Kent Hovind trial: Christian College leader says taxes are part of religion

Hovind argues God’s workers are exempt

A local Christian leader on Thursday testified against Pensacola evangelist Kent Hovind, explaining the Bible does not condone tax evasion.

Rebekah Horton, Pensacola Christian College’s longtime senior vice president, took the stand during the second day of testimony at the federal trial.

Hovind, who calls himself “Dr. Dino,” faces 58 charges. He is accused of evading $473,818 in federal income, Social Security and Medicare employee taxes at his Creation Science Evangelism Ministry, which includes Dinosaur Adventure Land on North Palafox Street, a creationist theme park dedicated to debunking evolution.

His wife, Jo, also is on trial, accused of contributing to the fraud by making 45 bank transactions in a little more than a year in an effort to make the money untraceable.

Hovind believes he and his employees work for God, are paid by God and therefore aren’t subject to taxation.

But Horton said whether Hovind works for God is irrelevant and the Bible does not exempt anyone from paying taxes.

“We know the Scriptures do not promote (tax evasion),” she said. “It’s against Scripture teaching.”

Horton first heard of Hovind’s beliefs about taxes in the mid 1990s.

The Hovind case, at a glance

The Hovinds are charged with a total of 58 counts of tax evasion.

Counts one through 12 include Kent Hovind’s alleged failure to collect nearly $470,000 in employee taxes.

Counts 13 through 57 include both Kent and Jo Hovind. They are charged with structuring cash transactions of $430,500 to avoid reporting requirements.

Count 58 includes the following charges against Kent Hovind:

Filing a frivolous lawsuit against the IRS, demanding damages for criminal trespass.

Filing an injunction against an IRS agent.

Making threats against investigators and those cooperating with the investigation.

Filing false complaints against the IRS for false arrest, excessive use of force and theft.

A woman gave Horton a videotape. The woman received it when she worked for Hovind.

The video featured another evangelist advocating tax evasion, Horton said. The woman told Horton of Hovind’s philosophy on paying his employees.

“She said, ‘You were giving a gift with your work, and they were giving a gift back to you,’ ” Horton said.

Horton said her first concern was that the woman was breaking the law. Horton also testified she was concerned about Pensacola Christian College students who worked at Hovind’s ministry.

“The day could come when you’re going to be in trouble,” she told the woman. “Because Mr. Hovind is going to be in trouble.”

Horton believed it was the college’s duty to report the misleading doctrine. Administration called the Internal Revenue Service and gave the tape to officials, she said.

“I didn’t want to see innocent people get led astray,” she said.

Pensacola Christian College then decided its students no longer were permitted to work with Creation Science Evangelism, Horton said.

Hovind sent her a letter, she said, and then visited her office.

On her desk, she kept note cards of Bible verses that contradicted Hovind’s stance on taxes, including Romans 13, which discusses submission to authority and 1 Peter, Chapter 2, which refers to “submission to rulers and masters,” she said.

“I didn’t get into a debate with him,” she said. “I just continued to refer to these verses.”

Horton said she had “no ill feelings” toward Hovind. She just doesn’t agree with him on the tax issue.

Defense attorney Alan Richey asked Horton if she had trouble with Hovind on other issues.

“It’s not my place to judge him,” she said.

The trial is scheduled to continue today at 8:30 a.m. before U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers. It is expected to take at least two weeks to complete.


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Religion News Blog posted this on Friday October 20, 2006.
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