14 Teens for Christ Win Freedom without Bail
By Arthur R. Vinsel, Daily Pilot Staff, The Daily Pilot, California
February 21, 1969, North America
Robbery and marijuana arrests before three defendants were Born Again didn’t count Friday, as 14 rejoicing Teens for Christ crusaders walked out of court in Costa Mesa, freed without bail pending their trial.
Granting so-called O.R. releases in three groups of defendants, Judge Schmidt brought joy to the prisoners facing 36 more days in Orange County Jail.
“O, Sweet Jesus,” crooned one long-haired girl adoringly at the decision.
“Hallelujah, we’ll be back out picketing tomorrow,” declared another bearded evangelist, whose Teens for Christ cohorts simultaneously staged a demonstration outside the Harbor District Judicial Court building.
“Thank the judge and praise the Lord,” said Uncle Dave Berg the 49-year-old spiritual adviser to the sect, headquartered at 110 Main St., Huntington Beach, in the Gospel Light Club.
Only the flipping of Bible pages and whispered chapter and verse numbers could be heard in the audience, but one youth spoke up during a recess to try and lead a newspaper reporter in the front pew to Jesus.
Before the release motion, a woman traffic [violator] approached the bench with her little boy, who clutched a book of Scripture for comfort and assurance, thrust on him by a Teen for Christ.
Onward marched the seated Christian soldiers.
Dark-haired Buzzie Collacott, 19, niece of Westminster Police Chief Conner Collacott, smiled radiantly at the court from her seat in the prisoner’s box.
Judge Schmidt then began a verbal record check on prior offenses featuring four preachers of the Gospel—all but one with Biblical names—because there is no Book of Ralph.
“Can we hold this against them? Obviously they have had a change in heart,” said the public defender assigned to represent the Scriptural firebrands.
“The nature of their offense stems from their desire to preach the Gospel,” he continued, after Judge Schmidt had ordered all but the three with felony offenses in their past freed without bail.
Suffering from a bad cold—poetic justice said one congested evangelist who caught a bug while in jail—Judge Schmidt sat glaring at the public defender over a Kleenex box.
“Jesus loves us and Jesus loves you too,” the Teens for Christ spectators proclaimed to astonished court clerks as they poured triumphantly from the courtroom.
One by one, the prisoners were released to join them outside, where they made a joyful tumult and hallelujahs and hosannas floated across the nearby Costa Mesa Park baseball diamond.
“Christians 1, Lions 0,” said someone, pointing to the scoreboard.