Pastor Indicted for False Imprisonment, Kidnapping

Pastor Indicted for False Imprisonment, Kidnapping August 2, 2012

From the Department of What the Hell Were You Thinking: A pastor in Pennsylvania has been criminally charged with false imprisonment and assault for staging a fake kidnapping of the youth group at his church that none of them knew was fake.

The fake raid occurred at Glad Tidings Assembly of God Church in Lower Swatara Township when four men — one carrying an unloaded but real gun — rushed into a room full of youth-group participants, put pillowcases over their heads and forced them into a van. The children didn’t know the raid was fake. One was injured…

John Lanza, the pastor of the church, said after the incident that the raid is used as a learning experience to show what some missionaries deal with because of their faith…

After bursting in on the youth group, the raiders prodded the hooded kids into a church van and drove across the parking lot to the pastor’s house. They led the teens through the garage, past the pastor’s motorcycle with crucifixes painted on its gas tank to an interrogation room in a dark corner of the musty basement.

A single-bulb painter’s light was suspended from the ceiling. It illuminated a lone chair. The men questioned each teen for 30 seconds in the room, raising their voices to invoke fear, before releasing them, Lanza said in March.

What are they doing to do next, nail a kid to a cross as a “learning experience” to show them what Jesus allegedly went through?

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  • anubisprime

    Xians love that intolerance so much they even demonstrate it to their own!

    “they in essence terrorized several children.”

    It is what they do, either by damn ridiculous brain dead stunts like this or by insinuating very blatantly that disbelief in their bullshite dogma will mean kids will roast in hell for ever ‘n’ ever!

  • raven

    From the Department of What the Hell Were You Thinking:

    My guess, sadism and aggression directed against children because they are smaller and weaker. With religion as the excuse and camoflague.

  • I read about this when it first happened. I’m glad to see that charges are being laid. That’s step 1. Steps 2 and 3 are conviction and serious sentence.

  • newfie

    who are the terrorists again?

  • bbgunn

    No surprise. Torture and sadism has followed christinsanity part and parcel throughout its history.

  • John Lanza, the pastor of the church, said after the incident that the raid is used as a learning experience to show what some missionaries deal with because of their faith…

    While there is no excuse for what happens to some of them, gotta love the good old Christian persecution complex here. It doesn’t happen because of their faith. It happens because they’re trying to spread their faith. Again, that doesn’t excuse the violence that sometimes happens to missionaries, but it’s perspective he’s apparently unable to see.

  • Randomfactor

    You can while away the hours by simply entering the phrase “Pastor indicted” into Google every once in a while.

  • Alverant

    “to show what some missionaries deal with because of their faith”

    No it is NOT because of their faith, but because they are pushing their faith on others. It’s still wrong what happens to missionaries, but don’t pretend they weren’t doing anything harmful.

  • cottonnero

    Ah, good. I was prepared to be annoyed when it came out that no charges were going to be filed. I seem to recall that the firearm was that of a church member who is a cop, although I can’t find confirmation of that.

  • Pieter B, FCD

    an unloaded but real gun

    If I’m not mistaken, in most states the fact that the firearm was not loaded is not a mitigating factor; it’s still a firearm for the purposes of filing charges and length of sentence upon conviction. I’d really like to see the book thrown at these thugs, but I’m betting a plea bargain is in the office.

    I’m reminded of an old New Yorker cartoon of a judge saying “You are sentenced to three years, suspended. You will now step forward for the ceremonial slap on the wrist.”

  • grumpyoldfart

    Preachers are control freaks and ultimately they want to have control over who lives and who dies – it puts them right up there beside Lord God Almighty.

    `

    The Inquisitors had that control – so did Jim Jones, David Koresh, and Marshall Applewhite.

    `

    John Lanza didn’t have the guts to go quite that far, but he probably thought the kidnapping would be good practice for possible future events. I’ll bet he got a little stiffy when he saw the fear in the eyes of his victims.

  • hexidecima

    this was just about 7 miles from me. Typical Chrsitian idiots who so desperately want to be “martyrs” so they can be convinced their imaginary friend is twue, twue! In my experience, most pastors are control freaks and those who want to spend lots of time with people much younger than them are creepier than most. This indictment will be a nice addition to the FFRF Black Collar crime list.

