By Bishop Michael Goings
Believe it or not, the idea for what you are reading in my column today came to me at the car wash. As I shared with one of the owners of the establishment that my vehicle was so dingy and dusty that it took me to the court of public opinion to obtain a detailed cleaning. The idea came to me that there are times when people are brought to the court of consensus of opinion about various reasons, situations, and actions. I have selected only a few that are common to most that I will briefly comment on.
The Bad Behavior of Children Away from Home
I think that I am safe to say that when it comes to the court of public opinion, one of the things that is commonly determine is the behavior of children when they are away from home or not around their parents. Many children (due to their bad attitude and misbehaving conduct) have been found guilty in the court of public opinion. Arguably, one of the away-from-home environments where children are found guilty for violating rules and regulations is the public-school setting. It is becoming increasingly difficult for teachers and others who work in the public schools to be effective in their job because of the bad behavior and conduct of those who are defiant and disruptive.
The Exoneration or Sentencing of Public Leaders
I venture to say that perhaps the first place that a politician or public figure is either exonerated or sentenced for being accused of some maleficence is in the court of public opinion. As a young and novice pastor, I was (falsely) accused of committing a very despicable and depraved act. This fact of being falsely accused of such a horrendous and dastardly deed almost destroyed my reputation. Thank God for my family and friends standing by and supporting me with their prayers and showing of confidence in me during that time of great turmoil. Though I would ultimately be declared innocent before a judge, it was first the court of public opinion that would exonerate me and declare me completely innocent of all the fabricated and false accusations. The court of public opinion has both condemned and exonerated many public officials. The decisions made in this court, where the people’s opinion serve as both judge and jury, has proven favorable for some and fatal for others.
An Untidy Residence in an Affluent Neighborhood
I have seen a few untidy residences in neighborhoods that were occupied by wealthy people. I am not referring to homes that were not occupied. These estates had people presently living in them. Nevertheless, the lawns were not properly maintained, and the houses were in desperate need of repair. Such residences are eyesores in a well-kept and prominent neighborhood. I once owned a house in a very prominent community in Florence where you had to sign a contract that you would maintain both your residence and yard or otherwise pay a fine. To some, this may seem unfair, but I wholeheartedly agreed with the stipulation and did the best I could to keep my property up to the code and standard. An untidy estate in a well-kept and prominent neighborhood is both an eyesore and source of devaluation of other’s property. Little wonder the court of public opinion has already passed its verdict of guilty in all such cases.
Confessing Christians Who Live Hypocritical Lives
Though none of us dare not make a claim to be flawless and without sin as Christians, there is an alarming amount of people who are members of some authentic Christian churches and even confess to be followers (imitators) of Jesus Christ who are bringing a reproach on both His name and church they attend. Such people who practice duplicity are labeled by the Scriptures as “spots and blemishes” (2 Peter 2:13 and Jude 12). Arguably, nothing has come to the attention of the court of public opinion and received a verdict of guilt like those who confess Christ and practice a lifestyle of compromise and hypocrisy. Such people stand guilty before God and man of standing in the way of others through their hypocrisy (Psalm 1:1) from coming to the Father through Jesus Christ. In my personal and theological opinion, few things carry such a potential weight of grave consequences to those who are counterfeit Christians and the ones who they discourage and prevent from coming to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.