Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Virginia Pastor Jailed For His Beliefs

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Writing from jail, Pastor Kenneth Miller, a Mennonite pastor says, "If it is true that my actions flow out of my faith in Jesus and from my deeply held moral beliefs---and I sincerely think they do---then it must follow that whatever judgement is being brought against me by the United States of America, is judgement on my faith and conscience and deeply held moral beliefs."

So what did he do?

He says, "I was faced with a women in distress who needed help to protect her daughter from what seemed to be an inhumane court decree."

Here's her story.

Pastor Miller was convicted last summer on a charge of aiding in international parental kidnapping.

During his trial, prosecutors made the case of how he arranged for Lisa Miller (no relation) and her daughter, Isabella, to be taken from Virginia to Buffalo, NY, where they crossed the border into Canada and were met by an Ontario Mennonite who then took them to the Toronto airport. From there they flew to Mexico then on to Nicaragua, where it is presumed they are still hiding.

Why did he do it?

Lisa Miller and Janet Jenkins were joined in a Vermont civil union in 2000. Isabella was born to Lisa in 2002. The couple split up in 2003.

The Vermont family court gave custody to Lisa and gave Jenkins regular visitation rights.

Lisa Miller moved back to Virginia where she accepted Christ and denounced homosexuality, her former behavior and sought full custody of Isabella.

She then stopped following court ordered visitation schedules.

A judge then threatened to transfer custody to Jenkins.

Two months later, she fled to Nicaragua with Pastor Miller's assistance.

Pastor Miller was charged with a crime. He was ordered to testify before a grand jury whose intention was to find where Lisa and Isabella were hiding.

He refused. He has been in jail.

The prosecutors have asked the judge to sentence him to the maximum 3 years in jail.

They have also named as co-conspirators with Pastor Miller, Philip Zodhiates, a wealthy businessman who lives near Pastor Miller, and Zodhiates' daughter, Victoria Hyden, who is an administrative assistant at Liberty University Law School in Lynchburg.

Miller's attorneys have told the judge he should not receive jail time because he has no previous criminal record and is a well respected leader in the community.

Pastor Miller wrote a letter to the judge a few days ago in which he said, "After more than three weeks of incarceration ...I find my faith and conscience and moral convictions considerably strengthened. My position remains the same. I am unable, for reasons of faith, to answer certain questions before the grand jury. I take no delight in burdening the court, but find myself compelled to this position by my deeply held religious beliefs."

The judge's ruling is imminent.

What do you think about his actions?

Should he be sentenced?

Should he have violated his beliefs and conscience and complied?

In Acts 5: 28 and 29, the authorities have forbidden the apostles to preach the gospel in "Jesus name." They continued to do so. They have now been brought before the court and the high priest or judge because of their conduct. The high priest asks them, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?"

Peter and the other apostles answered him and said, "We ought to obey God rather than man."

Does this apply to pastor Miller?

The outcome, as most of you know, was that the authorities beat the apostles, warned them again and released them. The conversation among the authorities was that they did not want to appear to some to be fighting God.

Verse 41 says the apostles "rejoiced that they were worthy to suffer shame for Christ."

Verse 42 says, "They did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ."

How will this judge rule?

Update: As I am finishing this column, the New York Times is reporting, "A Virginia pastor who said that his actions 'flow out of my faith in Jesus,' was sentenced to 27 months in prison for abetting the international parental kidnapping of a girl in a high-profile case involving a same-sex union and the condemnation of homosexuality by conservative Christians."

The Times says in a partial victory for the pastor, he will not be required to begin serving his time until a planned appeal is settled, which may take up to 2 years.

Be Vigilant. Be Discerning. Be Bold. Be Prayerful. Be Blessed.


  1. queers should not be allowed to marry or have kids

  2. by your own words, he was sentenced for "abetting the international parental kidnapping of a girl".

    The criminal charge nothing to do with his religious beliefs.

    Do you honestly think we should let people just ignore our laws when they think the man in the sky is telling them to?

    1. Yes ! Proverbs 1:7 Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge ; but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
      1Co 1:18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
      The criminal charge has everything to do with his religious beliefs. He was protecting a child from a Godless Lesbian. In his eyes he was obeying our Lord.

