Hi and welcome back! The news has been busy lately with this story about Kent Hovind getting arrested for domestic violence against his (third) ex-wife. I wasn’t at all surprised to learn of the arrest. Kent Hovind has been a gadfly nipping at the flanks of America for decades now. His delusions keep slamming him up against reality — and he keeps fighting as hard as he can to avoid accepting it. But he’s also a bit of an artifact these days. I don’t think a lot of people know about him or his dogged, quixotic quest to refuse to accept reality. So today, let me offer up a quick introduction to Kent Hovind, one of the most notorious and delusional right-wing Christian hucksters around.
(A wingnut is someone whose beliefs do not tether to reality. Wingnut beliefs cannot be supported through objective measurements or tests. At the same time, though, it’s very important to wingnuts to feel that their beliefs are objectively true. So they come up with all kinds of confusing arguments and logical fallacies that they mistake for — and use in lieu of — real evidence. DISCLAIMER: This post contains my opinions of Kent Hovind and other figures on the far right. Also, don’t miss the “doctoral dissertation” Hovind wrote for his fly-by-night degree mill to get his Ph.D.)
Everyone, Meet Kent Hovind.
Kent Hovind is a basic liar-for-Jesus who’s made a long career out of obscuring facts and pushing lies to justify his power grabs. As of 2002, at any rate, he called himself an Independent Fundamental Baptist (IFB). IFB is, hands down, one of the most authoritarian Christian flavors out there.
He calls himself a fundamentalist. But really, most evangelicals are fundamentalists these days. (That’s why I call them fundagelicals.) However, he’s one of the fusty, old-timer fundamentalists. He’s not at all like the hipster fundagelicals in skinny jeans and way too much scraggly facial hair. You know, the ones who love to sprinkle Christianese buzzwords in their earnest, furrowed-brow discussions of guns and brown liquor and doctrines and cigars. Nope, he’s an old-fashioned fundamentalist. He uses some of the worst Creationist arguments around, too.
And that means he’s made Young-Earth Creationism (YEC) the hill he will die upon in Minecraft. Of course, most fundagelicals these days are also YEC — or one of the variants of Creationism. Many exist. Some are very slightly less intellectually dishonest than others. Of course, his variant happens to be the wingnuttiest. Heck, even other YECs have tried, unsuccessfully, to rein him in.
His goals, always, remain the same: to support his own wingnut views — and to knock down his competition.
He portrays himself as a beleaguered TRUE CHRISTIAN™ fighting the evil forces of atheism. In truth, he’s a wingnut fighting reality itself. And he always has been.
Kent Hovind Finds His Tribe.
In a lot of ways, Kent Hovind is a relic of the early 2000s. He hit the height of his popularity during those heady years of the Creationist culture wars. At the time, YEC Christians really thought they would really gain the legal right to lie to and indoctrinate schoolchildren in publicly-funded science classrooms.
To make that goal happen, YEC hucksters were angling hard for a major court case back then. They were sure they’d win it, too. Easily, even.
I’m sure Kent Hovind saw them as the winning team.
In the middle of all that cultural chaos, he really hit his heights of popularity. In the 1990s, he’d just been circulating around the fundamentalist neck of the evangelical woods. His specialty was pseudoscientific yapping about Creationism, but he didn’t have a huge audience.
When his fellow YECs finally got their desired big court case in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District, though, he saw a good opportunity.
He wasn’t directly involved in the case itself, I don’t think. However, he seems to have been busy heavily marketing his Creationism products in that same area at the time. Once the YECs lost the lawsuit, that only seems to have made him feel more determined to win against his sworn enemies.
Where Kent Hovind Lurks Nowadays.
In more recent years, Kent Hovind moved to Alabama. Perhaps Florida was getting too hot for him.
In Florida, he built a theme park called “Dinosaur Adventure Land.” I’m serious. It was his second, too. The first, named identically but smaller and built in Florida, sounds like it was awful. To me, though, both of ’em sound like vanity projects and cash grabs. As of 2018, at least, visitors toured the park at their own risk because Hovind lacked liability insurance for it. And yes, a child died there just last year.
Kent Hovind has also been running his mouth off on YouTube. There, he viciously insults and threatens various atheists and makes belligerent noises about his imagined superiority. He especially enjoys doing this stuff as part of his “Whack an Atheist” series.
Boy howdy, that series title sure sounds super-duper-loving, meek, humble, and Jesus-y, doesn’t it?
Genetically Modified Skeptic, a real sweetheart, responded way more graciously than I could to Hovind’s dishonest and mean-spirited attacks.
