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* Federal Marshals Seize Church

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    J.A.I.L. News Journal Los Angeles - February 13, 2001 ____________________________________________________ Listen to HotSeat4Judges daily on Internet Radio
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 13, 2001

      J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles - February 13, 2001
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      Federal Marshals Seize Church For Taxes

      INDIANAPOLIS, 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.

      The 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."

      Drake, 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 of God."

      -- 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 deal."

      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 God.

      "To have the IRS come in and seize the church's property, that is an
      extraordinary event unparalleled in American history," Hammar has said.

      Marshals seize Baptist Temple without trouble
      By Terry Horne
      The Indianapolis Star
      February 14, 2001
      Comment: from Richard Palmquist -- rpalmq@...
      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 Amendment.
      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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