Update (11/1) - IBT files Stay with 7th Circuit Chief Justice
On Monday, Oct. 30, the Indianapolis Baptist (IBT) filed a Motion directly with Judge J. Flaum, Chief Justice of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to Stay an Order given by District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker, Indianapolis, on Sept. 28 for the church to vacate their property at high noon Nov. 14. Barkers order was to satisfy approximately $6 million in uncollected employee and FICA taxes including penalties and interest from 1987-93. Judge Barkers order said that the federal marshal is to use whatever force is necessary. The property, which was purchased with the tithes and offerings of Gods people include a sanctuary which seats 2000, educational facilities, four parsonages and 22 acres of land ten minutes from downtown Indianapolis. Even though the evidence shows that the taxes in question have been paid by those who serve the church, the Internal Revenue Service insists that it is the function of a New Testament Church to collect and pay taxes to the IRS. According to some First Amendment advocacy groups across the nation, this may be the first time that a church has ever been seized for alleged taxes and penalties.
The APPLICATION FOR EMERGENCY ORDER TO STAY JUDGMENT prepared by Attorney Albert F. Cunningham of the Biblical Law Center of Redding, CA., emphasized three main points:
1. There is a strong showing that IBT is likely to succeed on appeal;
2. IBT will suffer irreparable injury absent the grant of relief including depriving more than 1,000 congregants their chosen place to worship God. It would also deprive several hundred children (grades K-12) of a Christian education at Indianapolis Baptist School. Many have never known another school. If the church should prevail on appeal, there would be no way for IBT to ever recover the loss; and
3. The issuance of the grant of relief will not substantially injure the US government. The church property will still be here after the appeals process is over.
Considering the fact that the District Court in the Microsoft case granted a Stay pending appeal, it would be unconscionable for the Federal Courts to destroy a church and school ministry without giving opportunity for due process. This is all the more suspicious considering the fact that only approximately $200,000 is the alleged tax liability owed. The rest is penalty and interest. Also, it is most strange that according to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, the IRS has forgiven many large corporations in America untold millions in back taxes, but a church and school ministry must be destroyed without an opportunity of the most basic of rights….DUE PROCESS!