Sometimes, organized religion looks for all the world like a rehabilitation racket for criminals.
Consider: Ex-cons with long criminal records, including assault and murder, can conveniently declare themselves reborn. Upon their conversion and release, the most convincing ones are instantly regarded as great pastor material by Christians whose penchant for forgiveness is as naive as it is fatal. The latest example:
The former pastor of the Cowboy Church of Marshall County was convicted Friday of sexual assault in Navarro County, Texas, and sentenced to 50 years in prison, a district attorney said.
Mark Allen Green, 42 [photo], was convicted of “continuous sexual assault of a child,” a Texas charge for ongoing crimes, for incidents involving a 13-year-old girl, said Lowell Thompson, criminal district attorney for Navarro County.
Green had served several prison sentences in Texas before being hired as pastor of the church in Albertville, according to a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. Green had been in prison there “multiple times” on theft and burglary charges, with his latest sentence beginning in 2006, she said. [emphasis added]
Just the guy you want to go see in church every Sunday, preaching about right and wrong.
Look, I love the concept of forgiveness, in principle. I’m just not a fan of throwing caution to the wind and putting innocents in harm’s way. Christians think forgiveness is a feature of their faith; as I’ve argued before, I think it may be a bug instead.
For instance, two weeks ago, we learned of the guilty plea of John D. White, a mid-Michigan minister charged with killing a young woman in her mobile home. White is a violent ex-con who only needed to profess a faith in Jesus to be rehabilitated and employed as pastor — by a flock of well-intentioned if over-credulous forgiveness junkies.
He’s an ex-convict who settled outside Mt. Pleasant and became pastor of a tiny church, Christ Community Fellowship. Police say he confessed to killing 24-year-old Rebekah Gay on Oct. 31 as part of a sexual fantasy [necrophilia].
In 2007, [White had been] released from prison, after serving nearly 12 years for manslaughter in the death of a 26-year-old woman in Kalamazoo County, according to the Michigan Corrections Department. He had previously been sentenced to probation for choking and stabbing a 17-year-old Battle Creek girl in 1981. [emphasis added]
There’s nothing wrong with forgiving others and moving on. I’ve done it plenty of times (and I keenly appreciate that I’ve been the recipient of people’s forgiveness, too). But churches appointing known rapists and murderers as their clergy … sorry, that’s just another reason why people like me avoid the pews, and so-called holy men, on any day of the week that ends in a y.