Pharyngula

Christians behaving badly

It’s ben a terrible couple of days for Christianity — I’ve gotten an awful lot of e-mail reporting indiscretions by those trusted members of the clergy.

I should clarify something, though. Many people assume I post these little tales of deplorable behavior by the religious in some misguided effort to show causality, that I’m trying to argue that they do these wicked things because they are Christian. This is not correct. It’s far, far from the truth — I know many good people are also Christian or Jewish.

The point is simpler: Christianity claims to be a force for morality which encourages good behavior on the part of its practitioners. It’s quite clear that it is not when even its clergy seem unable to find their religion to be a source of moral suasion. Religion doesn’t make you bad, necessarily, but it sure doesn’t make you good, either.

Comments

  1. #1 wnelson
    November 29, 2007

    Myers, you could play the same games with Kindergarten teachers or Firemen.

  2. #2 Bill C.
    November 29, 2007

    Maybe when they are in church they are operating within Marcus Ross’ different parameters. They would have to be to quell the cognitive dissonance.

  3. #3 syntyche
    November 29, 2007

    Myers, you could play the same games with Kindergarten teachers or Firemen.

    In case you missed it, I’ll spell it out.
    Neither of those groups claims that their profession is required for morality.

  4. #4 PZ Myers
    November 29, 2007

    Kindergarten teachers and firemen do not claim to be in positions of high moral authority.

    Also, I rather suspect the ‘game’ wouldn’t be quite as successful for those two professions, since they tend to be populated with people who honestly value hard work, and nobody goes into those jobs for the money.

  5. #5 Cody
    November 29, 2007

    wnelson, nobody claims non-kindergarten teachers and non-firemen are without moral foundations.

  6. #6 Jim Thomerson
    November 29, 2007

    I think you are taking an unjustified absolutist view in a probablistic universe. If you can show that Christians are either more or less good, on average, than a control group of non-Christians, you would be on to something. Any distribution is going to have tails, and commenting on the tails is not particularly informative nor convincing as to what is going on in the major part of the distribution.

  7. #7 OC Bruce
    November 29, 2007

    Yes #1, you could play that same game with other professions, but they don’t stand up screaming “Look at me, I’m a very good person – certainly much better than you.”.

    The point is that the deeds don’t follow the words. And my experience in business has been that those who proclaim the loudest are the ones who are GOING to screw you.

  8. #8 NonyNony
    November 29, 2007

    Christianity claims to be a force for morality which encourages good behavior on the part of its practitioners. It’s quite clear that it is not when even its clergy seem unable to find their religion to be a source of moral suasion.

    I’m not so sure that the evidence provided completely backs up this claim.

    There’s a chance that these people would be even worse without their religions keeping them in check. Perhaps without the fear of eternal suffering awaiting their souls they’d do even more horrible things to their fellow human beings than they already do.

  9. #9 NonyNony
    November 29, 2007

    I forgot this bit –

    I actually find it doubtful that these folks would be worse than they are if they didn’t have their religions because I don’t think that these con artists and charlatans actually believe in their religions very much – they see it as an opportunity to weild power over others and collect fat checks (among other services) from the flocks that they fleece.

    But I’m still open to the possibility that they could just be such horrible sociopaths that their fear of retribution from an invisible all-powerful god keeps them from doing even worse things than they already do. It is a possibility.

  10. #10 wnelson
    November 29, 2007

    “Kindergarten teachers … do not claim to be in positions of high moral authority.”

    Don’t let the NEA hear you say that.

    Regardless, what kid of gauche rhetorical rut are you in to continually make sociopolitical hay out of moral faceplants and the resultant family tragedies? And do it on the basis of tiny fractions of a percent? It’s like Chicken Little with a weird combination of OCD and deiophobia.

    You’re doing well to keep the DI honest — do what you do best.

  11. #11 Matt Penfold
    November 29, 2007

    “I think you are taking an unjustified absolutist view in a probablistic universe. If you can show that Christians are either more or less good, on average, than a control group of non-Christians, you would be on to something. Any distribution is going to have tails, and commenting on the tails is not particularly informative nor convincing as to what is going on in the major part of the distribution.”

