IN THE wake of the March kidnapping of a group of youngsters by members of Pennsylvanian church comes news that criminal charges have been filed against the church and its pastor.
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.
The mock terrorism raid was led by John Lanza, the pastor at the church, to show the youngsters what might befall “persecuted” Christian missionaries in foreign lands.
After bursting in on the youth group, the raiders – one of whom was an off-duty police officer and another a retired army captain – 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 light was suspended from the ceiling. It illuminated a lone chair. The men interrogated each teen for 30 seconds in the room, raising their voices to invoke fear, before releasing them.
The district attorney’s office filed charges of false imprisonment, a felony, and simple assault against the church and youth pastor Andrew D Jordan, 28.
Lower Swatara Police Chief Richard Wiley said he didn’t understand the rationale of the church leaders and that he’s never witnessed a case like this.
District Attorney Edward M Marsico Jr said that while the intentions of the church were not necessarily harmful:
They in essence terrorised several children.
Lanza and Jordan are still listed as lead and youth pastors, respectively, on the church’s website.
Hat tip: Gasputin