  3. What a shame that we have come to the point where this would even be a situation for the courts or the church in this country.

  4. I'm sorry, but this time I'm going to side against the pastor. Lisa's becoming a practicing Christian does not release her from all obligations she took on before her conversion. Her actions are no different from those of any other parent who takes issue with her ex's lifestyle and abducts the child. The pastor has no business abetting her in it.

    Turn it around: if the child were taken into hiding by a homosexual parent who didn't want her daughter exposed to Christianity, we'd be rightly furious over it. (And the New York Times would be hailing her as a hero.)

    1. How do you figure that. The other Lesbian had nothing to do in the "making" of that child so what claim does she have on the child. This is why God told the Israelite's to kill sodomites in Leviticus. It is a perversion and that Lesbian would teach that child her perversion. No that Pastor absolutely did the right thing. This wicked world is going down the toilet. Sorry but we're almost to the bottom of the bowl now.

  5. That’s a tough one! Should a pastor be allowed to aid in kidnapping a child? Hmmm, let me think about it: OK, I'm done. Absolutely not!

    If this is truly a dilemma for you, it’s no wonder that the right-wing are viewed less as do-gooders and more as hypocrites. For a web site that drapes itself in the Constitution and the flag, you should know better than most that disregard for the law (in the name of religion or anything else) is anti-American.

    If this pastor believes lesbian mothers aren’t good parents, he has avenues to change the laws. America has a brilliant division of power between the people, the judiciary, the executive branch and our legislators. Make your case, speak up in court, write your congressmen. I believe in the American system. Evidently, you believe in subverting it.

    What if the other parent in this story (Jenkins) and her gay pastor friend decided to kidnap the child to get her away from Miller and her anti-gay Christian household because of their religious beliefs? Would you be scratching your head over THAT moral dilemma? If not, what makes your personal beliefs acceptable for disregarding law and not others’?

    I’m scratching my head over Gary’s February 24, 2011 blog post titled “Obama Now Sole Arbiter of Law?” (http://blog.faithandfreedom.us/2011/02/obama-now-sole-arbiter-of-law.html#.UTYo7hysh8E) and how it relates to this article. Obama merely decided not to defend a law, not break it. Pastor Miller, on the other hand, broke it.

    Why isn’t this article titled “Pastor Miller Now Sole Arbiter of Law?”? I’ll never get my answer.


  6. The pastor has every right to be imprisoned. His incarceration has nothing to do with his Christian beliefs. If he or the mother he aided fear the consequences of visitation with a homosexual parent then they can address those concerns in a court of law. The pastor abetted in a kidnapping and should be held accountable. This has nothing to do with his faith. His actions tar Christians as anarchists.

  7. All of the responses above address some good points and principles. One of the issues I believe is missing and might have been used to legally protect the child while not breaking laws but rather using them to help the situation. Whether is the real father of the child? Who's DNA is the other half of the child. I didn't note above if there was actually a state sanctioned union between these two women or how this child actually came to be one.

  8. Wow! So based on the scriptures you quoted, you see this situation as synonymous with the Apostles continuing to preach the gospel after they were forbidden? Following that very same logic you are condoning that it is right for Christians to kidnap any child from an ungodly home for the sake of protecting them from the ungodly influence of their parents. I fear you have stepped over the line here from righteous disobedience to cultish extremism.

  9. Gary, you are raising a very important point in this article. I think every Christian should look into his or her own soul and ask at what point am I unwilling to submit to an environment that is so hostile to my faith.

    1. That two women formed a legal union and legally raised a child together and now find themselves in a legal dispute does not submit you to an environment hostile to your faith anymore than two divorced Jews remarrying, two Muslims marrying and having children, a single Mormon woman having a child, or an unmarried man and woman living together.

      You have a responsibility and choice to live by your own value system within the law, as do the rest of us. But you -- and Pastor Miller -- do not have a right to intervene in the personal lives of others because it contradicts your religious beliefs.

      Geez, I'm just amazed this is so difficult to understand?!?

  10. Some who are posting here are missing the point. Gary is not advocating or even suggesting civil disobedience. He is causing us to think. Thank you Gary.

    1. You are missing the point. Gary is asking us to think, but the topic is whether a pastor has a moral right to break the law by aiding a parent in kidnapping a child from another legal parent.

