Florida Church Loses Tax-Exempt Status for Hosting Naked Paintball Parties and Lingerie and Pajama Slumber Events

ChurchSpringBreakPartiesBy Elaine Magliaro

The Panama City News Herald reported some sad religious news last week. It appears that a local church has lost its tax-exempt status. The Life Center: A Spiritual Community, a church in Panama City, Florida, is now going to be required to pay taxes on its property. The church had reportedly been operating a party schedule as Amnesia: The Tabernacle seven days a week since Feb. 28th. According to the Herald, the church had been hosting naked paint parties and slumber parties with the “sexiest ladies on the beach.” Once authorities were alerted to the church’s goings-on, they began looking into the matter.

Travis Gettys of Raw Story said that police started investigating the church “after it placed ATMs and a banner outside and determined that its activities were a ‘blatant slap in the face’ to taxpayers.”

Sheriff Frank McKeithen said, “They’re trying to get around the laws, and they’re using the church to get there.”

Gettys:

The church, which is owned by Markus Q. Bishop, advertises that its events are drug- and alcohol-free, and promoters say it’s a church by day and youth ministry by night.

But Club Amnesia’s since-deleted Facebook page advertised raves, pajama and lingerie “slumber” parties, and “anything but clothes” paint parties.

Rishi Iyengar (Time):

The string of parties — including the pyjama-and-lingerie Sunday slumber party and an event called “Wet n Wild” described as “White Water meets Tabernacle PCB with a little twerkin’” — is reportedly sponsored by a company called iDrink, and caters to college students on spring break. raves, pajama and lingerie “slumber” parties, and “anything but clothes” paint parties.

Police said that “patrons were charged $20 ‘donations’ at the door, and the church walls were adorned with images of stick figures performing oral sex and the words, ‘I hate being sober.’”

Drew Whitman, chief of Panama City police said, “I’ve been in a lot of nightclubs and I’ve been in a lot of churches. That isn’t a church.”

Police acknowledged that “similar businesses operate nearby, but Club Amnesia did not hold liquor permits or other appropriate licenses, is zoned as a church, and claims tax-exempt status.” The church lost that tax-exempt status last Tuesday.

Dan Sowell, the city’s property appraiser, said, “A bottle club, charging $20 at the door and selling obscene T-shirts is not being used as a church.” He added, “A God-fearing, God-honoring church in January does not sponsor this type of debauchery in March.”

Some local authorities inFlorida are real killjoys, aren’t they? I hope the Life Center will be able to continue on with its good works even though the church has lost its tax-exempt status. PTL.

SOURCES

Florida church loses tax-exempt status over raunchy ‘wet-n-wild’ spring break ‘twerking’ parties (Raw Story)

WTF Florida: Nightclub Posing as Church Loses Tax-Exempt Status (Miami New Times)

PCB church loses tax exemption after opening club (Panama City News Herald)

Florida Church That Hosts Naked Paint Parties Loses Tax-Exempt Status (Time)

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13 Responses to Florida Church Loses Tax-Exempt Status for Hosting Naked Paintball Parties and Lingerie and Pajama Slumber Events

  1. Bob Kauten says:

    This is a symptom. Churches shouldn’t be given tax exempt status. That’s the actual problem.

  2. bigfatmike says:

    Hold on, I believe I feel an epiphany comin’ on right now.

  3. pete says:

    and know thee this, it is an abomination to wear a wet t-shirt of different cloths.

  4. po says:

    pete says:
    March 15, 2015 at 9:05 pm
    and know thee this, it is an abomination to wear a wet t-shirt of different cloths.
    ————————————–
    Pete, that is an abomination in ALL churches…including the mosques!
    But yeah, as Bob says! Including the mosques!

  5. “A God-fearing, God-honoring church in January does not sponsor this type of debauchery in March.”

    They wait until at least July. 🙄

  6. Seriously, here’s the deal. There is a very good reason to allow churches tax exemption and that is that the power to tax something is effectively the power to destroy something. Not taxing churches bolsters the strength of the 1st Amendment’s Establishment Clause. However, there are a lot more churches than this one that engage in activities that could and should preclude their tax exemption status. Sure, these guys are low hanging fruit, but in all honesty it doesn’t seem like the government enforces the laws around this issue with any kind of zealousness or consistency.

