Creationist theme park shut down for denying Caesar what is his
That's the hard lesson learned by the owner of Dinosaur Adventure Land, a Creationism-themed play park in Pensacola, Florida. Last week, a federal judge released an order that paves the way for the park, and all the properties owned by Kent Hovind, to be sold off to pay back the $430,400 he owes in employee taxes.
Why didn't Hovind pay those taxes? He says it's because he's employed by God, not the state, so his "ministers" -- the guys assigned to shepherd guests from exhibit to exhibit -- shouldn't be subject to payroll taxes. His standoff lasted for 17 years, as Hovind quickly transferred his money from one account to another to hide his true holdings from the government, before the law finally caught up with him.
Hovind was found guilty in November 2006 of failing to pay federal taxes and for making threats against the investigators who came to find out why. Now, instead of running his park and his "ministry," Creation Science Evangelism, he's in the pen. His wife Jo was tossed in the slammer, too, for helping him out.
"DAL is not an amusement park, for 'amuse' means 'to not think,' and we want people to think," reads a typical passage on the park's now-fossilized web site. "Rather, it is an amazement park. Come and stand amazed at the truths of the Creator and Savior of the world, Jesus Christ."
One of the things Jesus said, to take an example, was "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's," a verse (from the Book of Mark) that many theologians think means that Christians should dutifully pay their taxes.
I never went to Dinosaur Adventure Land myself, and judging from the bitter appraisals of some of the people who went, it's safe to say the park's entire point was to stand outside the mainstream and sell children on Hovind's particular worldview. One exhibit, a sandbox, invited kids to make their own little Grand Canyon with a sudden deluge of water, just like Noah's flood did. Another presented the epic poem Beowulf as proof that man and prehistoric beasts once lived together.
A trip report by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, mocked the way DAL sold itself as a dinosaur park when it was really no more than a playground and a cheap activities center geared toward presenting facile over-simplifications of prevailing scientific understanding. Such propaganda is fully protected under the law, of course, but perhaps Hovind should have been more prudent about seeking the cover of federal law while he conveniently flouted its other provisions.
Lying, it seems, is something Hovind knew something about, given how much of he did in order to pawn off his personal worldview on the feds and tourists alike. But the feds caught up with him. And it was good.