sean-astin.jpg

I don’t watch a lot of television, but whenever I catch the beginning of Law & Order, even if I’m in the other room, I can’t help but finish the episode.

The one I caught today, Episode 406 from Season 18 (“Angelgrove”) reminded me an awful lot of Jesus Camp. In the episode, a young man kills his mother for committing adultery with a Muslim. In fact, he literally stones her to death.

Regardless of whether you feel that Law & Order or Jesus Camp fairly represented the issues, an interesting question is raised.

If a pastor tells someone to follow the literal word of the Bible, and in doing so that someone commits a crime… Did the pastor solicit a crime?

Things are sticky when it comes to judgment in the Bible. That whole bit where Jesus says, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” comes to mind. But that doesn’t seem to stop some pastors from advocating hateful, criminal acts.

Should Fred Phelps, Becky Fischer and their ilk be held criminally responsible for the acts of their congregations? When abortion clinics are firebombed, or gay marriages are crashed?

If we think about the white supremecist “leader” in American History X, I don’t think many people would disagree that he holds moral responsibility for the crimes perpetrated by his adherents.

In the case of religious hatemongers, I’d say yes, they are absolutely guilty of the crimes they incite. But I’m willing to listen. Would anyone else care to weigh in?

Advertisements