Jim Kershner’s This day in history

TUESDAY, DEC. 21, 2010

From our archives, 100 years ago

A “militant evangelist” called Sister Bilkiss found herself in jail after she got angry and knocked over several Salvation Army kettles.

She became incensed after police arrested a young beggar man for panhandling. Sister Bilkiss considered these men “her boys.” She argued that if it was wrong for them to beg, it was equally wrong for the Salvation Army and the Volunteers of America “to do the same thing.”

When it became clear that the law would not back her, Sister Bilkiss decided to follow the example of Christ when he drove the moneychangers from the temple. So she knocked over the kettles and promptly found herself in jail.

She ended up with an exceptionally sympathetic judge. He called her sincere in her beliefs and although he did not condone her getting carried away, he was willing to give her a second chance.

The judge gave her a 30-day continuance, with the stipulation that she stay away from the kettles. The prosecuting attorney, meanwhile, expressed a fear that she would just “go right out and repeat the performance.”

Also on this date

(From the Associated Press)

1988: 270 people were killed when a terrorist bomb exploded aboard a Pam Am Boeing 747 over Lockerbie, Scotland, sending wreckage crashing to the ground.

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