Property Appraiser Will No Longer Pursue Controversial Pastor and Back Taxes

PANAMA CITY BEACH - A nearly 9-year-old battle between controversial pastor Markus Bishop and the Bay County Property Appraiser's office is over.

Dan Sowell says he will not appeal the latest ruling that finds Bishop's multi-million dollar home, which is located in The Preserve, a gated community in Panama City Beach, is a parsonage and therefore exempt from property taxes.

Bishop, who was the pastor of the now defunct Faith Christian Family Church, first sued the property appraiser's office in December 2004. Since then, Faith Christian went under and the bank foreclosed on the church and surrounding property.

The battle over the parsonage and property taxes waged on, despite the church being defunct. A local circuit judge twice ruled in Bishop's favor.

Sowell insists Bishops' home is not truly used for religious purposes. But three different attorneys told Sowell continuing to pursue the issue would be a waste of tax payer money. He called it a bitter pill to swallow.

Sowell must pay Bishop's $2,500 in court costs. Bishop, in turn, will drop his claim that his Church was unconstitutionally singled out for taxation.

If Bishop would have lost the court battle over his parsonage, he would have owed more than $400,000 in back taxes.

In June, Bishop told NewsChannel 7, in an exclusive interview, that he while he continues to follow Jesus, he now practices Buddhism and is a student of Maharishi Yogi, the founder of transcendental meditation. Bishop is currently pastor of a church called The Life Center where he says there are no rules,no religion, just love.