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Sermons Now Subject to Federal Scrutiny?
The New American Online ^ | February 17, 2005 | William Norman Grigg

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 wasn’t 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 America’s 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 pastor’s 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, that’s where I’m going to be and I’m 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 FBI’s 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 FBI’s 1999 Project Megiddo report, which provided guidance to state and local law enforcement agencies regarding potential terrorist threats, displayed an obvious debt to SLATT’s 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 leader’s behavior has gone unchecked against outside authority, the less vulnerable the leader feels."

"Religiously based domestic terrorists use the New Testament’s 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.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Editorial; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: abortion; adl; antichristian; aplc; churchandstate; fbi; firstamendment; freespeech; hatespeech; homosexualagenda; jbs; johnbirchsociety; projectmegiddo; religiousfreedom; splc; thenewamerican; tna; williamnormangrigg
The PC Police, coming to a church in your neighborhood, courtesy of the FBI?
1 posted on 02/18/2005 8:34:54 AM PST by average american student
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To: average american student

This is old news. It's the liberals' harassment tactics that caused this.


2 posted on 02/18/2005 8:38:42 AM PST by Pyro7480 ("All my own perception of beauty both in majesty and simplicity is founded upon Our Lady." - Tolkien)
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To: WKB

Ping!


3 posted on 02/18/2005 8:38:51 AM PST by dixiechick2000 (President Bush is a mensch in cowboy boots.)
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To: average american student
Posted a while ago. Not breaking news either.

And Chicken Little

4 posted on 02/18/2005 8:39:25 AM PST by tallhappy (Juntos Podemos!)
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To: average american student

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!


5 posted on 02/18/2005 8:39:36 AM PST by mlc9852
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To: average american student

Time's a comin'


6 posted on 02/18/2005 8:39:57 AM PST by AD from SpringBay (We have the government we allow and deserve.)
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To: tallhappy

What do you mean by Chicken Little? That people are overreacting? If that is what you think, just wait - it will get worse.


7 posted on 02/18/2005 8:40:50 AM PST by mlc9852
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To: mlc9852

I always wondered what would happen if an Abortion Clinic opened up within 25 feet of a Catholic Church.


8 posted on 02/18/2005 8:45:59 AM PST by massgopguy (massgopguy)
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To: average american student

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?


9 posted on 02/18/2005 8:46:01 AM PST by FreedomWatcher
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To: average american student

If your church is 501c3 then they have a contract with the Feds that gives the little termites a foot in the door.


10 posted on 02/18/2005 8:46:45 AM PST by dljordan
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To: average american student
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...."

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....)

11 posted on 02/18/2005 8:49:48 AM PST by FourPeas
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Comment #12 Removed by Moderator

To: average american student

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.


13 posted on 02/18/2005 8:54:01 AM PST by Spirited
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To: average american student

-...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.


14 posted on 02/18/2005 8:55:03 AM PST by AmericanChef
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To: average american student
a fear of loss of Constitutional rights

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.

15 posted on 02/18/2005 9:00:47 AM PST by jb6 (Truth = Christ)
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To: mlc9852

There are a lot of statists here, the Fed can do no wrong and every thing can be excused.


16 posted on 02/18/2005 9:01:37 AM PST by jb6 (Truth = Christ)
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To: Spirited

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.


17 posted on 02/18/2005 9:03:29 AM PST by jb6 (Truth = Christ)
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To: mlc9852
Why aren't they in the mosques listening to the leaders calling for murder of infidels?

Hopefully every one of them is under some form of electronic surveillance.

18 posted on 02/18/2005 9:04:31 AM PST by Freebird Forever
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To: average american student

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.


19 posted on 02/18/2005 9:04:52 AM PST by deepFR
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To: AmericanChef

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.


20 posted on 02/18/2005 9:05:19 AM PST by jb6 (Truth = Christ)
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To: average american student

Everyone knows that if it were Republican FBI agents in a Black church, there would be hell to pay.


21 posted on 02/18/2005 9:09:04 AM PST by Maverick32984
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To: average american student

Seems if it's ok for one religion, why not all of them?


22 posted on 02/18/2005 9:15:13 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: AmericanChef

It certainly is with some Freepers...


23 posted on 02/18/2005 9:17:16 AM PST by stuartcr
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To: average american student

Some folks at the bureau have too much time on their hands. They switch these guys over to the mosque watch.


24 posted on 02/18/2005 9:19:32 AM PST by farmer18th
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To: average american student
Luk 6:22 "Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man.

Luk 6:23 "Be glad in that day and leap {for joy,} for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets.

