Skip to comments.Sermons Now Subject to Federal Scrutiny?
Posted on 02/18/2005 8:34:53 AM PST by average american student
Rev. Randy Steele, a 32-year-old pastor from Mount Vernon, Illinois, was quizzed by FBI agents after the Bureau received a complaint from an anonymous informant. Rev. Randy Steele, senior pastor at Southwest Christian Church in Mount Vernon, Illinois, thought that "somebody in my church might have done something" when he received a phone call from the FBI last November. It wasnt until part way through an interview with two FBI agents later that day that the 32-year-old pastor realized that he was the subject of the inquiry.
The agents quizzed the pastor about a sermon he had preached on Memorial Day that compared the aggregate casualty count of Americas wars to the number of children murdered through abortion since 1973. "It was a sermon about abortion and what the Bible says about the sanctity of life," Rev. Steele told the February 9 issue of The Southern Illinoisan. "But it also dealt with how as Christians we need to love and reach out to people and teach them the message of truth about these types of issues."
An anonymous informant was prompted to "drop a dime" on Rev. Steele by the pastors description of the struggle against abortion as a "different type of war," which was likely misconstrued as a call for violence against abortionists or assaults on abortion mills. The Southern also noted: "The informant also told authorities that during a sermon on homosexuality, Steele said he was willing to go to jail for his beliefs, prompting another line of questioning by the FBI." The public-minded informant apparently wanted to offer the pastor just that opportunity.
Steele points out that his comment alluded to an incident in Canada in which a pastor "was arrested for speaking about homosexuality in his church. I related how that pastor told his congregation that if speaking the truth means going to jail, 'then by golly, thats where Im going to be and Im going to save you a seat next to me.'"
The FBI agents "actually looked through manuscripts from several of his sermons, and he actually gave the agents copies of the sermons, which he says support his claim that he did not call for violence," continued the newspaper account. At the end of the interview, Steele recalls, "I asked them where it goes from here and they both told me 'nowhere.' They told me they had to check me out but they also did not feel I was the person that the caller was trying to portray me to be."
Referring to the FBI interrogation of Rev. Steele, the Rev. Louis P. Sheldon, chairman of the Traditional Values Coalition, protested: "This is designed to have a chilling effect on religious speech. Pastors who preach from the Bible about issues as abortion and homosexual marriage may now be subject to a federal knock on their church door."
The most important question is: What explains the FBIs eagerness to interrogate a Christian pastor on the basis of a single anonymous phone call? In part this stems from the 1994 passage of the Federal Access to Clinic Entrances (FACE) act, which federalized crimes committed against or around abortion facilities (a category that can include peaceful sidewalk counseling by pro-life activists).
Another important factor is the campaign by hard-left "watchdog" groups such as the so-called Anti-Defamation League, the Southern Poverty Law Center, and the Center for New Community in Illinois to demonize conservative activists and groups as potential domestic terrorists.
Those efforts received a dramatic boost with passage of the post-Oklahoma City Bombing federal counter-terrorism act in 1996. A federal grant authorized by that measure created the State and Local Anti-Terrorism Training (SLATT) program. Acting in the name of "anti-terrorism preparedness training," SLATT helped indoctrinate state and local law enforcement about the supposed threat posed by "domestic terrorist and political extremist movements (including ideologies, illegal activities, tactics, and strategies), and provid[ing] an initial assessment of the threat potential posed by extremists...."
Potential terrorists, according to SLATT, "identify with one or more of the following philosophies: anti-tax, anti-federal government, anti-state government, anti-authority, anti-world alliances, pro-racial purity, pro-white supremacy, anti-Semitic, and a fear of loss of Constitutional rights with an equal fear of a one world order...."
The FBIs 1999 Project Megiddo report, which provided guidance to state and local law enforcement agencies regarding potential terrorist threats, displayed an obvious debt to SLATTs profile of potential domestic terrorists. "Religious motivation and the N.W.O. conspiracy theory are the two driving forces behind the potential for millennial violence," Megiddo asserted. "The volatile mix of apocalyptic religions and N.W.O. conspiracy theories may produce violent acts aimed at precipitating the end of the world as prophesied in the Bible."
