Jake Strotman went to the U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati on Jan. 23 to see the hometown Cyclones play the Fort Wayne Komets in a hockey game. It just happened to be dollar beer night at the game and Strotman may have done a bit more than just slake his thirst.
After the game he was in a celebrative mood over the Cyclones win. He was still relishing the sweet taste of victory as he exited the arena, but his exuberance quickly abated when he was confronted with a band of zealous Baptist street preachers. As Strotman, a Catholic, approached the sidewalk evangelists he felt condemned by their message and decided to give them his “two-cents worth.”
Strotman’s comments ignited the ire of another overly zealous fan and within seconds there was confrontation, screaming, and threats. An altercation erupted resulting in a smashed camera, which one of the Baptists had brought to film any possible clash that might ensue.
USA Today reported, “Strotman somehow ended up at the bottom of a pile and ‘was eating asphalt.’ He pushed himself up with one hand and planted another hand square on the face near the bespectacled eye of Joshua Johnson, who had just been preaching the Word of God.”
As a result of the ruckus, Stotman was charged with low-level assault and recently had to appear in court to account for his actions and face the verdict of Judge William Mallory, who has been known to hand out some creative sentences.
Mallory is not the only judge to get creative in his sentences. Judge Mike Erwin of Baton Rouge heard the case of a young man who hit an elderly man in an argument over something that was really inane. For his sentence Erwin had the young man listen to a John Prine song, “Hello in There,” about lonely old people and write an essay about it.
In Coshocton, OH a man who had run away from police after a traffic accident was brought before Judge David Hostetler. Hostetler sentenced him to jog around the block where the jail is located for an hour every other day.
In Cincinnati, Strotman, a self-employed salesman of windows, doors, and siding, was standing before Judge Mallory awaiting his sentence and fearing the worst. He could have been sentenced to 90 days in jail, but was hoping against hope that he would not have to be incarcerated. He even suggested the possibility of doing some kind of public service – even in a church.
Mallory heard Strotman’s appeal with interest and settled upon what he believed to be an equitable solution to the problem. Strotman was sentenced to attend 12 consecutive Sunday services at Morning Star Baptist Church where Joshua Johnson was pastor. He also paid $480 in court fines and a $2,800 lawyer bill.
What was Strotman’s reaction to the sentence? According to the USA Today, Strotman stated, “Three months, that is not that bad. I think it is a nice example of hearing people out instead of getting angry and jumping to conclusions. I am going to listen with both my ears and keep my mouth shut. Then, maybe I’ll sell them some windows.”
In this modern day of travel, leisure, and recreation it would be difficult to find many Baptists who attend their church 12 Sundays in a row. In fact, some of them would likely consider such a sentence cruel and unusual punishment.
Interestingly, the Southern Baptist Convention has spoken against drinking more than 50 times dating back to 1886. However, in 2006 I had the opportunity to be a member of the SBC Resolutions Committee and we had several very controversial issues we addressed including immigration and the environment, but the debate time was dominated by a resolution on alcohol.
Baptist Press reported, “When the back-and-forth on alcohol finally ended, the messengers passed with about a four-fifths majority a resolution not only opposing the manufacture and consumption of alcohol but urging the exclusion of Southern Baptists who drink from election to the convention’s boards, committees, and entities.”
Since SBC messengers are primarily pastors, church staff, denominational workers, and committed laity one would have to think the average Southern Baptist would have a more liberal, lenient view of alcohol than those who attend the convention annual session.
Therefore, if the same resolution on alcohol were to be voted on by all 15.5 million Southern Baptists one would have to wonder if it would even pass. Obviously, not all imbibers of alcohol get into brawls and rows, but if all Southern Baptists who drink alcoholic beverages were sentenced to 12 Consecutive Sundays of church attendance it would probably fill most of our churches to capacity.
However, it is a rather sad commentary on Baptists today.