Here’s a news item I didn’t think I’d ever see:
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – A tiny Louisville church’s newest minister is a gifted music leader and popular among its three dozen members.
Mark Hourigan is also a sex offender. Almost a decade ago, long before he joined the flock at the City of Refuge Worship Center, he was convicted of sexually abusing an 11-year-old boy in central Kentucky. Hourigan served a five-year sentence and the 41-year-old was placed on Kentucky’s sex offender registry for the rest of his life.
A former leader at the church along with an abuse victims advocacy group say Hourigan is a risk to hurt another child and he should not have been placed in a position of authority.
I’ll be honest and admit I’m torn on this one. On the one hand I can see the arguments being made by the critics that placing a pedophile in a position of authority where he may come in contact with children is probably a stupid thing to do. On the other it certainly qualifies as an example of the sort of forgiveness Christians are always claiming they have for those that have wronged them. It’s also true that Mr. Hourigan has served out his time in prison and on probation and as such has paid his debt to society under the rules we have set up.
Fields, who sometimes serves as a guest pastor, said she asked Meadows about why he decided to make Hourigan a church leader.
“I asked him flat out about it because I wanted to get behind his thinking,” she said. Meadows believes firmly in the “redemptive power of Jesus Christ,” and told her Hourigan had served his prison term and completed probation.
“I believe they followed Biblical principle,” Fields said.
One of the arguments often used against pedophiles is that they can’t be cured of their sexual attraction to children. Indeed it’s the argument being used by critics of this decision:
Pickerrell said Hourigan “has an illness that you can’t cure.”
Recidivism rates are high for sex offenders, with more than half reoffending, said Keith F. Durkin, a criminologist at Ohio Northern University who has studied pedophiles. He said that rate increases when the crimes involve prepubescent children, like Hourigan’s victim.
“I cannot possibly see him being reformed,” Durkin said. “(Sexual desire) is the most powerful drive we have as a human and (for a child sexual abuser) it’s kids.”
My knee-jerk reaction is to be outraged that they’d put a pedophile in such a position, but the more I think about it the less clear-cut that reaction becomes. The best I can say is that it’s not the choice I would have picked, but then I’m not a believer in Jesus Christ, let alone any redemptive powers he’s supposed to have. It seems a risk not worth taking and I worry about any kids that may end up in harms way as a result.
Sent in by SEB regular Sandy.