Dog the Faithful Bounty Hunter

In a video interview, the world-famous criminal catcher talks about 'pulling faith together' in a Mexican prison.

BY: Interview by Dena Ross

 


The bounty hunting crew from left to right: Duane Lee Chapman, Lyssa "Baby Lyssa" Rae Chapman, Duane "Dog" Chapman, Beth Smith Chapman, Leland Chapman, and Tim Chapman (no relation).

With his long hair, dark sunglasses, and tight jeans, Duane "Dog" Chapman--star of the hit A&E reality show "Dog the Bounty Hunter" (Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET)--may not look like the typical Christian sitting in church. He's often seen cursing and screaming on the show, which follows Dog and the rest of his family, including his wife, Beth Smith Chapman, as they run Da Kine Bail Bonds in Honolulu and track fugitives who have jumped bail. But the Chapmans are also born-again Christians, and once their prey is captured, they turn their attention to helping the accused criminals leave their dangerous lives behind. It's something Dog knows about from personal experience: He served two years in prison as an accessory to murder in 1977. But since his release, he has turned his life around and claims to have made over 6,000 captures during his 25-year career.

Dog and his posse have also made news recently
because Mexico is seeking to extradite them to face criminal charges stemming from their capture of Max Factor heir Andrew Luster, who fled the U.S. to Mexico in 2003 just before being convicted of 86 counts of rape and sentenced to 124 years in prison. Though Luster is now serving his sentence in the U.S., bounty hunting is illegal in Mexico. Dog is fighting the extradition.

Dog and Beth recently sat down with Beliefnet to discuss their faith and how it relates to their dangerous profession. Watch segments from the interview or read the full interview below.  


  

Faith, Jesus, and Prayer

 

Danger, Fear, and Mexico

 


 

How would you define your spiritual lives?

 

Dog:  A Christian is very Christ-like. Christ wouldn’t say, "Freeze, M-F!"  He’d say something else.  So, sometimes we cannot be too Christ-like, but we’re believers in Christ. 

 

We believe that God is big enough to give every nationality their own religion, as he’s given them their own taste in food, in plants, in furniture, and housing.  I think that each religion has their basic Christ-ish way to get to the Everlasting God.  As far as "Jesus only" kind of people, I as a gentile must believe in Jesus.  But I do not condemn, say, the Jewish [people], for not having Jesus.  I believe that God is smart enough to make different nationalities and creeds and people, a mediator to get towards him—if you need that.

 

Everybody’s under God’s planet, and God is the Almighty, the Beginning, the End, the Alpha, the Omega.  He’s Big Daddy.  He gives out these little soldiers and sons and angels and saints to help everybody else get through to him.  I’m not the "Jesus-only or you’re going to hell" kind of guy. 

 

Do you think that as a couple your faith has grown? 

 

Dog:  Oh, yeah.  We’ve challenged each other. We pray if we get in an argument really bad—we stop and hold our hands and we pray and [say], "Lord, calm her down right now. [Chuckles].  Lord, calm us down."

 

We see miracles happen in our children’s lives and our lives.  We look at each other, we say a prayer, and then it’s answered.  So we know we wouldn’t have got that answer without God.

 

Before you go out on a bounty hunt with the rest of the team, you pray as a group.  What are you praying for then?

 

Dog: We pray for the other person, protection, faith…

 

Beth:  Safety.

 

Dog:  Safety.  To "please help us find the guy."  Everything in general.  Because [bounty hunting] is a contact sport—it's a dangerous thing we do.  We pray that we don’t get shot or hurt seriously.

 

Beth:  And that we don’t hurt anybody else, and that everybody comes out all right.

 

I’ve heard that back when you were in a motorcycle gang, you came up with your nickname, "Dog," because it's "God" spelled backwards.  Did you pick the name because of your faith, or was it to reflect your superiority?

 

Dog:  I didn’t name myself.  In the motorcycle gang, we had a president, vice president, sergeant of arms, treasurer—you know, the basics.  The brothers get together with the president and they nickname you when you became a full-fledged member. 

 

At 16, I [still] believed in God a lot.  If [the gang] were going to rob a church, I’d go, "No, we’re not." I was kinder than the average outlaw biker but I still had the outlaw heart.  I was very loyal to my bikership, my 'hood, my brothers. I was Dog Disciple and that was it.  I couldn’t be Dog something else.  I was that club.  I was very loyal—like man’s best friend.

 

We had a guy named Preacher, one named John the Baptist.  So the brothers and the president got together and said, "We christened you 'The Dog,' which is God spelled backwards.  Now [whistles], come on, puppy.  Let’s go."  [The name] stuck with me until today.

 

Do you think that for a family such as yours, where the mother and father have such dangerous professions, faith plays a bigger role in your family life?

 

Dog:  Absolutely. Faith is probably our whole being, our whole family life. [But] we have common sense.  You can’t walk out and say, "Weeds be gone" and they die.  But we have milestones and mountains in our life that could never be removed or conquered without G-O-D.  In order to have Him and to believe in Him, you’ve got to have faith.  Faith is the substance of hope—of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.  So if you can hope for it and imagine it, and keep imagining and hoping and seeing yourself driving a new car, or seeing yourself getting that job, or seeing yourself excel, seeing yourself help that personthat is faith. It’s a substance, it’s an actual thing, like a being—a spiritual being—that’s led into the room.  Without faith, you are nothing.  Without faith, the spirituality is dead.  So faith is a very importantprobably the second most important thing, besides Jesusin a believer’s life. 

 

I’d imagine people in your profession and other dangerous professions would be in constant fear for your life and for your family.  Is that something that you have to deal with?

 

Dog:  We deal with concern, not fear.  Fear comes not from the Father. That’s in the Bible. Fear is not from God. God doesn’t have a closet full of fear and [says], "Let’s send a little fear down to Dog."  He has caution and faith and all that. But fear does creep in.  Since it’s not from God, it must be from somewhere else. And when fear gets in the car, we stop and let it out. Anybody in a job that is kind of on the dark side, so to speak, has to let fear out. 

 

You can’t be afraid to put out a fire if you’re a fireman.  You can’t be afraid to be a police officer and carry a gun if you’re afraid to get up and go out there.  So you’ve got to put that fear to the side and go out in faith to overcome that.

 

Continued on page 2: Pulling together faith while in a Mexican prison... »

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