To Protect and Swerve

Photo by Jack GouldWilliam Baker brings God to cops, serving as a chaplain for the Garden Grove Police Department despite evidence he once ran a neo-Nazi political party and, until recently, sold an anti-Semitic book over the Internet.

Baker is one of nine volunteer chaplains providing spiritual support to the 230 members of the Garden Grove department and to the community at large. Like Baker, most of the chaplains are not ordained.

When asked why his department continues to employ the 62-year-old Laguna Hills resident, Garden Grove Police Lieutenant Scott Hamilton angrily responded, “You're barking up the wrong tree. He serves us fine. I don't know him to be a problem.” City manager George Tindall added, “We don't try to determine politics when it comes to chaplains.” Neither would provide a copy of formal requirements for admission to the chaplaincy program or reveal, as required by law, whether any complaints have been lodged against Baker.

As national chairman of the Populist Party in 1984, Baker introduced a platform attacking “any racial minority [that seeks], through control of the media, culture distortion or revolutionary political activity, to divide or factionalize [sic] the majority of the society-nation in which the minority lives.” Another section of that platform would have allowed states to restore Jim Crow racial laws. In a 1983 speech to the Christian Patriots Defense League, Baker made a number of anti-Semitic remarks, including a reference to the Reverend Jerry Falwell as “Jerry Jewry.” (Falwell is known to be friendly to Jews.) In the same speech, Baker described his disgust at traveling to New York City, where “the first people I meet when I get off the plane are pushy, belligerent American Jews.” Baker has told the Weekly he left the Populist Party when he discovered it had been infiltrated by racists.

Ironically, the Garden Grove Police Department is nationally famous for its efforts to improve police-community relations. Among Orange County's 22 law-enforcement agencies, only Garden Grove's is certified by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA) of Fairfax, Virginia (Nick Schou's “Cop Out: Why aren't OC agencies following Garden Grove's lead?” Aug. 11, 2000). CALEA requires its members to adhere to a set of professional standards on everything from officer-involved shootings to use of physical force.

Until recently, Baker maintained close ties to the Reverend Robert H. Schuller and Schuller's Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove. Baker introduced Schuller to Muslim leaders around the world. In return, the church provided Baker with a website on which he peddled his anti-Semitic book, Theft of a Nation. Following the Weekly's investigation into Baker's ties to extremist organizations, the Crystal Cathedral closed Baker's site and announced an investigation of its own.

“Dr. Schuller recently met with his close friend, the consul general of Israel in Los Angeles, Yuval Rotem, and showed the Weekly article to him,” said Cathedral spokesman Larry Sonnenburg. “Rotem is looking into the matter and will advise Dr. Schuller.”

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