Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sex Offender & Church

There was much hand-wringing this morning over whether or not a "sex offender" should be allowed to attend church.

First of all, let me say that "sex offender" is a much more broad term than most probably think.  If you flashed someone.  If you were 19 and had sex with your 17-year-old girl or boyfriend.

This guy, as it turned out, had some child porn on his computer.  Disgusting, yes.   But this guy has decided, presumably, that he wants to find God and a minister from the Church would be with him at all times while he was there.

But all the morning show hosts were appalled (and they are entitled to their opinions) ... but what really stuck out at me was Gretchen Carleson's (and I love ya, Gretchen, but seriously) she asked why the church would want to take on this responsibility?

Are we that disconnected with what religion, especially Christianity teaches about fallen man and redemption?  Why would a Church want to take on the responsibility of helping someone redeem his soul?   If you have to ask that question ... you're either not thinking clearly or you're no Christian.  With Gretchen, I'm sure it's the first. 

Child pornography is understandably a big bugaboo.  But it shouldn't prevent you from thinking clearly through things.   I mean, either lock the guy up forever or execute him if you really feel that way.  Outside of that, what do you propose we do with them?   In this guy's case, he apparently was a consumer and not a producer.   He was convicted, he did time, he's on probation -- and people want the State to enforce keeping him from going to Church under the constant watch and supervision of a Church chaperon?

Ultimately, it's up to the Church.  Nobody's forcing the Church to take him, and nobody's forcing anyone to go to that Church if they disagree with the decision. Maybe he should have private meetings with the minister and be kept away from the general congregation for the duration of his probation. It's a matter best left to the Church and the Congregation.  Not the State.


tim said...

Philmon, I believe Gretchen was referring to why would this church want to on the responsibility of making sure this guy doesn’t molest a kid at church. And no, I don’t trust that this guy will be watched constantly…forever.

Yes, he did his time, but does that mean he should get access to the company of children?

Don’t care about his good intentions of the present, he blew his chance, now he suffers the consequences. I have very little concern about this guy and I certainly don’t care about “consumer vs. producer”. Pray at home.

tim said...

"to take on the responsibility"

philmon said...

But that's precisely my point -- that's the Church's self-appointed job and if the Church is willing to do it, as nasty as the behavior was, that should be left up to the Church.

Either you believe in redemption or you don't.

Otherwise, if he's that much of a danger, lock him up for life. Make that the penalty.

But if you're going to let him out of prison, don't kid yourself into thinking he's not still in prison if you want to keep him from ever leaving the house.

What is to stop him from going near kids in other contexts without supervision if you can't trust him in a church with a chaperon?

In or out.

And I would make a distinction between producer or consumer ... it's like saying there's no difference between assault or murder.

Both are wrong. But one is more wrong -- not because one is better, but because one is worse.

tim said...

“that's the Church's self-appointed job”

To supervise potential pedophiles?

Sure I believe in redemption, but that doesn’t mean I just give access to children to a convicted sex offender. Anymore than I’d give an alcoholic the keys to the liquor cabinet.
Redemption is for the person to prove not for me to blindly trust.

“What is to stop him from going near kids in other contexts without supervision if you can't trust him in a church with a chaperon?

“Cause I’m thinking he legally needs to be so & so feet away from any child, cannot be in the same vicinity with any child, etc. or he goes back to prison.

“And I would make a distinction between producer or consumer ... it's like saying there's no difference between assault or murder.”

How do think pedophiles start? I bet an overwhelming majority started by watching child porn. Yes, I know we have no idea how many people who watch child porn end up actually committing a sexual assault, true. But I’m not willing to let this guy, or anyone else like him, the access to children. We’re talking church, not kidney dialysis, he’ll manage without being allowed the chance, however small it is, that he’ll molest some kid at church, (no chaperone is foolproof).

And that’s the part I’m confused about here, why does he get the benefit of the doubt with you?

“But if you're going to let him out of prison, don't kid yourself into thinking he's not still in prison if you want to keep him from ever leaving the house.”

For the record, I’m for castration.

philmon said...

"“that's the Church's self-appointed job”

To supervise potential pedophiles?"

No, to redeem souls. To take broken people and fix them so they are fit in the eyes of God. If they take them into their Church, then that would involve supervision, which apparently this Church has agreed to do.

"“Cause I’m thinking he legally needs to be so & so feet away from any child, cannot be in the same vicinity with any child, etc. or he goes back to prison."

Legally he cannot molest a child in the first place. It is, after all, against the law. If that law won't stop him from doing it, how is a law that says he must be so and so feet away going to keep him from doing it? Laws don't prevent crime. They discourage it by adding consequences in the event of you being caught. If we trust him to stay so and so feet away when we're not watching him, then why can't we trust him to keep so and so feet away when we are watching him?

I have the same argument when it comes to the "no concealed weapons" signs on some stores. Do they really think someone intent on armed robbery or armed assault is going to walk up to the door and see that sign and say "damn!" and walk away?

If he's in a church where people know who he is and will become suspect if he goes missing, he's got a far lower chance of getting away with anything than if he anonymously walks into a grocery store or a city park or a movie theater.

"How do you think pedophiles start?"

Ah, the division of pre-crime argument. I'm against it, personally. I don't want to make it a crime to do something that might lead you to commit a crime. I mean, how do you think drunk drivers start? I'll keep my scotch, thank you very much!

I realize you're tim the atheist, but those who believe would likely say that church is more important than dialysis. You're eventually going to die of something. Many believe burning in hell forever is something they might want to at least try to avoid.

Now like I said, maybe the penalty should be life in prison if we think he's that much of a danger (castration would likely be a deterent, but it would not prevent a molester from molesting). But apparently we don't, because he's out and so far as we know, he has never even inappropriately touched anyone.

