A Florida church lost its tax-exempt status this week after officials found out it was hosting nude parties and other events unbecoming of a religious institution.
The Life Center: A Spiritual Community in Panama City Beach was founded by the former pastor of Faith Christian Family Church, but the two churches' missions couldn't be more different.
Since February 28, The Life Center has turned into "Amnesia: The Tabernacle" at night, with promoters bringing salacious events to the space. The seven-day a week event schedule included "Anything But Clothes" paint parties, pajama and lingerie parties with the "sexiest ladies on the beach," and more for $20 per person, reports CBS News.
An ATM and banner for drink recipe and bartending app iDrink were also placed outside the church, which is located at 9721 Thomas Drive.
"I've been in a lot of nightclubs and I've been in a lot of churches," Police Chief Drew Whitman said. "That isn't a church."
The parties were advertised as being alcohol and drug-free, and all of the donations allegedly went back to The Life Center. According to the Bay County Sheriff's Office and Panama City Beach Police Department, however, the activities are unbefitting a church.
"They're trying to get around the laws, and they're using the church to get there," Sheriff Frank McKeithen said. He also called "Amnesia: The Tabernacle" a "blatant slap in the face" of taxpayers, and confirmed that law enforcement officials are investigating the church.
Pastor Markus Q. Bishop could not be reached for comment, but promoters referred to "Amnesia: The Tabernacle" as a youth ministry.
"The Tabernacle 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," Amnesia's website read. "iDrink sponsors this community reach out programme with their non-alcoholic bottled water product only. We thank all of our patrons that have attended and will be attending our safe environment."
Bishop will now have to pay taxes on the property.
"A God-fearing, God-honouring church in January does not sponsor this type of debauchery in March," property appraiser Dan Sowell said.