  7. Mike Spindell says:

    If Scientology and LDS can get tax exemptions, why not this church.\? Is the rule that as long as there is no sex involved it is a tax-exempt religion.

  8. Carlyle Moulton says:

    Why couldn’t this organization act as a traditional church, advocating votes for the Republicans and keep its tax exempt status.

  9. blouise17 says:

    Praise the Lord, BFM has been saved!

  10. nivico says:

    Guess that’s one way to get butts in the pews … nyuck nyuck nyuck

  11. Elaine M. says:

    Here’s another story for you:

    ‘Prosperity gospel’ pastor pulls online appeal for congregation to buy him a new $65 million jet
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2015/03/prosperity-gospel-pastor-pulls-online-appeal-for-congregation-to-buy-him-a-new-65-million-jet/

    Excerpt:
    Faced with a huge social media backlash after appealing to his parishioners to buy him a brand new $65 million Gulfstream jet, the head of the Creflo Dollar Ministries has taken his “Project G650″ donation page offline, reports WXIA.

    Earlier in the week, Pastor Creflo Dollar encouraged 200,000 of his followers to donate $300 towards the purchase of a Gulfstream G650 to replace the 30-year-old Gulfstream jet he had been using until it was damaged in London during an aborted take-off.

    “If all of our existing partners were to sow $300 each, from all over the world, we’d be able to acquire this jet in a very, very short period of time,” explained spokesperson Rick Hayes on the fundraising video posted online.

    Dollar came in for extensive criticism, with Kirsten West Savali of The Root pointing out that Dollar has a personal net worth of $27 million, “200 times more than the $29,640 average annual income in College Park, Georgia where he holds court.”

  12. Bob Kauten says:

    I don’t want to get into a protracted argument about this, but
    “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” is immediately violated when churches are declared tax-exempt.
    No law.
    I know that’s not how it turned out. Many subsequent rulings have supported tax-exemptions for churches.
    But tax-exemption is not consistent with the first amendment. Tax exemptions for churches is a law. There’s no requirement that they be charitable institutions, or be of any value to the community.
    We’ve just decided to foster religion, in this country. It’s a theocracy, mostly of the Christian flavor.
    I doubt that any proclaimed atheists, or Jews, have been president.
    That’s just what it is.

  13. Bob K.,

    Actually, the goal of the Establishment Clause is neither the promotion or hindrance of any particular creed by governmental action. By definition, a tax is a governmental action and one that can be used to promote or hinder activity of one group or another. According to IRS rules though, exemption comes with other conditions attached:

    – their net earnings may not inure to any private shareholder
    or individual,

    – they must not provide a substantial benefit to private interests,

    – they must not devote a substantial part of their activities to
    attempting to influence legislation,

    – they must not participate in, or intervene in, any political
    campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for
    public office, and

    – the organization’s purposes and activities may not be
    illegal or violate fundamental public policy.

    That these rules are not equitably enforced is apparent to even a casual observer, but where this group landed in trouble was they were effectively running a bar/nightclub without the proper permits (per se illegal) and upon further inspection other types of violations of IRS code may apply. But I think your point has some validity in re inequitable enforcement and a lot of that has to do with money and political campaigning. For example, in Germany Scientology has be outlawed as a criminal organization whereas here they are protected by the 1st Amendment and still enjoy tax exempt status. That? Is not a coincidence. Just so, many of the so-called “mega-churches” devote what some would consider a “substantial part of their activities to attempting to influence legislation” yet remain untouched. That does not change that there are a great many churches and religious organizations out there that are “doing it right”. The question is does inequitable enforcement merit a solution that is going to run headlong into an Establishment Clause issue if the tax exemption is done away with? Given the convoluted nature of the tax code to begin with, even if you started off with a ground floor “fair” proposition – say all churches and religious organizations regardless of size pay a proportional flat tax – how long would it be until the code around that is as full of holes and exceptions that benefit the wealthier and hinder the poorer like the current tax code regarding other businesses?

    I don’t think you can cure the ill you are seeing by doing away with the tax exemption without creating more harm than good, but I’ll stipulate that exemption enforcement leaves a lot to be desired.

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