Illinois Man Calls Home a Church, Saves $80K in Taxes

Locals suspicious of religious conversion
By Dustin Lushing,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 18, 2008 11:22 AM CDT
Hands in prayer   (Carlos E. Santa Maria, Shutterstock)
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(Newser) – An Illinois man has declared his home a church, knocking $80K off his property taxes in the bargain, the Chicago Tribune reports. George Michael says he got an online pastor's degree and transformed his $3 million lakefront estate into a house of worship so his disabled wife and daughter could attend Armenian services without traveling. But many locals are angered over the loss of tax revenue, and not convinced of the, shall we say, purity of his religious motives.

The village of Lake Bluff is fining Michael $115,000 for failing to obtain permission to start a church, which could spark a court battle. "He's a devoutly religious man, as is his family, and this is the best and only way for them on a weekly basis to practice their faith," said his attorney. "It's a honkin' house," said the town assessor who recently appraised it.