Is Christianity Essentially A Jail?

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Is Christianity Essentially A Jail?

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For many, living under the auspice of the Bible is not only seemingly impossible, but, perhaps, a ridiculous idea.

You know the story, don’t you? A young Christian at college gets invited to a party and says, “I just can’t go.” The organizer says, “Why not?” The Christian responds, “It’s not what I believe or follow.” It’s enough to make some believe that Christianity is too restrictive, rules-minded, and life-altering.

They may say, “Why should I follow something that will limit me?” Of course, the catch for our culture is that freedom is defined as having no restrictions — to shed all authority and discover what works best for you.

Ironically, that is exactly what biblical Christianity is all about – allowing you to discover what’s best for you. Following the risen Christ allows you to really thrive in the purpose God created you for (to glorify His name).

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In John 8:31-38, Jesus unpacks two truths that help answer the question, “Is Christianity a jail?”

First, Jesus—God in the flesh—teaches that true, authentic freedom is found only in serving the living God.Serving” seemingly reeks with the chains of non-freedom. But freedom isn’t just throwing off any man-made restraints. It also comes from within:

“Jesus answered them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin.’” (John 8:34)

In other words, we all work hard for something – success, romance, acceptance, achievement, materialism — that we think will fulfill us. And, instead, of us controlling whatever that is, that thing ends up controlling us.

But notice what Jesus says in John 8:35-36:

“The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

Is Christianity Essentially A Jail?

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The son has real freedom. But why is that? Because the son knows he is in union with the Father. No matter what we may chase in this life, nothing can replace the fact that we are created for God and His purposes. Moreover, the son also knows that the Father best recognizes the way he should live. The world claims that true freedom is experienced by whatever we want. Yet, Jesus Christ says that His freedom is doing what you were created to do—following Him.

Real freedom is found only in serving the living God. Freedom isn’t just living independently. We all long and cling to something—known or unspoken. That thing becomes our master and lord. The world says freedom isn’t having a boss or master. Jesus says that true freedom comes with acknowledging and having the right Master.

Secondly, the biblical Gospel alone sets you free. Let’s be honest—when you don’t live in the Father’s house mentioned above, then yes, the Father’s house is going to be like and feel like slavery. We become resentful of being in such a home and look for “greener pastures” and a chance to get away.

Notice Jesus’ words in John 8:37-38:

“I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Jesus wants to give us back the heart of the son in this passage. A son who trusts, loves and follows his Father. One that is like the Father in all respects and loves what his Father loves. You need the Holy Spirit of God to change your heart, not more resolutions or plans to “do better.” You need to be absolutely overcome by Jesus’ love for you and what He did for you in the Gospel.

For many who are reading this, going to church and trying to live the Christian life does feel like drag. They reason many believe that Christianity is restrictive is because they’ve never accepted Jesus’ free offer of forgiveness by repenting and believing the Gospel.

Remember Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28:

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”

Life isn’t a “cake walk” with Jesus. But He will sustain you and satisfy you under any burden.

So, make a choice today: Would you rather have a burden or the right master? I don’t know about you, but the biblical Jesus is my desire, not a burden. Only is Him can true, non-restrictive freedom found.

What is your choice today?

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Student Threw A Paper Airplane. He Now Faces 30 Days In Jail.

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Student Threw A Paper Airplane. He Now Faces 30 Days In Jail

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ANDERSON, S.C. — A high school student was charged with assault and battery for throwing a paper airplane in class. If he is convicted of the charge, David Michael Elliott, 17, could be sentenced to 30 days in jail.

Elliott was arrested, booked into the Georgetown County Detention Center in South Carolina, and released on a $1,087.50 bond on Jan. 10, The South Strand News reported.

He was arrested and charged after throwing a paper airplane that struck teacher Edward McIver in the eye during class at Andrews High in Georgetown, S.C.

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“That’s the law enforcement side,” Andrews High School Principal Michelle Greene said. “That is a violation of school policy, but if law enforcement … deem it necessary to get a warrant for it, then that’s what happens. The school does not interfere with law enforcement business, and they don’t interfere with ours.”

