When a man smashed his car into a controversial Ten Commandments monument outside the Oklahoma Capitol recently, it made national news.
Authorities reported that 29-year-old Michael Tate Reed II said "Satan told him to do it," and even though the suspect was taken to a mental health facility, predictable headlines followed:
But did the devil really make him do it?
Or did mental illness?
My late grandfather Earl Nanney, a Southern Baptist, was a sweet man who rose before dawn on Sundays and played gospel music at an ungodly volume. But he battled mental illness all his adult life. My late grandmother Edith Nanney dealt with Grandpa’s frequent stints in jail and mental hospitals.
My family's experience makes me sensitive to others whose loved ones struggle with mental illness.
I was pleased to see The Oklahoman — in Sunday's edition — dig deeper into Reed's case and produce an in-depth piece of real journalism on the challenges that he and his family have faced:
I agreed with my friend and former Oklahoman colleague Jim Stafford's assessment of medical and health reporter Jaclyn Cosgrove's story:
The 1,900-word story opens with this dramatic scene:
At least twice now, Michael Tate Reed II has purged himself of all his belongings, setting them outside his home for anyone to take.
“I’m going to Bible college,” Reed wrote in a Facebook post in August last year, “and God told me to give away my stuff and to trust in him to supply all my needs according to ‘His’ riches in glory by Christ Jesus.”
He posted a photo of everything he owned in his yard with a large white sign that reads “ALL FREE” in red letters.
After that, Reed headed to the college in Tulsa. While there, he had his first major mental health breakdown.
‘It’s about a human being’
Since Oct. 24, thousands of people across the U.S. have learned about Reed, but only as the 29-year-old Oklahoma man who drove his car into the Ten Commandments monument outside the Oklahoma state Capitol.
His friends and family said that’s not the real Reed, a man many people knew for his strong faith and love for others.
The entire story is worth your time. Read it all.