"If the leaseholders' tax suit fails, maybe we can have another go by declaring beach life a religion and Pensacola Beach the promised land. After all, there is plenty of scriptural support."
Jennifer Liberto reported in yesterday's St. Petersburg Times that the Florida legislature is seriously considering passing a new statute which would award a property tax exemption to "A biblical theme park in Orlando where guests pay $30 admission to munch on "Goliath" burgers and explore reproductions of 2000-year-old tombs and temples... ."
"So far," Liberto reports, "there doesn't appear to be any organized opposition to the bill, which sailed through a Senate committee Tuesday with no debate."
The Senate bill is being promoted by state senator Daniel Webster R-Orange County) , who is chairman -- chairman! -- of the Senate Judiciary Committee. A similar bill is being sponsored in the Florida House by Rep. Frederick Brummer (R-Orange County), chairman of the House Tax and Finance Committee.
Obviously, these two guys are heavy hitters in the mental ward known as the Florida legislature. They also must be colossal dumbbells.
Even the "director of ministries" for "Creation Science Evangelism" recognizes the proposed exemption "should be a little more broad in scope and not even limit it to Christians. That seems a little discriminatory."
It isn't clear to us, either, why one faith-based theme park should be exempt from taxes and tens of thousands of others not. There's just as much scientific evidence that Mickey Mouse married Minnie after getting her pregnant as there is that the Earth was created in six days, with one day off for good behavior. Or, for that matter, that 72 virgins await you in heaven. There are countless other myths and magical thoughts from world religions that could become a tax-free theme park.
Creationist nuts already are starting to fall out of the trees in their haste to get aboard this legislative gravy train. Liberto reports that among them is Pensacola's very own alleged "religious theme park," Dinosaur Adventure Land (“Where dinosaurs and the Bible meet!”).
Dino Land, as it is known locally, is run by Kent ("Dr. Dino") Hovind. Hovind has been described by some as a "creationist and tax dodger". He describes himself as one of the leading authorities on "Science and the Bible." More than you'd ever want to know about him is available at Carl Marychurch's web site named, appropriately, Analysis of Kent Hovind.
The 'doctor' part comes from a degree awarded by something called "Patriot University" in Colorado. PU, so it has been reported, charges $100 for a Ph.D.
The "tax dodger" part stems from Dr. Dino's well publicized run-ins with the law , other bizarre court cases, and his attempted bankruptcy filing, which was dismissed for being filed in "bad faith."
In a November 2004 profile by Greg Martinez, Hovind's Dino Land was revealed to be not much more than a "converted backyard ... stuffed full of children’s games and playground equipment . . . and lots of fiberglass dinosaurs." The essential "theme" of this "park" is that the Earth is no more than 6,000 years old, God created mankind and dinosaurs at the same time, and Noah left the big dinosaurs behind to be drowned in the Big Flood but took a few small ones aboard -- which, we are assured, "explains Bigfoot."
Inside the visitor center, an investigator for Morris Dees' Southern Poverty Law Center -- the same heroic organization that put Richard Butler's "Aryan Nation" out of business in Idaho, as Firedoglake coincidentally reminisces today -- found a bookstore selling:
various books on "Evolution and the New World Order." (At least one of them, Fourth Reich of the Rich, alleges a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world.) * * * Citizens Rule Book, popular among antigovernment "Patriots"; Media Bypass, an antigovernment magazine with strong anti-Semitic leanings; and titles by America's leading authority on tax-dodging... .It isn't particular clear to us why Florida should grant a tax exemption to one myth-based religious theme park and deny it to others. But Pensacola Beach residents should pay attention, anyway.
If the leaseholders' tax suit fails, maybe we can have another go by declaring beach life a religion and Pensacola Beach the promised land. After all, there is plenty of scriptural support, starting with Genesis 1:6:
And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.Water on two sides. Firmament in between. Sounds to us like it ought to be a tax-free Holy Land Theme Park.
Sharp-eyed Bryan points out in the reader comments, below, that just this week Dino Land was ordered shuttered by a state circuit court judge. The story was carried in today's PNJ, of all things.
Here's a snippet:
Owners of the park, which shows how dinosaurs may have roamed the Earth just a few thousand years ago, did not obtain a building permit before constructing the building in 2002. They have argued in and out of court that it violates their "deeply held" religious beliefs, and that the church-run facility does not have to obtain permits.Whaddaya bet we haven't heard the last of Dr. Dino and 'Caesar' Mike Whitehead?
After almost four years of litigation, the judge disagreed and said the county has the authority to close the building until the owners comply with regulations.
The judge also fined two church leaders $500 each per day for every day the building is used or occupied. If church officials continue to refuse to comply with local ordinances, the judge may decide that the building can be razed, Allen's ruling said.
County commissioners showed no sympathy to members of the Creation Science Evangelism ministry who spoke out Thursday night at a commission meeting about the county's actions.
"Scripture also says 'Render unto Caesar what Caesar demands.' And right now, Caesar demands a building permit," County Commission Chairman Mike Whitehead said.