(above) Life Center Church in Panama City Beach, Florida, March 2015 (Photo:YouTube/GlobalNewsRoom)
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Written by Samuel Smith
A church on the gulf coast of Florida has lost its tax-exempt status after authorities discovered that its building was being used to host nude parties with “the sexiest ladies on the beach” and served as an after-hours nightclub to avid college party-goers visiting the town while on spring break.
Beginning on Feb. 28, the Panama City Church Life Center: A Spiritual Community, run by pastor Markus Bishop, opened its doors to the Spring Break crowd by hosting a week-long event, which has been labeled as “Spring Break Amnesia: The Tabernacle.”
According to a schedule for the tabernacle obtained by the Panama City News Herald, events hosted in the church included a “slumber” party with a dress code of pajamas and lingerie, an “anything but clothes” party, a “Mardi Gras” themed party where the schedule asks “what will you do for your beads?” The week-long event also included the “wet and wild” party, a rave-style event, and was capped off with an all-night-long party on Friday.
“This event is only for the people that are born partiers,” the schedule states. “When we say party all night long, this might not end till the sun comes up.”
An ATM was also placed outside of the church to provide those wishing to attend the events access to cash in order to pay the $20 donation the church charged to get in.
A sign posted at the entrance of the church stated “Admission is for a donation to the Life Center Church.” Additionally, a banner was posted outside the church that said: “iDrink.”
The Christian Post contacted the church and pastor Bishop for comment, but did not receive a respose at the time of publication.
The News Herald reported on Wednesday that the church lost its tax-exempt status as a result of the week-long event and the church’s practices are under investigation.
“A God-fearing, God-honoring church in January does not sponsor this type of debauchery in March,” Dan Sowell, the city’s property appraiser, told the News Herald.
Bay County Sheriff Frank McKeithen said that hosting such events in a church is a “blatant slap in the face” to taxpayers and law enforcement.
“They’re trying to get around the laws, and they’re using the church to get there,” McKeithen added.
The event’s promoters told the local NBC News station that the building acts as a church by day, and a “youth ministry” by night. The promoters also reasoned that since many of the bars and clubs in Panama City close by 2 a.m., the church served as a safe place for spring breakers to sober up until the morning.
In a post on his official Facebook page on Monday, McKeithen described the week-long atmosphere and insinuated that the church served more as a nightclub than a youth ministry, like its promoters claim.
“Spring Break 2015. … When you think you have seen it all, the right reverend Markus Bishop has now opened his church doors at The Life Center, A Spiritual Community. … However, the church is converted to a nightclub every night,” McKeithen writes. “You should be warned that it is X rated. You can even buy sexually explicit T-shirts at the [website.] Lets not forget how creative the reverend has gotten. Just in case you forgot your cash, there is an ATM machine located at the church entrance for your love offering. This is supposedly a youth ministry, but we will let you decide.”
One student from Kentucky who was in town on spring break, Jordy Brewer, told NBC that it’s shameful for the church to open its doors and condone this kind of immoral behavior.
“I feel it is an abomination,” Brewer stressed. “How can this be a house of the Lord but at the same time participate in so much sin?”
SOURCE: The Christian Post