    The evidence is in on that. The answer turns out to be that the US prison population has a greater percentage than the general population who claim to be religious. And as I understand it the prison population data was about religious views prior to imprisonment which would rule out those who claimed to be religious thinking they would get released earlier. This evidence would support the contention that at the very least religion does nothing to make people behave in a more moral manner. If that were the case you would more atheists in prison.

  12. #12 Stevie_C
    November 29, 2007

    Nony.

    It’s pretty obvious they either don’t believe in God or don’t fear one.

  13. #13 PZ Myers
    November 29, 2007

    Yes, it is possible that these people would be even more horrible without religion. “Making the monstrous slightly less vile” doesn’t sound like much of a testimonial, though, does it? And that is not what religion claims. Christianity claims that it is a force of such goodness that it will make an omnipotent cosmic intelligence reward you with immortality in paradise.

    Yet all we find is people acting like people, the good, the bad, the saintly, the demonic, and mostly, in the middle, a mix of self-interest and decency. Religion simply doesn’t seem to do anything.

  14. #14 zer0
    November 29, 2007

    There’s a chance that these people would be even worse without their religions keeping them in check. Perhaps without the fear of eternal suffering awaiting their souls they’d do even more horrible things to their fellow human beings than they already do.

    Well thank fucking god they have religion then. They might molest 2-3 little boys a day, or they might just go their entire adult lives with a 15 year old girl hidden under their smocks, permanently attached via sodomy. Whew… we can all rest easier now that they’ve found the lord. Now only a mere handful of young innocent children had to have their pious pricks inside them.

    That is the absolute lamest fucking argument defending religion I’ve ever heard. Listen Nony, people are fucked up, that’s for sure. The whole world seems to be batshit crazy. PZ is right to point out the fallacy that religion is an automatic “off switch” for all the problems these people have.

  15. #15 Jim Thomerson
    November 29, 2007

    Are you sure prison inmates is a random sample of Christians? Seems to me it is biased toward a very high percentage of illiterates and minorities. At least one hopes it is not representative. Incidentally, I don’t disagree with your thesis that Christians as a group are no more moral than anyone else.

  16. #16 zer0
    November 29, 2007

    *ahem* Pardon my french =\

  17. #17 Matt Penfold
    November 29, 2007

    I would just add to what I have said about prisoners and religiosity. The best explanation I have seen as why the religious are over represented in US prisons is not down to religion making people bad but because neither prison populations nor religious beliefs are uniform across the US. States that tend to put more people in prison also tend to have higher proportion of the population claiming they are religious. Now that in itself does lead one to ask questions, such as how the Christians in those states than imprison lots of people managed to miss “Let he who is without sin ….”, or “Hate the sin, love the sinner”, or the concept found in the NT of forgiveness. But then Christians so often seem to be ignorant of the bible, and the more fundamentalist they are the more they are ignorant.

    Which reminds me of a sketch on a BBC Radio comedy where the Rev Ian Paisley was informed that there was a New Testament and expressed surprise, asking when it came out.

  18. #18 Azkyroth
    November 29, 2007

    I must say, it was quite refreshing to find an article on here titled “[group name] behaving badly” that castigates members of that group for, you know, actual unethical behavior (rather than simply advocating a viewpoint the author disagrees with). That said, can someone please explain to me why, when religious authorities do evil things, the default assumption always seems to be that “they’re just pretending to be religious”, from which most members of the same religion (and even liberal members of other religions) cannot even be dragged kicking and screaming?

  19. #19 Will Von Wizzlepig
    November 29, 2007

    The religious, with their lacking ability to analyze the character of their leaders, often fail to recognize these do-badders and remove them from office. Not unlike our current president.

    It’s no surprise at all that the religious are frequently taken advantage of.

  20. #20 Bill Dauphin
    November 29, 2007

    Matt:

    The answer turns out to be that the US prison population has a greater percentage than the general population who claim to be religious. And as I understand it the prison population data was about religious views prior to imprisonment which would rule out those who claimed to be religious thinking they would get released earlier.

    To truly rule out that sort of goodness-pandering, you’d have to study what they professed about religion before they were arrested: I’m sure plenty of skells cry conversion at trial, before they ever make it to prison.

    This evidence would support the contention that at the very least religion does nothing to make people behave in a more moral manner.

