harass Our People" (about the IRS) should be regarded as a must-read for every lover of liberty. Then, after you read the book, find out how our federal government railroaded him into a prison sentence and how it mercilessly tortured him afterward. It will make your hair stand on end.
Then, after reading what our federal government did to one of its own congressmen, try to convince yourself that our federal government would NOT do almost anything to anyone. And if this is true for American citizens (and it is) imagine how our federal government (CIA, military Dark Ops, etc.) treats foreign governments--even those it once befriended. Come on, folks. Turn off FOX News long enough to start thinking for yourself a little bit.
If you would like to sound off regarding the obvious injustice being committed against Kent Hovind, there is a website set up for that purpose. See it here:
If enough people rally to Kent's defense, the IRS might rethink its attempt to keep him in prison for the rest of his life. Like most dark forces, the IRS loves darkness and hates light. Whether you think Kent is guilty or not, eight years is enough! Please help spread a little light for Kent Hovind.
P.S. Once again, I am in touch with a group of patriot Christians near BRADENTON, FLORIDA, who very much desire to start a new non-501c3 fellowship. As soon as this group can grow a little more, I will take my team and conduct a Liberty Church Project conference for these folks. If you live in or near BRADENTON, FLORIDA, and would like to join this group, here is an email that you can use to connect with them. Hopefully, there will soon be enough people that we can see a brand new non-501c3 church established in BRADENTON, FLORIDA.
The email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
© Chuck Baldwin