And Another Thing…

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Some Kind of Hero?

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) — The youth minister who confessed to a 1994 killing is being widely forgiven by members of his former congregation, who say they admire his courage in finally surrendering to police. Calvin Wayne Inman, 29, remains jailed without bail since he was charged Wednesday with capital murder in the stabbing death of a convenience store clerk during a robbery. He was 16 at the time.During Sunday’s service at the 800-member Elim Church, congregants praised the recently ordained Inman as a born-again role model taking responsibility for his sin.”He’s a hero, really,” said Kelley Graham, 24. “I don’t know how many people would do what he did. The Bible says you just need to confess to God. Calvin took an extra step.”

Inman went to authorities on February 5 and admitted that he stabbed Iqbal Ahmed, 64, nearly 14 years ago in suburban Pasadena.

According to police, Inman said he and a 13-year-old friend planned to rob the convenience store. When Ahmed asked to see identification before giving them tobacco, Inman stabbed Ahmed in the chest with a kitchen knife, police said.

Inman resigned from the youth job in December.

“The debt he’s paying to our society is teaching our young people to do the right thing,” said Cheryl Ellis, a member of the church’s youth staff. “To lock him away someplace and say he owes it to society is robbing the next generation of a mentor.”

Robin Thac said her 17-year-old son was active in the youth group that Inman led.

“I am thrilled my son has a role model to accept responsibility the way Calvin has,” Thac said. “There are way too many men who don’t accept responsibility.”

Police have said Inman’s friend, now 28, has acknowledged being involved in the robbery but not the stabbing. Because of 1994 juvenile laws preventing prosecution of people 13 or younger, police said they could not charge the friend. [Source]

This story disturbs me on many levels. Its always disturbing to imagine children or teenagers being capable of murder. Its also disturbing that Inman sat on his crime for 14 years and went through the process of becoming a minister with this on his heart.

But the part that disturbs me the most is the response of the congregation. Not the part about forgiving him, but holding him up as a “hero”. In what way is Inman a hero? Because he couldn’t live with the guilt any more? That just means he is not a sociopath. Is he a hero because he decided to take responsibility for his actions? That just makes him a man.  I can’t help but wonder if any of the parents of the teenagers (or the teenagers themselves) in this congregation are horrified about this.

I am not making light of the courage he must have had to muster to go to the police and confess; in fact, I commend him for it. Furthermore, I hope that he finds the redemption that he so desperately needs in Christ. And we should all rejoice that the family of his victim will finally have some peace.

But Inman is no hero or role model. A hero would not have robbed anyone. A hero would not have committed cold-blooded murder. And a hero would not have masqueraded as a servant of Christ with blood on his hands.

Feeling guilt for an action does not make a hero anymore than taking responsibility for an action. Believers, we need to be careful about who we hold up as role models.

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6 Responses

  1. Trey says:

    Well thought out and well written. I’ve watched this story with much interest and have had many mixed feelings about the whole thing. Thanks for giving me some new things to think about.

  2. I was thinking the same things as I read that article. We need to expect more from those we call heroes, especially in front of children. Great comment, Mike.

  3. Adam G. says:

    I’m not sure what I think about Inman’s situation, but the word “hero” is thrown about far too lightly these days. Often normal people do the right thing (not exactly this case) and are called heros for it. It seems like we should save the title for people who do extraordinary acts, beyond what any decent person would normally be expected to do.

  4. inWorship says:

    Hey odgie, I had seen this talked about somewhere else and my first impression was exactly as you have written. I am thankful he made the decision to confess and I am thankful the church is supportive, but Hero?!?! Not even close. Why should he be considered a hero for something he was supposed to do anyway. I agree with Adam G’s statements on that.

  5. andy says:

    I don’t think I’d call him hero, but I’m not going to say he can’t be one. Being rational, I hold a fair amount of cynicism, but on the other hand, people can legitimately reform and become heroes. Moses, after all, was also a murderer.

  6. odgie says:

    Andy – You have valid point; there is no telling what the future holds for this young man (besides, I expect, a lengthy prison sentence). However, God has done more with less. Your example of Moses is one instance, along with David (remember Uriah?) and Peter (who tried to kill one of the men who helped to arrest Jesus).

    Trey, Jerri, Adam, and Brent – Thanks for the feedback.

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