That isn’t what the headlines read, of course, but it’s hard to read it any other way.
The confirmation student testified earlier Friday that the incident started when he wouldn’t stop using his cell phone in class.
The Mason City High School student said he was using his cell phone in class to text a friend about the Mason City High School homecoming football game.
He said Nelson told him to put the phone away and when he didn’t Nelson allegedly snatched it out his hand.
The boy said he responded by saying “What the (expletive)?”
The boy said Nelson punched him in his upper right arm eight to 10 times with a closed fist.
The only differences between the teen’s testimony and the pastor’s are that the pastor says it was six times with an open hand and that the teen swore twice instead of once. That’s right. The pastor admitted before the jury that he repeatedly hit a young teen (confirmation is generally at age 14) to deal with the immediate threat of…what was that again?
Nelson said he also wanted to “protect the church from such abuse.”
When the boy used the expletive again, Nelson said he hit him three more times.
“It was extremely repulsive. I never ever remember hearing anyone use that word,” Nelson said.
Right. That was it. The entire church needed protecting from a teenager’s vocabulary. This house of God was going to crumble upon the introduction of the word, “fuck”, a word so powerful no one had ever used it around this 61-year-old pastor before. This exculpatory crime was brought up again by the defense attorney in closing arguments.
“He used the expletive in church. That’s how upset he was over his cell phone,” Tompkins told the jury.
He said the boy didn’t suffer any injuries as a result of the incident.
Tompkins said young people these days lack respect and discipline and parents only want to be friends with their children.
You see, the pastor was simply refusing to spare the rod, the way the boy’s parents should have done. Because everyone knows that parents can–and should–entirely control a child’s swearing in every aspect of their lives.
I will say, though, that the parents made one mistake in this mess. They appear to have sent a child to be confirmed in a faith he doesn’t care much about. It’s a common error, but hopefully they and some other parents will reconsider it after this. While the jury may have bought the argument that the church was more deserving than the child, I’d like to think that parents who have seen this trial through would get the idea.
Someone who finds the football game and the cell phone more compelling than the details of his faith is not ready to be asked to make a commitment to that faith. Someone who has to strike a child over words has no authority in this world, either on his own or through a deity.
Beyond that, a jury that finds in the favor of that pastor doesn’t have much faith that the church can stand on its own. I don’t either, of course. The difference is that I don’t think it’s the jury’s job to help the pastor prop up his church through violence.