While many churches may ask you to bare your soul, one institution in Panama City, Florida is asking folks to bare it all, local police say. And with promotion of nighttime events dubbed “Anything But Clothes” and “Lingerie Party,” the Bay County property assessor agreed, removing the tax-exempt status on Life Center Church’s property on March 10, NBC’s local WJHG Channel 7 reported. (See video of its newscast below.)
Life Center has promoted “Spring Break Amnesia” events on a website since Feb. 28, and which include themes of:
- “Wet n Wild” (with promotional taglines such as “…a little Twerkin’!”)
- “Anything But Clothes” (“Bare as you dare to attend”)
- “Mardi Gras” (“What will you do for your beads?”)
- “Slumber” (“a PAJAMA event hosted by the sexiest ladies on the beach!!”)
Raves are also included on its schedule, as are frat parties that are depicted in a toga-like theme. The cost for entry is $20 each night.
After county Sheriff Frank McKeithen and other authorities began delving deeper, based on public promotion of the events with an “iDrink” banner right in front of the church, the “Spring Break Amnesia” website has been slightly modified, and now includes disclaimers regarding sex and nudity. Previously, Panama City News Herald reports, the site was even more risqué, and offered sale of t-shirts that depicted oral sex.
The interior of the facility itself still bears such signage, however, along with others that read “I hate being sober.” No alcohol is sold on the premises, a new entry on the website says.
Markus Q. Bishop, owner of the Life Center and former pastor of Faith Christian Family Church, is no stranger to local authorities; he’s currently on probation for making sexual advances on a 16-year-old female, the News Herald says.
Bishop had previous differences with the county assessor, as well, when in 2004 he successfully claimed his private residence – a 10,000 square foot mansion – was a part of his church, thus exempting it from property taxes.
Here’s Channel 7’s report: