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Philip Zodhiates update

I have ended up (through an indirect process that I can't now reconstruct) signed up for e-mail updates on the status of Philip Zodhiates in prison. Zodhiates is one of our U.S. true prisoners of conscience, as was Kenneth Miller. These men, and Timothy Miller (not related to Kenneth) have all spent time in federal prison for the "crime" of helping Lisa Miller (also not related) to escape with her daughter Isabella from having to turn Isabella over to Lisa's former lesbian lover, Janet Jenkins. I have written extensively about the case over the years. See the tag here. Not all posts have been tagged, but the earlier posts link to yet earlier posts. Lisa and Isabella remain "at large" in Nicaragua. I believe Isabella is now almost sixteen years old. Some conjecture that Lisa may come back and serve prison time when Isabella is eighteen and can no longer be forced to live with Jenkins. I hope that Lisa does not do that, but the idea is that she will do so because she would not want the men who helped her to "do time" while she goes free.

Zodhiates sends updates on how he and his wife are doing to be sent out via e-mail list, but my understanding is that there is no objection to the posting of these updates more widely. The most recent one is particularly informative, in the form of a Q & A, so I thought I would post it here. (Since I'm blogging less these days, I try to post things that readers are unlikely to see elsewhere.)

If you want to sign up for e-mail updates on this case, e-mail info@419fund.com and ask to be added to the e-mail list on Philip Zodhiates.

Philip also posts Scriptural and other musings from prison at a blog here.

The crowdfunding site for the case is here.

Note the mention of the civil case. I don't know why it has been at a standstill for so long, but Philip believes that that aspect of the persecution will start back up again in December.

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Q. I often wonder what the rest of your day is like (besides spending time in Scripture and writing)?

A. I normally awaken around 7 or 7:30 and spend until lunch time (between 10:30 and 11) reading the Bible and in prayer. Of course, I also brush my teeth and make instant coffee, and usually email Kathie good morning greetings. After lunch, I’ll read a book (I’m on my 55th book), or begin writing my journal until noon, and then, if the weather is nice, I will go outside to the recreational yard and walk 2 ½ miles around the track. I try to do that within 40 minutes. I then usually will read until I come in between 2pm and 3pm. Once in a while I might play a game called bocce (I’ve done this twice in 5 months). I will come back and read more, or write, until bedtime, which is between 10:00 and 11:00. Supper is between 4:30 and 5:00 for me. Once in a while, I may listen to the radio for a break, or work on a crossword puzzle. TV is available, but I don’t watch it. That’s pretty much my day. However, I am now taking two classes: one at 2:00 on Tuesdays (the Case for Christ video series) and a business class for two hours at noon on Wednesdays.

Q. What are your fellow prisoners like? Do they cause trouble or do they leave you alone?

A. I am, for the most part, treated with great respect, even admiration, by other prisoners, especially those who know why I am here. This is a huge answer to prayer! In our unit of around 100 men, there are a number of true believers – probably four (including me) who I can say are truly on fire for the Lord. One of them has just become a believer since I came. Others claim Christ, but I wouldn’t consider them on fire by any means. Although I believe they have accepted Christ, they do not show fruit of the Spirit. The majority (except the Muslims) would claim to also be Christians, but have never truly been born again. They are what I would call hereditary Christians. I’ve met a few who have just walked away from their “religion.” For the most part, the Muslims are respectful, with the exception of one, and willing to dialogue. The most difficult thing for me is hearing all the profanity, which seems to be everywhere except from the on-fire believers and the Muslims. So for the most part, I just keep to myself, unless someone has questions, problems, or just wants to dialogue with me.

Q. How is Kathie really doing? Do you get to see her?

A. An excellent wife is the crown of her husband (Proverbs 12:4). This truly defines Kathie. But to be honest, she really struggles with me being here (the injustice) and needs me to come home. She has had a lot of physical health problems and doesn’t feel she has fully overcome the pneumonia from February. She has spent months trying to find a lawyer in Virginia to take the civil case, and is constantly busy handling phone calls and emails from many people. She continues to fully trust the Lord and is believing in God for miracles. And even when she is feeling poorly, she makes the trek just about every week just to see me (9-10 hours total drive). She is the best, most faithful, God-fearing wife a man could ever have. But she misses me enormously, and has trouble sleeping without me by her side.

