Forgiveness, Righteous Anger, and the Amish

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(Rick Garnett) Some of us — particularly Dan Markel — have thought and written about mercy, forgiveness, retribution, and punishment theory.  All of these topics seem especially timely, given that, a week ago today, Charles Carl Roberts took 10 young girls hostage, tied them up, shot them, and then killed himself.  Five of the girls — all of whom were Amish — were killed.

Although the news-beast has been largely content with its Foley-scandal diet, there have been a number of editorials, stories, and blog posts on the religious beliefs of the Amish (for example, here, here, here, and here), and on how they are helping members of the girls’ communities not only to cope with the horror of the girls’ murders, but also to forgive their murderer.  CNN, for example, reported:

A grieving grandfather told young relatives not to hate the gunman who killed five girls in an Amish schoolhouse massacre, a pastor said on Wednesday.

“As we were standing next to the body of this 13-year-old girl, the grandfather was tutoring the young boys, he was making a point, just saying to the family, ‘We must not think evil of this man,’ ” the Rev. Robert Schenck told CNN.

“It was one of the most touching things I have seen in 25 years of Christian ministry.”

At the same time, it is worth asking whether, however inspiring or “touching” we find the example of the Amish, we do or should want to emulate them in this case.

Rod Dreher, of the Dallas Morning News and the “Crunchy Cons” blog, had this column on Friday:

Is there any place on earth that more bespeaks peace, restfulness and sanctuary from the demons of modern life than a one-room Amish schoolhouse? That fact is no doubt why so many of us felt so defiled – there is no more precise word – by news of the mass murders that took place there this week. If you’re not safe in an Amish schoolhouse … And yet, as unspeakable as those killings were, they were not the most shocking news to come out of Lancaster County this week.

No, that would be the revelation that the Amish community, which buried five of its little girls this week, is collecting money to help the widow and children of Charles Carl Roberts IV, the man who executed their own children before taking his own life. A serene Amish midwife told NBC News on Tuesday that this is normal for them. It’s what Jesus would have them do. . . .

I don’t know about you, but that kind of faith is beyond comprehension. . . .

No matter how serious your accusations, a Detroit criminal lawyer should be able to make sure your rights are upheld, rather than trampled on, and that your trial proceeds as the law and the Constitution dictates.

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October 22, 2014 |

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