    I’ll go a step further: I agree with PZ that there’s no evidence religious belief per se makes people behave badly… but I’ve often suspected that living a double life because your profession and/or political ambition requires you to oppose in public desires and inclinations that are integral to your indwelling nature can cause some psychic damage, and that may be causing some bad behavior. Maybe, for instance, so many right-wing preachers get caught in gay hooker scandals in part because they can’t afford to allow themselves normal gay feelings and relationships.

    I’ve got no evidence on this, of course; just a commonsense hunch.

  21. #21 Matthew D. Skinta
    November 29, 2007

    This sounds like a great, subtly offensive example to give next time I lecture on correlation not equaling causality!

    Likewise, there’s an inverse relationship between the percentage of the population, by state, self-identifying as fundamentalist Christian, and the allocation of funding for early childhood education, education, and social services.

  22. #22 Matt Penfold
    November 29, 2007

    “To truly rule out that sort of goodness-pandering, you’d have to study what they professed about religion before they were arrested: I’m sure plenty of skells cry conversion at trial, before they ever make it to prison.”

    That is more than possible. At best I think the data supports the contention that religion does not affect how a person behaves in a moral or ethical sense. Of course that in itself is pretty damming to those who think religion and morality are linked.

    “I’ll go a step further: I agree with PZ that there’s no evidence religious belief per se makes people behave badly..”

    I would agree, I suspect you were writing this as I was writing my follow up.

    I also suspect you may well be write, and that those who are forced to make public professions of faith they do actually believe may well suffer psychological damage as a result.

  23. #23 Scarmentado
    November 29, 2007

    How about a shout-out for Islam?

    Turkish prosecutor probes whether atheist book “The God Delusion” assaults values (via 3quarksdaily):

    http://www.iht.com/articles/ap/2007/11/28/europe/EU-GEN-Turkey-Atheist-Book.php

  24. #24 J-Dog
    November 29, 2007

    Ha! This is funny, but please, please, please, don’t forget about Kent Hovind and Pastor Ted Haggard.

    Even though Pastor Ted is no longer Teh Gay,(riiiight) Hovind gets out in less than 9 years.

  25. #25 me
    November 29, 2007

    #7 you’re sort of off base. The way it works is christianity reminds the believer again and again that s/he is not worthy. That’s where all the groveling and sacrificing comes in, and the deeply emotional reactions the ‘truly blessed’ types.

    And I’m not a credentialed psychologist, but I am a very well trained pop-psychologist. Pedophilia or other deviant sexual behaviors doesn’t seem to me to be something simply explained away as a consequence of morale hypocrisy. One has to be a fairly sick puppy to do that shit.

    Yet I find it very hard not to believe that the religious beliefs of these perverts doesn’t in some way contribute to their sociopathic behavior. I assume there exists some caustic, spiraling pattern of repressed ideation + distorted sexual imagery + religious-driven self-loathing that ultimately cracks in such individuals, expressed in the form of some perverted sexual assault.

    I mean, if you can convince yourself that fairies exist, you’re probably the sort of thinker who can rationalize the anal rape of a minor if that is your sickness. In that way, it seems to me the irrationality of a dogmatic religious belief structure can ultimately take a toll from susceptible individuals.

    As for kindergarten teachers, I’d imagine a good fraction who’ve spent 9 months out of their year, year after year, teaching 5 year olds–for the first time– how to behave in a structured environment, has been dissuaded of religious notions and is comfortable with the concept that we exist in a cosmos of chaos and random disorder.

  26. #26 PZ Myers
    November 29, 2007

    I haven’t forgotten those two scoundrels. This post only contains the stories people have emailed me since yesterday.

  27. #27 Rey Fox
    November 29, 2007

    “You’re doing well to keep the DI honest”

    I think the whole office heard my snort of suppressed laughter just now.

  28. #28 bernarda
    November 29, 2007

    Has anyone met a preacher who wasn’t an Elmer Gantry or Marjo Gortner?

    Here is an example of xian child abuse.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eafO02aJlEY

  29. #29 Brownian, OM
    November 29, 2007

    I’m sure wnelson will be the first to let us know when somebody’s dying grandmother is told she’s going to hell because she never taught kindergarten or put out a house fire.

