It is hard to believe that ten years have flown by this quickly since that fateful, cold day ten years ago on Feb. 13, 2001, when Federal Marshals crashed into the sanctuary of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple, carried out those of us who were praying at the altar in front of the church auditorium, padlocked the doors, and turned the property over to a receiver, who eventually sold $6 million worth of property for $1.5 million to the Chrystel House Foundation for a Charter School.
Fencing and a sign warn onlookers away from the Baptist Temple
after it was seized by federal marshals on February 13, 2001
Ten years, in a sense, is nearly half a generation. Our seventeen-year-old granddaughter Hannah was only seven at the time. Our grandson Hudson was six, our granddaughter Erika would have been four, and our twin grandsons, Elliott and Wesley, were only two. We have only three older grandchildren that have any knowledge of those momentous events. And, of course, there are many that are members of the Baptist Temple now who were not there at the time.
So, we are going to use this issue of The Trumpet to go back down memory lane and try to recreate The Day That Religious Liberty Died in The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave. The lead article in this issue is the front page article that was in the January – February 2001 Trumpet:
Indianapolis Baptist Temple Raided by Federal Marshals
At approximately 8:30 AM, February 13, 2001, the 92nd day that the congregation of the Indianapolis Baptist Temple had occupied the church facilities since Judge Sarah Evans Barker gave the order to vacate the property at high noon November 14, Federal Marshals, under the direction of Frank Anderson, carried out a well-planned raid on the church. It took 209 years since the ratification of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution for such an event to happen for the purpose of collecting taxes, according to historians in local universities.
U.S. Marshals forced their way through a side door and came into the auditorium. Approximately 30 people had slept at the church over night, but several of those had left for work or other duties by the time that the Marshals came. The Marshals were backed up by the Indianapolis Police Department directed by Police Chief Jerry Barker, who handled traffic and crowd control off of the church property. In a press release, the Marshal gave special thanks to Chief Barker for his assistance. Altogether there were 85 federal officers, including ATF and other "feds," who participated in the raid. Among the Marshals were several from SOG (Special Operations Group) who normally handle anti-terrorist and hostage situations. Several snipers were posted on the roof of the Big K-Mart across from the church and also on the roof of IBT. Several news helicopters circled the area.
Federal marshals remove Dr. Dixon from the Baptist Temple on a gurney as Pastor Greg A. Dixon follows on foot
I had been up until well after midnight talking to Pastor Greg A. Dixon and our attorney, Al Cunningham, on the phone from California, so I arose later than usual. I had been sleeping at the church since before Christmas. When I walked through the foyer, I saw a maroon jeep blocking the driveway that links the church to Highway 31 in front of the K Mart. I knew instinctively that this was it. Then, Pastor Ellery Hunsley told me that there was a lot of activity outside and immediately started the internal siren, which was to warn anyone inside to come immediately to the church auditorium. Channel Thirteen's cameraman, Dan Gadberry, was there as he had been almost from the beginning, keeping watch through the night. Normally, he would have been gone by then, but he received a call at 8:1 0 from his station telling him to stay there. We learned later that Channel 6 had gotten a report at 8 AM that the raid was on. Indianapolis reporter Terry Horne was also inside. Photographers Seth Rossman from AP and Frank Espich from the Star had been there all night, as they had been for much of the siege. Paul Pogue from Nuvo, an Indianapolis weekly reporter who had written the really first fair articles about the attack on the church by the IRS, missed it because even though he had slept on the floor for many nights, he apparently didn't believe his source who had told him that this was the day for the raid. His friend had been wrong before. He did get there in time to take pictures as they carried us out.
When I saw the Marshals appear at the back side door of the auditorium, my mind quickly went back to October 18, 1982, in Louisville, Nebraska when 18 police of different jurisdictions came into the Faith Baptist Church and carried 100 of us out after an all night prayer meeting. The issue then was an uncertified church school. The same issue has risen again. Who will be the Lord of the church? God or government?
