You’ve traveled across the U.S. and the United Kingdom on speaking tours. Who comes out for a lecture by Rob Bell?
A full spectrum—people who worship each week, Jewish rabbis and Buddhists, and people who say their friends will never set foot in church but who come because I happen to be speaking in their town.
You grew up in an evangelical church. What stands out for you in that experience?
When I was growing up, some people were taught that authority comes from how loud one yells the propositions. “Here are the nine things that are true,” for example—and they would say them over and over until people assented to them. Others were raised to believe that all that matters is believing in your heart that Jesus is the Savior, Messiah, Son of God.
A. M. Stroud III, a former prosecutor in Louisiana, expresses regret for the role he played in sending Glenn Ford to death row in 1984. “I was 33 years old. I was arrogant, judgmental, narcissistic and very full of myself. I was not as interested in justice as I was in winning.” Stroud says he presented dubious evidence from a forensic pathologist, precluded black jurors from the trial (Ford, since exonerated, is black), and ignored the fact that the appointed defense attorney had never before tried a criminal or capital case. “I . . . hope that providence will have more mercy for me than I showed Glenn Ford,” Stroud said in a letter to the editor of the Times of Shreveport. “But, I’m also sobered by the realization that I certainly am not deserving of it” (ABA Journal, March 25).