'Pray That Casey Finds Jesus' Comment by KTBS Draws Flak

Correction appended

A Shreveport, La., news station is receiving some flak for a recent Facebook posting that said people should pray for Casey Anthony to find Jesus.

KTBS 3 News specifically posted on Sunday, "It's good to be reminded that we should let GOD do the judging and pray that Casey finds Jesus."

The posting was made by meteorologist Joe Haynes. He later responded to a comment by a reader named Kathleen Bellamy who found the Jesus statement "highly inappropriate" for a news agency.

"It's just me stating my opinion about Rick's message," Haynes said in his response. "I'm a Jesus follower and I'm glad that my station can freely talk about the LORD. It's also nice to hear your opinion too! Thanks for writing in...Joe Haynes."

The Facebook posting wasn't the only thing drawing criticisms. Some have called out the station for preaching rather than delivering the news with its latest piece on the Anthony case. On Sunday night, Rick Rowe addressed the question "What would Jesus do" in his show "A Promise of Hope" at the station.

After a jury found Anthony not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of her 2-year-old daughter, Caylee, last week, Rowe found himself angry and yelling at the TV.

"I was mad," he said on KTBS 3 Sunday. "But ... as believers, we're held to a higher standard."

Rowe went on to show clips of Jesus forgiving sinners and giving them second chances.

"The Christian life is all about second chances," he said. "There is redemption for Casey. She just needs to knock on the right door."

Anthony must admit her guilt first and ask for forgiveness, Rowe stressed, adding that Jesus always forgives.

"I really believe that if she will do that that believers, churches all over this country would embrace her. But if she doesn't, it's going to be a long, miserable life for her. That's just my opinion."

The not guilty verdict delivered last week came as a shock to many. The Casey Anthony case was one of the most highly publicized murder trials with half of Americans following news of the verdict, according to a USA Today poll.

The poll also showed that a majority of Americans believe Anthony, 25, is guilty. Anthony was only convicted of lying to law enforcement and will be released from jail on Sunday, July 17.

After Rowe's piece on Anthony aired, Haynes posted the comment.

News director Randy Bain told Hemant Mehta, aka the Friendly Atheist, that the news station does not weigh in on religious issues. He also said he would speak to Haynes about what is appropriate on the station's social media outlets.

But while the station has drawn criticism, it is also receiving wide support. Haynes' comment received at least 440 likes with some saying, "I would just like to say 'Thank You' to the folks at KTBS 3 News team for the boldness they have in speaking openly about God and Christianity."

KTBS 3 serves ArkLaTex and is owned and operated by the Wray family of Shreveport.

Correction: Wednesday, July 13, 2011:

An article on Monday, July 11, 2011, about KTBS 3's Facebook posting on the Casey Anthony case incorrectly reported that the "Friendly Atheist" is Richard Wade. The Friendly Atheist is Hemant Mehta, not Wade.