Our criminal justice system, much of which is based on Judeo-Christian morality, has a fundamental flaw that's directly related to its religious roots. Christians believe in revenge, redemption and forgiveness, and those are the foundations of our penal code. And the result is that sex offenders serve their time, are released, and then rape and kill another girl.
The tragic news of Chelsea King's murder hit particularly close to home for me. I used to live at Lake Hodges where her body was found, and the trail where she was jogging is a favorite of a beautiful young woman who is my stepdaughter. She walked that trail every day. There but for fortune... I shudder to think that, had it been a different time of day, she might have been the victim.
The fundamental problem with our penal code is that it has, at the very core, the belief that once a man serves his time, he is forgiven and given another chance. For most criminals, this is the right choice. We've all made mistakes, and without forgiveness, there would be nobody left to be the jailers!
But here's the real problem: religion teaches that people can choose to be good or evil. The very first chapter of the Bible is where God gives us free will. Adam and Eve make the wrong choice, resulting in all the evils in the world today. All of Christianity is based on the principle that we have the ability to sin or not sin, to know the difference between good and evil.
This is simply and completely wrong when it comes to sex offenders. Religious ideas about sin and morality are useless, counterproductive, and harmful when the crime is a sex offense.
These are men who have something wired wrong in their brains. These are men who have no ability to feel empathy and remorse, to identify with their victims. They are incapable of behaving morally. They are as unable to feel sympathy for their victims as a tone-deaf person is to carry a tune. It's not that they don't want to, or choose not to. They can't.
The police investigator says Chelsea's murderer only wants to know, "What's in this for me?" Chelsea King, and probably several other beautiful young women, are dead, and he is only concerned about himself. This theme is repeated every time you read about one of these cases. Her murderer has no remorse and no understanding that he did something bad. He only understands that he got caught, and now life is going to be unpleasant.
There are many disabilities. Some people are blind and can't see; some are autistic and can't understand social cues; and a friend of mine was in an accident and can no longer smell anything.
Why do we have so much trouble with the concept that someone might be unable to have empathy and morals?
Simple: Because that goes against Christianity's fundamental principle, which says God gave us free will, the ability to choose between good and evil. So when a man does something evil, he must be an evil man. It is completely against Christian doctrine to believe that there could be a physical cause for evil behavior.
The result is a criminal justice system that is incapable of locking men like this up forever and throwing away the key. We feel that if they do their time, we have to forgive them and let them go to have a second chance. After all, if Jesus can forgive any sin, shouldn't we?
The trouble is, Chelsea King is dead.