Q. Do you have phone usage – I think I saw there was no internet usage?

A. I get 300 minutes of phone privileges a month at a cost of around 8 cents a minute for local calls and 23 cents for long distance. We have no access to the internet, but can email up to 100 people through a specialized email system. The cost to email is 5 cents per minute and there is a 30 minute limit per session.

Q. How is William and the business doing?

A. By the grace of God, Response Unlimited is carrying on, and William is doing a fine job. My son Josiah also quit his managerial job this past winter at Chick-fil-A and is now working with Response Unlimited. There will be a new FAQ page at www.responseunlimited.com that was actually part of Josiah’s long-distance tutorial. Response Unlimited is currently not setting any records, but it is more than breaking-even, and I praise God for that!

Q. Is there anything else I/we could do from a distance that will make life for you or your family easier?

A. I wish there were. But really, the most important thing is to keep praying! The civil suit in Vermont is supposed to begin in December. There are always a lot of challenges at home, managing the home front. I know your prayers are sustaining us! I suppose you could recruit others to pray for us and to pray for revival in the church!

Q. And most importantly, how is your spiritual heart? I know you are studying and learning and writing and sharing, but how is it down deep inside?

A. I miss being with Kathie the most. And my granddaughter, who turns 1 this month, wouldn’t let me hold her when she was here on Monday. I hate that. I do speak with Kathie every day for nine or ten minutes, which is what I look forward to the most (besides the visits). Sometimes I get tired of reading and feel bored, so I turn on one of the Christian radio stations and that helps. But deep inside I am grateful to God for the opportunity to learn so much that He has shown me for the first time over the past 5 ½ months. And I enjoy teaching and encouraging other men in the Lord. I grieve for many of their souls, and wish the Holy Spirit would provide some genuine breakthroughs when it comes to their repentance and salvation. All in all, I am truly blessed and thankful to the Lord. I have nothing to complain about and am so very thankful for all the prayers and letters of encouragement. God is truly watching over me. I just wish soon He would allow me to go home. I’m not bitter, but I do want to move on with the rest of my life. This has been a good experience in many ways, and I have certainly learned a whole lot about my fellow man and other things God has showed me. I have everything to be grateful to God for. Thank you for continuing to lift us all up in prayer!

In His Service,

Philip

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It is heartening to know that Philip does not seem to be in physical danger from his fellow prisoners and that they respect him "for the most part." They seem to believe the true story of the reason why he is in prison, despite the fact that he was convicted for "kidnapping." May God's hand of protection continue to be over him.

I find that people who do not know about this case are often astonished to learn that Christians have literally spent time in federal prison for helping a woman escape with her biological daughter rather than give custody of her child to an unrelated former lesbian sexual partner. And it's worth noting too that this custody case arose under Vermont's civil union laws quite some years ago, well before Obergefell and even before the status of the two women was called "marriage." But of course the whole point of civil unions was that they were supposed to mimic marriage in all legal respects. The name difference made no legal difference.

It is sometimes astonishing to me how blinkered even Christians can be about the legal official recognition of homosexual unions. It is as though they literally have never thought about children.

This is also relevant to the silly libertarian idea that the state should "get out of marriage." As long as people have babies or adopt babies, the state has to decide what custody arrangements to recognize and enforce, and this quite literally means that the state cannot "get out of marriage." If civil marriage were abolished tomorrow, the family courts would have to recreate some sort of ersatz for it on an ad hoc basis in order to decide child custody. And if you think that just "enforcing contracts" would mean a libertarian utopia of freedom, you could not be more wrong. Indeed, Philip Zodhiates, Lisa and Isabella Miller, Kenneth Miller, and Timothy Miller are all here to tell you what the decision of a family law judge can do to the lives of normal people when the judge decides to enforce a particular vision of child custody. The claim in this case is that Lisa Miller checked a box at some point along the way that allowed partial custody to Janet Jenkins. If she did so, this could count as a "contract." But not all contracts should be enforced. If five people (or fifty!) of mixed sexes all signed a contract that any children born among them should be shared in custody by the commune, should the state enforce that contract? Should it hunt down any man-woman couple that runs away from the commune and tries to have a normal family with their own biological children? The state is an enforcer of contracts, and there is no getting out of the state's taking substantive positions on social issues merely by gesturing in the direction of "contracts."

