Why I can’t judge Casey Anthony (an open letter to Christians)

Dear fellow Christians,

Like many of you, I was surprised by the verdict in the Anthony trial.

But I was downright shocked by the responses from many of you. Immediately after reading about the verdict, I logged onto Facebook.

Big mistake. Most of my Facebook friends are professing Christians, and yet I read status updates like “How is she NOT guilty?” “Those jurors are stupid.” “She got away with murder.” “She’s obviously guilty, look at what a bad mom she was!” Various people dragged O.J. Simpson into it; various sarcastic remarks ensued.

Not everyone was like this, of course. Some simply expressed shock. I’m not addressing that type of response, but the mean-spirited, disrespectful responses. 

I didn’t see many people point out that the prosecution bore the burden of proof. Or that the jurors had to vote based on the concrete evidence and not circumstantial evidence. Or that someone can be legally innocent of a crime and morally guilty (and vice versa). Or that we weren’t there: no one really knows what happened when little Caylee died. Or that being a bad and/or neglectful parent does not make one a murderer. Or that people are tried in a court of law, not the court of tabloid journalism and public opinion.

Instead, people seemed to believe that they had the right to judge Anthony, as if they were judge, jury and hangman wrapped into one. It was exactly like reading the comments on CNN.com or Fox News, the ones with terrible grammar and every third word misspelled.

Subtract the WTF?? and she’s-such-a-bitch and she’ll-burn-in-hell.

Add the pious God-will-give-perfect-justice (with the very clear implication that she will burn in hell because, obviously, she doesn’t deserve grace or mercy from God).

Result: Hate expressed in the language of religious dialect. If Christians are to be known for their love, I wasn’t seeing much of it.

After reading enough comments and seeing enough people join groups devoted to hating Casey Anthony, I logged off Facebook and Twitter. If I had stayed on for much longer, I would’ve written some heated comment that I would regret later. I’m leery of posting this blog for fear of being judgmental, and the knowledge that no matter what I say, I really am as judgmental as those I criticize. Still I’m frustrated enough to write this.

I’m disappointed by the response. If you’re a Christian, you accept God’s grace, say that you can do nothing to earn his favor, and say that you don’t deserve grace. If grace is deserved, then it isn’t grace at all. It’s just some bull crap invention of ours.

That mean that none of us—Casey Anthony, me, you, no one—deserves a pardon. None of us are above one another in the holiness department. None of us have the right to belittle another person, treat them with disdain and disrespect, or damn them to hell. Would you want to be treated this way? No? Then don’t treat others like this. Leave judgments and verdicts and punishments to God and the U.S. court of law.

If you’re angered by this verdict, I dare you to pray for Casey Anthony. She’s a young woman with deep emotional problems. Her young daughter died. Whether or not she’s responsible for that death, she still must live with this for the rest of her life. She needs help.

She needs compassion and prayer, not condemnation and curses.

So do the rest of us.

Sincerely,

Laura

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10 thoughts on “Why I can’t judge Casey Anthony (an open letter to Christians)

  1. Laura,

    You do have a point about the judgmental response to the trial’s verdict. In fact, I knew from the moment the trial was aired on tv that such shock and judgement would be the response if in fact the court found her not guilty. When was the last time you witnessed a media trial that had not already considered the defendant guilty? Now, I’m inclined to think that Casey was guilty at the very least of bad parenting and essentially gross negligence toward her child. I’m horrified by such negligence and horrified even more by the possibility of murder. It is true that the prosecution did not prove their case that Casey actually killed her child, and for that reason I’m inclined to think, just maybe she didn’t. Honestly, it seems to me more likely from facts I did hear from the trial that negligence rather than outright murder was the case. You are also right that even if Casey were guilty of the worst of the worst, that she still can obtain God’s grace, if she turns to Jesus and repents of her sins. We all likewise need to repent of our sin and turn to Jesus, for none of us has lived a perfect sinless life. We all by our sinful nature deserve hell. Thank God that we can obtain mercy because of Jesus sacrifice and obtain eternal because of His resurrection. I most certainly and heartily hope that Casey does make an about face and come to Jesus and follow Him, as I hope for all those who are lost in their sins, blind in their hearts,

