May 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Panama City Beach, Fla., officials recently ruled that a local church is actually a nightclub and pulled its tax-exempt status. 

The Life Center: A Spiritual Community held “Anything But Clothes” naked paint parties and advertised “slumber party Sundays” with lingerie-clad women. According to the Panama City News Herald, the “church” also charged a $20 entry fee that it called a “donation” and covered its walls with T-shirts that featured stick figures engaged in sex acts.

City officials got involved after the church began publicly displaying ads for iDrink, a cocktail recipe website.

“I’ve been in a lot of nightclubs and I’ve been in a lot of churches,” Panama City Beach’s police chief, Drew Whitman, told the News Herald. “That isn’t a church.”

On its website, Life Center now claims that it is “a drug and alcohol free community for the youth to go for spring break at night to interact with each other in a fun safe environment.” The facility is owned by Markus Q. Bishop, a former pastor. But Bishop, who once led the flock of Faith Christian Family Church, has legal troubles of his own; the News Herald also reported that he’s currently on probation after making sexual advances toward a minor girl.

City officials revoked Life Center’s tax exemption. It was unclear if the church also holds federal tax exemption.