Monday, April 25, 2011

Baptist Pastor's Sons Beat a Boy into Renal Failure in 2002

Louie's injuries
A few days ago, thanks to the readers on the Stuff Fundies Like Forum, I learned of another child who had been spanked to the point of requiring hospitalization for renal failure.

In 2002, an 11 year old boy named Louie Guerrero was “disciplined” at his church in Arlington, Texas by the sons of the pastor there, the late Hank Thompson of Capitol City Baptist Church. Young Louie was beaten so severely that he went into renal failure and required hospitalization, the same condition and cause that hospitalized 11 year old Zariah Schatz in February of 2010. Unlike Zariah, Louis Guerrero also required a blood transfusion.  (To my knowledge, there are now three cases of renal failure related to corporal punishment as a Christian practice.)

From the transcript of CNN's Wolf Blitzer Reports on July 9, 2002:

BOBBY TAYLOR, BOY'S ATTORNEY: They took him to this private home, and the person who took him was the -- I won't call him youth minister, but he was a 22-year-old minister, and apparently, he may have been the son of the minister of the church -- cut a branch off a tree, made my client lay on the bed, and there began to beat him, and beat him for almost an hour.

BLITZER: The child is reportedly conscious now, but has been in a local intensive care ward since the middle of last week. The incident allegedly occurred while the boy was attending a religious summer camp at the church, for Spanish-speaking children. But, church officials say that, because this happened at a sub-chapter for Spanish- speaking members, it's not a church matter, and they won't comment on camera. Still, the head pastor told our local CNN affiliate over the phone he was heartbroken over the incident.

JERALD FINNEY, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Pastor Hank Thompson, the pastor of Capitol City Baptist Church, would not - would never - he's instructed all his personnel not to use corporal punishment against the children of church members.

BLITZER: The child's parents refused to speak on camera, but they said when the young ministers dropped their son off at home, one of them told the parents they should discipline the boy further.

The Deseret News reported the following on December 13, 2003:
Joshua Thompson was ordered to serve 26 years for injury to a child and 20 years for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. The sentences will run concurrently and he could be eligible for parole in 13 years.

Caleb Thompson was sentenced to concurrent 14-year sentences on the same convictions, meaning he could be eligible for parole in seven years.

Caleb Thompson, who held Guerrero down while his brother beat him, said he was sorry for causing the boy's injuries.

Joshua and Caleb, twins who were 22 years old at the time of the crime, have each written books about their prison experience and have received endorsements from some prominent ministers for their works. I don't want to send any business their way, so I have not mentioned the titles of their books in this post. If you want to go to the trouble of googling, you should be able to find the titles and the websites that market them. Perhaps if they were promoting the books and giving the proceeds to Louie Guerrero, I might help them sell the books. Or better yet – I could just donate to the fund for Louie. But there isn't one.

Dr. Raymond Barber,  Pastor Emeritus of Worth Baptist Church, a very large in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area states the following about Joshua's book.
 In Joshua Thompson’s excellent book entitled As For God, His Way Is Perfect, he has given to us a keen insight into prison life.  He has laid bare his heart in revealing his personal frustrations, emotional confrontations, and spiritual experiences in surviving day by day prison life.  Demonstrating his faith in God, Joshua has shown how one can serve God even under the most difficult circumstances.

I recommend it without reservation to all who wish to see how God “works in mysterious ways His wonders to perform.”
Mysterious indeed! Caleb's book received two noteworthy recommendations. Ed Nelson says, "This book deserves a wide reading among all believers in Christ." I am unclear as to which Ed Nelson this might be because there are several, and the author of the book did not specify. I'm assuming that it is the Ed Nelson that was once affiliated with IFB's Bethel Baptist Church in Tuscon, AZ who has written endorsements for many other books. Among many other Ed Nelsons, I sure hope that it's not this Ed who is Pentecostal, though here is another Ed who is Baptist.

I wish that Bob Jones, III had expounded a bit more about the “seedbed” in which Caleb's book did grow. Bob Jones is the Chancellor of Bob Jones University, the Fundamentalist Baptist College in Greenville, SC. Perhaps he did, but this is the quotable quote which Caleb (or his agents) use to promote the book.
Caleb Thompson’s book on God’s grace has a ring of authenticity to it, more than any I’ve read on the subject. The circumstance under which he wrote it provided a seedbed which could have grown either bitterness or grace. It grew grace; and from prison, that beautiful bloom of God’s grace is unfolded and expounded. The richness of God’s grace is real to Caleb, and he makes it real to us."
Though news sources report that the court records show some testimony that the beating lasted 90 minutes, the mother of Joshua and Caleb attempts to legitimize and minimize this abuse as commonplace and appropriate, failing to mention that her grown sons took a boy from a religious setting to a private home, took him into a bedroom, and then proceeded to beat him while he was held face down on a bed. I suppose we should all be glad that a beating was all that took place. Another source states that he was allowed a bathroom break midway through the beating. According to her, the whipping only lasted 13 minutes, and because other people who were convicted of other crimes received lesser sentences, she maintains that her good boys have been improperly judged and sentenced.

I guess this is how the church responds, rallying around the abuser instead of asking why such aggressive corporal punishment was seen as appropriate. It's appropriate to take someone else's children to your home and into your bedroom? I sincerely hope that these brothers found consolation in their faith while in prison, hopefully finding time to consider their actions. Perhaps there is some merit in their books, but I'm not going to line the pockets of these men. Why would two young men, one a pastor and both sons of a pastor, both choose this type of behavior as an option, finding it appropriate? What influences taught this to these men.

A few weeks ago, Jocelyn Andersen who is a domestic abuse survivor said that the Scripture talks about the rod of men judging the Church when they fail to what God has required of them. It has certainly happened throughout history, Biblical and otherwise. For these reasons, I admire people like this atheist for being appalled by what has happened in the name of Christianity. I believe that the Baptist community could learn a quite a bit him.  The Baptist Community is not the only one to be guilty of the abuse of children, but they certainly seem to have a well-oiled machine for hiding it as Christa Brown notes in her recent opinion article on the Associated Baptist Press.