As for me, I think Kent Hovind is just aching to regain the level of attention and notoriety he enjoyed before Kitzmiller destroyed his tribe’s hopes. There’s always this air of bitterness and anger to him nowadays — tinged with desperation and single-minded, ruthless control-lust.
Kent Hovind and His Legal Troubles.
For some weird reason that is undoubtedly related to his blinding-bright Jesus Aura, Kent Hovind has been in and out of legal trouble for decades now. He keeps trying to make reality bend to his wingnut beliefs, and reality just keeps not cooperating with him.
In 2002, he was arrested for assault, battery, and burglary against a secretary in his organization, CSE (Creation Science Evangelism). The charges appear to have been dropped.
In June 2006, he pleaded no contest to all kinds of building code violations and whatnot when his first Dinosaur Adventure Land got closed by county zoning officials. It sounds like he didn’t think that mean ole public-safety officials should be able to boss King Him around, so he just ignored their orders.
But he was just gearing up for the big time by then.
He was about to run into very real trouble with reality.
Kent Hovind, Anti-Tax Conspiracy Theorist.
Along the way to notoriety, Kent Hovind decided that he shouldn’t need to pay taxes.
Sure, Jesus had explicitly commanded his followers to pay taxes. But like all wingnut fundagelicals, Hovind always and miraculously finds workarounds to any divine commands he dislikes.
In 1996, he tried to file for bankruptcy to avoid paying federal income taxes. He’d never paid taxes, in fact. During the attempt, he tried to renounce his American citizenship as well, and claimed he didn’t earn any income because everything he owned and earned belonged to his god. The court was unimpressed, calling his arguments “patently absurd.”
However, Hovind continued to brag about his refusal to pay taxes. The IRS continued to dog his steps for it, too. In 2004, the IRS raided Hovind’s home. They confiscated USD$42k in cash and reported that he had a bunch of guns in his house.
In November 2006, La Wiki tells us, a college student at Pensacola Christian College found out about his anti-tax stance. (I found a tantalizing fragment of the story here.) She reported him to the IRS.
Indeed, officials soon discovered that CSE lacked business licenses. It also lacked tax-exempt status. And also indeed, he hadn’t been paying taxes still.
Kent Hovind: From the Frying Pan to the Fire.
In fact, officials discovered, the whole CSE organization appeared to be built following the advice of Glen Stoll, a known fundagelical wingnut of the tax-avoidance variety.
I’m sure seeing that name pop up in the investigation got officials’ attention immediately.
But they hadn’t seen nothin’ yet.
Kent Hovind was about to go full SovCit on them.
That path seemed, to him, to be the best and fastest and easiest way to make reality kneel to him and his wingnut beliefs at last.
Kent Hovind, Sovereign Citizen Edition.
In July 2006, a district court indicted him on 58 counts. 45 charges involved various acts of financial fraud. 12 others involved his ongoing refusal to pay taxes. One last charge involved him trying to obstruct the IRS in various ridiculous ways.
He was married at the time to Jo Hovind (his first of three wives, because Hovind also found workarounds for Jesus’ commands against divorce). The court charged her with various crimes relating to helping her husband with financial fraud.
By now, his tax bill amounted to almost a half-million dollars — for just 2001-2003.
In response, in the courtroom Kent Hovind tried his best to pretend he just couldn’t understand the charges or what was going on. He accidentally made himself sound like an absolute dunce. Or maybe that was done on purpose.
It’s really hard to say, with sovereign citizens.
Sidebar: Sovereign Citizen Behavior, Explained.
That’s part of the song-and-dance that sovereign citizens do: they try to stymie proceedings at every turn by refusing to cooperate in any way, cloud the waters with doublespeak and misleading replies, file tons of poorly-done legal forms of every kind, and more.
Their goal is to confuse-and-lose the legal system and its officers. In the early 00s, SovCits were still becoming a thing, and not everyone fully knew how to deal with them. (And by the way, they’re known for bursting into violence when their antics fail. Remember that for later.)
The main thing Hovind seemed to be arguing, according to Pensacola News Journal, was that he couldn’t be convicted of breaking any laws unless he actually knew he was breaking them. So if the court couldn’t convince him that a given law was valid and that he was indeed breaking it, then he couldn’t be convicted. That link is titled, “Hard to believe a man with a Ph.D didn’t know of a basic tax law.”
(Once you’ve seen Kent Hovind’s dissertation, though, you should be able to explain exactly how that happened!)
Kent Hovind, Jailbird.
The court disagreed with Kent Hovind’s act, his pretense, and his delusions.
After a surprisingly short deliberation of three hours, the jury convicted him on all charges — and his wife as well. The judge put him away for ten years. After release, he’d have three more years of probation — and he needed to repay the government $600k. To get their money, the government confiscated a bunch of his properties.
