Probation for intentionally destroying an LDS church? Probation? Oh, yeah, and Christina Bell must also serve 90 days' home confinement, and community service, and complete her high school education. Ow, stop! Oh, but we can't forget the real corker, ordering the girl -- make that woman, given that she was certified to be tried as an adult -- to pay the Church back its $1.9 million. (The Church is self-insured for this kind of property damage.) After Friday's sentencing, the Tribune article began:
A 16-year-old girl walked out of court Friday, smiling and clearly satisfied with the suspended prison sentence she received for destroying an LDS church in Sugar House last year.No kidding. We'd be smiling and satisfied, too, even if we did have to spend the next 90 days playing video games and surfing the internet in our home confinement. Why the tap on the wrist? It wasn't just her age. Last month, Bell's accomplice, 19-year-old Michael Aaron Ferguson, also received probation from a different judge, along with the ubiquitous restitution order. Please make the check out to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
"Do you think she [Bell] would have gotten the same sentence if she weren't white?" VoU2 asked in a phone call this morning. Hmm. Don't know. "Do we even know if she is white?" That led to another interesting observation, namely that we could not find a picture of this woman, not even on KSL, the station that loves to air booking photos early and often.
Perhaps we could compare Bell's sentence to other sentences for LDS church fires. That inquiry led to the disturbing realization that far more LDS church buildings are vandalized by arson than we thought. A brief search disclosed confirmed arsons in just the past two years of LDS buildings in South Jordan, Springville, Idaho, Hawaii, and North Carolina.
We don't know what happened to most of the perpetrators, because we often couldn't find follow up articles. If they were caught, did they get leniency, too? Would Bell and Ferguson have received probation had they destroyed a neighbor's house? We doubt it, but we're guessing that most victims would not ask for a light sentence. The Church asked for leniency, as is its right, and we appreciate a church when it is consistent on forgiveness. Still, what kind of message does this sentence convey? Apparently, that it is (mostly) okay to:
Decide "I want to burn something"Don't worry; they won't seek a pound of flesh, and there won't be major consequences. Note: We're not blaming the Church for doing what churches do (forgive). We're just venting in the general direction of the system, while admitting we don't know all the facts. We feel better now.
Smash windows with an aluminum baseball bat
Spray graffiti all over the inside and outside of a building
Toss a large container of gasoline inside and light it on fire, and
Try to escape, biting your neighbor when he catches you.