Thursday, March 29, 2007

Not in my church

Listen to this story on NPR. The Pilgrim United Church of Christ in Carlsbad, CA is Open and Affirming. But what happens when a convicted sex offender who has been attending services now wants to become a member? How far does the gospel reach? Into our own little hells or into the hell of those whom we fear? Isn't it both?

A mother voices her fear about her young adopted son, that he's so friendly, he goes up to anyone. I hear her worry; I have two daughters myself. But welcoming a child molester does not mean we abdicate our role as parent. It means sitting down with children and having a review of 'stranger danger'. It warrants the church developing a safe church policy, something every church should do. It means every adult keeping watch and also trusting God to be acting within this person. From what I heard of the story he seems to have an honest desire to be part of a faith community so that he might become a better person. He knows that to be isolated would mean only trouble for him.

It's a dicey call, but when do we start taking the gospel seriously? Doesn't a sex offender deserve the opportunity to practice resurrection just like the rest of us Christians?


Andy said...

Isn't this the religious equivalent of environmentalists who want the country to use wind power as long as the wind turbines aren't in their backyard?

Cynthia said...

Yeah, but there is a degree of personal safety that hits at a visceral level. I understand their fears. Also, the Church hasn't had a lot of practice or temerity at being so radically inclusive.

David and I both got t-shirts supporting wind power: his says "The answer is blowing in the wind" while mine says "Got wind?".

Andy said...

"Got Wind?" That's AWESOME!

Anonymous said...

If he "has an honest desire to be a part of the faith community" he will segregate himself from the presence of children. This may mean he only attends the midweek, or the early am, service. It may mean that this person is visited in his home by a team of lay eucharistic ministers and the pastor. This may mean he has assigned escorts whenever in the building or on the grounds. It may mean that he never enter the building or grounds at all.

people who predate against children are often aroused by their physical presence. They tend to groom their future victims extensively.

The bottom line is that a child should be able to run off to sunday school and stop by the bathroom without a sex offender being in that bathroom.

Jesus choose to prefer the needs the weak and vulnerable over the needs of others--even when this upset understood norms of the way faith communities function. We should take a lession from his example in this situaion, and have the courage to protect the innocence of children instead of pandering to the felt need of adults who have abused children sexually. Anyone who is truly seeking amendment of life should willingly accomodate to the safety needs of the community.