    Peace and Grace,
    Paul

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    1. Thanks for expressing this so eloquently, Paul. I’ve read comments on news sites that tried, judged and executed a suspect long before even an arrest was made, so I knew it was going to be horrible when the trial became such big news. I didn’t follow it closely, though I was interested, but the general reactions to the verdict compelled me to write this. I hope we Christians can remember what you said about how we obtain mercy!

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  2. Since the prosecution didn’t prove their case, I guess the jury brought in the only legally correct decision they could. We may all have opinions, and have every right to express them, but we can’t know for sure whether or not she is actually guilty. That isn’t for any of us to judge. “Justice and judgment are the habitation of [God’s] throne: mercy and truth shall go before [his] face.” [Ps. 89:13] I pray for Casey, and for wee Caylee.

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    1. Great verse, Carol. I’m thankful that ultimate justice and judgment are in God’s hands, not humans; otherwise, I’d be in trouble! Certainly, we have the right to express our opinions, but as I’m sure you agree, we don’t necessarily have to say them online!

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  3. Laura,

    Everything you said is absolutely right……………..God may have even given her a 2nd chance in life with this verdict……….I don’t know. If so, I hope and pray she takes advantage of it by redeemimg her life and seeking what is true and righteous, not parading thru the media in an attempt to get rich. I read some of her jailhouse letters in which she claims to have faith in God, even quoting scripture on many occasions. I hope that this is a step in seeking genuine repentance and not an attempt at “Get me out of jail Lord”………we’ll see! I’d love to see her begin by stating some truth or asking for her family’s forgiveness……

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    1. I hadn’t heard that about her jailhouse letters. I hope that she can start her life anew, seeing this pardon as a second chance. The Russian author Dostevesky (sorry, can’t spell his name!) had a similiar experience: he was supposed to be executed along with many other people, and as the firing squad started shooting, they suddenly stopped and pardoned many of the people in line, including him. He took that as a sign that he had a second chance in life and went on to write some of the great Russian literature that we read today.

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  4. Laura, I understand your point. I certainly was shocked, but tried to keep my comments in check. Still, I don’t understand the verdict. People often think that circumstantial evidence means weak evidence, but it’s actually quite powerful, especially if there’s a lot of it. In fact, most evidence in a murder case is circumstantial (means, motive, opportunity). Still, I’m not surprised that there wasn’t a verdict of murder. I didn’t think there was enough evidence to convict on that, and certainly not premeditated murder. But, in this case there were three circumstantial facts that to me indicated her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt for manslaughter. 1) She didn’t tell anyone about her daughter being missing until 30 days after it happened (and then it was only because her mom called 911). 2) She lied about a non-existent nanny having been the one to have taken Caylee. 3) She partied during that time with abandon while she knew her daughter was missing. Add to that the smell of death in her car and the way the body was found, and you have to conclude that she was involved in Caylee’s death, whether accidental or intentional. If accidental, it was likely to be from severe negligence and use of duct tape to keep her quiet. The only other explanation was that Caylee was abducted and Casey didn’t tell anyone because it gave her the freedom that she wanted as a young, single party girl. I find that unreasonable to believe given the other circumstances in the case. Thanks for the reminder to pray for Casey. She will need all the prayer she can get, and I have to admit it was the last thing on my mind.

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    1. Yeah, praying for her was the last thing on my mind when I heard the verdict. It wasn’t until I started writing the blog post that I thought of it. (Sad.) You’ve got great points about the evidence. At this point, she can’t be tried again for this crime, even if new evidence appears; I just hope she gets the help that she needs and changes her lifestyle. Thanks for reading, Rick.

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