25 posted on 02/18/2005 9:30:19 AM PST by OB1kNOb (" I've been a miner for a heart of gold.")
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To: average american student

Could this be a stalking horse -- a first step to detailed investigations of the Mad Mullah Mosques?


26 posted on 02/18/2005 9:43:33 AM PST by expatpat
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To: average american student

When that happens, Civil War II begins in earnest.


27 posted on 02/18/2005 9:49:01 AM PST by clee1 (Islam is a deadly plague; liberalism is the AIDS virus that prevents us from defending ourselves.)
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To: average american student

There was a report that this pastor was inciting violence, the FBI looked into it and dismissed it.

I see nothing wrong with this.

What's wrong with what the FBI did? Absolutely nothing that I can tell....


28 posted on 02/18/2005 9:54:30 AM PST by Theo
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To: jb6
This is what the article said:

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."

What is "worthless" about what these FBI agents did? They examined the allegations against this pastor and found the allegations to be incorrect. It sounds like these FBI agents are the "good guys" here, frankly.

29 posted on 02/18/2005 10:00:02 AM PST by Theo
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To: average american student

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1341410/posts

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1339744/posts

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1338058/posts

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-news/1334618/posts


30 posted on 02/18/2005 10:00:15 AM PST by PAR35
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To: average american student

Note the abscence of Islamic groups, Marxist organizations, black racist groups (NOI, 5-percenters), Hispanic racist groups (La Raza, MEChA, Aztlan), etc. from the SLATT/FBI list?

Also, keep in mind that the FACE act is still law (passed with Republican help), and the same ADL/SPLC-authored "guidelines" are in still place five years into a "conservative" administration that enjoys majorities in both houses of Congress. It's really comforting to know that our fearless public servants (the same ones who allowed 9/11 to take place under their noses - and have been left in their cushy government jobs as a reward for their incompetence and corruption) are busy keeping us safe from rabid preachers.


31 posted on 02/18/2005 10:04:04 AM PST by Bogolyubski
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To: Theo

Fair enough. The actual agents seemed to act with common sense and used reasonable good judgement. The problem lies at a higher level - why are these Marxist-inspired guidelines still in place - wasting the valuable skills of these agents?


32 posted on 02/18/2005 10:08:04 AM PST by Bogolyubski
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To: Theo
Aren't you curious who in his church sicced the FBI on him? Don't you wonder why? Think it was someone sincerely concerned that he was inciting violence?
33 posted on 02/18/2005 10:09:42 AM PST by mlc9852
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To: jb6

Four. I had pinned it as a daughter and her parents. Thanks.


34 posted on 02/18/2005 10:15:40 AM PST by Spirited
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To: mlc9852
Aren't you curious who in his church sicced the FBI on him? Don't you wonder why? Think it was someone sincerely concerned that he was inciting violence?

Whoever turned him in is not a concerned member, but an anti-Christian who attended/attends to get information to get the church in trouble.

Now that I've had some time to think about this, perhaps FBI agents shouldn't spend their time investigating something like this based on "anonymous tips." As it is, it's clear that someone was out to get this church and pastor. And *that's* the person who needs to be investigated now, for defrauding the FBI.

35 posted on 02/18/2005 1:03:33 PM PST by Theo
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To: Theo

I completely agree. And I don't believe for a second that whoever turned the FBI on the pastor was worried about any violence. Probably just a person whose agenda is to stop Christian preaching, whether it concerns abortion or homosexuals.


36 posted on 02/18/2005 1:19:22 PM PST by mlc9852
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To: dljordan

Please don't start that!

We ALL have "contracts" with the Feds: Social Security numbers and cards, drivers licenses, tax returns, Selective Service registration, Passports if you travel, etc.

Doing such things is not a de facto submission to all future or incorrect decisions by a government, it is simply complying with lawful and legitimate demands of "Ceasar" in exactly the same way Jesus did and the disciples did.

Nut cases that "refuse to bow to Satan" by not incorporating their churches are off their nut.


37 posted on 02/18/2005 1:28:43 PM PST by Jonathan
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To: average american student
Sermons Now Subject to Federal Scrutiny?
by William Norman Grigg
February 17, 2005
 

 

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 wasn’t 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 America’s 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 pastor’s 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, that’s where I’m going to be and I’m 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 FBI’s 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 FBI’s 1999 Project Megiddo report, which provided guidance to state and local law enforcement agencies regarding potential terrorist threats, displayed an obvious debt to SLATT’s 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 leader’s behavior has gone unchecked against outside authority, the less vulnerable the leader feels."

"Religiously based domestic terrorists use the New Testament’s 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.


38 posted on 02/20/2005 10:03:59 PM PST by Coleus (Abortion and Euthanasia, Don't Democrats just kill ya! Kill babies, Save the Bears!!)
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