Pastor finds FBI unresponsive to homosexual activists' threats
GRAVOIS MILLS, Mo. (BP)--The Federal Bureau of Investigation has refused to investigate threats made by homosexual activists against a Missouri Baptist Convention church in the Lake of the Ozarks area, The Pathway convention newsjournal has learned.
Ted Haynes, who has pastored First Baptist Church in Gravois Mills the last eight years, said he was treated rudely by an FBI worker when he attempted to report the threats against his church, obscene phone messages and the defacing of his church's sign along Missouri Highway 5 about eight miles south of Versailles.
Jeff Lanza, an FBI spokesman in Kansas City, said it would not be proper for him to comment on the conversation that occurred between the agent and the Baptist pastor because "I wasn't there to hear what was said back and forth."
Lanza said it is FBI policy to determine first if a crime has been committed and second if it is a federal crime.
"If it is not a federal crime, the person calling in should be referred to the appropriate local authority," Lanza said. "From what I understand, it looked that possibly a crime had occurred, but not one that would fall under federal jurisdiction. It was a crime of vandalism."
Lanza said it was the agent's decision to classify the crime as vandalism.
The trouble started for Haynes' church about three weeks ago when he decided to preach a message about homosexuality. Haynes posted a message on the church sign about homosexuality being an abomination to God.
On Nov. 2, Haynes preached his sermon, declaring that "homosexuality is an abomination, but that there is forgiveness."
"When I started talking about there being forgiveness for homosexuals, I started getting obscene calls on the answering machine at church," Haynes said. One of the messages said, "You ----in', thumpin' Bible hypocrite."
"And the Wednesday morning after I preached the message, a man pulled up beside one of our ladies who works in our library as she was going into the church.
"The man told her, 'I'll tell you right now, if you don't take that off there [the sign], we're going to tear it down.'
"Our church member told him that what we placed on the sign came straight out of the King James Bible. He replied that we should get another Bible because his Bible didn't say that. He admitted that he was homosexual."
During the morning worship service on Nov. 9, the head usher at the church noticed three men trying to lift the sign out of the ground. The sign is located about 200 feet from the church. The men fled when several men from the church approached.
"I don't know what they thought they were doing," Haynes said. "They were humped over, trying to lift the sign out of the ground with their backs. But that sign is set in seven yards of concrete."
Haynes attended the Missouri Baptist Convention's annual meeting in St. Louis Nov. 3-5, "but something told me I should go home," he said. "When I got home, I learned that someone had spray-painted our sign. I contacted the Morgan County Sheriff's office, and they suggested that I contact the FBI."
Haynes said he was referred to the FBI because county authorities felt it could be classified a federal hate crime.
"I called the FBI office in Jefferson City, and you'll never believe what I went through," Haynes said, recounting his conversation with an FBI agent there.
"I told him that I didn't want to be a troublemaker. When I asked him if they would investigate if we were a black church, the agent became very angry. 'Don't go there. I don't want to hear any talk about discrimination,'" the agent told Haynes.
Haynes said the agent suggested that the pastor "should expect retaliation when I put 'inflammatory remarks on my sign.'"
"And the agent warned me not to say anything to the homosexual activists 'if they come down and start demonstrating.' Don't call them any names or you will be infringing on their minority rights," Haynes said.
After the conversation ended, Haynes said the agent called back in about 10 minutes, attempting to apologize.
"There's nothing the FBI can do to these people. There's nothing we can do right now," Haynes said the agent told him.
Haynes said he tried to explain that he was only trying to get the incident on the record and that all he was doing at the church was preaching God's Word.
"He [the FBI agent] became angry again and said he didn't want to hear anything about God or God's Word," said Haynes, an ex-Marine. "I think I must have been talking to an agnostic, homosexual FBI agent.
"But I can tell you one thing. We're not going to compromise on this issue. Our church is located on a hill, and we're going to stay on this hill 'til we die."
Haynes said the confrontations with area homosexuals have unified the church.
"The Bible says you should count it all joy when you're persecuted, and that's what we're doing," Haynes said. "The community finally knows we're doing something."
Bob Baysinger is managing editor of The Pathway, newsjournal of the Missouri Baptist Convention.