Pray for Philip Zodhiates in prison and for the continuing civil suit.

Comments (16)

Lydia:
Heterosexuals spent the last half of the Twentieth Century pioneering "gay marriage". With the advent of no-fault divorce and easy contraception, marriage became a self-fulfillment project. Why wouldn't two men or two women want in on this project? Children, if even on the radar screen, were merely a component of the self-fulfillment project. What's to think about?
I am adamantly opposed to "gay marriage" but until and unless we can turn the tide on the entire concept of marriage, the attempt to repeal "gay marriage" will simply appear as scapegoating. If we can turn the concept of marriage back to what it was a century ago, "gay marriage" would be unthinkable.
Regarding the enforcement of contracts, I do not understand the States unwillingness to enforce the marriage contract. "You said 'until death do us part', that's the contract.

Thanks for everything you do both academic and otherwise.

PAX

I am also opposed to no-fault divorce, but I disagree about "appearing to be scapegoating." The male-female binary is not only fundamental but also the only rationale for the state's *recognition* of marriage as an institution at all. Thus the shift even from no-fault divorce (bad as that is) to gay pseudo-marriage is and was a huge shift. The real question should be why the government should give special recognition or status to any relationship between adults at all. Gay "marriage" fails to satisfy that simple question, whereas heterosexual marriage has plenty of answers to it, even in a world of no-fault divorce. I tend to think that the "what about divorce" response is something we should challenge, *not* because we support divorce nor because we don't agree that no-fault divorce should be legally rolled back, but because it is still a false equivalence. And because homosexual activists have used it as a distraction and are still using it that way.

I agree with Lydia on the divorce issue. Think of it this way: divorce has been around, in one form or another, for some 4,000 years, in the western traditions. Before Christ addressed it and (eventually) Christianity came to influence most of Europe, it was around even if the state or society had some (relative) constraints against it. Yet during all that time, it did not lead inexorably to gay "marriage". The revolt against the Christian ideal of marriage that hit western society over the first 3/4 of the 20th century was not automatically going to lead to gay "marriage" - not without additional distortions of morality beyond the ones implicit in no-fault divorce as such. There was always a possibility of people - otherwise decent and reasonable - discovering that they really didn't agree with the project of no-fault divorce, without requiring a complete reversal of their underlying philosophy of life (and without having to get to the extreme of gay "marriage" before the recognized the error), because no-fault divorce is contrary to the natural law in ways that are distinct from the evils of gay "marriage". We must never forget that the fact that (many) people WERE NOT convinced of the errors of easy divorce does not mean that it was inevitable that many people would not be convinced of the errors. There is such a thing as contingent historical events, and you can't prove "it had to happen" from "it did happen".

At this point, it is indeed much less probable that we will see a reversal of the heterosexual moral mess without things also coming to a head on the gay "marriage" issue, true enough. But sometimes improbable things happen, like Poland chucking their communist overlords in 1989.

One of the things that one can marvel at is how God inspires different good people to see and spend their lives fighting different problems, even though they inhabit the same space. One saint pioneers the "life of poverty" (e.g. St. Francis) while another focuses on some other evil of the very same culture (e.g. St. Dominic). Each one might - in a sense - be focused only on "one piece of the puzzle" and not the whole shebang. That's OK: usually God doesn't designate a human to be in charge of fixing it ALL. Some of us can fight no-fault divorce without spending more than a few glances at gay "marriage". Others can fight state-corporate socialism and pay only passing attention to the divorce problem. There is a lowerarchy to evils, just as their is a hierarchy to goods, but none of us have to fight every aspect of every evil to do "our part".

Very good point about history, Tony. Divorce practices in Rome were nuts. All the research I've been doing recently on Roman history has really brought that home. It wasn't unknown for some emperor literally to force his chosen heir to divorce the heir's beloved wife and "marry" someone else because the second woman was more politically advantageous for the chosen heir. (This actually happened to Tiberius Caesar. I believe it was Augustus who forced him into the switcheroo, IIRC. Pompey was under huge political pressure to divorce his wife Julia because she was the daughter of Julius Caesar, and Julius Caesar and the Senate were at odds.)