A section the report describing "Apocalyptic Cults" advised officers to be wary of organizations led by "charismatic psychopaths" and warned that "the longer the leaders behavior has gone unchecked against outside authority, the less vulnerable the leader feels."
"Religiously based domestic terrorists use the New Testaments Book of Revelation the prophecy of the endtime for the foundation of their belief in the Apocalypse," continued the FBI document. "Religious extremists interpret the symbolism portrayed in the Book of Revelation and mold it to predict that the endtime is now and that the Apocalypse is near." Curiously, however, Megiddo offered no mention of potential terrorist violence by Islamic radical groups.
After the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, all 56 U.S. attorney's offices were instructed to create a Joint Terrorism Task Force. A counter-terrorism pamphlet produced by the Phoenix FBI office in 1999 instructed police officers: "If you encounter any of the following, call the Joint Terrorism Task Force." Once again, Islamic radicals failed to make the roster of potential threats.The first category mentioned in the pamphlet was "Right Wing Extremists," specifically "'defenders' of US Constitution against federal government and the UN (Super Patriots)."
A veteran FBI counter-terrorism investigator contacted by The New American in late 2001 described both the 1999 Phoenix FBI memo and the Project Megiddo report as "very anti-Christian [They both] made some ridiculous assertions about the nature of the potential threat."
The case of Rev. Steele illustrates that the Bureau remains in thrall to such "ridiculous" threat assessments.
This is old news. It's the liberals' harassment tactics that caused this.
And Chicken Little
Why aren't they in the mosques listening to the leaders calling for murder of infidels? This makes me so very, very angry but I am not in the least surprised. We knew it would come to this. Sometimes I wonder what country I am living in!
Time's a comin'
What do you mean by Chicken Little? That people are overreacting? If that is what you think, just wait - it will get worse.
I always wondered what would happen if an Abortion Clinic opened up within 25 feet of a Catholic Church.
Soooo . . . are the churches that invited Kerry to speak from the pulpit this past year going to lose their IRS non-profit status anytime soon?
If your church is 501c3 then they have a contract with the Feds that gives the little termites a foot in the door.
I wonder how many of our founding fathers would be considered "potential terrorists" by this definition? (Of course, to the government of King George III....)
Only place to be is in Islam. Three NJ Coptic Christians are "offed" and all is well.
Certainly as Christians there is no leeway except possibly if you are a non-white.
"Hit on" by the FBI courtesy of the ADL Jewish purgers and the Islamic purgers from the other and not safe from within either because there is always someone who figures you're part of a cult if you do not worship in just the same way they do. (Example WACO)
Grandfather William Bradford and the rest of the Mayflower guys thought they were establishing a place where there would be freedom to worship without fear of intervention from either the government or other citizens.
-...during a sermon on homosexuality, Steele said he was willing to go to jail for his beliefs...-
Cripes, simply stating your opinions is enough to land you in jail these days.
Yeah, it's a good thing that those terrorists (the ones who actually blow things up every day) don't associate with Islam, one world Caliph, radical hatred of the Constitution.
It's obvious that the FBI is just as worthless now as it was before 911.
There are a lot of statists here, the Fed can do no wrong and every thing can be excused.
Four Coptic Orthodox and the younges was an 8 year old girl. With litterly tons of evidence, the "sophisticated" NJ police can't figure out who did it.
Hopefully every one of them is under some form of electronic surveillance.
As many Jews did not recognize the threats forming in early 1930's Germany from the Nazi's, I believe many Christians do not recognize the threats that are forming against them now from the left.
What I love is how the West loves to preach to others about Freedom, etc, while we grow trees and pile up planks in our own eyes. Sure we're not as bad as some dictator, at least if you're an islamic lesbian pedophile satanist, then all is good. But gads, let a Christian speak the word of God and it's Hell to pay. Good thing that lions aren't as abondant as they used to be.
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