Los Angeles - September 28,
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Judge Orders Church
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - In an
extraordinary clash between church and state, a federal judge Thursday ordered a
congregation to clear out of its church to satisfy a nearly $6 million debt to
U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker gave the Indianapolis
Baptist Temple until Nov. 14 to move out, after which the IRS will sell the
The church has been feuding with the IRS since 1984, when the
Rev. Greg Dixon, now pastor emeritus, ordained all church employees as ministers
and refused to withhold income and Social Security taxes. The IRS said the
unpaid taxes, penalties and interest total nearly $6 million.
``I'm not a
prophet, but I believe we're going to be in this building longer than Nov. 14,''
said Dixon's son, the Rev. Greg Dixon Jr., who is now head of the congregation.
``We've had deadlines before, and those deadlines have been pushed
The Dixons have proclaimed their case to be a test of religious
freedom, though numerous courts have upheld the application of tax laws to
Numerous anti-government activists, many of them with ties to
right-wing militia groups, have rallied behind the Dixons, who have said they
will not leave voluntarily.
One member of a Washington advocacy group
that monitors church-related topics said the order could be the first of its
``It's certainly the first time anything of this magnitude has
where you're dealing with millions of dollars and a basic conflict
whether churches should be required to pay these kinds of taxes,''
Joseph Conn of Americans United for Separation of Church and
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