Sunday, August 17, 2008

Enten Eller Trial

On this date, August 17, 1982, Enten Eller was convicted by a judge for failing to register for the draft. He was placed on probation for three years and ordered to register within three months. Later when he still refused to register, he was ordered to perform two years of unpaid, public service in a Veterans Administration Hospital or a similar institution.

Eller was a college student at the time at Bridgewater College and said he refused to register because of his religious beliefs. Eller was the first person in the nation convicted for failure to sign up for the draft after it was revived in 1980.

Time magazine reported that 150 supporters gathered outside the Roanoke, VA courthouse to sing and pray prior to the trial. Eller offered no formal defense during the 3-1/2 hour trial. "God told me not to register," he explained to District Court Judge James Turk. Eller's belief won the judge's respect but after calling the defendent an "honorable person," he found him guilty. (Read Time report)

After graduating summa cum laude from Bridgewater, he served several years of court-ordered alternative service. After his service, Enten pursued ministry studies while at the same time beginning his own computer business. He later served the church as a pastor and in other leadership roles, including the Sudan Initiative Assessment Team, and currently serves as Director of Distributed Education and Electronic Communication at Bethany Seminary.