One church used a demonstration to show how people in other countries are being prosecuted for their religious beliefs.
On March 7, the First Baptist Church of Rockingham held a mock trial of someone accused of being a Christian.
This exercise was held as part of Youth Week at the First Baptist Church. The leaders and youth of Freedom Baptist Church of Rockingham were witnesses to the trial as well.
The part of the defendant “Bob Barker” was played by Mark Duncan. The defense attorney was played by Ric Buckner. The judge was the Honorable Michael Beale, Miranda Duncan was a witness, and the prosecuting attorney was Rev. Jim Nelson.
Prosecutor Nelson said (about the mock trial), “We don’t try these cases in the press, but I can assure you if we did not have the evidence to convict we would not have brought the charges.”
Buckner, playing the defense attorney, said, “My client will have no comment, but this is simply a case of a good kid being in the wrong place at the wrong time. We are mortified that the press have picked up on this.”
Presiding Judge Michael Beale explained that although the youth wa being tried as a juvenile, he decided to open the proceedings because “these sort of charges are being routinely handled on a daily basis, and the public has a right to know what is going on. The charges have serious consequences in this life, and the next, and I assure you this young man will receive a fair trial.”
“There is a real case of a Christian on trial and in peril of being executed right now,” said Debbie Holloway, associate pastor of children and youth at First Baptist Church of Rockingham. “Youcef Anardkanian’s case (in Iran) can be found on Jay Sekulow’s website and the ALCJ websites. He was found guilty of things that are not even legally a crime in his country and is in imminent danger of being executed. We want our young people to know what they believe and why they believe it. We want them to know that not only their words but their actions tell us who they are.”
“If you are a Christian, you would not be afraid to admit you are,” said Holloway. “You walk the walk and talk the talk.”
During the mock trial, the nearly 50 youth were split into four juries, each accompanied by an adult to answer technical questions. Half of the youth voted not guilty, while the other half said he was.
“They were quite interested in what we were doing,” said Nelson. “The concept was based on Christians being persecuted around the world.”
Nelson explained that during the trail, he was the attorney trying the Christian. The premise was that if the defendant was a Christian, he wouldn’t have done anything bad in his life. Nelson said one of the lessons learned was that if someone is a believer, they may not be perfect. Someone who has done some wrong in their life may still be a believer.
“The scripture says if you trust Christ you are a believer,” said Nelson. “The scripture also says you will know by the fruit if someone is a Christian. It’s all a matter of what is in your heart.”
The youth in attendance learned that people are still being prosecuted for their religion around the world, and what it means to say you are a believer and to have it reflect in your life.
— Staff Writer Dawn M. Kurry can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 15, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.