School resource officer and Georgetown County Sheriff’s Deputy Paul Glover decided to charge Elliott with third-degree assault and battery, a misdemeanor, after the 17-year-old said he was trying to hit McIver in the head with the paper plane. McIver instead was hit in the eye, which appeared very red, The South Strand News reported. McIver recently had had ocular surgery.

“If any employee believes a crime has taken place, we report it,” said Alan Walters, the director of Safety and Risk Management for the Georgetown County School District. “Law enforcement makes a decision if a crime occurred or not and, if it did, whether they choose to file charges or not.”

The teacher apparently told Glover that he and the student had had past confrontations and “something needs to be done.”

Do you believe the student should have been charged? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Homeschool Mom Sentenced To 6 Months In Jail For Minor Paperwork Mistake

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Homeschool Mom Sentenced To 6 Months In Jail For Minor Paperwork Mistake

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — An unidentified homeschool mother in Ohio faced up to 180 days in jail for not filing paperwork on time – even though she taught her child the entire time.

The mother’s problems began when she withdrew her child from public school in January 2015, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) reported. The child thrived in the new environment, leading the mom to want to continue the homeschool path.

In May 2015, the school district sent the mom a letter notifying her about the upcoming annual notification process for the next school year – a process she knew little about. She phoned the school and was told she needed “to file a notice and an end-of-year assessment” but was told “there’s no deadline,” said HSLDA, which is representing the mom. She even was told by the school that many homeschoolers teach their children year-round – something that she decided to try that summer.

In September 2015 the mom was preparing to send in her paperwork when she got a notice telling her it actually was due on August 1, even though she had been told there was no deadline. Her child had been marked absent from school for six weeks. She hastily sent in the paperwork and the school district OK’d it, but the story turned into a nightmare when she received a summons to criminal court for charges of “contributing to the delinquency” of a minor. It mattered little that her child had scored in the 97th percentile on a standardized evaluation test.

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“At the trial, the mother testified extensively about her decision to homeschool, her conversation with school officials, her son’s summer-school program, and his stellar assessment results,” HSLDA wrote.

The magistrate, though, sentenced her to 180 days (six months) in jail, which was suspended if she and her child attended truancy classes (which they did).

That sentence had to be approved by a court of common pleas judge, who overturned the magistrate’s decision but convicted her of “failure to send a child to school” – a misdemeanor.

HSLDA said it will appeal.

“While we are relieved that the judge revoked the magistrate’s ‘contributing’ conviction along with its draconian sentence of jail time, we are disappointed that the judge instituted any conviction at all,” HSLDA wrote. “We are preparing an appeal to overturn this new conviction on grounds that were raised before the magistrate and the court of common pleas, both of which ignored our arguments. The state’s evidence fell far short of the standard required for a criminal conviction, and we will make sure the court of appeals receives that message loud and clear.”

What is your reaction to this story? Should the state regulate homeschooling? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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Cancer Patient Sentenced To 90 Days In Jail For Something Most Of Us Have Done

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Cancer Patient Sentenced To 90 Days In Jail For Writing $200 in Bad Checks

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A judge sentenced a cancer patient to 90 days in jail for writing merely $200 worth of bad checks in what critics are calling an unconstitutional debtors prison.

The man, Lee Robertson, was unable to pay the checks because chemotherapy made him too weak to work, and in jail he didn’t get his medicine, a lawsuit alleges.

Robertson was a victim of a court in Sherwood, Arkansas, that teams up with local businesses to exploit the poor and make money for the city, according to a lawsuit filed by the Arkansas Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. He was one of only hundreds of people who were jailed and forced to pay money to the courts because of small checks.

The court has collected about $12 million in five years, comprising about 12 percent of the city’s budget, according to The Huffington Post.

People are arrested for “failure to pay” or “failure to appear” in court, and even the smallest of overdrawn checks can bring fines of $400.

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“This is a broken court system that disregards due process rights at every turn,” said Kristen Clarke, the executive director of the Lawyers Committee.

The suit alleges that the Hot Check Division of the Sherwood municipal court orders people to pay large fines to avoid time behind bars.

“People are doomed for failure when they appear before the court, and most significantly trapped in this never-ending cycle of expanding debt,” Clarke told The Post.

According to the suit, bailiffs tell defendants that family and friends are not allowed inside the court. Defendants are forced to sign a waiver of counsel, meaning they forfeit their right to have a lawyer present, The Post reported.