Yet somehow they never "did" civil gay marriage.

I was thinking about this over supper, and here was a way that occurred to me of putting it: Suppose that the overarching regime permits no-fault divorce. So when John and Jane enter into civil marriage in that regime, it would in theory be possible for them legally to have a no-fault divorce later on. Nonetheless, depending on the specifics, it is possible for John and Jane never even to _consider_ divorce, to be totally opposed to no-fault divorce, and to enter into a marriage that is not only civilly recognized but also God-honoring. John and Jane may not *at all* think of their marriage as a mere "self-fulfillment project," and the fact that the state would permit John to divorce Jane in a no-fault divorce does not somehow *make* their marriage a mere self-fulfillment project. A necessary condition for this to be the case is that John and Jane are a male-female couple. But John and Bob can *never* enter into a God-honoring marriage, regardless of what they feel or what their intentions are for permanence or whatever. Indeed, it's *more* messed-up if John and Bob intend their pseudo-marriage to be permanent. And in no way is it scapegoating or picking on gays or anything of the kind to point out that it's metaphysically impossible for Bob and John to have a normal marriage but is metaphysically quite possible for John and Jane to have one.

Lydia, you mentioned "the civil case". I am not sure what civil matter is involved. Obviously, it's not custody of the child, because Philip does not have the child. Is he liable for damages of some sort? This would seem to be piling on again merely for the sake of double punishment, whatever the courts CALL it - does this sort of thing ever get pursed in ordinary cases? I have never heard of it, at least. And the criminal trial probably beggared the couple anyway, so what are they going to do, turn his wife out of their home? They might find that harder than it looks at first glance. It smells of torture-by-law to me.

Tony, the civil case is a SLAPP lawsuit by Janet Jenkins for damages against anyone and everyone who had anything to do with helping Isabella to escape from her. The sneaky thing is that the feds used discovery in the civil lawsuit to build their case in the federal lawsuit.

I am not sure what civil matter is involved. Obviously, it's not custody of the child, because Philip does not have the child. Is he liable for damages of some sort? This would seem to be piling on again merely for the sake of double punishment, whatever the courts CALL it - does this sort of thing ever get pursed in ordinary cases?

Yep, she is civilly suing everybody she can think of who helped Lisa and Isabella for her mental anguish etc., etc. and loss of the company of Isabella, etc. This has been waiting in the wings all along. Not just Philip, but Timothy Miller, Kenneth Miller, another woman friend of Lisa's who for some reason has not faced criminal trials.

In fact, this happens pretty frequently. Remember when OJ was acquitted? He then faced a civil wrongful death suit. Same thing happened with the Rodney King alleged police brutality case. As I recall, they were criminally acquitted and then found civilly liable. If anything, the fact that several of these people (Zodhiates, Timothy and Kenneth Miller) have been found criminally guilty or have plea bargained (Timo Miller) may make the civil case that much easier to push through.

It's not double jeopardy because that applies only to being tried twice criminally for the same crime.

It smells of torture-by-law to me.

That's exactly what it is, but it's perfectly legal nonetheless. A judge has delayed the suit until after various criminal suits were over. And the judge also removed Liberty University as a defendant, I believe. But the individuals remain "on the hook." That's what the crowdfunding site is for--raising money for Philip's on-going legal expenses.

One wonders if Janet Jenkins ever gets tired of her own vindictiveness.

"Some conjecture that Lisa may come back and serve prison time when Isabella is eighteen and can no longer be forced to live with Jenkins. I hope that Lisa does not do that, but the idea is that she will do so because she would not want the men who helped her to "do time" while she goes free."

Wouldn't Lisa have an opportunity for a jury trial? I'd like to think, if so, that she would have a real shot at an acquittal. Sure, the men who helped her have not been so fortunate, but they also did not have anyone on their side to help if they went in front of a jury because Lisa and Isabella are absent. Both Lisa and Isabella will no doubt have very compelling testimonies that could sway a jury that Lisa did what she had to do.

