We're still waiting to hear from the judges on the appeal. We prayed again this morning that this thing could be dropped. Ken is fullfilling an extremely vital role in this church (Pilgrim Christian Fellowship). Thanks to all of our supporters for the steady flow of donations this year. I've updated the numbers on the donation thermometer.
This letter was written by Ken to the judge before his sentencing in 2013.
February 14, 2013
The Honorable William K. Sessions
U.S. District Court
P.O. Box 928
Burlington, VT 05402-0928
I am grateful for the opportunity of speaking to the Court. After more than three weeks of
incarceration, with plenty of time for prayer, reflection, and study of the Scriptures, I find my
faith and conscience and moral convictions considerably strengthened. My position remains the
same. I am unable for reasons of faith and conscience (which I shall try to outline more fully) to
answer certain questions before the Federal Grand Jury. I take no delight in burdening the Court,
but find myself compelled to this position by my deeply held moral beliefs.
Your Honor, at my last hearing, the Court clearly articulated the implications of continued
noncooperation. I went back to my cell that night, and with much anguish and many tears,
considered very seriously what Your Honor had said. Still, the fact remains, that to testify would
require me to compromise my faith, violate my conscience, and go against my deeply held moral
May I elaborate?
Your Honor, the U. S. Prosecutor has stated
— in essence— that he doesn’t think my faith is
sincere, that I am like a drug dealer in a gang refusing to testify for criminal reasons, and that my
religion is merely a cloak for my actions. Your Honor, with all due respect, the U.S. prosecutor is
badly mistaken. I think an examination of my life will show that my faith in Jesus Christ as Co-
Creator and Savior of the World, informs and affects every part of my life.
By His grace and mercy, which is available to all of us sinners, He has transformed my life. He
fills my inner person with His peaceful presence. He has made me a citizen of His Kingdom
the Kingdom of Heaven. I love Him more and more. The earthly life of Jesus is my example and
pattern. I accept His teachings as authoritative and relevant for today, to be obeyed by all true
followers of Jesus.
Can I be permitted to give a few examples of how Jesus’ teaching affects me in real life?
Your Honor, the reason I and my people cannot swear the oath, even in a court setting such as
this, is because Jesus taught a new standard of honesty which forbids all swearing of oaths. The
reason I and my people seek to love our enemies and to do good to those who would harm us,
instead of retaliating or going to war, is because Jesus
— by His teachings and example taught us
to love. By His love in us we can practice forgiveness even in extreme cases such as in the
school shooting in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania some years ago.
I and my people do not have television in our homes because Jesus taught a new and higher
morality in which lust is adultery, and we do not want to put in front of our families material that
would violate Jesus’ standard. I and my people dress the way we do because of the Apostles’
teaching in modesty and non-conformity to fashion. Our ladies cover their heads in obedience to
the Apostle Paul’s teaching in his letter to the Corinthian Church. I hope it can be understood
that I and my people take the Scriptures seriously and that we sincerely seek to obey Christ in all
Regarding the issues at the heart of the matter before the Court, I and my people believe the New
Testament clearly indicates that as Co-Creator of the world, Jesus co-authored with His Father
the basic social elements of the human race
— marriage, family and parenthood. As articulated
in the Genesis account, God defines marriage, family and parenthood in gender-specific terms
such as man and woman, male and female, father and mother.
As God incarnate, Jesus of Nazareth, in His earthly ministry, confirmed the order established at
the beginning of the human race. In His teaching on marriage, family and parenting, Jesus spoke
without exception in gender-specific terms such as male and female, husband and wife, father
and mother. The apostles Jesus chose to carry on His ministry after He ascended back to heaven
also affirmed - without exception
– the moral and family order as it was established at the
Creation. I can speak with certainty about these matters, Your Honor, having read through the
Bible many times.
For two thousand years, the Church has upheld the moral and family order established by God.
Only in the last several decades have clergy and churches
— almost exclusively in the West —
adopted a radically revisionist approach to the Scriptures on these matters, an approach that
would most certainly have been rejected by the Church Fathers in the first centuries after Christ.
