Indianapolis Baptist Temple Owes No Taxes
I am writing this letter in response to the editorial, the opinion poll and the cartoon concerning the Indianapolis Baptist Temple and me as the Pastor of the church on Saturday, October 7, 2000.
First of all, it is impossible for one to form a logical and correct opinion without knowing the true facts. Secondly, it is impossible to know the true facts unless one is willing to take the time to ask the right questions. This certainly takes time and effort in the busy world in which we live, not only for the press but also for the citizen.
The truth is our case is not about the validity of the income tax system. Approximately 60 of our ministers have been audited by the Internal Revenue Service since 1996 and passed. I personally have been audited twice and have passed both times. However, the Internal Revenue Service wants to keep these facts a secret in order to keep public opinion against us and on their side while they do their dirty work in destroying a 50 year old church.
The truth is all churches that are “Public Charities” as distinguished from the New Testament Church, as 501(c)3 tax exempt business organizations, are obligated by statute to withhold and remit taxes to the Internal Revenue Service on behalf of all their employees. These religious business organizations (churches), for government benefits, have agreed up front to obey and espouse public policy even if it is contrary to the Holy Scripture. Maybe this is why we do not hear much preaching against abortion these days.
The truth is there are tens of thousands of ministers throughout this county, city, state and country that pay their personal taxes just like our ministers do. Everyone of these ministers should stand up and say, “enough is enough”. Most ministers have always been self-employed and most still are.
The truth is the government is not only telling the members of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple how to worship but is dictating what percentage of tax to pay on behalf of its ministers. Today our church is being told to pay income, social security and Medicare taxes. Tomorrow your church maybe told to pay property tax, sales tax or maybe a tax will be levied on your church’s profits at the end of the year. My question is, where will it all stop? “The power to tax is the power to control.”
The truth is the Indianapolis Baptist Temple is supported by tithes, offerings and gifts only. The Indianapolis Baptist Temple is not a 501(c)3 tax exempt organization. We do not have a federal ID number nor can our members deduct their giving to the church from their 1040 form. We take nothing from government and as a result the church owes government nothing but our prayers.
The truth is our message and cause should be the message and cause of every gospel preacher. Our case is not only a First Amendment case, “Congress shall make no laws establishing religion nor prohibiting the free exercise thereof”, but it is also a First Commandment case, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me”. Jesus said it like this, “You cannot serve two masters…”. The Sacred Scripture is the final authority for the church, not the Internal Revenue Service code. Please remember if the First Amendment does not protect our faith it does not protect yours. Also, no where in the Bible does it command the church to pay a tax. Maybe individuals but not the church.
The truth is for the church to comply with an order of a Federal Judge that is contrary to the Sacred Scripture would be disobedience to God. Daniel, when he went to the lions den for praying, understood this principle and so should the modern day Christian and pastor.
The truth is nothing that belongs to God should be given to Caesar. God’s church is holy, sacred and should be treated with greater respect.
The truth is our ministers and members have a right, not only as tax payers to use the roadways, libraries and other services provided by government, but we have the right like other Christians to assemble for the purpose of worship according to the dictates of our heart. This is what America and freedom are all about.
The truth is the Indianapolis Baptist Temple should not leave, they should stay.
Both the Clinton and Bush Administrations Began with an Assault on Religion
On January 20, 1993 William Jefferson Clinton was sworn in as the 42nd President of the United States, on February 28 his Attorney General Janet Reno personally ordered Federal Agents to begin what would be a 51 day siege of the Branch Davidians in Waco, Texas that ended in the fiery deaths of 86 members of this Seventh Day sect including many women and children. On January 20, 2001 George Walker Bush was sworn in as the 43rd President of the United States, on February 13 his Attorney General John Ashcroft personally ordered the raid on the Indianapolis Baptist Temple in Indianapolis, Indiana that resulted in worshipers being hauled out of a prayer meeting, the buildings padlocked and eventually sold and the sanctuary bulldozed to make room for a Charter School where a Christian School once stood with several hundred enrolled. It should be noted that both men put their hand on the Holy Bible as they took the oath to uphold the Constitution of the U.S. which says, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion nor prohibit the free exercise thereof” and yet Mr. Ashcroft has admitted that destroying a Christian church was his first act after he took office.
Mr. Ashcroft devoted six pages of his recent book Never Again to the Baptist Temple events. The following article written by Pastor Robert McCurry of Sharpsburg, Georgia sets the record straight. We are reprinting this excellent article in this issue:
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft Maligns Indianapolis Baptist Temple in New Book By Robert McCurry
Former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft has written a book entitled Never Again- Securing America And Restoring Justice (Center Steel, 2007). He devotes seven pages of his book to what he describes as “a sixteen-year dispute between the Indianapolis Temple and the Internal Revenue Service.” Since he, as U.S. Attorney General, knew the truth about this “dispute” it is amazing to see that his remarks are marred by a number of deliberate egregious untruths and distorted personal representations that are apparently intended to malign the Indianapolis Baptist Temple. (ibid pp 93-100)
Here is a list of these egregious untruths and distortions:
One, Ashcroft accuses Indianapolis Baptist Temple of “tax evasion.” This is untrue. The Internal Revenue service never accused Indianapolis Baptist Temple of “tax evasion.” Where is Ashcroft’s evidence of such a charge?
Two, Ashcroft correctly states: “The church . . . stopped withholding federal income tax, Social Security, and Medicare taxes from the paychecks of its employees….1 The employees paid their own taxes on the money they received from the church.” This was the crux of the controversy. The IRS alleged the church failed to collect and remit these referenced taxes, but Ashcroft acknowledges that these referenced taxes were paid by those who “received money from the church.”
