A Kansas City trial for nuclear activists arrested for trespassing at one of the largest weapons centers in the country took a theological turn right before Christmas, according to the National Catholic Reporter.

The prosecutor, Kendrea White asked one of the defendants, 80 year old Oblate Father Carl Kabat, “Don’t you teach your parishioners to obey the rules?”

“God’s rules,” Kabat responded.

“Aren’t those rules the same as the law?”

“Well, I went to school in Mississippi [pre-civil rights] …”

The prosecutor, a black woman, interrupted: “OK, let me rephrase the question. Should you obey rules?”

Kabat went on to answer her question by saying that: “It was absolutely right for Rosa Parks not to get up and move to the back of the bus.”

Although he said he understood the Rosa Parks argument, Judge Ardie Bland, also African American, convicted the activists of trespassing. When it came to sentencing, however, he said he wanted to “do something a little different.” Bland sentenced the defendants to write a one-page single-spaced essay on each of six questions. Three of those questions focused on nuclear weapons. But for Threshold the three more interesting questions were questions of “God’s law” versus “human law”:

  • Fr. [Carl] Kabat says that you should disobey ungodly laws. How do you respond to someone who believes there is no God? Who is to say what God believes, for example, when Christians used God to justify slavery and the Crusades?
  • How do you respond to those who have a God different from you when they argue that their religion is to crush others into dust?
  • Who determines what “God’s law” is, given the history of the USA and the world?

How would you answer one or more of these great questions? We’d like to hear from you as we seek to restore justice to the center of the church’s mission. Share your answers in the comments section or on Facebook (or even Twitter if you can do it in 140 characters).

Leave a Reply