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By February 7, 2010 Uncategorized 32 Comments

Posted by Mike Foster:

A religious group thought it was a great idea to take pictures of cutomers who frequented a strip club. They then posted those photos on their public website in hopes to embarass the customers and shut down the club.

The Honolulu Police Department posts pics of people arrested for DUI in hopes the humiliation will deter drunk driving.

Oh how we love our public shaming and we preach it as a clever deterrent to bad behavior.

I disagree. I call it a sloppy strategy that drips with judgement and ultimately has very little impact on someone’s choices.

So what do you think? Do these ideas have merit or are they just a dumb idea?

(Btw, the above mug shot is Bill Gates)


  • cecillinke says:

    Agreed! “Public humiliation” seems to be a secular version of the kind of legalism the Pharisees practiced.

  • nathandavis says:

    I agree. Not cool, effective or Christ-like to publicly shame people. The kindness of God leads to repentance.

  • I can understand what they're trying to do but when you consider WWJD then it doesn't match up. I'm thinking of the story of the adulteress woman. After Jesus said let he is without sin cast the first stone He started to write on in the dirt. The thought is that He was writing the sins of the woman's accusers. He could have just called them out in front of everyone and humiliated them but He chose not too. Humiliation can cause the person to just get hung up on the shame of his/her actions but not necessarily the way out of them.

  • mbailey256 says:

    Like many issues there are two extremes, those who never want to hold anyone accountable for anything and those who want to go straight to the “nuke'em” option. Both I believe are wrong what was taught in matt 18 and 1 cort 5 gives the offender multiple chances to be redeemed.

  • mohan37 says:

    i think that bill gates mugshot is hillarious, but i totally agree with you. just because something seems like it'll be a deterrent doesn't mean it actually is. and if your deterrent isn't working, then it's just bullying. shoo…even if it is working, it can still be bullying.

  • Sherie says:

    Shame doesn't change hearts, and it is the heart that has to change for a life to change.

    In the church this type of behavior is sometimes connected with the attitude of the elder brother in Luke 15. People take on the attitude and behavior of being the gatekeepers with a belief that acceptance is based on performance based. They become protective and are unforgiving toward anyone who falls short. I believe it is a spiritual disease and is really hurtful.

  • Albee says:

    The two examples can't be treated the same…The strip club example is just plain silly, they really didn't weigh the positives and negatives with that strategy. DUI on the other hand is illegal and potentially deadly to innocent people. If it works, I would support it whole heartedly.

  • Ed Carp says:

    Interesting choice of mugshots – I suppose the intent is to show that, despite Bill's being arrested for something, that he went on to become ultimately successful? Unfortunately, in the majority of cases, offenders tend to re-offend – 2/3 of those convicted for an offense re-offend within 3 years.

    While I don't think public shaming doesn't do anything but ruin people's lives, I also believe that the aim of such public humiliation is to goad people into repentance. Good idea to get people to repent and turn away from sin, bad method and execution.

    In our eagerness to try and forgive everyone for everything, we've lost sight of the idea of repentance. Brenda brings up the story of Christ and the adulteress – an excellent story, but don't forget that (1) we have no idea what Christ was actually writing – writing in the dirt was a common way to teach students, and (2) Christ's final words to her – “go, and sin no more.” And while it has been said “there is no forgiveness without repentance” by Tozer, among others, I wonder if sometimes the act of forgiveness leads to repentance – if it doesn't go both ways.

  • cynsoares says:

    I think that it is none of our business. We can not change anyone, we can only change ourselves. God is the only one who can change someone, if they want to change. We should show them the love they are not getting, and hopefully they will see God's love. Remember Grace, Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy times seven.”, as my pastor would say “remember the people Jesus scolded the most, it was not the ones committing sins of the flesh (adultry, lust, greed), it was the ones committing sins of the spirit (judgemental, pride)”.

  • Ed Carp says:

    Also, remember that Christ had the most to say to the Pharisees, the hypocrites, who followed the letter of the law and completely disregarded the spirit. They were so busy hitting people over the head with the law that they conveniently forgot, as Christ reminded them, that the Law was based on God's love for us.