  • Abby Normal

    How is this false imprisonment? I mean obviously I’m appalled by this pastor’s unethical actions and condemn them without reservation. But from a legal perspective, I’m not so confident. The kids chose, and presumably their parents consented, to be in the Pastor’s care. They remained in his care the entire time and were release at the prearranged time. Responsible caretakers often have a policy of not releasing the children entrusted to them unless a parent is present to take custody. Daycare centers hold kids against their will every day for this reason. And if scaring kids so badly they want to go home is a crime, than every camp counselor who’s told a ghost story around the campfire would be in prison. Well, at least the ones who were decent storytellers.

    Now I can hear the cries of false equivalence already. And I agree they are very different situations. But I’m not yet sure I see how the differences are legally relevant.

    Regarding the assault charge, I’ve got no reservations. Based on what I’ve seen of this case so far I would be surprised if he could beat that rap in front of a jury.

  • Tobinius

    Hopefully some extended jail time for the not-so-bright pastor, will be a good “learning experience” for the rest of the community. Not that that is a likely outcome, unfortunately.

  • anubisprime

    Abby Normal @ 13

    The kids chose, and presumably their parent consented, to be in the Pastor’s care

    Yes but presumably not for a Pastor to terrorize the kids with real guns loaded or otherwise.

    That is blatant abduction with menaces because as far as the kids knew an abduction was going down!

    And that is the point, that is the crime, the kids were in fear of their lives even if it is only for a while, but that is mental assault on a minor.

    I hope the other brain dead jeebus sycophants that joined in this brilliantly inane piece of dumbfucked caper get spanked by the law as well for drooling idiocy if nothing else.

  • eric

    John Lanza, the pastor of the church, said after the incident that the raid is used as a learning experience to show what some missionaries deal with because of their faith…

    A better exercise might be to experience what the missioned-to deal with. I suggest putting the kids on a starvation diet and nasty, dirty water to drink for a few years. Then offer them clean food and drink if they will only come to the mosque. They don’t have to join, just listen. Because its non-coercive, don’t you know.

  • @ Abby Normal: That’s what I would be arguing if I were his lawyer. They have him dead to rights on the assault, though.

  • This is in my town. I even commented on the local site when the story came out. Rather than reiterate, I’ll blatantly cut and paste.

    Playacting as terrorists. What a silly, pathetic exercise in self-importance. What they are really doing is indoctrinating those children into believing that the people they will try to convert on their “missions” are “others”, not as good as them, and something less than human. You want to bet that the terrorists acted like Muslims? I’ll bet they pretended to have Middle East accents.

    Religion is inherently divisive, always encouraging an “us” vs “them” mentality, instead of an all encompassing “we are in this together” mentality. Exactly what were they planning on converting the heathens from in their missionary work? Another religion. One deemed inferior to theirs. Why not accept that others have different beliefs, and send them money, food, blankets or supplies, if they need it, instead of our children to proselytize them out of their beliefs?

    @12 hexidecima

    7 miles? We’re probably neighbors. 😉

  • baal

    False imprisonment means you’re not free to leave or exit a situation. Being tied up is quintessentially this common law tort. The restatement make it clear this is an appropriate charge and likely to stick (assuming no nullification ’cause god and stuff). The kids were confined – either at the point of being hooded, put into the van or taken to the pastors basement. They were not accidentally there, the pastor and friend did that to them at gun point. The kids were aware of the confinement (for me, getting bagged would be more then enough for that element). The pastor choose where to take the kids (van + basement). The legal elements appear met to me.

    Consent is probably an affirmative defense – I don’t know enough about PA to hazard a guess. I would use it as the defense attorney. The counter, however, is that the parents consented to have their kids go to a youth group meeting. That type of meeting doesn’t normally have abductions at gun point. If the church had signed explicit waivers from the parents, it’d be a legally more interesting case.

  • Brain Hertz

    The children didn’t know the raid was fake.

    Probably because it wasn’t fake. They weren’t “pretend kidnapped”. They were kidnapped.

    Just because the kidnappers knew that the whole thing was intended for “illustrative purposes” doesn’t change the fact that the victims were actually abducted at gunpoint.

  • leftwingfox

    @Abby Normal: Interesting question. If a team of people burst into the bank with fake weapons, take hostages, line everyone up against the wall, then say. “Hah, just kidding!” and then leave without taking any money, would that still be attempted robbery?

  • uncephalized

    The children didn’t know the raid was fake.

    Probably because it wasn’t fake. They weren’t “pretend kidnapped”. They were kidnapped.

