Jesus jinks were an affront to a church
A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that the religious rights of a church had been infringed by the antics of a 14-year-old who simulated a sex act with a statue of Jesus, and posted pictures on Facebook.
The teen was arrested and charged with desecrating “a venerated object” – in this case a statue of Jesus Christ outside the Love in the Name of Christ church in Everett.
Pennsylvania law defines desecration as:
Defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise, physically mistreating in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action.
It was initially reported here that teen could face up to two years in a juvenile jail if convicted.
However, a court decided instead that he should be admitted into juvenile diversionary programme.
The boy appeared before Judge Thomas Ling and agreed to a consent decree signed by all parties involved, including the boy, his mother and his attorney, Karen Hickey.
The boy is now banned from using social media during a six-month probation period, and must perform 350 hours of community service.
Among other punishments, he must obey a curfew of 10 pm and will be monitored for alcohol or other controlled substances via random drug tests.
District Attorney Bill Higgins presented the decree to the court. After accepting the agreement and while settling the number of community service hours, Judge Ling focused on the religious rights of Love in the Name of Christ, noting that the juvenile’s actions infringed upon their rights to practice their faith. He said:
I know that there are many groups that say this case is about religious rights, and quite frankly, they are right. But it is the religious rights of the Christian organization that owns the statue and has placed it for display on their private property that have been implicated.
They have every right to practice their faith unmolested. In American, we all enjoy the right to freedom of expression and the freedom to practice our religious beliefs without interference, but that right ends where those same rights of another begin.
As I have previously noted, Facebook and street corners are not the proper place to resolve constitutional issues, and while there has been a whole lot of name calling, character assassination and threats of retaliation, there has been no effort by any of these advocacy groups to actually challenge the constitutionality of the statute in question through the legal process.
I was pleased to hear that this young man apologized to Love in the Name of Christ and I am glad he has accepted responsibility for his behavior. He is a 14-year-old boy with the potential to have a bright future. I am confident that if he applies himself, he can put this matter behind him and become a productive citizen.
Upon successful completion of these terms and conditions, his case will be dismissed and the juvenile will have no criminal record.