Friday, November 8, 2013

Mennonite Teacher Goes to Jury Duty

It arrived in the mail-- the jury duty summons.  My husband was to appear in court at 3:00 on Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013.
He left school a little early, made sure he was dressed appropriately, and appeared on time.
The secretary stared at him when he did not raise his hand or move his mouth when he did not take the oath. (James 5:12)
When questioned as to whether he could convict the defendant, my husband stated respectfully that because of Matthew 7:1-2, he could not judge another.
Many of the other prospective jurors arrived late, grumbling.  They were dressed in jeans and t-shirts.  They interrupted the lawyer, didn’t listen to her questions, responded inappropriately, and were in some cases downright rude.
When it was over, they selected a group of six jurors which did not include my husband.
As he walked out the judge called him over.
“Are you a Mennonite?” he asked him. 
“Yes, sir,” my husband replied.
“You know,” replied the judge, “you don’t have to come to this.  You can just go to city hall and tell them that because of your religion you don’t wish to participate.  But I really respect the fact that you were willing to show up here today and show support for our judicial system even though you do not believe in participating.  Please tell your church thank you for supporting our community.”

He went on to tell my husband that several people in the community who the judge and city officials knew were not Mennonite would show up at city hall and say that they were Mennonite just to get out of jury duty. 

Let us never shirk our responsibility.  Let us be respectful.  Let us stand our ground in obedience to the Bible. 

In our Anabaptist history class we just studied Michael Sattler, author of the Schlietheim Confession, the first written Anabaptist set of guidelines.  He respectfully responded to the judges and soldiers who were very rude to him.  They cut out his tongue, tore out chunks of his flesh with hot tongs seven times, tied him to a ladder, and burned him.  Why?

He would not take an oath. 
He did not believe in infant baptism.  
He would not take up arms. 
He believed communion was a symbol in remembrance of Christ, not transubstantiation. 
He believed in church discipline. 
He believed in the separation of church and state. 
He believed in separation from the world.

Why, oh why, after nearly five hundred years are some Mennonites rushing to do things our forefathers were tortured and died for not doing?  What do we believe?  Have we learned?  And do we teach these things diligently to our children as we walk and talk in the way, and when we rise up and lie down?