What if they threw a protest and nobody came?
The Indianapolis Starreported yesterday that there was a good chance the U.S. Marshal's Service wouldn't show up to seize Indianapolis Baptist Temple (which the IRS says owes about $6 million). And sure enough, they didn't. "Where are the federal marshals?" asked a frustrated Greg Dixon, pastor of the church. "They're supposed to be here at high noon. Now they're not going to come when the people are here. They are going to slip in at night." The Star reports that 600 to 700 people—including 100 or so from out of state—showed up at the church to stand against the marshals. But as the day wore on, the crowd dwindled. The Marshals Service says it's in no hurry. "We don't want to jeopardize the safety of anybody involved," Frank Anderson, local head of the service, told the Star. (Over the last few months of covering this story, Christianity Today Weblog has been pointing to a rather weak page for the Indianapolis Baptist Temple. It turns out there's actually a rather decent site, which includes a lot of information about its battle with the IRS.) See more coverage from WRTV, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press. One of the poorer headlines comes from the conservative-bias-and-proud-of-it Washington Times, which jumps the gun with "U.S. marshals seize church property." Didn't they learn anything from election night?
Late breaking follow-up:
This morning, word followed that the protesters are down to a few dozen, and that the U.S. Marshals Service had seized the church's parsonage.
What if they threw a protest and it didn't make much sense?
The U.S. National Conference of Catholic Bishops is meeting in Washington, D. C. this week, and at will address such issues as immigration, abortion, and the criminal justice system. But despite that agenda, it's not the focus as far as some media and protesters are concerned. Seven protesters from the homosexual group Rainbow Sash were denied communion—which they knew they would be—and The Washington Post deemed that the biggest story of the meeting. That was Tuesday. Today, the Post's Hanna Rosin wrote pretty much the same story: 110 gay rights protesters were arrested for blocking the entrance to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Fortunately, The New York Times has a better story: the bishops are likely to adopt a statement urging the U.S. to work "tirelessly" for peace in the Middle East and to and lead the effort for a Palestinian state. See more from the Seattle Times.
Just before Clinton visit, Vietnam's religious liberty record is attacked
Religious freedom watchdog group Freedom House has released 50 pages of Vietnamese government documents which, according to Nina Shea, director of Freedom House's Center for Religious Freedom, "show that church closures, arrests and Bible burnings are not isolated acts of overzealous cadres but are the policy directives of the Vietnamese Communist Party and state religious officials." All of the actions detailed in the documents are against evangelical Protestants. The Vietnamese government has "angrily rejected [the] allegations," reports the BBC. (See more about the documents from Far Eastern Economic Review) Tomorrow, Bill Clinton will become the first U.S. President to visit Vietnam. (See also the U.S. State Department's report on religious freedom in Vietnam.)
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