Their return, particularly Isabella's, could also be damaging to Jenkin's civil suit against all that helped Lisa escape from Janet. Shouldn't Isabella have some say in whether or not Janet ever really was *entitled* to a relationship with her? Yes, Isabella was a small child, but she was not so small that she could even in Janet's care refused to bond with her. She likely knows that she would have refused to be a willing partner in a parent-child relationship with Janet regardless of what happened. As such, even if the judge/"law" says Janet was owed that relationship, can they really just ignore that Isabella would have never reciprocated and never wanted the relationship if that is indeed the case and is presented by Isabella in court as evidence? Even more so, if expert psychologists can confirm that Isabella is of sound mind and shows no signs of being brain-washed.

Regardless, whether or not Isabella and/or Lisa ever return, if one or both does...I dont doubt that Janet Jenkins will be exposed for the entitled, narcissistic person she is in public record no matter whether she wins her case in court. It will be abundantly clear who the real mom is.

Also, having just had baby #2...I am again witnessing in daily life that two mom's is absolutely insane. It is deranged idea that could only spring forth from a mind that is detached from reality. It is plainly obvious to anyone who has been around an infant, that that infant can only have that particular bond with just one woman and only the woman who gave birth to them. Only that woman, that mom, can provide that kind nurture and comfort to that tiny human. Honestly, even dad, who is also anything but replaceable, can't, and not even close.

Wouldn't Lisa have an opportunity for a jury trial? I'd like to think, if so, that she would have a real shot at an acquittal. Sure, the men who helped her have not been so fortunate, but they also did not have anyone on their side to help if they went in front of a jury because Lisa and Isabella are absent. Both Lisa and Isabella will no doubt have very compelling testimonies that could sway a jury that Lisa did what she had to do.

No. I'm absolutely certain that Lisa would be convicted if tried. There are many reasons for this. Juries can be instructed that they are supposed to judge only on the bare, legal positivist case whether the person committed what is attributed to that person, not whether the law or ruling in question was just. For example, if there were a law against taking some medicine needed to keep you alive, a jury could be instructed that they must find the person "guilty" even if he did what he had to do in order to stay alive. He still *did* the thing he is accused of.

Second, the culture has swung hugely in favor of homosexual rights even since Lisa and Isabella left. The jury would be unlikely to be sympathetic. They would be more likely just to hold that Lisa behaved badly in a custody case and then was evil for subjecting Isabella to the risks of flight.

Third, it is quite possible and even plausible that the evidence of Isabella's trauma from the visits she did have with Jenkins might be forcibly excluded by a judge. There could be all sorts of arguments for this--for example, that it is hearsay that Janet demanded to bathe with Isabella. Perhaps Isabella will not have clear memories of those events, either, after this many years. In that case the prosecution would get away with portraying Lisa as simply bigoted against Jenkins and stubbornly insistent on not allowing the child to have time with Jenkins.

Their return, particularly Isabella's, could also be damaging to Jenkin's civil suit against all that helped Lisa escape from Janet. Shouldn't Isabella have some say in whether or not Janet ever really was *entitled* to a relationship with her? Yes, Isabella was a small child, but she was not so small that she could even in Janet's care refused to bond with her. She likely knows that she would have refused to be a willing partner in a parent-child relationship with Janet regardless of what happened. As such, even if the judge/"law" says Janet was owed that relationship, can they really just ignore that Isabella would have never reciprocated and never wanted the relationship if that is indeed the case and is presented by Isabella in court as evidence?

I think they definitely can ignore that. Jenkins can argue that legally she *was* entitled to partial custody and was deprived of it by the "conspiracy" of these people, end of story. What the child wanted could be considered immaterial to that.

My guess is that a civil jury would triangulate. And I believe a civil jury doesn't have to be unanimous, either. I'm just spitballing here, but I'd guess that a civil jury would vote non-unanimously to award some damages (enough to really hurt) from all the people involved but not the full amount of damages that Jenkins is aiming for.

Congrats on the new baby!!

No. I'm absolutely certain that Lisa would be convicted if tried. There are many reasons for this. Juries can be instructed that they are supposed to judge only on the bare, legal positivist case whether the person committed what is attributed to that person, not whether the law or ruling in question was just.

