« AnteriorContinuar »
Mr. TRIBE. If there is objective evidence of direct abuse, that is correct, Senator.
Senator LEAHY. My last question, and I have a number of questions I want to submit for the record to both the witnesses if I might, Mr. Chairman, but my last one is that the FBI and the Justice Department have issued guidelines for many of their agents to pose as clergy in undercover operations.
Do think that there should be—that this should be allowed or should there be a statutory ban prohibiting the use of such cover by the Government?
Mr. TRIBLE. Senator, my reaction to that is a mixed one. It does seem to me that there is a legitimate governmental interest in assuring that the good name of religion in America not be abused by groups that simply don the mask of religion in order to obtain various benefits. But at the same time, techniques whereby Government sullies its own hands by impersonating religious believers leave me deeply troubled. It seems to me that the use of informers and undercover agents in law enforcement generally, although important, is easily subject to abuse and that certain forms of Government impersonation are so inherently troublesome and problematic that, without clear proof that they are indispensable to law enforcement, which I seriously doubt, I would think that practices of that kind should be legislatively disapproved.
Senator LEAHY. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the courtesies. I will submit the rest of my questions for the record. I know you have a long agenda.
Senator HATCH. Thank you, Senator Leahy.
I want to thank both of you gentlemen for your excellent statements here today. I think you have added a great deal to this hearing in setting the tone and establishing some of the problems which do exist or may exist-may exist and which may very well be major problems in the future. And I think to that extent we really have appreciated having both of you with us.
Now, we will excuse you for the time being but I would like to be able to ask you to be prepared to return to the table after our next several witnesses so that we can have a discussion concerning specific details regarding the issues they raise. We really do greatly appreciate your opening remarks which have set, in my opinion, the proper constitutional tone for this hearing. We will keep your comments about the Constitution in mind as we proceed.
Mr. TRIBLE. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. BALL. Mr. Chairman, may I, when we return, have the opportunity to respond to Senator Leahy's question concerning the Vermont parents?
Senator HATCH. I would be happy to have you respond at this point.
Senator LEAHY. I would be happy to hear him now.
Senator LEAHY. As you could imagine, the question is one, the very substance of the question would be one of interest, whether it involves anything in Vermont or any of the other 49 States. But I must admit that my attention is focused a wee bit more because of Vermont.
Mr. BALL. I join completely in Professor Trible's answer to your question, but with this addition. I think we have seen in a number of States lately that the State really considers itself to be the supe rior parent. It provides regulation and frequently licensing of activities upon which it ought not to regulate and in which it should not require a license. And thus at times the real question becomes not whether the parents were taking care of their children properly, or whether a school is operating to the benefit of children, but merely the technicality of whether it got a license.
In this view the matter is then allowed to proceed by criminal complaint against the parent or the operator of the school merely on the grounds that he did not recognize the State's right to impose licensing upon him.
Senator LEAHY. I think you raise a very important point. We do seem to have more and more and more of this idea that somehow, whether at the municipal, State, or Federal level, we are going to take over and, at least when I was growing up-and I am only 44, so it has not been that long-what was considered the responsible duty of our parents. And when I was growing up in Vermont I would assume that there were certain responsibilities that my parents had and they would pass on those responsibilities to us, too, with our own children. And I must admit, Mr. Chairman, I think my mother still feels she has those same responsibilities when I go home.
Senator HATCH. Knowing you, Senator, I am sure she is going to watch over you very carefully.
Senator LEAHY. But the point is a good one, at some point we are going to ask the question, may be that is one of the most valuable things out of these whole hearings, ask the question, At what time do we say wait a minute? Parents have some responsibility to their children and their children vice versa have some responsibility to their parents and these are not responsibilities that Senator Hatch nor I or anybody else can legislate or take care of. They should be taken care of at the basic places where they should be done.
Senator HATCH. Well, I am going to thank Senator Leahy for his interest in this hearing and of course the excellent issues that he has raised.
Thank you so much, gentlemen. We will now ask our next two witnesses to come forward. They are Pastor Everett Sileven of the Faith Baptist Church in Louisville, NB; and Dr. Greg Dixon, who is the national chairman of the Coalition of Unregistered Churches, Indianapolis, IN.
Both of these men have had considerable contact and experience with the State government of Nebraska in recent litigation which centers on the issue of State legislation of a church-run school.
We will begin with you, Dr. Dixon, if we can.
STATEMENTS OF PASTOR EVERETT SILEVEN, FAITH BAPTIST
CHURCH, LOUISVILLE, NE; AND DR. GREG DIXON, NATIONAL CHAIRMAN OF UNREGISTERED CHURCHES, INDIANAPOLIS, IN
Dr. Dixon. Thank you very much, Senator Hatch, Senator Leahy.
Again, may I say that I appreciate the opportunity of being here today, especially when I understand that hundreds have asked for the privilege of testifying.
I also would like to say that I heard nothing from Mr. Ball and Mr. Tribe that I would disagree with and I appreciate the gentleman coming and so succinctly putting forth what I believe is our faith at this time.
