This morning at 3:00 AM, I was awakened to the sound of a heavy thumping at my front door followed by the muffled directive to open up. Alarmed by the sudden intrusion, I staggered from bed and cautiously approached the door. Through the peep hole, I was relieved to see it was just the police and immediately opened the door, only to find myself hammered to the floor, cuffed and thrown into the back of a police van with a number of other surprised individuals.
“What is going on?” I yelled out through the barred back doors of the van as they were slammed shut. The others, apparently too frightened to talk looked at me in horror and shook their heads. My fellow passengers did not possess the looks of hardened criminals, but rather a band of pajama clad church goers.
The ride to the police station was filled with sobbing and uncertainty as well as a number of questions to find the common denominator to our abrupt incarceration. “What did we do?” cried one woman. “Where are they taking us?” came a question from the only other man in the van. Each was answered with, “I don’t know.”
“Anyone here mind if I pray?” I said. “No, no please do, I’m a Christian.” Came one reply. “Yes, me too.” “Yeah, so am I.” Until all seven of us had landed on the tie which bound us all.
“So that’s it, it’s started.” I replied.
“Oh, for heaven’s sake, how did they find us so quickly?” The bed headed blonde replied.
“I don’t know, but they just passed the law last month.” I said.
“What law, I don’t follow politics?” responded a woman in her late teens or early twenties.
“You haven’t heard about the new law requiring all Christians to register with a state approved church?” answered the other man in the van.
“No.., that’s crazy! This is America, we don’t do that here.” The young girl exclaimed.
“Apparently, we do now.” I replied, “I just didn’t think it would come to this so quick. “How did they know?”
“Know what? We’re not criminals.” Said the frightened young woman.
That was 15 hours ago, and now I’m sitting in a chair in the middle of an empty room. The small mirrored rectangular window to my front and the heavy steal door to my left are the only noteworthy things to this otherwise sterile room until the silence is interrupted by the entrance of three unhappy looking men.
Mr. Stevens, do you know why you’re here? The tall grim figure said, breaking the silence.
“No, I can’t say that I do.” I coolly reply.
“You have not registered with a church?” He wasted no time in his answer.
“I don’t recall that being one of my Constitutional obligations.” I replied, and immediately my response is met with a thud of a heavy fist against my brow. And no sooner do I hit the floor then I am yanked up by my collar and planted firmly back into the chair.
“You obviously don’t understand that our actions come with the full support of Congress, the President and the Supreme Court. So there will be no lawyer coming to your rescue.”
And it was at this moment that it settled in, my country was not the same country I had known as a boy. We had crossed the line and the weight of his words draped over my shoulders like a dense midnight fog.
“So…, Your options are limited. You can either register with the state sponsored Christian church of your choice, or you can be sent to the penitentiary.”
“Huh, huh.” A sarcastic laugh escaped my gut. “No trial?”
“Okay, Mr. Stevens, I will humor you with a trial. Your name is Alexander Thadeus Stevens, Age 38. You are a deacon at the Lake Street Christian Church. You lead a small group of other born-again believers in your home. You regularly shop online for many of your Christian materials, you back up all of your computers online and your emails tell us you are heavily engaged in sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ to as many people as you can. Did you think search engines were only an information gathering tool for citizens?”
I wasn’t aware that these activities were criminal behavior.” I said.
“Mr. Stevens…,” he replied. “You are an intelligent man. If you wish to be released, all you have to do is sign a registry affidavit. Your choice.”
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