The vast majority of peoples all over
the world still believe in God’s original design for family,
marriage and parenthood. I and my people treasure God’s design for marriage, family and
parenthood, and by His grace, imperfectly to be sure, we seek to live out our understanding of
. The family unit is integral to our way of live and large families with 6 - 8 children
or more, are not uncommon.
Now we, and many like us, find ourselves in the middle of a great cultural shift.
Here in America, which has less than 5%
of the world’s population, there are great changes
taking place, changes that are having an increasing effect on the rest of the world. We view these
changes with great sadness.
It is obvious to us that there are forces in Western society that are seeking to re-engineer and
redefine marriage, family and parenthood. These forces seem to be operating through all the
agencies of our society, through the media, the entertainment world, the educational system,
through modern psychology, through law and government, and even through churches.
It seems these forces are coordinated, determined and relentless. Whoever does not conform to
the new agenda or whoever speaks in defense of God’s original design is liable to be
marginalized or penalized in some way.
Your Honor, the bottom line is, I cannot with a clear conscience cooperate with the forces that
would punish someone who, in an attempt to honor God’s order, acted according to their own
faith and conscience. To cooperate would be inconsistent with my own moral beliefs and would
be inconsistent with the teachings of Christ’s Kingdom.
We Amish and Mennonites have no political agenda at all. We do not actively support any
political candidates, nor do we get involved in political issues. In fact, we do not even vote. My
actions in the Lisa Miller case were not in any way politically motivated. Furthermore, we take
very seriously and very literally Jesus’ commandment that says “love your enemies.” We
therefore do not hate homosexuals, nor do we want to cause them harm.
So how did I get involved in the Lisa Miller case? Would your Honor allow me to explain?
I had never met Lisa Miller before September, 2009, when she suddenly came to me for help.
She had been given my name by a friend. She told me that the Vermont family court wanted to
take her daughter, Isabella, away from her and give it to another woman, Janet Jenkins, with
whom Lisa had once had a brief lesbian relationship. She told me that the laws of our state
Virginia did not recognize civil unions between members of the same sex. However, Vermont
was still trying to take her daughter away from her.
So what I faced was a woman in distress who needed help to protect her daughter from what
seemed to be an inhumane Vermont court decree. I did not know about the visitation order at the
time. I was under the impression that Lisa Miller was out of options; that the custody transfer
was imminent, likely to happen within days; that the only way Lisa Miller could keep her
daughter was to flee immediately. As a pastor accustomed to helping those who come to me in
need, I had great sympathy for her plight as I understood it and my moral convictions were
aroused. Whatever actions were taken were taken entirely to prevent that future transfer of
custody, not to frustrate existing parental rights, which
—due to the complexity and apparent
urgency of the matter
–I did not understand very well at the time. I was therefore surprised when
the transfer of custody didn’t happen for two months.
Your Honor, I have ill will toward no one. I have nothing but love in my heart for individuals or
communities who do not see things as I and my people do. I only wish the love and mercy and
the transforming power of Jesus of Nazareth upon all of us poor sinners. If part of my sentence
could include service to the gay community
—such as to persons suffering from AIDS—I would
welcome such an opportunity to demonstrate such love to my fellow man.
I have only love and respect for the U.S. prosecutors. They are extremely good at what they do.
In conclusion, if it is true that my actions flow out of my faith in Jesus, and from my deeply held
— and I sincerely think they do — then it must follow that whatever judgment is
being brought against me by the United States of America, is judgment on my faith and
conscience and deeply moral beliefs.
Your Honor, I have concluded there is no other option for me, but to face that judgment by the
grace of God. In the words of Luther, “I can do no other. Here I stand.”
Your Honor, if further incarceration is deemed necessary, I would respectfully plead to be
allowed to spend a little time with my family before turning myself in to whatever facility is
May God Bless You, Your Honor.
Northwest State Correctional Center