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Letters to the Editor

Questioning the Kern clan

Michael Hopkins August 17th, 2011

After reading “Reclamation project” (Aug. 10, Gazette), I googled “Reclaiming America for Christ” and immediately found that one of the top results was “Birth Certificate forgery — You Decide,” which is on RAFC’s website.

Clicking “partners” reveals that WorldNetDaily, an infamous advocate of the infantile, racist notion that President Obama was born in Kenya, is an RAFC partner.

Since the Rev. Steve Kern and his wife, Rep. Sally Kern, are associated with RAFC and widely pontificate on issues that concern RAFC such as homosexuality and evolution, I think it is fair to ask the Kerns:

—Will you condemn RAFC’s association with racist birther ideology?

—During recent events in Norway, Hege Dalen and Toril Hansen, married lesbians, took their boat four times to where a terrorist was killing people. They risked their lives to save 40. If we “embrace” these two heroes, will it cause civilization to “fall after a few generations” (Rev. Kern’s counterpoint commentary, “Soul concern,” June 22)?

—Humans have 415 genes for olfactory receptors that are broken by mutation damaging our sense of smell. Dolphins can’t smell airborne odors and yet have genes for doing exactly that, though most are broken. The gene for making vitamin C is broken in chimps and humans by the same deletion of a single DNA “letter.” Tigers and domestic cats can’t taste sweetness because of a 247-“letter” deletion. So why should I not consider evidence of history to be evidence of evolution?

—Michael Hopkins

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08.17.2011 at 06:30 Reply

Here are some notes and references for the letter.

The Gazette article:

  • Reclamation project

The website for Reclaiming America For Christ (RAFC) is:


RAFC's birther page:

  • "Birth Certificate forgery – You Decide"

In case they delete it (and I have saved a  copy), that page directs the user to the following:

  • Whistling... (Birth Certificate Is A Forgery)

I doubt that page will go anytime soon, but just in case.  Here is a video and a document that are on embedded in that page.


RAFC's partner page:


That WorldNetDaily is a birther site is documented by its own archive of many, many of their birther articles:


Many in the right are outright angry and embarrassed by the nutty claims that WND routinely provides:

  • Conservatives Boycott WorldNetDaily over 'Embarrassing' Birther Claims

The Norway lesbian couple:

  • Lesbian couple are Norway heroes
  • Obvious internet searches will bring up more articles.

Rev. Kern's Gazette column:


Before giving references to specific claims in my third question, lets give some pointers to introductory material. 

  • Plagiarized Errors and Molecular Genetics

This article will make it clear what I did not have to space to explicitly point out.  Namely that it is not just the fact that we have broken genes in us that is the evidence. The clincher is that the genes are broken in the same way in related species.   A gene can be broken in many ways: a DNA "letter" (i.e. a base pair) can change to a different "letter," a "letter" can be deleted, a two-letter span can be deleted, and so on.  Something can get inserted at a random location within the gene.  Part of the gene can get inverted as well.   The odds that a gene in a human and a chimp will get broken in the same way is extraordinarily small.  The odds that it will happen again and again and again is simply astronomically against. 

A very good book on his sort of  evidence is:

  • The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution
    by Sean B. Carroll.  New York: Norton. 2006

That humans have lost hundred of olfactory receptor genes to mutation has been covered extensively in many places.  The above Carroll book has a good discussion.  For humans having lost 415 OR genes see (and specifically Table 1):

  • Niimura Y, Nei M (2007) Extensive Gains and Losses of Olfactory Receptor Genes in Mammalian Evolution. PLoS ONE 2(8): e708. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000708
    (PLoS journals don't require payment or registration to access. )

That dolphins can't smell airborne odors but still have the OR genes for them was taken from page 71 of:

  • Why Evolution is True by Jerry A.  Coyne
    New York: Viking.  2009

(And to prevent any confusion: dolphins can smell in water, but that requires different genes.  Dolphins, like all whales, are descended from land-living mammals.)

The vitamin C gene in humans being broken by the exact same mutation is extensively discussed in the previously mentioned (among many other places):


Note that it is discussed in two places in the article.  And if any creationist points out that guinea pigs also can't make vitamin C as Kern did in one of his letters, it is worth noting that their gene was broken in a different way.  This is expected since the genes were broken independently. 

Cats lack of the ability to taste sweetness:

  • Li X, Li W, Wang H, Cao J, Maehashi K, et al. (2005) Pseudogenization of a Sweet-Receptor Gene Accounts for Cats' Indifference toward Sugar. PLoS Genet 1(1): e3. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.0010003
  • (Google will find plenty of popular articles on this as well.)

A couple of final remarks about this subject.  I can't emphasize enough that there is an embarrassment of riches here: examples of this sort of thing pop up all over the place.  The Coyne book mentions other examples.  The Carroll book provides many other examples.  I recently read Carl Zimmer's excellent Microcosm: E. Coli and the New Science of Life  and it had a few examples.    It would be rather easy to  list example after example.

Finally don't let the creationists say that these are not broken genes.  It would be finding a car missing its spark plugs and denying that it is a car.  Biologist see (and can sequence the DNA of) the fully-functioning versions in other species.  They can readily see what kind of mutation (or mutations) stopped the gene from functioning.  The broken gene is usually in the same spot on the chromosome as the functioning gene is in  other species.  And so on. 

I submitted this under the title "Questions for the Kerns" for the record.  I see the editor is having some fun. :-)


08.17.2011 at 06:39 Reply

You'd think that enough people coming forward with solid provable scientific evidence against Kern would shut him up.  But he's just a newspaper Troll like the virulent internet Troll, he feeds on attention, regardless of whether or not it's positive or negative. 

Maybe it's time we heed the internet's advice and stop feeding the Troll.

On a personal note, does it surprise anyone that Reclaiming America for Christ would come up with a Birther reference?  I wonder then, do these people ever stop to question whether Christ was White?  I mean, he was born in the middle east, so...  Yea.  They say God created man in his image, but I recon it's the other way around.


08.17.2011 at 07:42

In Oklahoma, the Kerns are leaders of this worldview that is wrong factually and morally.  If they wish to discredit themselves then let us keep this up as long as possible.    Sure we will never convince their sheep, but the people in the middle can be influenced.  Furthermore we need to let everyone know just how looney our opposition really is.

I actually was surprised that to see the birther refererence to show up so quickly without me actually looking for it.  But if they want to be so careless with what they believe then we must take the offense taking advantage of the advantage.  It also gives us the chance of putting up facts that otherwise most people would never see.

Remember we are not debating some random unknown idiots of no consequence.  In that case, maybe it would be best not to feed the troll.


08.22.2011 at 07:43 Reply

Regarding the lesbian couple.  I see now that some sources are saying "partners," some are saying "lesbain couple," and some are saying "married."  I now suspect that "married" might have been a translation error though I don't know for sure.   However all accounts are clear that they are a lesbian couple and the question still stands regardless of whether or not they are legally married. 

I know I would sleep really easy night with them as my neighbors.