    Just because the kidnappers knew that the whole thing was intended for “illustrative purposes” doesn’t change the fact that the victims were actually abducted at gunpoint.

    Ding ding ding! We have a winner.

    These children were forced into bondage under threat of violence and taken away against their will under same. There is absolutely nothing “fake” about it. The fact that the instigator of the assault and kidnapping didn’t intend any permanent harm is no defense whatsoever, IMO.

    And IF (big if) the parents consented to this idiocy ahead of time, then every parent who knew this was going to happen needs to be charged and tried for conspiracy to commit felony assault and conspiracy to commit kidnapping. Children aren’t playthings; they’re little people whose rights are held in trust by their parents/guardians. That trust does not imply carte blanche to violate those rights at will.

  • uncephalized

    I should clarify that “does not” in the above post really ought to read “should not” because I am stating my opinion of how it ought to be; my suspicion is that parents by and large do in fact have such license to violate their children’s rights in many cases according to our legal precedents. But IANAL.

  • F

    Took them long enough to bring actual charges.

  • jaybee

    It would be hilarious gag to install a wireless speaker into the house of the pastor, pretend you were the voice of god, and command him to kill his only son. For illustrative purposes only. Illustration of gullibility, that is.

  • Cuttlefish

    Loved the video, too:

    http://freethoughtblogs.com/cuttlefish/2012/07/28/terrorist-pastor-charged/

    It’s like he’s trying to be as proud as possible about something he has been told is a bad thing.

  • Martin, heading for geezerhood

    @jaybee:

    “Kent, this is Jesus”

    .

    “And from now on…stop playing with yourself”

    Kent: “It is God”

    (“Real Genius”…1985)

  • jnorris

    IIRC, in North Carolina using a weapon while committing a delony is a minimum 7 years in prison. All the adults should get that. and the cop should loses his job regardless of the outcome of the trial.

  • NC, isn’t that where “Mayberry” is located? I’m smellin’ Barney Fife all over this thing.

  • Ichthyic

    It’s still wrong what happens to missionaries

    says who?

    I happen to know some very deserving missionaries who were eaten by Pacific Islanders.

    the only thing that was “wrong”, is that they should have eaten them much sooner.

  • Hatchetfish

    Complete tangent, but considering that the kids had no idea this was staged, it occurs to me that the kidnappers are damn lucky none of the kids decided to resist. A swiss army knife or a bic pen in the thigh is no picnic, and plenty of kids are taught the “if they try to relocate you, resist because your life depends on it” rule about abductions.

    Before anyone goes wildly tangential from here, I’m not trying to make any argument one way or the other, or relate this in any way to anything about armed resistance re: NRA talking points that have been in the news since Aurora. I’m just noting one more way it’s struck me that this dumbshittery was unbelievably stupid: animals that believe their lives are threatened can be incredibly dangerous, even young ones. It’s a stupid dangerous move to needlessly and insincerely threaten them.

  • DaveL

    @13,

    In Michigan, the felony of false imprisonment (note: not the common-law tort!) requires more than simply being restrained against one’s will. It specifically requires either:

    a) That a weapon was used;

    b) That the person was held in secret; or

    c) That the confinement was done to facilitate another felony or flight after such a felony.

    In this case, (a) applies. Day care workers and camp counselors are not in the habit of holding unruly kids at gunpoint, I hear.

  • John Lanza, the pastor of the church, said after the incident that the raid is used as a learning experience to show what some missionaries deal with because of their faith…

    What about having kids read books and newspapers to show what happens outside their little parishes? It’s a pretty time-honored “way of knowing,” so I can’t see why this guy didn’t think of it…

  • Day care workers and camp counselors are not in the habit of holding unruly kids at gunpoint, I hear.

    No, these days they use private prisons and Blackwater-wannabee contractors for that purpose.

  • Abby Normal

    Thanks DaveL and Baal. That clears up my questions.

  • kimberlyherbert

    How about a mock scenario that shows how the people about the missionaries destroying the culture of the people they are “helping”?

  • pipenta

    There should be five arrests here. And the hell they should get off with a wrist slap. There’s an example that should be damn well set.

  • Skip White

    I remember reading about this when it happened (I live in the area), but I wondered what the outcome would be.

  • Skip White

    @ hexidecima, Spanish Inquisitor:

    I guess I’m a neighbor too! Good to know there are some people on Pennlive capable of making coherent statements.