Judge not. Even if it’s Casey Anthony

Casey Anthony will be released from prison soon and, judging from the news, more than half of America is furious that she got away scott free for murder. Of course she didn’t get away scott free. She spent three years in prison and just about everybody hates her. And, I suspect, she will be viewed with suspicion for the rest of her life. 1

She now rates below OJ Simpson and Dick Cheney as the lowest of the low. People probably hate her worse than Pontius Pilate. After all, he didn’t kill an innocent baby.

Christians who feel that righteous indigestion boiling from the gut when they think how Casey walked and Caylee ended up duct taped in a trunk will say this is perfectly okay. You can love the sinner and hate the sin.

Of course the Bible doesn’t say that. Anywhere. That’s something somebody made up, and not even somebody as smart as Ben Franklin (he’s the one who wrote “God helps those who help themselves”). Here are two things the Bible does say:

  • Love sinners.
  • Don’t judge anybody.

In fact, on the judgment thing, the Bible makes it pretty clear that God will judge most harshly Christians who pass judgment on others. That includes those who judge liberals, women who have abortions, doctors who perform abortions and Casey Anthony.

Twelve of her peers found her not guilty on any count of murder. None. Nada.

These weren’t elitist bleeding heart Hollywood lawyers, these were jurors from Florida, jurors who could afford to take several weeks up from work—which means they’re probably God-fearing, mostly Republican, jurors. This means that, Nancy Grace aside, the most a conservative prosecutor in a conservative state could convince 12 jurors (odds are more than half of them conservatives as well) that Casey Anthony was guilty of was, well, something.

No one doubts that Casey Anthony is guilty of something, possibly even gross negligence. But she was only charged with murder and lying. So what’s the Christian thing to do?

Forgive her.

That’s right. It doesn’t matter what she did, or whether she wants to be forgiven herself. Our responsibility is to forgive her and move on with our lives, and let her move on with hers and pray she doesn’t become a mother again for a long, long time (if ever). But if she does, it’s still none of our business.

It’s okay for Bill Maher to be upset about the verdict and to say she’s guilty, guilty, guilty. He’s not a Christian. In fact, he thinks Christians are morons. This should be reason enough for Christians whose faith jerks with their knees to forgive her. But it’s actually the Christian thing to do. Well, the Biblical thing anyway.

Being raised Baptist Preacher’s Kid (BPK) I’m well aware of the doctrine of preemptive strikes to sin. Keep an eye on that sinner and keep them out of trouble. This is the same thinking that drove Bush to invade Iraq. But you can’t keep anyone out of trouble, and you’re only likely to cross a line yourself if you insist on trying.

Cain asked God, “Am I my brothers keeper?” Too many Christians answer that question “yes,” and that answer is just as wrong as the decision to kill.

Christians I know often justify their preemptive guardianship by quoting the passage in Corinthians where Paul says to cast out the members of the church who flagrantly and continuously offend other members. They conveniently overlook the fact this letter was written to Corinthians. Corinth made Las Vegas look like Norman Rockwell’s America. For someone to do something so offensive even Christians would take note, it must have been pretty bad.

He never said Christians could set themselves up as arbiters of right and wrong. Nor did Jesus. For Jesus, believers should be like the Prodigal who let his son take off and drive himself to the brink of destruction. He didn’t condemn his son, he didn’t disown his son, he didn’t put his son in rehab or rat him out to the cops. No tough love for the Prodigal’s son. He simply let his son go his own way. And then, when his son reached rock bottom and asked forgiveness, he welcomed him with open arms.

Like it or not, the law has said Casey Anthony is not guilty of the murder of her child. As Americans, and especially Christians, we have to accept that legally she is not guilty. This means any guilt she does have is between her, her family and God.

But, and here’s the hard part, should she come to any Christian and ask for help—for food or even shelter—it is our responsibility to offer her not only the help she requests, but whatever additional help we can afford.


1Unless, of course, she goes on Pat Robertson and declares herself a born again Christian and Republican, writes a book that will earn big money for a Christian book publisher, and goes on tour to raise money for Jesus.back


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Thank you, Bill Maher,

For making a case Christians couldn’t make

Ever since the death of Osama Bin Laden, Christians who haven’t felt comfortable with the celebration have had to duck and cover. We have been made to feel that reservations about celebrating the summary execution of a man without trial or due process was not only unAmerican, it was unChristian.

Poor Katy Perry tried and only got ridiculed for being an airhead. Which, without a doubt she is. Her career isn’t built on rocket science, or even a grasp of elementary science. It’s about puff and fluff and increasingly outrageous costumes. Let’s face it, her career hasn’t prepared her to be a theologian either. And criticism from her mother about how bad a Christian she is probably isn’t helping.

But the truth is, whether or not Bin Laden deserved his fate, rejoicing in his death isn’t Christian and it took Bill Maher to say it. (And Katy Perry, but who really listens to her beside Russell?) Maher did so in his New Rules on Friday night’s broadcast. Hopefully it will show up on YouTube so Christians can actually hear it.

I find it ironic that a man who is so totally intolerant of faith understands Christianity better than most Christians do. And I have to admit, when he describes what Christians are supposed to believe, he’s usually right.

I’ve long believed that God speaks through unbelievers when Christians refuse to listen. There is Biblical precedent. When the prophet Balaam refused to listen to God, God had to speak through an ass. And Bill Maher is definitely an ass when it comes to religion. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t listen for the times he has something correct to say.

Judgment belongs to God, not to us. John of Patmos stresses this in the book of Revelation. Celebrating the downfall of our enemies is Old Testament thinking.

Back in the Bush administration I wanted to put out a bumper sticker that said “Jesus love George and Osama.” But with the little heart instead of the word “love.” Carol talked me out of it, and she was probably right to do so. It would have inspired more hatred than it would have encouraged clearer thinking. But the principle is, I believe, fundamentally Christian.

This is what bothers me about advocates of the Rapture. They seem to take too much joy in the prospect of God kicking the asses of everybody who they think slighted them and sending them to burn in hell.

This is my last preview before Righteous Indigestion officially launches on May 21, the official day of the Rapture. And this is the thought I want to leave you with. If you can’t wait for God to crush and destroy people who seek a path of righteousness that isn’t the same as yours—be it the righteousness of charity or the righteousness of enlightenment or the righteousness of social justice—how sure can you be that you want be left behind?