By Bob Plunket
That is right! U.S. District Judge David O. Below, Jr., sentenced Emma
Jean Oliver to one year of church attendance with death about the only
excuse for missing. A probation officer was assigned to enforce it. Emma
Jean has four children. She was guilty of drug trafficking and faced a
three year sentence in a federal penitentiary and an $250,000 fine.
It shook the legal world. One side said, "What kind of message does this
send to drug traffickers if they know their sentence will be sitting in
church for a n hour or two a week." Another side said, "It makes church
attendance sound like a punishment when it should be a joy." Surely
some will cry, "It is unconstitutional." What this really shows is the
total frustration of judges. She has no $250,000 fine money. Who will
take care of the children if she goes to prison? After three years will
she start all over in drug trafficking?
What judges are noticing is this. Parents who take their children to
Sunday school and worship and then live and practice these Christian
principles at home have about a ninety percent success rate with their
children. Some have said, "Oh, we took our children to church, but just
look at them." Nothing could be more frustrating to a child than to hear
the beautiful principles ad values of Jesus and then live with parents
who never practice them.
The judge was sending a message here to parents, and the message is
this. If you love your children and want them to grow up with values and
convictions and to lead a productive life, take them to Jesus, the
greatest teacher and the greatest life that has ever been lived, and
then live this life before them at home. There are a few of these who
are overcome by the world and peer pressure but only a few. Jesus said,
"Suffer the little children to come unto me and forbid them not ...'
(Matthew 19:14). The wise man said, "Train up a child in the way he
should go and when he is old he will not depart" (Proverbs 22:6).
And how is Emma doing? Emma has not missed a service and she says she
loves it. Emma says being with better people is making her better. What
if the judge had sentenced Emma to us? What would she see in our house?
The whole country is watching Emma's case.
The Messenger, the weekly bulletin of the Slicer Street Church of Christ in Kennett, MO, date unknown.