  30. #30 Bureaucratus Minimus
    November 29, 2007

    Several thoughts regarding religiousity of prison/jail inmates: In a stimulation-poor environment the priviliege and diversion of attending religious services breaks the monotony. Some religions get special treatment, ie muslims with their dietary needs, so anything which resembles a priviliege, or makes life more difficult for the corrections personnel is a “yes” for the inmates. Religious conversion is seen as a plus when going before the parole board. As they say in the movies, “Boy, have you rehabilitated yourself?”

  31. #31 Shap
    November 29, 2007

    I’ve found that there tends to be an inverse correlation between how often and how vigorously one claims a high level of morality, and actual morality.

    If you’re so morally good, you shouldn’t have to tell people that you are, just lead by example.

    I wish some of the sheep could figure that out, though. Many of the religious ‘followers’ seem more susceptible to influence from angry rhetoric than actual good deeds.

  32. #32 thalarctos
    November 29, 2007

    As for kindergarten teachers, I’d imagine a good fraction who’ve spent 9 months out of their year, year after year, teaching 5 year olds–for the first time– how to behave in a structured environment, has been dissuaded of religious notions and is comfortable with the concept that we exist in a cosmos of chaos and random disorder.

    Heh, me, you remind me of an old Calvin and Hobbes cartoon. I’m quoting from memory, so it’s not exact, but Calvin gets the receiving end of some kind of bullying, then observes something to the effect of, “Anyone who speaks of the innocence of childhood was obviously never a child.”

  33. #33 Scarmentado
    November 29, 2007

    It’s certainly possible there’s just as many who are spurred to do bad by religion as those who are inhibited from doing bad. It’s sometimes a short journey from claiming to speak for god to playing god. Look at Jim Jones, David Koresh, pedophilic Catholic priests, pedophilic ultra-Mormon polygamists, etc.

  34. #34 bernarda
    November 29, 2007

    For those of you who don’t know about Marjoe Gortner, another case of child abuse, here is part of his film.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fSdI8ag1k0A

  35. #35 Ken Doniger
    November 29, 2007

    I think it goes back to something that Hector Avalos states in his books: religion creates a scarce commodity. It also creates a hierarchy to control it. Some people just cannot be trusted with authority. And over time, power corrupts.

  36. #36 Zeno
    November 29, 2007

    Today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reports on a young Jehovah’s Witness with leukemia who opted to die rather than get treatments involving blood tranfusions. His faith was strong, but his life is over. Religion is a weird business. It may not give certain reprobates the power to overcome their failings, but it gives others the ability to cast their lives away. The kid in question was 14.

    [Link]

  37. #37 WoodyTanaka, Esq.
    November 29, 2007

    Lay preacher Malcolm Edwards-Sayer, convicted of fraud and theft. (This one is also a lawyer, so maybe we can blame this one on his other vocation.)

    Geez, what’s with the lawyer bashing???

    PZ, you do understand, I hope, that in a very real sense it is lawyers that are what stands between us and ID (or worse), bible readings and prayer in the school.

    I think at least token respect for the profession is in order…

  38. #38 genesgalore
    November 29, 2007

    where the associate professor list??? wannna bet a little coercive nooky has flourished in the last 24 hour? grades for play—-got vdo??

  39. #39 Graculus
    November 29, 2007

    As they say in the movies, “Boy, have you rehabilitated yourself?”

    That’s “song” (not “movies”) and it’s “Kid, have you rehabititated yourself?”

    Children these days, can’t even remember every word of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Next thing you know, we’ll have cats and dogs sleeping together.

  40. #40 DiscGrace
    November 29, 2007

    I agree with Woody about the lawyer-bashing. Certainly there’re enough bad ones out there, but as one of the other few groups out there that it’s still kosher to openly abhor (atheists, lawyers, and fat people being the only ones that currently come to mind) I think we ought to band together!

    Re: kindergarteners. Substitute-teaching several classes of kindgergarten gym classes made me realize how happy I was to be getting my teaching certification at the secondary level. “I won’t play any more! My team keeps losing and THAT’S NOT FAIR!” Also, being offered bloody lost teeth and snotty noses is not my thing.

  41. #41 Uber
    November 29, 2007

    Regarding #36.

    I think that is simply heinous. While on some level I respect the young man I can’t help but think him a victim of religion.

    What else can a rational person think in this scenario?

    How truly saddening.

  42. #42 DSK Samways
    November 29, 2007

    I would argue that charlatans and fools are drawn to ideological fashions; they do not necessarily become charlatans and fools as a result of embracing those fashions.

