The Times Union article is edited and rewritten a few times before going out, so there are other things that I said that did not make it into the final article and may come out at another time. A few of those things I would like to address here:
1) One thing I stated is that I am still not in full agreement that there was ANY need to "look at" or "verify" my blog. As far as I know, they only verified ownership with the subpoena (though I will always wonder). IF I find out during this process that more than this was done, then I will deal with that appropriately. Right now I can only go by what I am told and the facts that I have looked into. The reason I spoke out and also posted previously is that I do not feel Detective Hinson did more than this, I have a reason for believing that (reasons that I cannot share at this time).
The second reason is that I feel that Detective Hinson was "being thrown under a bus" and the others involved at the church were apparently not going to stand up for him. There are other facts that play into this decision and I feel that FBC has some explaining to do. It was the "pass the buck" scenario from the church admin. all the way from the top - "I didn't have anything to do with this, it was him." then that person says "No it was actually that guy over there" and eventually the trail went all the way down to resting on Hinson's shoulders and that is NOT the truth. He should not lose his job or credibility, face public rage, internal affairs investigation etc. if there is more to the story, don't you agree? I do not feel he abused his power or did favors. I know a few details about this situation and I feel it was his job to investigate based on what he was given, he did not act alone. That is why I did my own research and made my own decision. I could be wrong, but I would rather be wrong after a knowledgeable decision than a hasty one made on emotion.
2) Another thing that wasn't printed in the article is that for the last month I have been on my own "fact finding mission" and have talked to many different people, compared different people's version of the events and statements, talked to Deacon's (hearing FBC side of things), hearing Tom's version of events along with his evidence of things, attempted to meet with Pastor Brunson, John Blount and any others they deemed relevant, talked with my family, evaluated the impact of my involvement, lost sleep, prayed, laid out all of the facts that I learned. I have been very frustrated and bothered by it all, and my spirit is restless about it all. I have tried to make decisions based on what I feel God would have me do vs. how I feel (because I was really angry about this) and not wanting to add fuel to an out of control fire. I feel that the full truth has not yet come out, but I am confident that it will. And I am praying for that to happen as well. I want to know the truth and it is very hard to find it right now because everyone is trying to cover for themselves.
One thing I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt, is that this was not handled correctly - period! Not humanly right, but definitely not spiritually!
God's word is alive and active, it is relevant and applicable to everyday life - it is not only applicable to those we want it to apply to, but for the other side as well. We cannot use scriptures against Tom and his blog, cursing what he is doing and then not do the same for the reaction of the church, the Pastor, the Discipline committee, the Deacons, the police and S.A. office. You cannot single only one person out, the Bible applies to all other than the fact that the State (law enforcement) is not bound by God's law. The church brought the State and law enforcement into this by asking for an investigation, asking for information and receiving it (Tom's name), asking for a tespass warning and issuing it by men at the church and then officially by law enforcement, then the final blow, calling Tom names in the public newspaper. Where is the line drawn that says, "Tom did this and it's wrong in our eyes, but anything that happens from this point is just his punishment and our hands are washed clean..." Who decides that ? Are we now judge and jury? What in the world happened to the rest of the scriptures?
"A hot-tempered man stirs up dissension, but a patient man calms a quarrel." Prov. 15:18 "A man finds joy in giving an apt reply and how good is a timely word." (vs.23) "He who listens to a life giving rebuke will be at home among the wise. The fear of the Lord teaches a man wisdom, and humility comes before honor. (vs. 31-32)
"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: they will not go unpunished. Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for; through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil. When a man's ways are pleasing to the Lord, he makes even his enemies live at peace with him. Better a little with righteousness than much gain with injustice." (16:5-8)
Many of you want to be angry with Tom Rich for blogging in the first place. Well, go ahead and be angry, but sin not. That is Biblical! All day long you can blame this on Tom, but you will be wrong. Pastor Brunson has many critics, all Pastors do, should he handle it differently than a regular man? Yes, because he has a higher calling and role. He has to handle it with grace and humility and he really should meet with the person at least once before deciding what needs to be done from there. If it is an unreasonable person and he sees no way of reconciling the differences, then certainly tougher choices need to be made, in love, with grace and humility. But if it all comes down to agreeing to disagree and asking the person to handle things differently, then he is showing love and grace and humility. And in the best case scenario the persons fears, problems or qualms are settled in this meeting and restoration happens. No matter the outcome, the Pastor would have tried. Tom could have had his questions answered, his fears or qualms resolved and then the blog would be shut down. Or he may have met with him and discovered that he felt he still needed to keep blogging, but the Pastor's accountability would be covered. The Pastor has to answer for how he handles things just as Tom does. Obviously, we are all accountable as well.
We all are fallible and make mistakes and now there is this mess. The church should have had a meeting with Tom, it shouldn't have been only granted based in their rules and regulations being agreed to (that isn't fair) it should have been gracious, loving and available. If there was a threat on the church or Pastor, then I would be saying something different. The only threat was Tom's words and opinions and that is a constitutional right. We cannot use a separate set of rules for the church and then bring in the government (police and SA) but then say "separation of church and state" it is one or the other. We want separation of church and state for our own religious freedom - if the church isn't careful, we will have more situations like this one and lawsuits and then eventually the gov't. will intercede, little crossovers like this can lead to many things that are not in the churches best interest.
3) With that being said, I do not believe that Toms's name should have been released to the church under these circumstances. There was not enough concern gained during the "investigation" to keep it open, meaning actual criminal behavior, so there was no reason to "warn the church" as the Sheriff states. If they linked Tom to some threatening email, or stalking the Pastors wife, then certainly I can understand where they would need to be aware and warn "watch out for John Doe and call if you see him around" type of thing. But this is not the case! Their own report says such. If this is JSO's usual policy, then it needs to be re evaluated based on this case. After all, look what was done after identifying him to the church. Isn't this exactly why he blogged anonymously in the first place? What if the church didn't agree with me blogging about the crimes of Gilyard? Could they go to the JSO and tell them that things are happening to them and I might be to blame? Would that be reason to investigate me?
Do we really need to involve the authorities on a hunch? Or worse, an emotional decision based on our dislike of someone? After all, the blog was just an opinion, no direct threats, no reason to allege he may be stalking, the stalking supposedly happened long ago anyway, why the sudden concern? It just isn't right. But even if they were fearful, there are certainly many people that should have been on the radar other than just Tom Rich, myself and the BBC.
Unfortunately, there may be further consequences for not doing things God's way.