On a dark rainy night in Southern California, a late model Cadillac runs a red light. A California Highway Patrol officer witnesses the event and activates his red lights. The two cars pull to the side and the officer approaches the driver’s window…
Officer: Good evening, sir. May I see your driver’s license and registration, please?
Driver: Actually I’m in a bit of a hurry.
Officer: I got that impression. May I see your license, please?
Driver: Is this really necessary?
Officer (losing patience): Let me see your license!
The driver reluctantly hands the license over. The officer shines his flashlight on it, then attaches it to his clipboard.
Officer: Is this your correct name and address?
Officer: Mr. Tithington, do you know why I pulled you over?
Driver: I’m not sure.
Officer: You drove through a red light back there. Did you see the red light?
Driver: It’s okay, Officer. I’m a Christian.
Officer: Excuse me?
Driver: I said I’m a Christian. You can let me go now.
Officer: I’m a Christian, too, but that doesn’t give me the right to run a red light, and the same applies to you.
Driver: You don’t understand, Officer. I’ve been forgiven.
The officer steps back from the car and shines his light in the driver’s face.
Officer: Step out of the car, please. Keep your hands where I can see them.
Driver (getting angry): Is this really necessary?
Officer: Get out of the car! Right now!
The driver exits the car, swaying slightly. The officer leans forward as he detects an odor of alcohol.
Officer: Put your hands on the hood of the car and spread your feet.
Driver: Officer, really! I’m not a criminal!
Officer: I’m not going to tell you again. Place both hands flat on the hood of your car and spread your feet.
The driver complies, muttering under his breath. He is well dressed in an Armani suit and $400 shoes. The officer pats him down for weapons, then steps back.
Officer: How much have you had to drink tonight, Mr. Tithington?
Driver: Eh? Oh, two or three. I just came from a church social.
Officer: Church, huh? Your church serves drinks?
Driver: Oh, yes. In moderation. I’m the pastor there.
Officer: I see. Mr. Tithington, I’m going to administer a roadside sobriety test now. Stand up straight and turn to face me.
The driver does as instructed, swaying slightly. His eyes are bright.
Driver: Officer, I hope you know this is not necessary. I’m forgiven.
Officer: You are, huh? How do you figure?
Driver (smiles sloppily): I’m in a state of grace! Jesus forgives me.
The officer administers the roadside sobriety test, instructing the driver what to do several times before he gets it right. He fails the test.
Officer: Turn around and place your hands behind your back.
Driver (as he obeys): What are you doing?
Officer (snapping on the handcuffs): You failed your sobriety test, Mr. Tithington. You’re in no condition to drive a car. I’m taking you in.
Driver (suddenly angry): Who the hell do you think you’re talking to! I told you! I’m forgiven! Jesus forgave me!
Officer (leading him to the patrol car): Yeah, well, the State of California doesn’t.
After a night in the drunk tank, Pastor Tithington appears before a judge.
Judge: Next case.
Court Clerk: Herbert W. Tithington.
Judge (reading): Driving under the influence, blood alcohol point one six. (Looks at Tithington) Twice the legal limit, Mr. Tithington. And you ran a red light. Do you have anything to say?
Tithington (smiling): Yes, your Honor. Not guilty.
Judge (frowning): How can you be not guilty? You failed a roadside sobriety test, and after being transported to jail you were given a breathalyzer test and failed that.
Tithington: I’m a Christian, your Honor.
Judge: So was Jesus, but he didn’t run red lights.
Tithington: I’ve been forgiven, your Honor. Jesus has forgiven me.
Judge: That’s nice, but you are in violation of the penal code. Furthermore, according to the information before me, this is not the first time. You’ve been convicted of driving under the influence on three prior occasions.
Tithington: Yes, your Honor. But Jesus has forgiven me. I am under a state of grace.
Judge: You already said that. Anything else before I pass judgment?
Tithington: Your Honor, I am the pastor of a Christian church. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. I’m under a state of grace. I’ve already been forgiven for all these offense. They’ve been washed away by the blood of the Lamb.
Judge (astonished): Good God Almighty!
Tithington (triumphantly): Yes, exactly!
Judge: Well, Mr. Tithington, Jesus may have forgiven you, but I find you guilty of DUI and running a red light. For the red light, you are hereby fined two hundred and seventy dollars. For the DUI, as this is a fourth offense, your fine is five thousand dollars and your driving license is revoked for two years. (bangs the gavel)
Tithington (shocked and outraged): You can’t do that! I’m a Christian!
Judge: You’re also a California citizen, and subject to the laws of this great state.
Tithington: My citizenship is in heaven! You can’t do this to me!
Judge (sternly): Mr. Tithington, one more word out of you and I’ll hold you in contempt of court!
Tithington (screaming): You pagan son of a bitch! YOU ARE NOT MY JUDGE !!!
Judge (furious): The hell I’m not! You are in contempt of this court. Thirty days in jail. Bailiff, take him into custody.
Tithington is dragged out, kicking and screaming.
Judge: Next case.
Blast from the past article by John Bowers