Justice, Judgmentalism and the Casey Anthony Verdict

by | Jul 6, 2011 | Blogs, Fire in My Bones

Her
“not guilty” verdict made a lot of people mad. But before we vent any more
anger we may need an attitude check.

Where
were you on July 5 when the Casey Anthony verdict was released? Just before the
2:15 p.m. announcement, I was in a restaurant in Orlando with my family—and our
waitress was so anxious to hear the outcome of the trial that she brought up
the topic after we ordered our lunch. Not since the 1995
O.J. Simpson trial have Americans invested so much emotional energy in a
courtroom drama.

Because
I live near Orlando where the trial was held, I’ve grown weary of the
never-ending local news coverage, which included stories on how much Casey was
allowed to spend on toiletries every week at the Orange County jail and how
long out-of-town visitors waited in line to get tickets to the trial. I
remember when 2-year-old Caylee Anthony went missing in 2008. I remember when
her decomposed remains were found six months later in some woods near her home. I
listened to the blur of reports about duct tape, the suspicious odor in the
trunk of the car, the chloroform, and her mother’s partying habits.

“Before you
spend any more time analyzing the evidence, complaining about the jury or
judging Casey’s motives, ask God to touch her. Could God have actually been
involved in this unexpected verdict to give Casey more time to discover Him?”

People
became engrossed in the case of the so-called Tot Mom. Many became armchair
prosecutors. Some of them flew to Orlando to get a seat in the courtroom.
Millions more followed every detail of the trial through Nancy Grace, Dateline and other news programs. Many amateur crime
solvers were convinced Casey killed her little daughter—and they were ready to
hand her a death sentence.

After
the verdict was read on Tuesday, many Americans were shocked—mostly because
Casey’s lies during the lengthy ordeal destroyed her credibility. Thousands of
angry Twitterers formed a virtual lynch mob. Their words were harsh,
exemplified by these tweets from people who referenced God:


“The jury may have found her ‘not guilty,’ but she’ll get
what’s coming to her. God will make sure of that!”


“Casey, you didn’t win. You have a dead daughter, a guilty conscience,
a society that hates you and a date with God.”

• “Dear Casey Anthony, God will deal with you. Good luck finding
a lawyer that will help you lie to Him.”

Maybe I’m in the minority, but it disturbs me when I hear
Christians spewing vindictive statements about God’s judgment in anybody’s
direction—especially toward a woman who has just been pronounced not guilty in
an American courtroom. Yes, I feel horrible for little Caylee, whose life was
stolen from her. Yes, I think Casey’s story seemed to be full of holes. And no,
I don’t believe the not guilty verdict brought the kind of “closure” Casey’s
parents claim to have now. We’re not any closer to solving the mystery of her death.

But in the end, people who follow Christ should not be grabbing
pitchforks and demanding vigilante justice just because a trial didn’t turn out
the way we thought it should. Our response should be tempered with redemption.
I’d recommend the following:

Thank God for
His mercy toward you.
Every one of us deserves a guilty verdict from God because
of our sins (see Romans 3:23), but in His perfect love He engineered a way to
satisfy justice and yet grant us full pardon. If you truly know the forgiveness
of Christ, you cannot cold-heartedly desire revenge for others. Our attitude
should be guided by Ephesians 4:32 (NASB): “Be kind to one another, tender-hearted,
forgiving each other, just as God in Christ has forgiven you.”

Pray for
Casey Anthony and her family.
Before you spend any more time
analyzing the evidence, complaining about the jury or judging Casey’s motives,
ask God to touch her. Do you believe He loves her? Could God have actually been
involved in this unexpected verdict to give Casey more time to discover Him?
Pray that Casey and her parents will come to know His salvation in a personal way.
(P.S. This whole thing has reminded me that I’ve not spent too much time
praying for O.J. Simpson, either.)

Pray for the children who are abused
every day and don’t get news coverage.
According to the organization Child Help, a report of
child abuse is made every 10 seconds. Almost five children
die every day in the United States as a result of child abuse, and more
than three out of four are like Caylee Anthony—under the age of 4.

If
Christians become more aggressive in addressing child abuse in all its
forms—and channel our righteous anger in a positive direction—Caylee’s death
will not have been in vain.

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter
at
leegrady. His most recent book is 10
Lies Men Believe
(Charisma House).

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