Another defendant, Nikki Petree, was arrested seven times for a $28.93 bad check. She served 25 days in jail and had to pay the city $640.

Another man, Richard Green Sr., was still paying fines of $200 a month on a bad check he wrote for $58 in 1998, The Arkansas Times reported. Green claims to have spent 405 days in jail because of the check.

“I’ve probably paid thousands and thousands of dollars,” Green said. “I have lost everything because of this. … It’s just a revolving cycle I’m on. You never know when you’re going to get it paid off. It’ll seem like you’re going to get it paid off, but you don’t get it paid off. You think it’s going down, but then it’s going back up on you. You never get through paying.”

Debtors’ prisons have been making a comeback in America even though the US Supreme Court ruled them unconstitutional in 1983. In 2014, National Public Radio uncovered evidence of people being jailed for debt all over the nation.

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Man Arrested, Jailed For 29 Days Because Of Homemade Soap

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Man Arrested, Jailed For 29 Days Because Of Homemade Soap

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Alexander J. Bernstein spent 29 days in jail and lost everything because Pennsylvania state police could not tell the difference between homemade soap and cocaine.

His friend, Anadel Cruz, had placed two large bars of homemade soap in the trunk of a rental car, and Bernstein was driving through the state when police pulled him over on Interstate 78 near Allentown for driving five miles over the speed limit – 60 mph in a 55 mph zone.

Troopers searched the vehicle, found the soap and decided it looked like cocaine, according to The Allentown Morning.

The two were driving from New York to Florida to visit Cruz’s sister, and he told the police that the soap – wrapped in clear plastic – was not drugs. Bernstein and Cruz were taken to a state police barracks, where, incredibly, a drug test falsely identified the soap as cocaine. Bernstein was charged with drug trafficking and held in the Leigh County Prison on $500,000 bail for 29 days. During that time, he lost his job, apartment and possessions, the newspaper reported.

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If that was not bad enough, Bernstein also missed spending Thanksgiving with his 17-month-old son. A lawsuit claims the man was left homeless and destitute.

The real reason the vehicle was pulled over was that it was a luxury car, a Mercedes Benz, with out-of-state license plates driven by a Hispanic woman (Cruz), attorney Josua Karoly told The Allentown Morning Call. Karoly represented Bernstein in a suit against the state.

Man Arrested, Jailed For 29 Days Because Of Homemade Soap

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“If it was me driving that car, this wouldn’t have happened,” Karoly said.

State Settles 

The charges were dismissed after a lab test verified that the substance was indeed soap. Disturbingly, Bernstein still had to pay $32,000 in bail and court costs even though he was innocent, a lawsuit charges.

“[Bernstein] did not so much as receive an apology from the defendants,” his attorney, Joshua Karoly, wrote in the suit.

“And even then, the FBI, the internet and other media sources will still contain a permanent record of his arrest and the criminal charges upon which he was maliciously prosecuted,” Bernstein’s lawsuit charges.

In the end, it cost Pennsylvania’s taxpayers $195,000 to settle his federal lawsuit against the state, The Morning Call reported.

Bernstein may not be alone; thousands of innocent people might be in jail or prison because of faulty drug tests, Pro Publica charged. The tests are often used as evidence against suspects, even though they can be wrong. Around 33 percent of field tests examined by authorities in Las Vegas were wrong, Pro Publica reported. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement lab discovered that 21 percent of the substances police identified as methamphetamines using the tests were not meth.

Pro Publica said more than 100,000 people each year plead guilty to drug possession based on field tests.

“Police officers aren’t chemists,” former Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland told ProPublica. “We shouldn’t be doing field tests on the hood of patrol cars.”

What is your reaction to this story? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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These 2 Men Face 12 Months In Jail For Selling Beer (Yes, Beer)

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These 2 Men Face 12 Months In Jail For Selling Beer (Yes, Beer)Two Minnesota men are facing more than a year in jail for selling a microbrew at a neighborhood bar.

The two are facing felony charges for bootlegging (transporting alcohol without a license) by driving to Wisconsin to pick up 10 kegs of legal beer made by a licensed brewer.

