Federal prosecutors argued Monday that the Kamas LDS Stake Center affected interstate commerce, and thus its destruction by a bomb Jan. 16 brings it under federal law.
Attorneys for defendants in the Singer-Swapp case have been trying to get the first three counts of a nine-charge indictment dismissed as far as those counts relate to the bombing.Kathryn Collard, lawyer for Vickie Singer, has said that only commercial structures are covered by the anti-terrorist law, and if there was any commerce in the Kamas Stake Center it was commerce in souls.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Richard Lambert, answering questions by U.S. District Court Chief Judge Bruce S. Jenkins said the law was clearly intended to cover church structures.
Jenkins wondered whether private homes would also be included, and Lambert said it is not certain if all private homes are covered.
Lambert said Kamas Stake President Robert V. Rydalch told him that he believes between $300,000 and $500,000 is collected at the stake center every year. It goes into general church funds. Church money is spent throughout the United States and the world.
Custodians at the center receive salaries, which affect interstate commerce. The center had equipment such as a copy machine bought out of state, an IBM computer and a satellite dish.
Rydalch said that at any time approximately 12 missionaries are in the field from the Kamas Stake. They "have been taught, trained and called within that structure," Lambert said. Money collected at the stake center supports missionaries "wherever they might be."
About $2,000 is collected every year in the stake to help the Boy Scouts of America, including support for the Teton Canoe-base camp in Jackson, Wyo. The stake also helps operate a welfare farm, and beef from the 200 cattle moves in interstate commerce.
Some of the general funds to which the stake contributes are used for worldwide relief efforts, such as $6 million spent for African relief and to help the starving people in Ethiopia.
The church principles against using alcohol, tobacco, tea or coffee are "taught repeatedly and consistently" in the stake center. That affects interstate commerce in that people don't purchase such material because of the teachings of the church.
U.S. Attorney Brent D. Ward said he spoke with Richard Edgley, the church's chief financial officer, who said the nearly $1 million stake center was built between 1974-75, using many materials bought in interstate commerce, including furniture, typewriters, janitorial supplies, pianos, and $16,000 worth of folding chairs from Illinois.