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News Spreads Fast Re
Federal Church Seizure
|Station Home Page & More Local
entered the church and physically removed those
|Marshals seize Baptist
|INDIANAPOLIS – Federal
marshals made history in Indianapolis. For the first time they seized a
church because of a tax debt. We’ve watched this story for months now,
Tuesday morning federal marshals moved in.
Then, around 8:45,
marshals drove in and took control of the
|| AUTHORITIES CALLED IT a very calm,
organized civil seizure.
Eyewitness News first
learned of the marshals coming before the crack of dawn.
||Roger Harvey reports on the
Eyewitness News had exclusive video
from inside the church. Our photographers and a writer from the
Indianapolis Star camped inside with parishioners for 91 days,
waiting for this day to come.
An alarm sounded
the arrival of the U.S. Marshal’s office. And as they moved in through a
side door an Eyewitn! ess News camera captured pictures
While Marshal Frank Anderson read the
court order, Reverend Greg Dixon and four other church supporters
Officers carried them out on stretchers
when they refused to leave on their own. As Reverend Dixon was escorted
through the police barricade, he prayed for the authorities. “Forgive
them, for they do not know what they are
But moments after he got up, Reverend
Dixon got into a brief shouting match with
Rich Reeve reports on
reaction to the seizure.
That was the only
flare up. More than 80 members of the U.S. marshal’s team moved in
quickly, taking over the church and several other buildings on the 22-acre
There were no arrests and no
one was injured in a seizure a federal judge ordered 91 days
“A lot of people would ask, ‘Why not go in
earlier?’ And if there is a doubt whether someon! e could get hurt, ‘Why
not wait?’ And that’s what we did, and I did what my judgment told me, and
the operation was successful,” says U.S. Marshal Frank
Throughout the morning supporters
gathered in a nearby parking lot where they symbolically draped a black
cloth over their church sign and sang.
clear the church members are prepared to stay together and move their
worship to another place.
Pastor Dixon says,
“They can take our building, but they can’t take congregation, and our
people have been unified and we are proud of them and we’ll regroup and we
will go on from here.”
After marshal’s moved in
church members gathered at a Greenwood restaurant. Dozens of people met
for lunch to talk about the future of their church and how it felt to see
their church taken from them.
Bill Thornburg says, “It’s awfully hard to talk
about, to think what you lost, what has been so precious to
Dixonl knelt and prayed as U.S. marshals entered the building.
Ed Chandler adds, “It’s a sad day in
America to see the religious liberty is now dead in America today. We are
officially a communist country.”
They may not
have a building or an office now, but their web site is up to date.
Baptist Temple leaders updated their message on the Internet just minutes
after federal marshals moved in. The headline reads “IBT
It goes on to say that the U.S.
marshals seized the church with ten people on the
They also criticize the Indianapolis
Police Department for blocking off the streets around the
Eyewitness News Reporter
government may own their building, but members of the Indianapolis Baptist
Temple say they are still a church.
In a matter
of minutes, federal marshals took over the Baptist Temple, marking the end
of a three month wait, but not the end of the fight, say church
Bill Thornburg says, “I haven’t
given up yet. God’s still on the throne. We still can be vindicated.”
We'll all stand together.
This has drawn us closer.
Members of the
congregation met at a Greenwood restaurant hours after the seizure to eat
lunch, re-group and talk about the
Thelma Vanhook was one of those at the
restaurant. “I think it will stand. We’ll all stand together. This has
drawn us closer.”
Ed Chandler believes “it will
have to go on as an underground church now as soon all true ... Christian
churches in America will.”
As for this church,
the property along with the parsonage seized last fall will be turned over
to a receiver issued by the federal court. That receiver acts as landlord,
maintaining the property.
“Religious freedom is
more important than that building.” Despite losing his south side church,
Pastor Greg Dixon, like his congregation, isn’t ready to admit ! defeat.
“I think there are people all over the city that are looking for a
congregation. If we move to those areas (it will be a) positive
Reverend Dixon did guarantee there
would be “another day in court,” although it’s unclear what if any appeals
In the meantime, Sunday services will
be held at Manual High School beginning this Sunday and for the next
Church leaders will decide this
weekend what their next course of action will
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