Church Arsonists Sentenced in East Texas

by admin on January 10, 2011

in Newspaper, Tyler Businesses

Tyland Baptist ChurchUnless you’re living in a hole in the ground, you’ve probably already heard that church arsonists Jason Bourque, and Daniel McAllister, were sentenced by Judge Christi Kennedy of the 114th court.

Baroque was sentenced to five life sentences for his successful church burnings and another three, twenty year sentences for attempted arson. McAllister received two life sentences for successfully burning two churches, and two twenty year sentences for two counts of trying unsuccessfully to burn two other churches.

Several of the pastors whose churches were attacked by the pair were present at the sentencing to offer their forgiveness and prayers. I’ve been reading the posts by individuals angry at the sentences and the Judge who brought them! Some claimed they were far too harsh. Others that the church should forgive the young men and be glad no one was hurt.

To that I would respond that it was just a matter of time before someone was in fact killed due to the young men’s actions. And while I agree that the church collectively should and has forgiven the assailants, it’s the civil authorities who must protect the public.

Tyler Texas Church Arsonists SentencedAnd in actuality, many people were in fact hurt by the perps’ actions! Like it or not, church is a big part of the lives of many East Texans. We are baptized and confirmed in them. Married in them, and raise children in them. That’s a lot of memories, and a big part of our identity that cannot be completely restored once it’s taken away.

Clearly these are very troubled young men, but the facts of their ages, and their motivation doesn’t really matter, except in proving guilt or innocence. I’m not really interested in why they burned those churches. I’m only interested in preventing them from burning any more, particularly mine!

There is certainly a place and a need for forgiveness, but contrition shouldn’t remove the consequences. I hope Bourque and McAllister get the help they need.

And I hope that they will encounter a chaplain who can help open their minds and help to make them receptive to the faith they persecuted. But it must be in the context of facing the consequences of their actions.

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