"For Christians there's a higher law than a federal judge"

Radical right pastor rejected paying payroll taxes ordered by courts

April 16, 2002
By Rick Ross

According to the members of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple, they somehow represent the biblical story of Daniel facing a lion. They claim the lion is the federal courts. And that lion apparently roared on November 14, 2000 when U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker, ordered the church to vacate its property. But the supposed Daniel, Rev. Greg A. Dixon, leader of the church still insisted, "The Bible says 'When you've done all, stand. How can you be fearful over doing what's right?"

Dixon believes "what's right" is not paying his church's $6 million payroll tax debt, with interest and penalties. But the judge didn't agree and ordered U.S. Marshals to use "force as necessary" to seize church property. Church members were given 10 days to vacate the premises. The property will be sold to pay the tax bill. But Dixon still said he might not comply. He thinks the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the church's appeal.

The property seizure effectively ended a 16-year dispute. That dispute is a simple one. Churches are tax-exempt corporations, but they must withhold taxes for their employees. But Baptist Temple renounced its tax-exempt status years ago due to its deepening political activities. Church and state separation means that churches are not allowed to be both political and remain tax-exempt.

It seems the church came up with a ploy to avoid its taxes. Employees of the Baptist Temple like secretary Wanda Britt, simply paid their taxes personally, claiming they were "self-employed." Britt, a 42 year member said, "I don't know why we're being picked on. It's religious freedom...It's up to us to stand up for what's right."

Dixon claimed he would not "pastor in a church that is controlled by the government" and said, "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." He concluded, "I have to obey God; I have to obey the word of God. I'm certainly not interested in being a martyr, but certainly for Christians there's a higher law than a federal judge."

Note: This article is based upon "Ruling doesn't faze Baptist Temple" Indianapolis Star/September 29, 2000 By John Masson

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