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Discussing religion, spirituality and values. Amy Umble is the religion reporter for The Free Lance-Star. You can email her at
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Finding Jesus

Michael Vick found Jesus.

He announced it at a news conference this morning. Just before his plea bargain for dogfighting.

Vick didn’t give a lot of details about his conversion. Paris Hilton was also reticent when asked about her recent jailhouse conversion.

An upcoming Free Lance-Star story will talk more about celebrities and how they bring up Jesus when they get in trouble. I just thought I’d throw it on the blog and see if you had any thoughts to share.

Debbie Boyd, a chaplain at the Rappahannock Regional Jail, had an interesting point when I talked with her this afternoon. It’s not unusual for conversions to take place at low points in life, whether that’s in jail or at a family tragedy or at some other time. For many people, that’s when they realize they need something else in their lives. And sometimes, that something else is Jesus. Sometimes, she said, they get over that desperation and they get over the conversion. But sometimes it stays with them. And they’re truly converted. But even if it doesn’t last, it doesn’t mean they weren’t sincere at the time.

Of course, many people aren’t sincere at the time. They cry “Jesus!” for public sympathy or for lighter sentences. Boyd said you can tell the difference based on their actions. Lisa Thomas, who runs a program for female ex-offenders, said that people who are truly converted treat others more kindly. She used the example of a prisoner who was serving a life sentence who writes Thomas notes of encouragement and takes the time to pick out the perfect scripture to accompany them. Before her conversion, the woman slouched in the room and barely seemed to care, Thomas said.

It will be interesting to watch Vick’s upcoming actions for any signs his conversion is at all sincere, both women said.

Any thoughts?