Anger is just one of many emotions surrounding the balloon boy hoax. Last Thursday afternoon, much of America paused to pray for the safety of Falcon Heene, who was reportedly inside a homemade aircraft floating high above Colorado, powered by helium and capable of reaching 10,000 feet. Twitter was abuzz with concern for the boy, with members such as myself and @worldprayr tweeting balloon boy prayer requests to thousands of followers during the ordeal.
When is anger justified? When God is mad, too. Yes, that’s right – God gets angry with his children’s unrighteous behavior just like a good father should. Surely God was angry with the choices of Richard Heene, who on this day was a not-so-good father, having conjured up this publicity stunt and, with his wife, led his three boys to participate in lying to the press, the police and the public.
Mr. Heene contacted both law-enforcement and the local news with regard to his boy’s supposed flight, which garnered national coverage and even upstaged President Obama’s visit to New Orleans. Neil Cavuto of FOX News reported that the majority of Wall Street’s eyes were glued to the screens, not those with numbers but with the spaceship-looking balloon. The attention was just what the Heenes were after, and they were willing to teach their children to lie to the world to get it.
The parents and boys were attempting to win a new reality TV series from the stunt. It is hard to imagine the outcome they expected –life-changing face-time, a free on-camera live audition that would result in fame and fortune. But instead, the result is an investigation by Child Protective Services, ostracism by most sane people around the world, and criminal charges on the horizon.
In a statement to press Sunday morning, James Alderden of the Larimer County Sheriff’s Office, stated “We do believe we will recommend charges: conspiracy, contributing to the delinquency of minor, false reporting to authorities, and attempting to influence a public servant.” He also shared that Richard and Mayumi Heene met in acting school in Hollywood. “These people are actors. They put on a very good show for us, and we bought it.” A show that cost taxpayers a growing chunk of money.
It was the idea of a “show” that gave their plan away, a plan that had been in place for at least two weeks. Sheriff Alderden stated that it was Falcon’s comment on Larry King Live Thursday night that caused them to suspect a hoax. When asked by Wolf Blitzer if he heard his parents calling his name while in hiding, he replied in the affirmative, to which his father asked, “Why didn’t you come out?” Falcon responded, “You guys said…that, hmm…we did this for the show.”
One look at this video and it is easy to see the tension on the faces of the two older brothers, who clearly know that Falcon is blowing it and wonder how dad will respond. Alderden said they had “information all three (children) had guilty knowledge and were involved.”
Anger in this instance is justified. But the godly response to anger is to do the right thing with it. “In your anger do not sin” (Ephesians 4:26). The only response appropriate for those of us who are mere observers of this travesty is to trust God with our desire for justice, and surrender it to Him in prayer.
Prayers also for Falcon remain appropriate. A six-year old boy was told to play pretend with his parents, to play a part in a “show” as an actor would. But few six-year olds can understand the difference in playing pretend in your home or acting on a stage, and dishonest actions for selfish gain – especially six-year olds whose parents don’t seem to understand the difference either.
As Sheriff Alderden said Sunday, “On the bizarre meter, this rates a 10.”