This is, as always, a sad commentary on religion in America, where priests and ministers are found to be diddling children time and time again and even though there is a vague outrage from some in the religious community, it’s never enough to actually change the system, nor does it last long enough to cause lasting effects. It’s like everything else in American life, something bad happens, people are upset, then American Idol comes on and they forget all about it.
This time around, 62-year-old Joseph Robert Hall of Gastonia, North Carolina, has been convicted of multiple counts of statutory rape of a child, all while serving in the ministry at Restoring Hope Foursquare Church in Dallas, NC. He was charged with first degree rape of a child, first degree sexual offense of a child, second degree rape, second degree sexual offense, four counts of indecent liberties with a child, three counts of statutory rape, and three counts of statutory sexual offense. Although he committed the offenses in the mid 1990s, it was not reported to authorities until 2014.
Hall pled guilty and was sentenced to 12-15 years in prison and must register as a sex offender for at least 30 years. Assistant District Attorney Chris Thomas said, “I’ll tell you that it’s been a difficult thing for her. It’s something that she’s had to bear for quite some time. I’d just like to note that Mr. Hall’s position in the church was a position of trust and he abused that. It’s going to leave scars beyond Hall’s prison sentence.” The victim just wants to get on with her life and wishes to never have anything to do with Hall or anyone representing him again. I wish her well, she’s earned her freedom from this predator.
Yet that’s always how it is, a minister takes their position of trust and then violates that trust. How can parents, any parents, anywhere in the world, actually trust ministers, given the number of times they have had their confidence abused? For some reason that I simply do not understand, theists are only too willing to forgive and forget those that claim to represent their gods, yet we see example after example that they simply do not deserve that trust and they absolutely do not deserve that forgiveness. Maybe it’s part and parcel with the Christian tradition, that you only have to ask for forgiveness and you ought to get it. It’s always easier to beg forgiveness than ask permission, right?
So adios, Pastor Hall, have fun in prison. You’ve earned your place on Horror Show Sunday.