Church Leaders Call Seizure a Betrayal
Baptist Temple had hoped President Bush, a Republican, would be more favorable to them.
Following are excerpts of an article under the above headline that appeared in the Indianapolis Star a day after the raid. As the days go by this will be possibly the most important story of all. Who, in fact, finally ordered the raid on the Baptist Temple?
The original article was written by John Fritze, Staff writer.
"Church leaders at the Indianapolis Baptist Temple felt more than sadness Tuesday when federal agents seized their sanctuary.
They felt betrayed by a president who they believe delivered neither conservatism nor compassion.
While the Bush administration made no specific promise to save the church-or even to reopen the case-many members thought they would be viewed more favorably by a president who recently announced a plan to allow religious organizations to compete for federal funds.
"This church is a predominantly Republican church," said the temple's senior pastor, the Rev. Gregory A. Dixon, a few hours after agents moved in.
"I feel betrayed because their rhetoric is cheap. They talk about civil justice...and then they turn around a seize a Baptist church."
Hope for a reprieve had been fortified when U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., a member of the House leadership, wrote a church supporter last month, expressing concern with how the government handled the case.
"It seems to shake the very foundation of the First Amendment to hear that a court has authorized an agency of the federal government to seize a church sanctuary and sell it to pay taxes." Blunt wrote to Mark Wilson of Springfield, Mo. "I will certainly be keeping this situation in mind as (budget) bills for these agencies come before Congress later this year."
Blunt refused to talk Tuesday about the correspondence or his involvement with the temple. But he stands by the letter, said his spokesman, Dan Wadlington.
"He's not (U.S. Attorney John Ashcroft, he's not the IRS), and we're not responsible for what they do," Wadlington said.
Wilson a longtime friend of the Dixons, had hoped the letter indicated some solution other than what occurred Tuesday morning. But Mindy Tucker, the chief spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Justice, said party politics had nothing to do with the seizure.
"It's a matter of the law." Tucker said, adding that many who have worked on the case are apolitical staff members.
"There are obviously new people that came into the process, but there are also people who have been around for a long time working on this," she said.
White House spokesman Scott Stanzel would not comment on Dixon's claim that the temple was betrayed and said only that the administration was pleased the operation went peacefully.
Just two months ago, Bush initiated a program that would allow religious and other private, community-based organizations to compete for billions of federal dollars to deliver services to the poor and others-a move that put many religious organizations in high spirits."
In the February 15 morning Star in an article that says the most likely buyer for the Temple is another religious organization by Terry Horne it says concerning this subject: "U.S. Marshal Frank Anderson said he made the decision to seize the church this week, though the operational plans were subject to review by Attorney General John Ashcroft and other top Justice Department officials."
Ed note-Bush's initiative is a law passed in 1996 by a Republican Congress called The Faith Based Initiative which calls for $8 billion dollars to be turned over to civic and religious organizations to do charitable work of various kinds. John Ashcroft who was a Senator at that time was the main architect of this legislation which is patently unscriptural and unconstitutional on its face. It will end up totally destroying the churches of America. Dan Coats of Indiana who was also a Senator and a Colleague of Ashcroft was one of his most prominent supporters. Ashcroft is an Assembly of God, Coats is a Baptist. 1600 preachers, many quite prominent including Jerry Falwell and Robert Shuler were in Washington D.C. three weeks ago to get in line to drink at Caesar's trough. This is the new Constantinism. Constantine the Great married the church in approximately 300 A.D. and christianized the Roman Empire. It ended in a State approved church, persecution for the true church, and eventually 1,000 years of what is now called the dark ages. Congress has legalized the "Social Gospel" and the Supreme Court by ruling against the Baptist Temple has outlawed the old time saving gospel of Christ.
We appreciate the support of Congressman Blunt from Mrs. Dixon's home state of Missouri. We also are thankful for the help of Mark Wilson the youngest son of Dr. and Mrs. Art Wilson who is this preachers home church pastor. It is a shame that some one in a far state would support the cause of religious freedom and yet we got virtually no help from the Indiana delegation in Congress. If we had received the same amount of support from Representatives Andy Jacobs, Julia Carson and Dan Burton along with Senators Richard Lugar, Dan Coats, and Evan Bayh the battle could have turned in favor of a free church. There is no doubt in our mind that the raid and seizure of the church could have never happened without at least the tacit approval of those named above. Steve Goldsmith, former Mayor of Indianapolis and now an advisor to President Bush in his new Faith-Based program did call our attorney Al Cunningham and told him that he had no prior knowledge of the raid.
On behalf of my father and the congregation of Indianapolis Baptist Temple, I would like to thank you for all the financial help we received in paying off our legal debts. We are forever grateful to those of you who came to our aid. God Bless.
Rev. Greg A. Dixon