Skip to comments.Holy Land Experience Wins Final Round of Property Tax Exemption Battle
Posted on 06/20/2006 12:56:24 PM PDT by dukeman
Orlando, FL - Governor Jeb Bush has now signed into law a bill that would grant theme parks that display, exhibit, illustrate and interpret biblical manuscripts an exemption from local property taxes. This is the second defeat for Orange County Property Appraiser Bill Donegan, who fought vigorously to tax the Holy Land Experience, a Christian ministry. Last year an Orange County Circuit Court ruled that under the then-existing law, The Holy Land Experience is exempt from property taxes. Orange County appealed the decision, but has now decided to dismiss its appeal. Liberty Counsel represents The Holy Land Experience.
The Holy Land Experience, located off I-4 in Orlando, is a living biblical museum that conveys its religious message through teaching, preaching, dramatic enactments, special music and performances, and multimedia presentations. The biblical museum contains a walk-through replica of the Holy Land, including a towering temple. The Scriptorium houses the largest private collection of ancient biblical manuscripts.
Orange County sought to tax the property, but in July of 2005 after four years of litigation, the Orange County Circuit Court issued an Order stating, "The property on which The Holy Land Experience sits is exempt from ad valorem taxation due to being used predominately for religious purposes and not for a profitmaking purpose." In November, Liberty Counsel filed a motion for contempt, requesting the Court to hold Mr. Donegan in contempt for refusing to abide by the Court's Order. Orange County appealed the Order and sought to impose almost one million dollars in back taxes. While the appeal was pending, the Florida legislature passed a bill that specifically exempts ministries like The Holy Land Experience. Following Governor Bush's signature this week, Orange County has now announced that it will withdraw its appeal and finally accept the judgment of the court and the new law.
Mathew D. Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel, commented on the case: "We are pleased that a five-year legal battle has now come to an end. Now The Holy Land Experience can focus on its Christian mission, rather than worrying about the next move of Orange County officials. The law, even before this new bill, clearly recognized The Holy Land Experience as tax exempt because it is a religious ministry. This battle had broad implications for religious ministries. Orange County sought to impose its own view of religious activities, and had it won, every religious ministry would be subject to the changing views of county officials searching for more tax revenue. The power to tax is the power to destroy, and had the Property Appraiser won this case, The Holy Land Experience would have been destroyed. We are happy to move forward."
My office is right next door to the Holy Land. But havent been there yet. They get pretty crowded during holidays and such but other times are slow.
They dont seem to be money hungry like the other theme parks in town.
You can't avoid death and ...
Well, death anyway.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death.
> "The property on which The Holy Land Experience sits is exempt from ad valorem taxation due to being used predominately for religious purposes and not for a profitmaking purpose."
A door has opened. I say as many private citizens as possible rush through. For example, homeowners. Relatively few use their homes to make profit. Many can be argued to be for predominantly religious purposes (married Christian couples... well, they are in a family sanctified by a religion; atheists are spending their time at home doing atheisticy sort of things, etc.). Eventually, get *all* property taxes done away with.
This can of worms is going to create some truly classic psuedo-religious cult compounds in the coming years.
Got to love Florida!