Faith Baptists in California face the threat of removal from their homes, after a local church, Evangelical Church of Scientology, announced it was moving its headquarters to a nearby state.
The church is based in Clearwater, Florida, but is now located in a former gas station and convenience store in Los Angeles.
The move was announced on Tuesday, June 6, with a press release from the church’s new CEO, John C. McGinn.
“The new headquarters at the Lake Elsinore Community Church will give us the space to be able to be more visible and more welcoming,” McGinn said in a statement.
“We will continue to focus on being a welcoming and accepting church that celebrates the life of Jesus Christ and embraces everyone.”
The announcement comes as the church faces increasing pressure from the Trump administration to remove the church from its tax-exempt status, after it was found to be using church funds to pay for trips for its clergy.
A lawsuit filed by a California nonprofit group, the California Family Council, is seeking to prevent the move.
In March, the state House passed a bill that would allow the IRS to revoke the church church’s tax-exemption status.
A letter signed by the governor, Assemblyman Steve Glazer, and Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, a Democrat, states that the church is in violation of California law, which requires tax exempt entities to disclose their sources of funding.
“This is an effort by Evangelicalism to circumvent the California Tax Code by using a tax shelter,” the letter states.
“Evangelicalism claims it is an ‘evangelically based’ church and uses the tax code to circumvent its tax exempt status.”
McGinn, who is a member of the California State Board of Supervisors, has previously expressed his support for the church and said that the move would benefit his church.
In May, McGinn told The Associated Press that the tax-advantaged church would have to be relocated to an alternate location in order to receive tax exemptions.
He said the church has not yet received the necessary approvals.
“I’m sure they’ll be looking at that, and we’ll have to see how that all works out,” McGinty told AP.
“It’s a very interesting process that we’re going through.
I know that this is a church that’s been around for a very long time, and so we’ll see.”
The church previously held weekly service in the parking lot of the Lake Shore Drive parking lot in Clearlake.
It had planned to relocate to a new building in Los Feliz, but the city and the county of Los Angeles said they would not approve a new location.
McGintry told the AP that the decision to move was a difficult one.
“There’s so many issues that we have to consider and address, including tax exempts and how much of our income we are going to get in tax exemption,” McGinchy said.
“Our mission is to be a positive force in the world.
We want to serve and we want to help others.”
McGintys decision to relocate the church came after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor, the county’s highest elected official, wrote a letter to McGinn and the other leadership at the church, saying that they were “under the impression that you had been the most cooperative and helpful of all of our county’s leaders.”
The letter said the board was troubled that the new location was not being fully reviewed for tax exemption, and that the county had no plans to change the churchs tax-deductible status.
“After a very difficult process, we are still disappointed that you are not actively pursuing tax exempt purposes and have not met with us to determine if we are entitled to exemption,” the board wrote.
“Instead, you have chosen to move the church to a location that is more convenient for your congregation.”
McGinny told AP that he and his staff were not surprised by the board’s decision to write the letter.
“At the end of the day, this is the church that is the foundation of our mission,” McGinney said.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the letter was sent to McGinvy because “he is the only person that has been a part of the community and has worked closely with the board to ensure that our mission was achieved.”
McGINTY’S HISTORY As the pastor of the Clearlake Church of Scientology in Southern California, McGinity began as a minister in 1986.
He moved to Clearwater in 1987, and founded the church in 1996.
The New York Times reported in 2015 that McGinacy was involved in Scientology for almost 30 years.
In 2007, he became the president of the International Federation of Scientologists.
The Times also reported that McGinn became the head of the L.A. branch of the church after the death of its previous president, Jerry Miscavige.
The Church of Satan