It sounds like Hovind managed to squeeze out some crocodile tears for the judge, tearfully offering to let his followers pay the bill so he could “go back out there and preach.” Oh, this guy! But the judge already knew that while behind bars, Hovind had been busy scheming by phone with his sons to hide his assets.
Jo Hovind got a much lighter sentence: 1 year in prison, three years of supervision after release, and a fine of $8k.
As sovereign citizens do, Hovind filed a flurry of appeals and protests against his sentence. But these were all denied. Glen Stoll tried to help his pal in 2008 to prevent the loss of some of those properties, but none of their attempts worked.
But wingnuts gonna wingnut. Kent Hovind wasn’t done fighting reality yet. In 2013, his focus simply shifted to the properties the government had claimed.
The Mail Fraud Days.
Now, Kent Hovind got out of prison in 2015.
But in 2013, he teamed up with a guy named Paul Hansen to try to stop the government from getting his properties. Remember, they’d claimed like ten of his properties. Well, Hovind didn’t want to give them up.
Paul Hansen seems like an enigmatic character to me. He styles himself a lawyer, but he’s a solid sovereign citizen type himself. A Forbes writeup from June 2020 describes him as an old and trusted business associate of Hovind’s. He was one of the original trustees of the first iteration of CSE.
In 2015, when Hovind got indicted on charges of mail fraud, criminal contempt, and other stuff in relation to the property forfeitures, Hansen was named in that indictment as well. Hansen ended up sentenced to 18 months in prison, but Hovind didn’t get into too much trouble.
And Now, Here We Are.
In 2020, Kent Hovind tried to sue the government for unjustly imprisoning him and seizing his property. He sued for, I kid you not, $536M. A second Forbes article tells us that he planned to use more sovereign citizen arguments to win his case, and yes, Paul Hansen was involved at some level there too.
I’m sure Hovind felt this new SovCit strategy would work, since it’d done so incredibly well for him up to then. (/s)
But this newest lawsuit, too, got laughed out of court just a couple of months ago. It sounds like Kent Hovind hasn’t gotten his fill of legal humiliations.
One day, one day, reality will kneel to him. Then, we’ll ALL see.
Summary: Kent Hovind.
I think that about catches us up on Kent Hovind.
He started off as a garden-variety fundie huckster, discovered Creationism early on, and hitched his wagon to that rising star.
But he didn’t want to pay taxes on his growing income, so he gravitated to the sovereign citizen movement in hopes of avoiding that burden. Dude will believe literally anything, no matter how preposterous, if it benefits himself.
All the way through, his hardline fundagelical beliefs have fed into every new delusion he embraces. He’s constitutionally incapable of even recognizing reality, much less accepting it. None of it helps him or works for him, so he just rejects it. And he thinks that if he just bellows loud enough, ignores it, issues enough insults, and finds the right magic spells to recite, then he’ll get his way. And if he doesn’t, then he can simply refuse to accept the truth. Then, it can’t affect him.
You know that saying about it being hard to convince a person of something when their paycheck depends on believing its opposite? That’s Kent Hovind, in a nutshell.
Prelude to Darkness.
I’ve not mentioned much about Kent Hovind’s marriages, except that he’s had three of them. Somehow, La Wiki lost much of this info. But it’s preserved in Google Search. Jo Hovind seems to have divorced him in 2016 (and part of his half-billion-dollar lawsuit involved his claim that this divorce wouldn’t have happened if he hadn’t been unjustly imprisoned).
Almost immediately after the divorce was finished, Hovind moved in on his second wife, Mary Tocco. They married in 2016, possibly as an informal or common-law thing, and she left him soon afterward when, she says, she realized what a dishonest skunk he is. That link contains her public statement about the matter.
Predictably, he tried to use magic Bible verses to strong-arm Mary Tocco to obedience. These failed, so Hovind repudiated her in 2017, she tells us. After that, he quickly moved in on her onetime friend, Cindi Lincoln, marrying her around 2018 (possibly also as an informal/common-law thing).
I do like Ms. Tocco’s final word on why she dumped Kent Hovind:
For all of the people who are just bursting with curiosity about why I left Kent Hovind, I will reduce it to one sentence. I decided I don’t want to play a lead role in the next debacle.
Because out of every single thing I’ve ever seen out of Kent Hovind, I know this above all:
There’ll always be a next debacle with him. And indeed, next time we’ll see what dark turns he’s taken lately.
NEXT UP: LSP! Then, we’ll start tackling the topic of Kent Hovind’s recent arrest. See you tomorrow!
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