Louise Woodward, The U.S. Justice System, And Missed Opportunities
Many Christian supporters of Louise Woodward have emailed me for comments on the latest developments in her case. Following are some of my observations.
Louise Woodward, The U.S. Justice System,
And Missed Opportunities
So... Louise Woodward finally was allowed to go home, but is still hounded by the flawed legal system that held her hostage ever since the traggic death of Matthew Eapen.
At the heart of this story is a dead baby. At times, some appeared to lose sight of that sad fact. While God has given the Eapens a new child, the death of Matthew will remain a painful memory for them.
However, at the heart, too, is a 20 year-old woman who, many feel, fell victim to America's justice system. Attacked and demeanded by merciless prosecutors who could barely counceal their hatred, she was handed over to a jury of lay people who were asked to make a decision on evidence trained medical professionals disagreed on sharply. That jury decided to condemn a young woman, whom many believe to be innocent, to a lifetime a prison.
This is not the first time America's legal system has proven to be less than just. Plagued with more crime than any other Western nation, unable to handle its racial conflicts, or to stop children from shooting their classmates, America has become one of the world's top jailers. Prisoners, both the guilty and the innocent, are given outrageously long sentences instead of real help. Modern-day witchhunts occur, and according the Amnesty International, America is starting to rival third-world and renogate nations in terms of the number of people it kills.
I applaud Judge Zobel for his courageous, merciful handling of this difficult case - even though I believe the medical community will eventually exonerate Louise Woodward completely.
Something else bothers me, though. Throughout this case it has been reported that the Eappens are Christians. While the term "Christian" means different things to different people, those reports have me puzzled. After all, if the Eappens are Christians, it seems some wonderful opportunities have been lost to see good come out of a bad situation. The Bible says:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28 NIV
Now, to many that may not make much sense. Others will point out that it usually doesn't make bad things easier to deal with. Nevertheless, many have experienced the truth of that verse, and as Christians we ought to at least take this fact into account.
Add to this the fact that the Bible teaches us a lot about forgiveness and mercy. Both are hard to give - especially in a case like this. But in light of the fact that the medical evidence in this case was inconclusive at best, it would have been better if Christians had spoken about forgiveness and mercy rather than insist on laying blame and seeking revenge. Consider, for example, the small, American town where some students at a prayer-meeting were shot and killed by a fellow-student. Night after night, CNN and other newsmedia broadcast interviews with parents, students, and the leader of the prayer group, bringing a message of forgiveness rooted in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
I am not suggesting that people should not be punished if found guilty of a crime (by people competent to judge the evidence - but that's another editorial...). What I am suggesting is that when bad things happen to Christians, we redeem the situation by putting the mercy and forgiveness the Bible calls for into practice.
Thus I pray that the Eapens will be able to at least let go. It makes not sense to keep hounding
Louise Woodward. After all, despite the fact that the U.S. legal system convicted her, that same system appears to give at least token acknowledgement to the fact that it did so on very shaky grounds - making a judgement call over an issue in which medical professionals disagree.
If a crime has been committed, Scripture is clear about this:
Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay," says the Lord. On the contrary: "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head." Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
Romans 12:19-21 NIV
U.S. Law Should Stay In The U.S.
In closing, let me give voice to the sentiments of many Europeans in saying that U.S. law is for U.S. residents, and should stay within U.S. borders. Now that Louise is back home in England, stay out of her life.
My prayer is:
- that the continuing legal actions against Louise Woodward will fail,
- that the miscarriage of justice will eventually be righted and result in the complete exoneration of her name,
- and that Americans will stop worshipping its flawed justice system, and instead work at changing it.
Whether or not you agree, always remember this: you may be the system's next victim.
Anton Hein is publisher of the Apologetics Index. He resides in Amsterdam, Holland, is involved in on- and offline counter-cult evangelism, and supports the work of Amnesty International