Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Homless man charged with stalking President Monson

The Following is a news story as reported on KSL.

"Homeless man charged with stalking Pres. Monson
July 8th, 2011 @ 7:55pm
By Brian West

Benjamin Tucker Staples

SALT LAKE CITY — A homeless man was charged Friday with stalking the president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Benjamin Tucker Staples, 36, was charged with stalking, a class A misdemeanor.

Salt Lake police officers were called to the LDS Church Office Building, 50 E. North Temple, on July 5 after receiving a report of a trespasser. Officers were told Staples had been to the building about five times since June 25 asking to speak with President Thomas S. Monson.

Staples was "told on every prior appearance that he is not to return to the premises," the charges filed in 3rd District Court state. "Each prior incident, the defendant was arrested and booked into the jail."

Staples, who has the alias of "Jesus Christ" listed in the Salt Lake County Jail booking information, told officers "he intends to keep returning to the offices" until he meets President Monson, the charges state.

Each time, he refused to leave voluntarily, "choosing instead to be arrested by police," according to the charges.

"Church security is concerned for the safety of the president and those employed in the building because of defendant's persistence even after being told not to return and given a written trespass order," the charges state.

Staples is being held in jail on $25,000 bail."
- End of article.

Bond for Staples' stalking charges total $26,850. His case is being heard in Salt Lake's Third District Court. No small amount, especially for a homeless man. Interesting that a homeless man is threatening enough that instead of speaking with Church leaders, he ends up speaking with the prison warden. I wasn't there, but we learn a lot from what he was charged with. There were no charges relating to violence, threats, or putting people in harms way. He simply wouldn't leave unless he got to speak with President Monson, and persisted. I can't comment beyond the facts of the article, but this all brings up some big picture issues.

I wonder if President Monson even knew that this guy wanted to talk to him. The current Church President has a long and consistent history of showing charity, of visiting the sick, serving those in need, and offering comfort to the afflicted. Who can deny that? His history is clear and full of service to those in need. There is enough evidence that for me any doubt about this news article is settled in favor of President Monson.

Moving on, the article does present a few troubling elements I wanted to comment on. Something about a man showing up to a church (or church headquarters) and ending up in prison is bothersome. He clearly needed something and now of all institutions, the prison system is the one helping him. That's the last place to rehabilitate someone....  Maybe he was obnoxious, and legitimately a threat or danger to people's safety, I don't know. To my knowledge the legal charges don't say or indicate that this was the case, but I'll stay open to additional facts.

One problem here (from my limited understanding based on a very short news article), is the ever increasing religious protocol and administrative procedures dictating what we think and do. President Monson can receive inspiration, whereas protocol and procedure are not designed to be open to the influence of the Spirit. They are rigid and usually have a good reason to exist but can also become a problem if not kept in check. There are those who may not see a need for inspiration when there is clearly a "protocol/procedure" in place. When such lifeless things begin to determine behavior and peoples responses, I think unfortunate consequences will not be far behind. I wonder if policy restricted inspiration with this man's plight.

I mean, all established procedures must be followed right? We can always rely on them to not lead us astray right? Or so the thinking goes...

Matthew 25: 35-36: “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

I think Christ walked and taught the way of Eternal life.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely written. I like your perspective on this. Looking forward to not just reading this scripture but living/experiencing this scripture with you.