The Annandale, Minnesota-based You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, Inc. (YCR), run by Bradlee Dean and Jake McMillian is in trouble for tax evasion. Big shock when some fundamentalist group has that particular problem, huh? According to the Minnesota Independent, YCR “set up trusts with help from a ministry in Oregon which has been a target of the IRS investigations for setting up tax avoidance schemes all over the country.”
But this isn’t your typical tax evasion scheme. This one is a little weird:
Documents filed in Minnesota’s 10th District Court outline the arrangement set up by YCR with the help of Stoll. Bradlee Dean, whose real name is Bradley Dean Smith, and Jake McMillian, whose real name is Jake MacAuley, took classes from Stoll and paid him $6,500 to set up “established, exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable and assignable ministerial trusts” that would allow them to operate as a “‘free church’ that would be invulnerable to state regulation and control.”
How to you create a “free church” outside of state regulation and control? Easy! You become a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven.
As part of the deal, Smith was given an identification card from Stoll’s Embassy of Heaven that affirmed that, “On file is a signed statement by Bradley Smith renouncing allegiance to the world and declaring citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven.”
Announce your allegiance to the world…
If only it were that easy.
As a result, from 2003 to 2008, the group didn’t file its tax returns.
It’s an interesting stance and it doesn’t seem to go well with YCR’s avowed mission:
Mission Statement: Re-shaping America by re-directing our future generations to our Judeo-Christian/Constitutional foundation morally and spiritually through education and music.
Not very moral sounding to me. Is that what our foundations are? Lying and cheating? That’s a good Christian attitude to share through education and music.
I think most of us know that gambit wouldn’t carry us too far. The IRS is not going to be understanding about declaring that you don’t live in the U.S., or that you’re now a citizen of Zaphod VII or something. The Kingdom of Heaven isn’t going to cut it either.
Of course, as is so often true, that whole mess is not the limit of the YCR’s tax problems. As the Minnesota Independent reports,
The Minnesota Independent examined some of Smith’s financial dealings in 2009 when new IRS 990 forms showed that he and his band mates were taking a ministerial housing allowance despite his organization being a religious non-profit as opposed to a church. Those housing allowances are meant only for “duly ordained” members of the clergy. Smith has refused to answer questions related to his ordination or which church his organization belongs to.
Yeah…another no-brainer, you’d think. Either you are or you are not ordained, and if you are, you know who ordained you, and where and when. This seems like a good gig though, if you can avoid spending some time in jail later on. Maybe Christine O’Donnell could go this route to solve her residency and job-related issues. She’s already shown she’s willing to dip into the till.
In 2008, Smith and his sidekick MacAuley, greatly increased their compensation and housing allowance. According to the group’s most recent 990 filing, Smith was paid $51,303 salary and $45,887 for the housing allowance, raking in $97,190. MacAuley’s compensation was a bit less coming in at $66,897 in 2008.
See what I’m saying?
It will come as no surprise to anyone that the group has ties with the following individuals in the GOP:
Tom Emmer – gubernatorial candidate
Gov. Tim Pawlenty
Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer, former Secretary of State
Rep. Dan Severson
Rep. Michele Bachmann
They also kicked off a fund-raiser for Sarah Palin.
It’s a veritable rogue’s gallery. But the most important point here is that these people, and this non-profit, are part of a culture that seeks to shove their idea of morality down our throats. Listen to Dean’s own words about morality – the message he is pushing on children through comic books, and compare them to his actions:
Have you ever noticed that in America the youth have been taught to equate immorality (lawlessness) with sickness, rather than breaking of the Law with making bad choices? Lawlessness (sin) is moral, not physical. In other words, I can choose to obey and do the good, or I can choose to disobey and do the bad. I cannot choose to overlook the right choice, make the wrong choice, excuse myself from the consequence of that choice and say that I am sick for making it. You have the power to choose from the heart to do either the good or the bad, the right or the wrong, to obey or to disobey.
It’s hard to equate these words with pretending to be citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, and not subject to American tax laws for non-profits. I’ve heard of Republicans helping and receiving help from across state lines, but from the Kingdom of Heaven? Honestly, if Stoll’s Embassy of Heaven is what it’s advertised to be, if YCR is what it claims to be, Dean and the rest haves nothing to worry about, but I suspect as with most things fundamentalist, it’s a lot of smoke, mirrors, and hypocrisy.