Blog Post #8

New York Teens Church Assault

Churches undergo a lot of scrutiny, from it’s members and especially from non-members. The Catholic priest scandals, to being simply judgmental. There is sadly a lot of negative news that stems from the church, which gives other churches bad images as well. Acts of wrongdoing shine a very negative light on Christianity as well, discouraging the people who consider having a relationship with our Savior. It is very disappointing when I find cruel articles revolving around a certain church, because I know some people will read them and that will be very influential in their thoughts about churches in general. This church article contains something I would never expect to come from any religious institution. There is a church in New York, and six of its’ members are being charged with manslaughter and second degree assault. I was shocked when I read the article, hoping I had read the article wrong. I had not, and I found disturbing information that lead to the death of one teen brother, and serious injuries of another. I wanted to investigate the unfortunate happenings closer, having no idea what would cause a murder in the church.

The brother who survived the attack, Christopher Leonard, spoke in court to explain what had happened. He is shown with his head lowered, speaking quietly about what lead to his brothers’ death. He stated how the pastor had asked them to stay late. One moment they were facing questions from their pastor, and then the beating began. Christopher testified that the weapon used was a cord “about 4 feet long”, and it was folded twice. I still was at a loss as to what either of the brothers’ could have said that would warrant a beating so severe, but Christopher solemnly explained what his deceased brother had said. Lucas Leonard had expressed a desire to leave the church, and that is what brought the violence to a start. He had suffered injuries so severe doctors could have believed that he had been shot. What I found next was the most startling of the information provided in the articles.

The boys’ parents, Bruce and Deborah Leonard, are charged with first degree manslaughter. Their stepsister is also charged with second degree assault. I had thought the article had reached a low with the violence, but the fact that 3 of attackers were their family is the most disturbing information I could imagine. The fact that they were the cause in their sons’ death leads me to believe there is more to the story than what is told in the article. There has to be an ulterior motive, whether it lies in the church or the minds of the family. Mental illness comes to mind, and I hope there will be an investigation of the Word of Life Christian Church in New Hartford, New York.

The violent act was described in detail during the court hearing, where Christopher explained what personally happened to him. He told how he was hit everywhere except for his face, including his genitals. The disturbing information that showed how he was abused and violated is hopefully enough cause to imprison the attackers. It is such a weird concept because if the attackers are found guilty and go to prison, Christopher will no longer have his parents as legal guardians. In most cases you would not want your parents to go to prison, but I feel as if Christopher would be perfectly fine with that decision. It is hard to understand what the family dynamic is currently like, but I hope Christopher is staying in a safe place away from his “family.”

I am deeply saddened by the fact that his brother he was able to relate to is now deceased. Christopher’s body language clearly shows how devastated he is. His shoulders and how he holds his head clearly shows how damaged and hurt he is, physically and emotionally. I hope he can come back from this incident and go on to live a normal life, not letting this mess him up in the long run. I also hope this does not discourage his wanting to be involved in a church. I hope he understands that his church he attended is not anything like churches he could attend elsewhere. I am nervous that this incident will prevent his desire to attend another religious institution, but with prayer I hope he will have faith. I am also hoping this is the last instance of violence I will hear that takes place inside of a church.

Sources:

  1. http://www.cnn.com/2015/10/21/us/new-york-church-assault-case/index.html
  2. http://wtvr.com/2015/10/21/teen-describes-new-york-church-assault/
  3. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/10/22/survivor-tells-deadly-beating-allegedly-at-hands-church-members/
  4. http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/latest-uncle-allowed-beaten-teens-34630482
  5. http://www.ctvnews.ca/world/teen-beaten-inside-new-york-church-testifies-against-sister-charged-in-the-assault-1.2620098
  6. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/22/nyregion/christopher-leonard-in-court-tells-of-attacks-at-word-of-life-church-that-killed-brother.html
  7. http://fox13now.com/2015/10/16/police-teen-killed-in-n-y-church-assault-wanted-out-parents-face-manslaughter-charges/
  8. http://www.bostonherald.com/news/national/2015/10/police_teen_son_was_beaten_for_trying_to_leave_his_church
  9. http://www.denverpost.com/nationworld/ci_28985393/once-vibrant-church-became-place-fear
  10. http://www.foxnews.com/us/2015/10/16/parents-boy-fatally-beaten-at-new-york-church-in-court/
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