Church retries Casey Anthony

They call themselves “In Touch With Christ Christian Center” but that might be a misnomer. I’ll let you decide.

In an effort to raise awareness  about something — they claim child abuse — this Cleveland congregation held a mock Casey Anthony trial.

REALLY? This is your best effort at preventing child abuse?

I’m all for Mock Trials.

I’m married to the Mock Trial expert.

But listen, y’all, if this is the best effort we can make as Believers in dealing with the issue of child abuse, we have a head full of rocks.

Sure enough, though, the church picked a 12-person jury and the Reverend Una Keenon — a retired municipal court judge — oversaw the entire mock trial. Keenon reminded the jury that if they found Casey Anthony guilty, her life was at stake.

Reminding us lives are at stake is the job of a pastor, I reckon.

I’m just confused at how staging a mock trial helps prevent the murder of the next child.

What are some ways your church already is or could be addressing the issue of child abuse?

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  • Aaron

    I reckon if we treated child abuse as a capital crime, worthy of life in prison (w/ no parole) or death, we’d have less of it going on.

    Now for the more provocative statement I will make. Our churches don’t address child abuse enough because it’s very messy and our churches don’t like mess because they don’t know how to handle mess or they don’t want to. Reputation matters more than restoration and redemption.

    • Aaron: Actually, I find yor first statement more provocative. Odd, I suppose, because we assume that it’s true. Is there any evidence to support the notion? Does consideration of a possible prison sentence get any airtime whatsoever when a person is in the throes of a violent rage and doing harm to a child?

      Further, in a time when every state in the country is running short of funds and it’s hard to see anything ahead but cuts, cuts and more cuts, we might consider just how many of our fellow citizens we already have locked up (2.3 million) and what it’s costing us, and why. It’s greatly contributing to California’s near bankruptcy. Here in Oregon, health care costs alone for those we already have incarcerated are eating the next decade’s lunch. 2.3 million of us behind bars and our first solution seems to be “lock more of ’em up”? Consider these data:
      Much more in the Summer 2011 issue of Yes Magazine, cover story “Beyond Prisons”.

      Karen asked what our churches are doing. Yes, it’s a messy problem. It’s also a legal problem. It’s a problem we delegate to government, the same government that in the next breath we decry as too big and the source of all that’s wrong with us. Yet when something does go wrong with us, we cry for government to come get ’em, lock ’em up or kill ’em. The Jesus way? Really?

      One church I know has a group called Refuge. Tens of people dealing with their own past abuse, broken relationships, substance abuse, etc. Dealing with child abuse when it’s acively going on takes authority and special skills and entities. By far the best remedy is prevention, the help and healing for people so that they break or never enter the cycle that repeats and multiplies across generations. We have no higher calling as Christians than the love of God and our fellow human beings. And compared to the cost of incarceration and the cost of carrying out capital punishment, prevention is cheaper by galaxies and universes.

      • Karen Spears Zacharias

        Excellent points, Roger.
        As are the points that Aaron and Jo make — people inside the church believe that child abuse is what happens to the unsaved — not the saved.

        • Something else we should consider. By the time we get around to the punishment phase (which is appropriate when a crime has been committed and guilt has been established through due process–regardless of whether any such punishment is effective as a deterrent), the damage to the abused child/children and family unit has already occurred. And if the accused is aquitted, the whole punishment point is moot.

          We could have found Casey Anthony guilty and sentenced her to death by H-bomb or ant colony, but it would not bring Cayley back. To love people, we have to know them. Not all of them, just a few. And before we ever presume to “speak truth into their hearts”, we need to first open our eyes and ears and let them speak their pain into ours. If we want to change the world, we could all start by mentoring just one other person. Just one.

    • You’d reckon wrong if you reckoned that. Look at the rate of crime in areas that have long prison terms or even the death penalty, there is NO deterrent effect to longer sentences. I am not arguing that longer sentences are not legitimate, but it should be on an individual basis, based on history and likeliness of rehabilitation, in some cases, But the fact remains the issuance of that longer sentence is not going to deter anyone else.

      • Karen Spears Zacharias

        I agree, Paul. I know in Oregon, we have a system whereby judges are compelled to a mandatory min. sentence as set by state. So they can’t take it on a case-by-case basis.

  • This seems like the same phenomenon as our now common roadside “memorials” of teddy bears, candles and mylar balloons, the truckloads of flowers left years ago for Princess Di: it’s really about ourselves, not about the issue or the person who died. Keith L. Alexander reminds us of what we choose to see–and not see–every day:

    • Rose Blackwell

      Yes, Karin you lifted the veil on Religion again.You are such a good writer and I love your visions.
      Both replys are right on target.

  • While ever churches, their congregants and their pastors continue to believe that child abuse – along with alcoholism, drug abuse, chronic illness, domestic violence, poverty, suicide and a plethora of other social issues – exist only outside of the church, then they will continue to do little or nothing about them. Christians, for the most part, believe that these things only happen to “others”; i.e.; the unsaved, and therefore the role of the Christian is to get people saved in order to fix these problems. However, one has only to scratch the surface to see that churches are filled with people who are being subjected to, and subjecting others to, a whole range of horrible abuses and situations the church is in denial about, and ill-equipped to deal with.
    We Christians won’t be able to deal with child abuse until we can get our head around a concept of how Christ would deal not just with an abused child, but also with a child abuser. We are great at dealing with victims – but not so great at dealing with perpetrators, and until we are, we ought to keep our big mouths shut.

    • Karen Spears Zacharias

      I don’t think it’s because the church doesn’t want to help. It’s just that the people creating all those bible studies and Sunday School material don’t have a program for dealing with child abuse.
      If only we could get the Veggie Tale folks to take up child abuse as an issue.

      • Or, the help needed isn’t found in a program. I used to be a former mental health case worker in a home for children and adolescents. In a church setting people like me reduce risk by screening volunteers who work with minors, creating policies that keep workers from being alone with kids. I’ve also had to “childline” suspected abuse cases with in my congregation on rare occasion. And I’ve counseled parents who’ve been devastated by abused. I’ve sat across the table from a pedophile and insisted that they will never enter parts of the church dedicated to children’s ministry and that they’ll get an ushers supervision before they ever enter a restroom (The offender got angry and never returned.)

        Jo, our church refers abusers to a local Christian counseling agency that specializes in group sessions for abusive men (all forms of domestic violence). The thing that needs to be admitted when giving treatment to sexual abusers is that once the pattern of behavior is established the recidivism rate is high. You can work with that person but can never trust them or give them access to children.

    • You are right Jo. Child abuse is an issue that the church refuses to extend love to the perpetrator. They do NOT want to forgive or offer grace and then the so called “experts” and mental health “professionals” say that the recidivism is high, yet the US Dept of Justice recidivism statistics disagree. Then there is the false myth that it is only men.

      • Karen Spears Zacharias

        There is that false myth, Paul. In recent accounts of Oregon victims, 60 percent of the child abuse was inflicted by the mothers.