Vision Baptist Church has invited Dr. Kent Hovind, an American Christian fundamentalist evangelist and convicted felon, to conduct a Creation Science Seminar April 6 and 7 at the church, located just east of Petal near the Forrest/Perry county line.
Christ Only Ministries, a 501(c)3, is working in conjunction with the church on the event.
Hovind, who was found guilty on all counts of a 58-count indictment, spent 10 years as a federal inmate in Berlin, N.H., for tax evasion, obstructing federal agents, and structuring cash transactions, is seen as a controversial figure by many, especially the Young Earth creationist movement, whose ministry focuses on denial of scientific theories in the fields of biology (evolution), geophysics and cosmology.
So, what’s the motivation for a Southern Baptist Church in a small conservative town doing bringing in such a speaker?
According to Ann Green, who formed Christ Only Ministries with her husband, Lindon, and Donnie and Tina Bond, said they had the opportunity to visit the Ark Encounter in Kentucky where they heard founder Ken Ham’s presentation comparing and defending creation against the evolution theory.
Ham is the founder of Answers in Genesis, a Christian creationist ministry. Creationists reject the teaching of evolution and believe the Earth was created in a few days about 6,000 years ago, based on the Bible's teachings in Genesis.
“When we went up there, we bought curriculum from Ken Ham and brought it back to the church and began teaching it,” Green said.
It was then that they heard of Ken Hovind.
“So, we got some of his materials too and started incorporating the two together,” Green said. “It kind of enlightened us to the fact that we didn’t realize just how prevalent evolution is being taught, that the creation story was more accurate than the evolution theory and what science sometimes claims. It’s really proving the creation rather than the evolution.”
Lindon Green said it was strictly Hovind’s knowledge of the Bible and creation as a reason for bringing him in. “We’re not getting any of that other,” he said.
Hovind has what many believe to be some far-fetched ideas, including:
• His creationist presentations have asserted that creationism is not taught in public schools due to a New World Order conspiracy, established by Satan and involving Ted Turner and Jane Fonda, the British Royal Family, the State of Israel, the American Civil Liberties Union, U.S. government officials, business leaders, and social activists.
• Hovind has several conspiracy theories about the U.S. government. He has claimed that the U.S. government was behind the 9/11 attacks and the Oklahoma City bombing.
• Hovind claims that the cyanide-releasing compound laetrile is a "cancer cure" which the U.S. government is conspiring to suppress and that diseases including HIV, Gulf War syndrome, Crohn's colitis, and rheumatoid arthritis and Alzheimer's were engineered by "the money masters and governments of the world" for the purpose of global economic domination. He has denounced democracy as "evil and contrary to God's law," and called global warming a communist conspiracy.
• In his lectures, he claimed that the United States government was implanting pet-tracking microchips into people allowing them to be tracked by satellite.
And while some of his beliefs are not things you’d think a Southern Baptist Church would condone, Green said the pastor, the Rev. Jimmy Clark, said the seminar is going to stick with creation vs. evolution.
“We respect his (Hovind’s) opinion on the other things he believes and teaches, but this is strictly going to be creation vs. evolution. That’s what concerns us.”
Lindon Green said he hopes there are no repercussions from bringing Hovind in.
“Anytime you bring Christianity into the picture, there’s always going to be some negativity on both sides,” he said.
Ann Green said that approximately 75 percent of all young people that are raised in a Christian Baptist home and claim their salvation through Jesus Christ, once they leave home and go to college they lose their faith because of what they are taught in college.
“Their faith is challenged so to the point that they don’t have the grounding,” she said. “Kent shows that they believe in Jesus Christ, but they get there and are questioned about creation. Is the first chapter of the Bible accurate? They say it’s not. Genesis says God created (the world) in six days, but then they go to college and no, they are taught that the world is millions of millions of years old and you evolved from this, that and the other. So, they are telling them that if the first books of the Bible aren’t true, how can the rest of the Bible be true? It’s then that these young people lose their faith in the Bible and that’s what we want to try and prevent.”
Green said while some may be wary of listening to Hovind, it makes her a little leery of just taking his word for it. “It doesn’t make me leery hearing his side and making my own decision,” she said. “I want to know what you think about what the government does, I want to know what he thinks the government does and I’ll think for myself how I feel about what the government does. I’m not going to not listen to what you have to say because I may not believe it. I want to know your thoughts.”
Ann Green said the church’s congregation has been very receptive to the program.
“I think pretty much everybody is on board with it,” Green said. She explained that one of the younger class teachers, the teacher of the middle schoolers in the church, said he picked up on the kids who kept hearing the adults talk about it and they would come and ask questions. So, he’s gotten some of the material, and taken it into that class.
“They were just so curious,” Ann Green said.
Lindon Green said they have had some schools from across the county say they were bringing some students. “There are some schools that don’t teach evolution,” he said.
While a member of the Southern Baptist Convention, Green said each church is an individual entity and the association doesn’t determine what you can and can’t do in your church.
“And we haven’t asked them,” she said.
She did say the local Pine Belt Baptist Association had approved and shared the Facebook page Green created about the event.
In addition to a seminar from 1-8 p.m. Saturday, April 6, which includes a barbecue/burger dinner, Hovind will also bring a message from 10 a.m. until noon Sunday, April 7, which will replace the morning worship service. Things will wrap up from 4-8 p.m. Sunday, which will include a question/answer time.
Lindon Green said between noon and 4 p.m. guests are free to talk with Hovind about other topics he believes in, but designated times will strictly be the creation/evolution topic.
“He also likes to debate professors at colleges, so we might try and do something like that,” Lindon said.
“We wanted to get as much from him as we could while we had him here,” Ann Green said.
Pastor Clark, who is dealing with health issues, was out of town and could not be reached for comment.
The seminars and the meal are free and you do no need to register to attend.
For more information, call Ann, 601-606-9746 or Tina, 601-329-1200. The church is located at 1056 Morriston Road.