In a scene right out of Prohibition, undercover agents walked into the Maple Tavern in Maple Grove, Minnesota, and ordered pints of Spotted Cow, a popular ale made by the New Glarus brewery in Wisconsin. After they got their beer, the agents had the beer tested, and later arrested Brandon Hlavka and David Lantos because Spotted Cow can be legally sold only in Wisconsin, The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

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Hlavka and Lantos acknowledged they drove to Wisconsin to get the ale last April because it is not sold by distributors in Minnesota. Undercover agents from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety visited the tavern after receiving a tip.

21st Century Prohibition

If the two are found guilty, they could face at least one year in jail, Watchdog Minnesota reports. The two are scheduled to be in court on March 2. writer Eric Boehm said the entire episode is ludicrous.

“The two men bought the beer in Wisconsin, which is legal,” he wrote. “They brought it back across the border to Minnesota, which is legal … as long as you don’t re-sell the product. They served it in a bar that has a license to sell beer in Minnesota, which is also legal. And even though those three things are legal in the abstract, when you put them together it is a recipe for a felony offense.”

Interestingly enough, St. Paul, Minnesota, near Maple Grove, was a famous center for bootlegging during Prohibition, Boehm noted.

“But now, long after Prohibition has ended, Minnesota might send two men to jail for selling beer,” Boehm wrote. “That’s life in the Nanny State. I need a drink.”

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Major U.S. City ‘Disappears’ 7,000 Citizens In Secret Facility

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Major U.S. City ‘Disappears’ 7,000 Citizens In Secret Facility

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More than 7,000 people may have been “disappeared,” held and interrogated in a secret and unconstitutional detention facility in the heart of America’s third-largest city.

The Guardian newspaper is alleging that Chicago police operated a secret holding facility for more than 10 years where 7,185 were held without trial or access to lawyers.

“That place was and is scary,” attorney David Gaeger said of Homan Square – the Chicago Police Department’s secret detention facility in an old warehouse. “It’s a scary place. There’s nothing about it that resembles a police station. It comes from a Bond movie or something.”

Gaeger isn’t alone in his description of Holman.

“The reality is, no one knows where that person is at Homan Square,” Craig Futterman, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School professor. “They’re disappeared at that point.”

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Disappeared is a term that refers to a tactic used by secret police under dictators such as Russia’s Joseph Stalin and Chile’s Augusto Pinochet. A person who was “disappeared” was taken away by police or government thugs, never to be seen again.

Chicago Police were able to do an end-run around the courts and the Constitution by simply taking suspects they arrested to Homan Square, a police evidence warehouse, instead of booking them into jail, The Guardian is alleging. That violated the law, the Constitution and the police department’s own rules, the newspaper alleged.

“It’s hard to believe that 7,185 arrests is an accurate number of arrestees at Homan Square,” Futterman said. Documents released because of a Guardian lawsuit show that that many people were detained at Homan Square between August 2004 and June 2015. The facility has been compared to one of the black sites where the CIA allegedly holds suspected terrorists.

Attorneys allege they have no way to know if their clients are there or not.

“Try finding a phone number for Homan to see if anyone’s there,” Gaeger said. “You can’t, ever. If you’re laboring under the assumption that your client’s at Homan, there really isn’t much you can do as a lawyer. You’re shut out. It’s guarded like a military installation.”

Prisoners who are taken to Homan Square are not allowed to make phone calls. They are alone with the police and completely at the mercy of interrogators.

The police use a simple bureaucratic trick to hide people at Homan Square: They don’t book suspects.

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Police greatly increased the use of Homan Square after Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former chief of staff; took over as Chicago’s mayor, The Guardian reported. Reporters have not been able to determine how much Emanuel knew about the facility, although he has defended it.

According to the Guardian, 65 percent of the people taken to Homan Square were taken there after Emanuel was elected mayor. The newspaper also reported that 82.2 percent of the people detained there were African-American, even though only 33 percent of Chicago’s population is black.

“Operating a massive, red-brick warehouse between two of the most crime-filled areas in the city of Chicago, equipped with floodlights, cameras, razor-wire – this near-paramilitary wing of the government that we’ve created, I would say that people who live close to it know what purpose it serves the most,” Gaeger said.

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