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Indianapolis Baptist Church

Grey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey Indianapolis Baptist Church


First posted: Feb. 5, 2001
Last Updated: Feb. 13, 2001
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The Bible clearly tells Christians to a) respect the government and b) pay all taxes due. The Indianapolis Baptist Church refused to do either, reflecting a lack of wisdom, insight and spiritual maturity on the part of that church's leadership.

Christian orthodoxy (sound theology) leads to orthopraxis (correct behavior.) Aberrant behavior, as demonstrated by the Indianapolis Baptist Church, may therefore indicate the presence of unsound theology.

Bad doctrine produces bad fruit behaviorally (e.g., Mark 7:7-13; Col. 2:20-23; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; 2 Pet. 2:1; Rev. 2:14-15, 20, 24), which is as true for Christians as it is for cultists. As Van Baalen stated, 'If practice follows from theory, if life is based upon teaching, it follows that the wrong doctrine will issue in the wrong attitude toward God and Christ, and consequently in warped and twisted Christian life.'
Alan Gomes, ''Unmasking The Cults'' Zondervan, 1995, p. 47

A church or movement that persists in unsound practice - all or not supported by unbiblical and/or extra-biblical teachings - may be (or may eventually turn into) a cult of Christianity.

Federal marshals seized an Indianapolis church Tuesday, carrying out a judge's order to confiscate the property because of $6 million in years of back taxes and penalties.

Dozens of marshals swarmed the Indianapolis Baptist Temple around 8:30 a.m. (9:30 a.m. ET) and a helicopter hovered overhead during the peaceful seizure.

The Rev. Greg Dixon was holding a prayer service with about five members of the congregation -- including some who had been holding a vigil for nearly three months -- when the raid began. Dixon and the others refused to walk away from the church, so the officers carried them out on stretchers.

After resisting, for 16 years, a federal law requiring it to withhold taxes from employee paychecks, the Indianapolis Baptist Temple was ordered to forfeit its church building and other assets to pay $6 million in accumulated tax debt and fines.

The Sept. 28, 2000 ruling by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker ordered the conservative evangelical church to vacate its properties by Nov. 14 so the buildings could be sold at auction.

When that date arrived hundreds of church members and their supporters waited in the church for the marshals to come. But the U.S. Marshals Office took a cautious approach, seeking to ensure a peaceful end to the standoff that had been building for 16 years. And the church did have one last hope - an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. But on Jan. 16, 2001, the Court refused to hear the case.

The eviction order came after the church lost earlier appeals in a lawsuit brought by the government seeking foreclosure to pay the tax debt.

Although churches generally are tax exempt, if they have employees they are required by federal law to withhold federal income taxes from payroll checks, and to pay Social Security and Medicare taxes for each employee.

But the Baptist Temple has refused to do so since 1983 when the church's pastor, the Rev. Gregory J. Dixon, decided the church would break all ties with the government and no longer act as its agent in withholding taxes from its employees.

In 1983, after Dixon decided the church should break all ties with the government, the church dissolved its legal corporate status and began operating as an unincorporated church. From that point forward, the church paid no taxes and filed no tax forms with the Internal Revenue Service.

There are three federal employment taxes - the Social Security tax, the Medicare tax, and the normal income tax. According to federal law, employers must pay half of the applicable Social Security and Medicare taxes and must withhold from employees' wages the other half of the applicable Social Security and Medicare taxes, as well as all of the applicable normal income tax. Employers - even if they are not-for-profit religious organizations - are liable for both the taxes imposed directly on them and the taxes they are required to withhold from employees.

For several years after the Baptist Temple stopped paying taxes nothing happened, but eventually the IRS contacted the church about its failure to file returns.

On the nght of Nov. 14, more than 600 members and supporters waited in the church for the marshals to arrive. But the night passed without incident and several more days went by as supporters continued their vigil and the marshals stayed their hand.

Both sides wanted the standoff to end peacefully and had even talked about how that could be done.

On Jan. 16, 2001 the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the church's appeal. There were no more legal options remaining.

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See Also

» Court order to vacate (PDF file)


Grey Zone, Unsure, or Offkey Indianapolis Baptist Temple (Official site)


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First posted: Feb. 5, 2001
Last Updated: Feb. 13, 2001
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