    Pat Robertson was destined to be a prick long before he was baptized, IMHO.

  43. #43 Mike
    November 29, 2007

    “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

    I see that bumper sticker almost every day. Excuse me, I need to go wash out the vomit taste in my mouth.

  44. #44 Susan O
    November 29, 2007

    Hey think about this – if those guys didn’t have Christianity, they might be a hell of a lot WORSE!

  45. #45 Ben Abbott
    November 29, 2007

    A small correction is needed: “It’s [been] a terrible couple of days for Christianity”

    I came across a YouTube video featuring a similar thread, Superior Christian Morality.

    I don’t know if the poster intends to implicate all Christians … I don’t.

    However, I will point out that those Christians who don’t wish to be associated with such immoral individuals might take preventive action … or ,after the fact, take actions to correct what they can.

  46. #46 Damian
    November 29, 2007

    I think that the point here is that, as PZ has said, religion likes to (nay, has to) proclaim that it is has a profound affect upon those who choose to submit to the teachings. And, of course, when it is shown that those who have done so are no less likely to behave correctly, there is always the no true Scotsman fallacy to fall back on.

    There are countless examples that show that religion has no affect whatsoever in terms of encouraging morally righteous behavior. A conservative estimate shows that 10% of American’s claim to have no religion. Only 0.29% of the prison population are atheists. Now, there are probably other factors in play, as some have said, including education levels.

    Divorce is actually higher amongst fundamentalists, I believe. Most well-being charts show that the most atheistic nations on earth — Sweden, Norway, France, Holland, UK, Japan, etc — are at the very top in terms of education, crime, child happiness, teen pregnancy, divorce rates, etc, etc. Unfortunately, the one that I looked at placed the US — the most religious western nation — at the bottom of that list.

    Now, none of this proves anything, but it does show that non-belief is most certainly not a road to rack and ruin, morally. That is a message that needs to be repeated, especially in the US. Of course, it shouldn’t have to be.

  47. #47 JimC
    November 29, 2007

    Divorce is actually higher amongst fundamentalists

    On this they might be on the correct path. It’s high time divorce was no longer looked at as a moral failing. Staying married is in an of itself no major accomplishment.

  48. #48 Eliza
    November 29, 2007

    “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

    Hmm,
    Rational Person: I’d like to do X but I know it’s wrong and I would have to suffer the concequences, live with the guilt and shame, etc… so I wont do it.

    Christian: I know it’s wrong, but if I tell the man in the sky that I’m sorry afterwards, it will make it all better.

    Strange kind of morality.

  49. #49 Ex-drone
    November 29, 2007

    Richard Roberts keeps saying that god tells him what to do. That could be true for all of the rogues gallery above. Maybe the sky fairy is just a fiendish provocateur.

  50. #50 Onkel Bob
    November 29, 2007

    Excuse me for repeating myself but I still believe these people are not “christians” per se, rather just thieves and charlatans. Case in point Joyce Meyer’s redecoration expenses. When I was under the spell of christianity, there was no way I would have behaved as these people do. No, these people know full well there is no divine retribution awaiting them and so they manipulate the ignorant to to their own ends.

  51. #51 Damian
    November 29, 2007

    Onkel Bob – “I still believe these people are not “christians” per se, rather just thieves and charlatans.”

    Why can’t they be thieves and charlatans, as well as Christians?

    Your assertion is known as the no true Scotsman fallacy. In other words, you are are inferring that ‘true’ Christianity can only have a positive effect. Well, many people would argue against that using only the foundational texts of said religion.

    I don’t see how divine retribution is that different from knowing that you are likely to be executed for murder, but it doesn’t prevent many people from committing such acts. In fact, the US has a far higher murder rate than pretty much any other western nation — massively so, compared to some countries. There is an argument to say that it can have adverse effects.

    The point is that most of these things are performed on impulse, and there is very little thought about the consequences, regardless of whether you are religious, or not. There is also our ability to delude ourselves and especially to manage cognitive dissonance.

    I very much doubt that there is a worldview that is so pervasive and all-encompassing that it can prevent an individual from behaving incorrectly, when certain conditions are met. I don’t believe that it exists, to be honest.