  • I personally think it is a really stupid idea. Sort of like calling out names from the pulpit when preaching. I know that goes on but shudder to think about it. Our local paper records the names of people arrested but does not include a picture unless it is a more heinous crime. What the police do and what a church does seems to be two different things. While the police are not interested in radical grace, the church should be. Exposure for sins is not a way to show that.

  • russellholloway says:

    When everyone is thinking the same, no one is thinking. – Patton.

    Have you never changed a behavior because you were caught and felt shame? Of course shame works in many, granted not all, instances.

    The woman Jesus saved from being stoned of course felt shame, as did the men preparing to stone her. That is why they turned away.

    Isn't this Second Chance post trying to leverage shame: http://www.potsc.com/uncategorized/our-sliding-

    The key is that shame is swiftly followed up with mercy and compassion.

  • @kylelreed says:

    It could a cool idea if we posted our pic right next to theirs and said I am not better and here is why. POTSC

  • Kezrush says:

    It's dumb. Reminds me of how culture misconstrues the story of Cain. People who don't study the word think the mark is placed on Cain so everyone would know he's a murder. But God placed the mark on Cain to save him. A sign of grace.

    Maybe we should spend our efforts marking grace, not shame.

    Mike & Jud, thanks for keeping the movement of radical integrity and grace alive!

  • jaycaruso says:

    Well there are two schools of thought here.

    1. A church or religious organization has no business taking photos of strip club patrons and posting them. That is engaging in legalism and it does not further the kingdom nor exhibit any grace.

    2. When law enforcement does it, I don't see anything wrong with it. Law enforcement is in the business of fighting and preventing crime. It may seem easy for some of us to say, “Oh this is wrong.” But chances are many of us don't live in neighborhoods plagued by prostitution. We may never have seen the damage, both physical and emotional a drunk driver can inflict on another and their family. Remember, when these people have their pictures posted, they've been convicted of a crime. They are being judged according to the laws that govern where they live. They were aware of the consequences and chose to ignore them. I understand the desire to give grace wherever possible, but the fact of the matter is that with sin comes consequences. The NT is clear in several areas that we are to respect worldly authority insomuch as it does not contradict God's word.

  • It's a terrible idea.. because while you have some who have no conscience about DUI's or whatever, you do have many who are frequenting strip clubs, entertaining prostitutes, drinking and driving – you name it.. and they have incredible guilt, pain and shame for their actions but the only way they know to hide that is to continue the behavior and delve deeper and deeper into their sin.

    For us to try to shame them into submission is the polar opposite of what Christ calls us to do.

  • I don't think shame ever has merit as a good idea. I do think shame has merit as a dumb idea, though. Shame has caused some to “change their ways” if even only because they got caught. How many celebrities, althletes, politicians have changed because they got caught? Steve Philips and Michael Vick instantly come to mind.

    With that being said, shame should never be used by the Church. Nor is there any place for sarcasm in the Church or ministry, which is the predecessor to shame in most cases.

    In a perfect utopian society the Justice system would never use shame either. In my town (a small town) our local newspaper (which comes out once a week) posts the name of everyone arrested and their crime.

    So I don't know the answer to your question. Maybe shame (feelings of guilt) is only intended for self correction? But what do you do when you have lost that feeling of shame? I don't know if you can truly repent without it. Just thinking out loud…maybe someone can complete my thoughts…

    all about Christ,
    David Buckham

  • Mark says:

    You know my immediate reaction to this was obviously no this is not right. Then i thought a little about it and something came to mind. I was thinking about that dateline show – to catch a predator and thought that once you bring the human impact of the “sin” being done to a higher level [in human terms] then perhaps our opinion on the method of … See moreprevention changes. But should it? That show uses the same threat of public humiliation and shame as a deterrent. I would dare say most of us that watched that show were glad for what they did AND i would be of the belief that it; at least for a time helped prevent some people from commiting online predation.

    So this led me to the thought that it is in fact not the method but the group that is the face of it. I as a Christian do not think it so bad this TV show is doing it. But as soon as i hear the label “Christian” on something it all of a sudden seems to have different criteria of judgment itself. Which perhaps it should. So it seems the main worry is that we are further labeled as judgmental, holier than thou group of hypocrites.

    I still think my answer is that this is wrong but i wondered what peoples reaction would be if this was not a Christian group doing this or if the dateline show was under the label of “Christian” would this and should this change our and public perception of what is being done or achieved?

  • Sherie says:

    Cynsoares, I have to disagree (I hope it comes across that I am doing it politely). I do think that it is our business. If other believers are walking disobediently we are told in scripture to correct them. If non-believers are walking incorrectly we should be helping them to find truth and a relationship with God. God made us “a people” and we need to be connected to and sharing life together. I do agree that God is vital in the process, but so are we. If we say that how others live is none of our business then aren't we in a way saying that God's mission is none of our business?

    I know in my journey I needed someone to come along side me in love and grace to show me how I was living disobediently due to unbelief. My pastor had tried it through condemnation and control but it that didn't work because it lacked love. I needed someone to look me in the face and tell me that God loved me and had a whole book of truth to show me how to live and then she took me through that book and was the vessel God used to get his truth through to me. So, at least in my case I am really glad that someone saw it as their business to get involved.

  • Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by BrenRenderos: Hmm…STRIP CLUBS, DUI MUGSHOTS AND PUBLIC SHAMING http://95269.th8.us

  • […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by mike foster and Jud Wilhite, Erik Mitchell. Erik Mitchell said: STRIP CLUBS, DUI MUGSHOTS AND PUBLIC SHAMING. New post by @MikeFoster http://bit.ly/bcdySI @POTSC // hilarious that pic is bill gates in abq […]

  • mike foster says:

    the other thing to think about is that the HPD is posting pictures of those “arrested” for DUI and not those convicted of a DUI. i realize my libertarian nature is coming out here but last time i checked being arrested for something doesnt mean that youre guilty of it. :) just something to consider.

  • Mark says:

    Mike – that is a very good point! I guess there are so many things to consider in something like this. Its hard when this may have been a truly good hearted endeavor that has actually been followed through on.. [although poorly] most of us don't even do that. It is certainly misguided and probably detrimental to the cause. I guess i just don't want to see criticism given without some eyes on the positive too. Nothing is ever black and white. I guess we can learn from the mistakes but also take up the call to be practical in promoting our beliefs and do something truly positive in some social activism filled with love!

    So did they get it wrong? yes.. but did they at least try – sure! For most of us it should inspire a call for us to be active in our communities.. my fear is if we are too hard on those who try and fail we may just find people do nothing. Of course you are a leading example of being socially active in the right way.. so this is probably more a point for me than you :)

  • pa says:

    I would agree with most of what has been posted. Here's another thought…it is also easy to forget that there are usually families who are attached to the people in those pictures. They have done nothing to deserve the humiliation that could come to them as well.

  • Adam Smith says:

    dumb idea for sure. it doesnt change someones actions it just means they go to the next town:)

  • Cindy Graves says:

    I don't see it as being in line with the example of Jesus. He had many opportunities to humiliate people and He didn't. Even when He was putting the religious leaders in their place it was subtle not the bullhorn/billboard style. He was loving and never condemned. It didn't mean he condoned the bad behavior but it was clear that the issue was between the person and God. It was nobody's business.

  • I agree with you 100%. The practice is unconstitutional to the utmost and police departments are far exceeding their authority with this kind of crap. Those people in those pictures have rights that are being abused incredibly. Most of them are just going to lose their life savings trying to pay a lawyer for the actual case and don't have resources to challenge the website.

    Churches engaging in such a practice are so out of line that it's incredible. Makes me sick. We don't have to LIKE strip clubs, but we need to get our hearts right with God as to how we minister to them. Ask Donny Pauling.

  • Rocco says:

    it is right from the pit of hell. Who is “The Accuser” after all?

  • bcoffing says:

    Funny thing is… Bill Gates actually did start up his business in Albuquerque, NM (same as the mug shot…)

  • Anonymous says:

    Funny thing is… Bill Gates actually did start up his business in Albuquerque, NM (same as the mug shot…)

  • Kate says:

    In Canada it would be illegal.

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