As we did in Louisville, those of us at the altar began praying as loud as we could until they picked us up and put us on gurneys and rolled us out. Softest ride that I've ever had. Obviously the federal government has more money than the states, so they can afford "Cadillacs" for these occasions. As a whole, the Marshals treated us very kindly and with great respect. Although Pastor Robert McCurry said that when he saw the pictures on the internet of the Marshals inside the church, it was a most eerie and chilling sight. It seemed to me that they realized that this was not just an ordinary raid. The only ugly situation involved an epileptic lady member of our church who was not allowed to cross the barrier back to her home across from the church. She had left to walk her two dogs before the raid began. Her brother had to come and take her away so they wouldn't arrest her. They told him that anyone could leave their homes but could not return until 2 PM. They did allow him to take the dogs home. In these times, animals seem to have more rights than humans.
Pastor Greg A. Dixon was not there when the raid began. He had slept there as he had for many nights but had left to take his daughter Hannah to school. He wasn't concerned, however, because in the last meeting with the Marshal, he had told him that if he was not there when they came, he would send a car for him. The Marshal must have forgotten, because when he got back to the church, the raid was in full sway. The pastor started toward the church and was stopped by a Marshal. The Pastor asked him if he was a member of a certain fundamental church in the area. The Marshal refused to answer him, which confirmed what we had heard. Possibly this is the reason that the pastor of that nearby church had not supported us in our battle. Pastor Dixon told him that his church didn't collect and pay the Social Security tax either, but the Marshal remained silent. Then as the Pastor began walking forward, he told the Marshal that he would have to arrest him, but that he was going into the church and he began to walk forward again. When they tried to stop him again, he sat down in the middle of the street and said, "Go ahead, arrest me." At that point they allowed him to continue into the church auditorium. He immediately went to the platform and ordered the Marshals out, and as the high priest had warned King Uzziah of Israel many centuries ago, he told them that they had invaded the sanctuary of God At that moment, they were ready to wheel me out, so he walked behind us to the K-Mart lot where he continued to give interviews to many of the press that had gathered. A Marshal asked me for the key to my car and drove it to the K-Mart rather than impounding it, for which I was appreciative.
Pastor Greg A. Dixon ordered the marshals out of the house of God
After the raid in Waco, it was an ominous sight to see the ATF flag raised in triumph over the charred ruins as if to say, "We won." As we looked toward the church, we noticed that one of the marshals had raised the American and state of Indiana flags back to full mast from where we had lowered them to half mast some weeks before in memoriam over the loss of religious liberty in our beloved land. It seemed that it was their way of saying, "We won." But we know who really wins in the end. The account is in the last chapter of the book, and we've read it. We also know that, "He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh... " (Ps. 2:4.)
In just a few minutes, scores of church members, friends, neighbors, and onlookers gathered to watch the proceedings. A man from another church in the area who had supported us many days went to a fabric store nearby and bought a long piece of black cloth. Bro. Hunsley and Greg Dzula, another one of our pastors, draped it as a huge shroud over the sign on the highway. Then Bro. Hunsley preached a powerful impromptu sermon to scores of people that stood around while media of all types filmed it.
From there, approximately 200 members and supporters gathered at the Jonathan Byrd's Cafeteria where we were given a private room to eat and fellowship. We rejoiced together that we as the disciples of our Lord had also been counted worthy to suffer shame for His name's sake. Over 400 met at the cafeteria on Wednesday night in one of the greatest services that I have ever experienced. Connie Stephens, who can no longer serve in our children's ministry, sang Palms of Victory amid great shouts and tears. On Sunday the church met at 10 AM in their new auditorium at Manual High School which is located about 3 minutes away from the old church location.
Many called from all over the nation to tell us that they had seen the story of the raid on national news. Paul Harvey carried it as his lead story on Tuesday, we were told. Both Dan Rather and Peter Jennings mentioned it on their world wide news programs. God has allowed us to be a witness to the Lordship of Jesus Christ to untold millions here and abroad.
For His name sake and glory, we are most grateful. We are not angry at the Marshal or anyone that participated in the raid of the Lord's church. The church does not belong to us; and the one who founded it, bought it, and perpetuates it will deal with each one in His own time. We do pray that they will repent of their sin and turn to Christ for salvation before it is too late if they do not know Him. I thought of the scripture where they laid their coats at the feet of a young man named Saul. Just as Saul was never the same, I believe that some of those that participated in the raid will too never be the same. No doubt some will point to this day as the time that they met the Lord.
After being sold by the government for a fraction of their value, the IBT sanctuary and many Sunday School buildings were demolished.
The rest were used for a charter school.
