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News Spreads Fast Re Fed. Church Seizure

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    J.A.I.L. News Journal Los Angeles - February 14, 2001 ____________________________________________________ Listen to HotSeat4Judges daily on Internet Radio
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 14, 2001
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      J.A.I.L. News Journal
      Los Angeles - February 14, 2001
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      News Spreads Fast Re Federal Church Seizure
       

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      Church seizure
      Federal marshals entered the church and physically removed those remaining.
      Marshals seize Baptist Temple
      Roger Harvey
      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.
           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 seizure.
          Then, around 8:45, marshals drove in and took control of the church.
          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 inside.
          While Marshal Frank Anderson read the court order, Reverend Greg Dixon and four other church supporters prayed.
          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 doing.”
          But moments after he got up, Reverend Dixon got into a brief shouting match with police.
      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 church property.
          There were no arrests and no one was injured in a seizure a federal judge ordered 91 days ago.
          “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 Anderson.
          Throughout the morning supporters gathered in a nearby parking lot where they symbolically draped a black cloth over their church sign and sang.
          It’s 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.
      Reverend Dixonl knelt and prayed as U.S. marshals entered the building.
          Bill Thornburg says, “It’s awfully hard to talk about, to think what you lost, what has been so precious to you.”
          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 seized.”
          It goes on to say that the U.S. marshals seized the church with ten people on the property.
          They also criticize the Indianapolis Police Department for blocking off the streets around the Temple.
      &nbs! p;   
          What’s next?

      —Kris Schubach
      Eyewitness News Reporter     The federal 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 supporters.
          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.
      —Thelma Vanhook
      Church member     Members of the congregation met at a Greenwood restaurant hours after the seizure to eat lunch, re-group and talk about the future.
          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 thing.”
          Reverend Dixon did guarantee there would be “another day in court,” although it’s unclear what if any appeals are left.
          In the meantime, Sunday services will be held at Manual High School beginning this Sunday and for the next several weeks.
          Church leaders will decide this weekend what their next course of action will be.


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