      That Gary thinks this is a moral dilemma worth thinking about is earning him the responses he's getting.

    2. No, you are missing the point. The title alone ("Virginia Pastor Jailed For His Beliefs") tells us what Gary believes.

  11. Grants Pass OR
    It is shameful for a Country that can not protect it's children. I applaud Pastor Miller. God's laws are above any law made by man. And what God laws says about homeosexuals and also kids, makes the actions of Pastor Miller, in complete alignment with God's laws. Pray for God's intervention in this situation, that He might be glorified.

  12. "But you -- and Pastor Miller -- do not have a right to intervene in the personal lives of others because it contradicts your religious beliefs." Pastor Miller is not intervening because of "his beliefs", he is doing so because the woman came to himn and ask for his help. He is a pastor and recognized as someone who helps people.

  13. Those who are commenting need to read the entire article - it is on the Internet. The child was in danger both physically and physcologically. It is sad that a court of law could not protect this child from the former partner of the mother. Also, the child was conceived articically...no known dad. And for better than two years, the partner had no interst in this child or her mother. And so the pastor, protecting one of his "flock" is sentenced to jail...Lord, have mercy on us! The U.S. is becoming a mirror image of Israel in the Book of Jeremiah.

    1. You need to read the entire story, from an actual news site, not some Christianist propaganda site.

      While Lisa Miller and her Christianist allies have made numerous claims of physical and or emotional abuse, each and every one of these was fully investigated and found to be false.

      What of the psychological damage Lisa Miller has done to her and Janet Jenkin's daughter? The telling the child that one of her mothers is an evil monster can't possibly be good for her psychologically.

      Also, the judge didn't just threaten to Janet Jenkins, he did! He did so because of Lisa Miller's adamant to refusal to obey the court's visitation orders.

      "Pastor" Miller is a criminal, plain and simple. He should be treated as such.

  14. The title Gary used for this post is nearly the same title being used in dozens of publications today. This story is everywhere. The New York Times story ties the pastor's arrest to his beliefs about homosexuality. The title says nothing about what Gary believes. It says he has a grasp on what is going on in the world. He's asking people to think. Obviously he is succeeding.

    1. "The title Gary used for this post is nearly the same title being used in dozens of publications today"

      In other words, he's just helping spread the lie

  15. "case involving a same-sex union and the condemnation of homosexuality by conservative Christians." That statement by the New York Times tells you where they are coming from. Gary's article is asking people to think about these things. You are jumping to conclusions. Where's the tolerance?

  16. A difficult case emotionally. If it is true that the women seeking visitation had no interest in the child for 2 years, why the sudden interest? Could it be she became aware of the mothers conversion and sought to influence the child away from the mothers beliefs? I think so. The mother has the right to protect her child.

    Craig In Lacey

    1. It's not true. Much like Lisa Miller's repeated accusations of child molestation, it is nothing more than yet another anti-gay lie.


  18. 4:09 "You need to read the entire story, from an actual news site, not some Christianist propaganda site." Gary Linked the New York Times in addition to the Christian site. I wish you people were as fair as he is. Who else in the Christian world allows this kind of open discussion on their web site? Nobody. Who do you want him to quote The Gay Blade? Thanks Gary. Keep up the good work.

  19. So what's the point. Are you gays saying Lisa Miller was a good person until she became a Christian, now you don't like her and she is bad, bad, bad.

    1. A union between two people of the same sex is not recongnized by God, it is a preversion of this world. This other women has no rights to this child at all. I admire this pastor from trying to save this child from the wrongs of our society. I thank God for this mother turning her life to the Lord. Thankyou Gary for being a beacon on the hill with your light shining ever so brightly.
      Bonnie in Yelm

  20. If the situation was a heterosexual couple, the mother and a step-father who split, there would be NO question that the mother would have 100% custody, and the step-father would get whatever the birth mother allowed him to have. Why is this any different?

  21. Historically, what is truth and what is propaganda? I'm under the impression, that without civil disobedience and/or criminal behaviors, our constitution and government would not have been established. Continuing acts of civil disorder may bring about change, even if they are illegal and criminal. However, the Pastor is guilty and in contempt. I would have taken the 'easy' way and submitted to authority, although I fear and rebel against such authority.


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