The news commentator for WIBC radio in Indianapolis said that the IRS had won, but don't you believe it. Jesus is still alive, His church is still alive, and the Gospel will continue to go forth from the Indianapolis Baptist Temple. The Lord Jesus said, "The gates of hell shall not prevail against it", speaking of His church. You can take the physical building; but you cannot take the soul of the church, which is the people. The Wednesday morning headline in the Indianapolis Star said, "Feds Seize Baptist Temple" but don't you believe it. The Indianapolis Baptist Temple congregation was seen worshipping the Lord together that same night.
Two things hurt the most as I reflect on this day. First is the press release that the United States Justice Department gave out to the media. It said, "Today's action concludes a long standing tax evasion case against Rev. Gregory A. Dixon, Gregory J. Dixon, and the Church. The tax judgments stretch back to December 1990. They stem from IBT's refusal to withhold employees taxes and pay the churches share of Social Security taxes. Over a decade later following a lengthy series of hearings, trials, appeals and veiled attempts at negotiation with the IRS, IBT placed one final appeal to the US. Supreme Court. On January 16 the high court denied IBT's request."
This is a pure case of misinformation. At no time has the Indianapolis Baptist Temple or any of its pastors been charged with tax evasion. The government never at any time so much as mentioned the term. Judge Barker was the one who said that we left our old corporate status to "evade taxes." However, there was never any evidence to support such a claim. The U.S. Justice Department knows that tax evasion is criminal conduct. The action against IBT and Dr. Greg Dixon are civil cases. Marshal Anderson was quoted in the February 14 Indianapolis Star that they didn't handle this as a normal raid because it was a "civil action." This is how our government brands people that they target and attempt to destroy. They did the same thing to the Lord Jesus. They hung him between two thieves. He was not to look innocent. After all, the Roman empire did not crucify innocent people. Neither does our government raid innocent churches, do they?
Perfectly good auditorium seating was cast in a heap
The second disappointment even greater than that is the fact that the new Bush/Ashcroft Justice Department has shown that in the final analysis they are no better than the Clinton/Reno crowd. Three weeks ago Pastor Dixon and Al Cunningham went to Washington D.C. along with Pastors Aubrey Vaughn from Houston, Texas, and Jim Grove from Loganville, Pennsylvania. For two days, they visited the offices of Senators and Representatives on our behalf. On Tuesday, January 23 at 2 PM, Pastor Dixon received a call. They said for the pastor and Al to be in a certain office by 4 PM and make sure that they came by themselves. They arrived to find some Bush allies. They talked for two and a half hours. The attorneys present agreed that there could be a political solution based on Public Policy. The Bush Justice Department could simply roll the tax back and as plaintiff simply dismiss the case against IBT. Is the Bush administration prepared to begin closing churches across the land? They were quite concemed over having another Waco where people might get hurt or killed. The meeting ended basically with the Bush people saying that there was nothing that they could do until an Attorney General was confirmed. The impression was left that they would call the Pastor and let him know the answer. They did want him to call the Marshal and clear up any misinformation conceming the Marshal's statement that there were skin heads involved with the church. Approximately one week later, Pastor Dixon called and told them that he had talked to the Marshal. We never heard from them again. We have every reason to believe that it was a ploy on the part of the Bush/Ashcroft administration to play the bad cop, good cop game and lull us into believing that there truly might be a political solution. Now we know that the so-called Christian men have now ripped off their masks and have revealed their true nature. They are wolves in sheep clothing. They have participated in the first raid of a church in the history of the U.S. for taxes. They are the proponents of the Faith Based Ministries and school voucher program, yet they want to extract $6 million dollars from the Lord's church. How strange. To add insult to injury, Attorney General John Ashcroft called Marshal Anderson and congratulated him on the successful raid on the church.
Now that it is all over and we have exhausted our appeals to the Supreme Court and the church has been raided, these final thoughts come to my mind. First, we have not lost. It is only to be required of Stewards to be found faithful. That we have done, not only for these 50 years but particularly these past 92 days. We have fought a good fight. We have fought to protect the integrity of the New Testament Church from a total take over by this government. We have done our best to preserve religious liberty. We have no regrets.
Hebrews 10:34- ''For ye...took joyfully the spoiling of your goods, knowing in yourselves that ye have in heaven a better and an enduring substance." As Mrs. Dixon said recently, ''Wait till you see me in my new home."