J.A.I.L. News Journal
Los Angeles - February
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Federal Marshals Seize Church
Feb.13 (UPI) - Federal marshals seized the
Indianapolis Baptist Temple for
back taxes Tuesday and peacefully
removed church members who were praying at
the time, ending a 91-day standoff.
"We didn't want anyone from our side
or the other side to get hurt," said Greg Dixon Sr., the elder of the pastors,
who was removed from the building on a gurney. Other church members who
refused to leave were taken outside on stretchers. No one was arrested and
the building was to be turned over to the Internal Revenue Service.
standoff at began Nov. 15 after church leaders refused to pay $6 million in
Social Security withholding, Medicare and income taxes and penalties. The
Temple stopped collecting taxes in 1984.
"I can't believe this is
happening," said Pastor Wiley S. Drake, pastor of First Southern Baptist
Church in Buena Park, Calif., who was at the Temple when the siege began. "I
can't believe that (U.S. Attorney General John) Ashcroft is doing this his on
his watch. He had every legal right to stop that."
interviewed by telephone in California, said he had sent letters to Ashcroft and
President Bush in January, urging them not to allow the first seizure of a
church by the federal government in U.S. history. His letter to Ashcroft
said his cousin, Susan, has asked Drake to discuss the Indianapolis Baptist
Temple situation with the new attorney general.
"This Church had been
targeted by the previous administration and needs to be allowed to continue the
50 years they have served in this community," Drake's letter to Bush
said. "Without executive intervention, I fear that the first Church in
America will be closed by the IRS. Even the Branch Davidians still own the
property and could rebuild if this situation ends with U.S. Marshals driving
this Church out of business..."
Dixon said he was disappointed that
Republicans had "trampled the First Amendment. They have desecrated a house
-- Copyright 2001 by United Press
International. All rights reserved.
Rev. Greg J. Dixon,
the pastor emeritus of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple said today, as
U.S. Marshals seized his church building, "We had a promise from the Bush
administration. We had every reason to believe there was a moratorium. ... They
were going to dismiss the case. We had a deal, and they welshed on the
Federal marshals seized a parsonage a few miles from the church on
Nov. 14. The judge's order had authorized marshals to seize the church property
by force if necessary.
The federal government until now had never seized
a church for failing to
pay taxes, said Richard Hammar, an attorney for the
Springfield, Mo. -based Assemblies of God church and an expert on churches and
tax law. Attorney General John Ashcroft is a member of the Assemblies of
"To have the IRS come in and seize the church's property, that is
extraordinary event unparalleled in American history," Hammar has
seize Baptist Temple without trouble
By Terry Horne
February 14, 2001
Attorney General Ashcroft
appears intent upon keeping his promise to the Senate. President Bush,
however, is now put in jeopardy of being questioned about his views on the
relationship between church and state.
Many view his "faith based government
funding" program as an attempt on his part for government to gain more power
over organized religion. With this move, Bush has moved even further outside the
borders of what Clinton and Reno had done to violate the First
It is clear from the facts of the
Indianapolis case that the taxes have been paid: not paid by the church but by
each of the church's employees, and that the seizure was an oppressive act
overreaching the authority of the federal government. The US Marshal in charge
of the Indianapolis office, himself a Baptist deacon, had until now refused to
act upon orders from Washington. Whatever caused that Marshal to change his
views must have been tremendously persuasive.
Let us not forget that this entire
saga is the doing of the federal courts. This now sets a precedent by court
order for the confiscation of any or all churches. Remember, the issue here was
not the failure to pay a tax, as all the taxes were paid by the employees. It is
just that the IRS didn't like the way the taxes were paid, i.e., they wanted the
church to take the money from their employees and turn it over to them.
This was the same issue faced by A.J. Porth in the 1960s in which he refused to
breach his contractual agreement with his employees and confiscate part of their
wages and turn it over to the IRS, making him a defacto tax collector for
the IRS. The IRS drug him into federal court, and the court put him in an
insane asylum as one who was crazy. This matter is the same situation with
the Indianapolis Baptist Temple, only the pastors are not being put in
an asylum as insane.
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