Church May Be Taxed for Housing Politician

MERRILLVILLE, Ind. — A Roman Catholic church rectory in the northwest Indiana town of Merrillville might lose its tax-exempt status because a politician moved in to save money at the invitation of the pastor.

Deputy Lake County Assessor Terryl Bish has formally requested that the county auditor remove the tax-exempt status of the white brick, three-bedroom rectory valued at $179,000 that formerly served as the residence for priests at St. Joan of Arc Parish.

Lake County Commissioner Gerry Scheub and his wife moved from their home of 49 years in neighboring Schererville and into the rectory last October at the invitation of the Rev. Roy Beeching, a friend of Scheub and pastor at St. Join and nearby Sts. Peter and Paul Church. Beeching lives at the other parish’s rectory.

“If nothing else changes, this will go back on the property tax rolls,” Bish told The Times of Merrillville.

Ingrid Long, financial manager for St. Joan of Arc, sent County Attorney Paul Karras a letter this week confirming Scheub has been residing at rectory “as an acting caretaker.” She said it had been unoccupied since a previous pastor transferred to another parish.

Scheub, who will be 75 this fall, said he was trying to reduce his living expenses. He also owns a farm near Culver. He said he pays the church a monthly donation for use of the rectory and has painted it some and repaired the house’s plumbing. He declined to say how much he pays the church.

Bish said the rectory has had a religious exemption from property taxes in the past. State law forbids taxing church buildings housing rabbis, priests, preachers, ministers or pastors as long as the residence isn’t used to make a profit.

Karras has aggressively pushed to limit the growth in tax exemption property by religious groups and other nonprofits, saying it unfairly shifts the burden of supporting schools and other government agencies onto other property owners.

Anne Verbeke, coordinator of parish pastoral councils for the Diocese of Gary, said she was certain that the money Scheub pays the parish would cover the taxes. She said other vacant rectories have been rented out.

“You are probably going to see more of it when we have empty rectories as one priest is assigned to several parishes. The biggest issue we have is not leaving the house vacant because then it becomes a real problem,” Verbeke said.


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One Response to Church May Be Taxed for Housing Politician

  1. chris reuter says:

    If more and more people knew American history, this silliness would stop! Two of our Founding Fathers, John Hancock and Samuel Adams, were staying at the parsonage of the Reverend Jonas Clark at Lexington. Both were politicians! It was there at Lexington that the shot was heard around the world. The Founding Fathers didn’t put up with religious bigotry, and nor should we!
    Furthermore, if more people had known their American history decades ago, men like Lyndon Baines Johnson would have never been able to get away with creating a tax exempt status forcing churches to be silenced! Noah Webster said in his Public School Textbook, History of the United States, that;

    “When you become entitled to exercise the right of voting for public officers, let it be impressed on your mind that God commands you to choose for rulers “just men who will rule in the fear of God.” The preservation of a republican government depends on the faithful discharge of this duty; If the citizens neglect their duty and place unprincipled men in office, the government will soon be corrupted; laws will be made not for the public good so much as for the selfish or local purposes; Corrupt or incompetent men will be appointed to execute the laws; the public revenues will be squandered on unworthy men; and the rights of the citizens will be violated or disregarded. If a republican government fails to secure public prosperity and happiness, it must be because the citizens neglect the divine commands, and elect bad men to make and administer the laws.”
    -Webster, Noah. 1832. History of the United States, New Haven: Durrie & Peck, 1832), pp. 307-308, paragraph 49.

    Obviously, a great share of us have neglected our divine duty, elected bad men, and now we have a corrupted system. Getting back to the roots and faith of the Founding Fathers in my opinion, is the only way to stop this religious usurptation that is taking place across America.

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