I'm saying ... really ... if we really think that once you find naked pictures on somebody's hard drive that they're absolutely irredemable then we should make the law reflect that. If it really means they can never be trusted again, then I guess that means lock 'em up for life, because if you can't hope to keep them from breaking the law in a church under supervision, you can't hope to keep them from breaking it anywhere.

How about a scarlet letter? :-)

Cylar said...

Phil, I'm with you.

Tim isn't a Christian and he doesn't subscribe to the doctrines that you and I do, so I think that renders him at least partially incapable of understanding where you are coming from.

He's trying to think this thing through entirely logically. That's fine, but logic won't permit him to draw a distinction between the environment at church and any other public place.

Really, all the church has to do is not allow him to volunteer in the nursery or teach Sunday school unsupervised. As long as he isn't ALONE with kids, really, how much damage can the guy do? What's he going to do, reach over a pew in the middle of the service and grab a kid? Nah.

Like you said, the cops found some kiddie porn on his hard drive. That's all. The entire premise of keeping him away from kids to begin with, is predicated on the notion that he will BECOME a child molester if led to his own devices.

Like you said Phil, church is probably the best place for the guy if he's already out of jail. With all due respect to our friend Tim here, I don't think nonbelievers are capable of truly understanding why that is.

philmon said...

I'm actually probably closer agnostic than most would think by reading this blog. I did have a fairly strong religious upbringing, but I was forced to evaluate it from the outside due to an abrupt change in my father's religious ...direction, I'llleave it at that. I wandered away from it and took a trip through eastern philosophy and Zen Buddhism ... but I have developed a healthy respect for the role of religion in society, and especially the role of Christianity in western culture.

I fear the last few generations may have thrown the baby out with the bathwater where religion is concerned.

From my re-examinations and tiptoe through the lotus flowers, I think I understand the religion I was brought up in probably more than its average adherent, and I've become a pretty strong defender of it.

Perhaps it was because I chose Peter for my confirmation name. Ok, probably not, but I won't rule it out.

I actually know where Tim is coming from. I have a two-year-old grandson and I get the bit about being in favor of castration, really, I do.

The problem, of course, with the dude having the stuff on his hard drive is that someone had to produce it -- so I understand it being a crime and I'm good with that.

But people make mistakes, and the law punishes -- hell, I'm even good with him having to steer clear of children. But I can see an exception being made in the probation sentence for Church, perhaps with some stipulations. The ones being proposed sound entirely reasonable to me for reasons I've explained.

I also don't think you can say that all sex crimes are created equal. Well you can, but its irrational.

Frankly, I'd be good with a tattoo on your forhead for certain offenses. Then we teach our kids what that means -- I mean there are certain things it may be justifiable to take some drastic measures to discourage.

And maybe the answer is we do lock some of 'em up for life. But we don't. Apparently we consider that disproportionate. And we're proably right.

We can't eliminate risk. There will always be evil, and it will always lure some to do bad things.

But as Christ said, not a one of us is without sin, and if there's no road to redemption, why try?

tim said...

So basically this boils down to - church, letting the perv go to church.

Back in the day at MC boot camp while marching around to and fro then halting, assuming parade rest, the smokers were allowed to smoke, stand all casual and smoke. Well, I really resented that. I mean here we’re were, suppose to be al equal with our identical uniforms, haircuts, one screws up we all get punished. And I was fine with that, actually I thrived in that atmosphere, discipline was right up my alley. But that exception for smokers really burned my ass.

Same with this. They guy served his time, yes. Now he has restrictions to adhere to. Sucks to be him. Shouldn’t have watched child porn. Considering that if there weren’t pervs who watch that crap there wouldn’t be the scum who make it so the difference is moot in my view.

So this guy all ‘finding Jesus” and that, decides he needs to have an exception, ‘cause he found religion. (A few years late I’d say).

Well, you now what? F*&k him! Life only gives ya’ one chance sometimes. He blew it. If he wants to redeem himself, good for him, I’m all for it. Hell, I’d shake his hand (and immediate wash it) and sincerely tell him good luck, I hope you succeed. I’d also tell him that he doesn’t belong in church, he lost that opportunity.

Let’s say he wins this case. It doesn’t take a genius to figure were that would lead to for others like him. “You honor, I cite (insert this dude’s name) versus (insert the state) as precedent that my client should be allowed to go (insert any other place were children are present).

Don’t care if he could easily gain access to a child somewhere else even though I’m sure he is legally restricted to do so. To actually encourage, allow and participate in his access to a place were children are present is absurd. And don’t give me the chaperone B.S., how many times have we seen the supposedly not allowed do to be alone child care/teacher/ (insert profession) molest some poor kid. The guard will inevitably go down, sometime, over time. Maybe not next week or next year…but it will happen. Can you look that kid in the eye or those parents and say how sorry you are and how you were positive the chaperone would always be there, watching?

Do you know anyone who has ever been molested? Ask them how they feel about all this.

philmon said...

Well then leave him in jail.

It did ocurr to me that this could be one of those ACLU type challenges meant to get rid of restrictions altogether.

But there's a reason we call them "judges". They're supposed to use their judgment.

So you're saying here that the law can tell someone that they lost their right to belong to a church? Isn't that stepping into dangerous territory as well?

Like I said, if he belongs to said Church, everyone knows who he is. The danger -- if there even is one -- is much greater where nobody knows who he is. What is the difference between places where nobody's watching him, and where somebody is assigned to watch him?

I do care if he can easily gain access to a child when he's legally requred (again,he's not restricted until someone physically restrains him) to do so, if he's a danger. And if he's a danger, he should be in jail.

Question is ... is he?