Senator HATCH. You will never hear a more succinct or a more competent discussion of constitutional ramifications concerning religious freedom than these two gentlemen have given here today.
Dr. Dixon. I agree, sir.
It was the cause of religious liberty that gave birth to this great Nation. Now it seems that the Nation is determined to destroy religious liberty. John Leland, the leader of the Virginia Baptists objected to the first drafts of the new Constitution. He asked: Where are the guarantees of complete religious liberty; where is the protection for the individual to believe or not to believe, to worship or not to worship, to be free to support his church or any religion or any religious cause and free also from Government to support some particular church? His influence caused Madison to introduce the first amendment that has been the guardian of religious belief and practice for these 200 years.
It was also the bleeding back of Baptist street preachers that inspired Patrick Henry to give his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech. No nation on earth has been blessed as this Nation. We must either say that God is responsible or that America is an accident of history. I believe, along with most Americans, that the hand of God has made this possible.
But it seems to me that the government at all levels now is saying to God: We do not need you any longer or your ambassadors. For all practical purposes the first amendment, in my opinion, is now dead. The religious guarantees of the Constitution is not but a scrap of paper, like Russia and other Iron Curtain countries, where you are free to believe but not practice your faith.
Lower court judges continually say: “We cannot rule on the Constitution.” However, they are quick to rule in matters that, in my opinion they have no jurisdiction, such as matters concerning church discipline, as an example.
The state has literally declared war on religion. There are over 6,000 believers on trial for their faith in America today. Through zoning laws, churches are being shut down, Bible studies in homes have been stopped, and cities have demanded that an infant church have as much as 1 acre to begin. A judge recently closed a church in Sparks, NV, because the pastor said: I am a preacher.
But the judge said: No, you are a school teacher. And therefore he closed the church. Besides, a pastor was jailed and a church padlocked in Nebraska and the other pastors—and Pastor Gelsth
orpc is here present today who has had untold amount of persecution in North Platte.
I saw seven Godly men recently tried in abstentia in a courtroom in Cass County, NB. A pastor and his wife were being tried for battery in Bristol, IN at the present time. What was their crime? They gave a child three whạcks each in a church school. The judge said to the pastor at the indictment hearing: If the child had just said it hurts, you could be charged with battery.
A couple in Indiana are being tried at this time for reckless homicide because they believe in prayer rather than medicine with regards to health of their child. And yet the State of Indiana covered up the death of a baby who was allowed to starve to death in a Bloomington hospital. And I might add that if in fact there are 87 deaths attributed to Faith Assembly Church in Indiana, there are 1.5 million deaths due to abortion perpetrated by the Federal Government every year.
The IRS is now a terrorist organization, they have become so strong that they can jail religious leaders for legitimate practices.
Senator HATCH. If I could interrupt you. I really would like to ask the help of all people here assembled to please not show any emotion throughout this hearing. I hate to tell you that because I know that these are emotional issues, but we have such a limited time and I have another very important hearing that has to begin at 2 o'clock and I am going to have a very difficult time getting through with this one. So I know how important this is and I know how much you feel and I respect you but I have to ask that we have no other demonstrations. And I hate to put a damper on that but it is just very important that we get through this testimony, and we have a number of very important people.
Dr. Dixon. I will be through in just a minute, Senator.
Dr. Dixon. The press has reported that IRS agents now pose as pastors and CIA agents post as missionaries. I am afraid that this is putting our total worldwide missionary efforts in grave danger. This is a direct assault on the church, but what happened in Vermont last week tops it all, in my opinion.
Without a valid warrent or probable cause or due process, 112 children were snatched from their parents at dawn and held for 11 hours. Thank God for the judge that let them go before the 72-hour period.
There are four areas, in my opinion, that we are having the most problem with:
No. 1, the IRS thinking that they ought to have jurisdiction concerning church finances.
No. 2, the child protection agencies that have received millions of Federal funds all over America and have established these child protection agencies in the States and they are abusing their power concerning children and their parents in regard to the educational process and discipline. And, Senator, may I say with all my heart, I believe that we are not just talking about States' accreditation but it will not be long unless something happens that is accredited or has the imprimatur of the Federal Education Department they will
not be able to go on to higher education. Also, they will not be able to get a job.
The other area is in the area of health. As an example, midwives have been outlawed in the State of Indiana. People have been criminally prosecuted for practicing medicine without a license just because they give information concerning vitamins and health foods.
These primarily are the four areas that I think we are having the most problem in.
One other thing in closing. Some time ago a lady stood in Denver, CO to speak to an audience. She said: “I escaped from Russia when the Communists took over there. I escaped to a Baltic nation. I escaped when the Communists took over there. Then I went to Cuba. I escaped when the Communists took over there. Now I have come to America."
Somebody from the audience said: “Thank God you could come to America."
She said: “Yes, I thank God. But if America falls, there will be no place else to go. Thank you. Senator HATCH. Thank you, Dr. Dixon. I appreciate it. [The following was subsequently received for the record: