Disconnect: The Strange Case of Steven Hayes

 

Steven Hayes is in prison in Connecticut. He is an orthodox Jew. Last August, he sued the Department of Correction, alleging the preparation practices for kosher meals in the kitchen at the state’s highest-security prison do not conform to Jewish dietary laws.

He says in the lawsuit he has suffered “almost two years of emotional injury from having to choose between following God and starving or choosing sin to survive.”

U.S. District Court Judge Alvin Thompson recently rejected Hayes’ motions for a hearing and a temporary injunction. Apparently Hayes is indeed offered kosher meals, and the state Department of Correction has two rabbis who periodically monitor the preparation of kosher foods in the prison system. Both rabbis have certified that the food and the food preparation process comply with Jewish dietary laws.

Though the judge did not throw out the lawsuit, by rejecting the motions, he indicated there is not a likelihood that the suit will succeed.

This is not Hayes’ first lawsuit against the department. In past, unsuccessful litigation, Hayes has complained about his mental health care, harassment from prison staff, the temperature in his cell, and other assorted alleged religious discrimination in prison.

So where’s the disconnect, you ask?

Hayes is on death row for the 2007 murder of Jennifer Hawke-Petit and her two daughters, 17-year-old Hayley and 11-year-old Michaela, in their home in Cheshire.

The victims were tied up, two of them were sexually assaulted, and their bodies were found after the home was set on fire.

Here is a man with such religious scruples that he wants to follow the letter of the Jewish Torah (Law) regarding dietary laws, so much so that he is willing to file a lawsuit while in prison to get his way. Yet this same man has no qualms or compunction whatsoever about raping and murdering three women, including a teenager and child, in violation of the very sacred moral law of that Torah – the 10 commandments, that he claims to revere so much.

Hayes’ is an extreme example of disconnect.

Such is the way of sin. It creates a disconnect; a spiritual insanity. “Chocking on a gnat while swallowing a camel;” “outwardly looking like a whitewashed tomb, but within full of dead men’s bones,” to choose two of Jesus’ metaphors.

But, of course, most people are not like Hayes . . . right?

Spiritually speaking, in one sense every one of us is like Hayes every time we rationalize one sin, asking God to look the other way, while simultaneously donning our legalism in another area, saying: “watch me obey over here, God!”

Yep, that’s sin for you. Disconnect . . . Insanity. . . Pathetic.

Jeremiah 17:9 – “The human heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick, who can understand it?”

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