Judge orders Indiana church to move out

In 1984, Greg Dixon, pastor of Indianapolis Baptist Temple, ordained all of the church's employees as ministers and stopped withholding income and Social Security taxes. The IRS has slowly been building to a crescendo. On Thursday, a federal judge issued the latest volley, ordering the congregation to move out of its church building and parsonage, which would then be handed over to the IRS in payment for nearly $6 million in unpaid taxes, penalties, and interest. "It's certainly the first time anything of this magnitude has occurred, where you're dealing with millions of dollars and a basic conflict over whether churches should be required to pay these kinds of taxes," Joseph Conn of Americans United for Separation of Church and State tells the Associated Press. (And that's the full quote. Usually you'd expect an Americans United quote to be something like "It's certainly the first time anything of this magnitude has occurred, and by the way, Pat Robertson is evil." But not this time. Maybe it's because the AP talked to Conn instead of AU head Barry Lynn. Anyway, back to the story … ) Dixon is predictably standing firm. "I'm not going to pastor in a church that is controlled by the government," he tells The Indianapolis Star. "I see this as a battle the Lord has given us. If we can win it, in the long run we will help all churches." We'll see what happens November 14. The U.S. Marshals Service is now authorized to use "force as necessary" to enter the church anytime after noon on that date. ( The court order is available in Adobe Acrobat format at the court's Web site.)

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