Sure, a judge can "instruct the jury". What the judge cannot do, though, is force a jury that takes it into its head to ignore him, to come out with a guilty verdict. It's the same thing, by the way, with the judge's rulings upholding one attorney's objections to refuse to allow a witness's statement: just because the judge has decided it is inadmissible doesn't mean that the jury has decided so. Most jurors try to be conscientious and follow instructions, but juries are a lot more restive these days than they were a few generations ago, and on a case like this, it is FAR from unlikely that they would get 2 or 3 Christians who simply cannot believe that the judge's family court tyrannies need to be respected as if they constituted true "law". I, for one, am rather willing to use my own judgment on what evidence is admissible, whatever a judge says, and I am a lot more compliant with legal rules than a lot of people I know. They might not achieve a "not guilty" verdict, but a hung jury is not all that unlikely.

I also did some quick google searching and it appears that for all intents and purposes a judge cannot overturn an acquittal. That said, I think Tony is more right that a hung jury is a real possibility if Lisa were to come back and face charges. Maybe it would come down to which side is more adept at shaping the members of the jury?

"I think they definitely can ignore that. Jenkins can argue that legally she *was* entitled to partial custody and was deprived of it by the "conspiracy" of these people, end of story. What the child wanted could be considered immaterial to that."

Definitely that argument could be made and may likely win the day, but it also highlights how absurd it is for a mere judge to declare that Jenkins was owed a relationship with Isabella given that the judge had no real or proper authority and ability to make such a relationship actually happen. He declared Jenkins was entitled to something that he could not actually provide. Any "loss" she has experienced is only the loss of not getting what someone falsely promised to her. If she deserves anything from anyone, it is from the judge who told her he could give her what he in fact could not. There is no good reason to believe that Lisa and her helpers had anything to do with it because we have good reason to believe that Isabella would have never been anything but Jenkins captive/slave. A child cannot be made to believe so and so is their real mom or dad when they know otherwise and know their real mom or dad wants them too.

Maybe it would come down to which side is more adept at shaping the members of the jury?

I was going to say that. The jury selection process would definitely attempt to weed out any jurors who would defy the judge's instructions about what to take into account or how to construe their task. I'm sure you guys have watched jury selection--voir dire. (I have, several times, though so far I haven't actually been grilled myself because I've ended up in between--called for jury duty but never had my name called to go up into the jury box. So you just sit there for a few hours and watch them select the jury and then get dismissed.) They ask very specific questions designed to detect jurors that either the prosecution or defense does not want on there.

They ask very specific questions designed to detect jurors that either the prosecution or defense does not want on there.

It's funny, because (as I understand it) there is a lot of effort an attorney can put in to try to come up with "just the right questions" to identify the jurors he wants or doesn't want, but (a) either he is doing it by experience-intuiton and seat-of-the-pants lines of questions that MIGHT help distinguish the jurors he is trying to select for or against, but he might just be wrong; or (b) he might be using jury selection research that employs data to come up with probabilities etc to find the most successful questions to elicit the stuff he wants - but it only becomes scientific when it is probabilistic, and that means that he will be successful more often, but not that he will reliably pick out the jurors he is selecting for. No only that, but the "science" is based in part on data that is inherently difficult or questionable: people lie all the time about the sorts of that go into the surveys that produce the data, based on what they think the survey "wants to hear". Finally, like people fed up with the legal shenanigans of trials all together, there are people who are truly offended at the modern concept of vior dire by which the attorney tries to eliminate "the people who were going to vote against my client" rather than "the people who would biased" - and as a result, feel no compunction whatsoever at lying to the attorneys so that they are not cast aside. All told, voir dire remains a VERY uncertain process of getting just the jury you want.

"Finally, like people fed up with the legal shenanigans of trials all together, there are people who are truly offended at the modern concept of vior dire by which the attorney tries to eliminate "the people who were going to vote against my client" rather than "the people who would biased" - and as a result, feel no compunction whatsoever at lying to the attorneys so that they are not cast aside. All told, voir dire remains a VERY uncertain process of getting just the jury you want."

Would it be wrong for a Christian or anyone else to tell a lie if by doing so they believe it increases their chance to make the jury so they could help acquit Lisa?

Would it be wrong for a Christian or anyone else to tell a lie if by doing so they believe it increases their chance to make the jury so they could help acquit Lisa?

Yes.

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