Three, Ashcroft states: “The church itself continued to accrue back taxes, penalties, and interest . . .” This is untrue. Indianapolis Baptist Temple was nontaxable and had no tax liabilities in any amount.r others.” This is a ludicrous statement designed to malign the character and integrity of Dr. Greg Dixon. The same statement can be made of President George Bush or any other leader. But why make such a statement when there was no evidence or even suspicions of such a probability? The answer is obvious.
Two, Ashcroft implies that Indianapolis Baptist Temple was similar or akin to the Branch Davidians who were accused of hoarding weapons, World Trade Center Terrorists, Oklahoma City Bomber Timothy McVeigh, and the militia movement at large in America. The answer is obvious.
Three, Ashcroft implies that Indianapolis Baptist Temple was not a people of peace and had no respect for authorities; protested and acted with violence to further their religious views; was similar to those who bomb abortion clinics. Why make such comparisons and raise such suspicions when there is no evidence to substantiate these things? The answer is obvious.
Some astounding and alarming statements made by Ashcroft:
One, Ashcroft admits that the government seizure of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple’s properties was “the first incident in U.S. history in which a church was seized by the IRS for tax reasons.”
Two, Ashcroft admits that he sacrificed the congregation of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple to prove that he was sincere at his Senate confirmation hearings. “For all the fuss during my confirmation hearings by the ACLU and other liberal groups fretting whether or not I would uphold the law in cases that touched on matters of faith, hardly a word was reported when the Christian attorney general enforced the law in the church tax evasion case. “
Three, Ashcroft, a professing Christian and an Assembly of God lay preacher, admits that he used his power as the U.S. Attorney General to enforce his religious beliefs. “I was deeply concerned over the standoff. Yet on the other hand, Christians obey the law and ‘render to Caesar that which belongs to Caesar.’ In other words, pay your taxes! The Indianapolis Baptist Temple defied that scriptural injunction as well as the law of the land. And I was sworn to uphold that law.”
Four, Ashcroft is double-tongued as illustrated by the following: “He complicated his already controversial appointment as Attorney General of the United States, when he spoke at Bob Jones University in Greenville, South Carolina. In this speech, Attorney John Ashcroft told the students the historical facts ‘that America’s greatness stems from the triumph of ‘eternal authority’ over ‘civic authority’ [and] said the United States was founded by spiritual patriots who bucked the king of England’s tax collectors by saying, ‘We have no king but Jesus’”. (One Nation Under God, Dr. David C. Gibbs, Jr. President Christian Law Association With Jerry Newcombe, Christian Law Association, 2003-06, p 317).
Interestingly, Ashcroft applauds the “spiritual patriots who bucked the king of England’s tax collectors” for objecting to individual taxation and even commends them for proclaiming, “We have no king but Jesus.” But in contradistinction, he applauds America’s “tax collectors” for prosecuting Indianapolis Baptist Temple and seizing church properties for alleged taxes it did not owe. He further condemns Indianapolis Baptist Temple for its stand and proclamation that Jesus Christ is the sole Lord and Head of His Church and the IBT congregations position that “We have no King but Jesus!”
Five, Ashcroft admits that it was his decision to seize the church. “The night before we planned to make a move on the church, we received word from the White House: they wanted to send a representative to negotiate with the church leaders. I thought that was a bad idea and told the White House so . . . I was finally able to convince the White House . . . Late that night, the White House dropped their objections to our recommendation, and our plan proceeded. ‘If you want to do this, the burden of responsibility is on you,’ they said. . . . I gave the order to go ahead at dawn the next morning. Fully armed U.S. marshals stormed the church, executing the plan perfectly”. George W. Bush was President at that time.
Six, in essence Ashcroft says that Indianapolis Baptist Temple is unlike Christ and he slanders pastors, churches, and Christians in general who believe that Jesus Christ is the sole Lord and only Head of His Church.
It will be wise for every pastor and church in America to remember: What civil government can do to one pastor and church in America it can — and eventually will — do to every pastor and church in America!
Wake up, preachers! Wake up, Christians! Wake up, America!
Robert McCurry is the former pastor of the Heritage Baptist Church of Sharpsburg, Georgia and is the Editor of the outstanding newsletter entitled The Wake Up Herald. Pastor McCurry may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Pastors and Congregation of IBT owe a great debt to Bro. McCurry for the many hours that he has given through the years at his own expense on behalf of our church without remuneration.
1The position of IBT throughout their court case was that those who ministered at the church in whatever capacity were not employees as defined by the Internal Revenue Code, but rather ministers as defined by the Holy Scriptures exercising their spiritual gifts in the ministry of the Lord’s church for love gifts that the church was able to provide. There was even an understanding that if the church did not have the funds that they would not receive their love gifts, or they might be late in receiving them which did happen through the years.
Beginning in 1984, after the church stopped operating as a legal entity such as a corporation or unincorporated association, it no longer withheld taxes of any kind on the “employees”, which they were when the church was incorporated, including FICA taxes.
At that point if they believed they had a tax liability, they paid their own and the record shows that as Ashcroft said in his book, all taxes were paid. If in fact all taxes were paid, how could the church have a $6 million tax liability including penalty and interest? At least three times, in face to face meetings, we told the IRS agents that all taxes had been for the assessment period. They also audited approximately fifty of our ministers and verified that it was true. Now it stands to reason, that if all taxes were paid, there could be no tax liability on the part of the church. But because our educational ministry had not signed the FICA tax exemption form, and we had not collected the tax, their position was, we had broken the law. However to do either on the part of the church would have not only violated the scriptures concerning the Lordship of Christ over the church, but also would have run roughshod over the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions in the area of the Religious Liberty clauses.