October 22, 1997
IN THE HOUSE OF THE LORD!
Let's say you were a young black man, trying to fight your way out of a decaying American inner city neighborhood by selling drugs. You might find the criminal justice system incompetent, but you probably wouldn't find the system very forgiving.
With mandatory minimum sentencing guidelines for drug-related violations and get-tough-on-crime policies, there's a very good chance you would end up in jail. In fact, an amazingly high percentage of young American black men are in jail or dead before middle age.
On the other hand, let's say you sought higher moral ground in the House of the Lord -- then your transgressions are treated entirely differently. Instead of being held to a higher moral standard, as befits one whom judges others, you will find forgiveness without end.
The Reverend Henry Lyons is the leader of the largest black church in the U.S. Lyons has been accused of using church funds to buy cars, clothes, and jewelry for his mistresses. Other Baptist leaders forgave him, and he was not removed from his job.
Lyons not only knows how to receive forgiveness, but apparently how to forgive others. Not only did Lyons hire a convicted embezzler, Bernice Edwards, as the Baptist Convention's public relations director, he also bought a $700,000 house with Ms. Edwards.
Lyons' wife did not seem to be in a spirit of forgiveness toward the Reverend or his mistress when she went to their jointly owned house, ransacked it, and set it on fire.
But, of course, Judge Douglas Baird is a forgiving man. After Mrs. Lyons admitted her guilt to a crime that carries a prison term of up to 30 years, Judge Baird slapped her wrist. She was sentenced to probation, with no time in jail. Despite the fact that she admitted to arson, a felony, the judge technically withheld a judgment of guilt, so Mrs. Lyons will not have a criminal record.
Like all good stories, this one has a moral. It's okay to steal, cheat, and destroy -- just make sure you're a member of the church when you do it.
Quote of the Day!The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.
-- Andre Gide, "The Counterfeiters," 1921
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