  52. #52 kevin
    November 29, 2007

    When confronted with examples of this nature, true” christians typically claim that the people in question were either false christians or backsliders who had been led astray by satan.

    The message seems to be that if you pledge your eternal soul and your loyalty to the service of an omnipotent, omniscient god, you are apparently not protected against the temptations of an evil demon or lesser god (but who apparently cannot be killed ,controlled, or outsmarted by the supposedly omnipotent god). You are also not protected against suffering and tragedy in this life??? Hmmm even the mob offers a better protection racket than that.

  53. #53 Bill Dauphin
    November 30, 2007

    Children these days, can’t even remember every word of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant.

    They may not know the words, but if you show them the 27 8-by-10 color glossy pictures, they’ll get the idea.

  54. #54 Troublesome Frog
    November 30, 2007

    Can you imagine the type of stuff these people would be doing if they didn’t have God keeping them in line? The world is lucky that fear of divine retribution kept them confined to sexual battery and fraud. We might be looking at a bunch of serial killers otherwise.

  55. #55 Vox Day
    November 30, 2007

    The evidence is in on that. The answer turns out to be that the US prison population has a greater percentage than the general population who claim to be religious. And as I understand it the prison population data was about religious views prior to imprisonment which would rule out those who claimed to be religious thinking they would get released earlier.

    The US prison data is both partial and unreliable. A much more statistically relevant survey of the entire prison population of England and Wales, compared with the national survey the following year, demonstrates that the non-religious individual is 3.84 times more likely to find themselves in prison than those who claim to be one of the 23 variants of Christian tracked. However, it is true that the small percentage of non-religious individuals who explicitly label themselves atheists are statistically underrepresented in the English/Welsh prison system by an even greater factor.

    Atheism in all its forms requires a focus on the material. For the High (explicit) atheist, this concerns abstract manifestations such as the hypothetical universe next door. For the Low (non-explicit) atheist, this primarily concerns quotidian manifestations like the stereo system next door. Hence the apparent dichotomy.

    As for the latter point, Michael Vick’s very public religious conversion subsequent to his arrest but prior to his imprisonment demonstrates the flaws in the reasoning.

  56. #56 Branedy
    November 30, 2007

    I never thought Christianity as a crime prevention measure, but could you imagine if these practitioner’s actually lost their fear of God?

  57. #57 Bureaucratus Minimis
    November 30, 2007

    Graculus (#39) wrote: That’s “song” (not “movies”) and it’s “Kid, have you rehabititated yourself?”

    Sorry, couldn’t remember whether it was “Alice’s Restaurant” or “Cool Hand Luke.” BTW, they did make AR into a movie, too.

    Children these days, can’t even remember every word of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. Next thing you know, we’ll have cats and dogs sleeping together.

    Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!!! I’m 48 yo, and you just make me feel so young. As irony would have it, my cat and dog are both napping on the couch next to me. Thanks for the GB ref. Cheers.

  58. #58 Prior Aelred
    November 30, 2007

    Well there are “Christians” (a word ruined for many of us in the Reagan years) & there are people who try to follow the teaching of Jesus.

    Book:
    http://www.thetablet.co.uk/reviews/370

    author points out that she hates the same people that Dawkins (etc.,) hate (if not for all the same reasons)

    Spinoza pointed out that experience teaches us that observant Jews and Muslims and various kinds of Christians can be upright and moral people who are good citizens and faithful friends (he didn’t mention “excommunicated” Jews who were believed to be atheists, but we can guess that one — everyone who knew said he was a good man).

    I think Nony Nony makes a very good point, some people are so infantile that they need very strict rules if they are going to do anything good at all & while there are obviously charlatans, I think it is also true that some people can be very schizophrenic when it comes to beliefs, depending on the circumstances (again, inconsistency may well be a symptom of immaturity, learning what values system is appropriate in what context being to maturation and integration).

    Must fundies are either ignorant, stupid, afraid or lying (or some combination of all of the above).

    Of course, I’m an Episcopalian, so what do I know (as a priest told one woman in an inquirer’s class, “Episcopalians can believe anything, but most don’t.”)

  59. #59 anonymous
    November 30, 2007

    PZ:

    Thank you so much for posting this. #5, Frazier, comes from the county that I grew up in, but that’s not so much why I’m thanking you (although it is great that these things come to light).

    The article linked states that “there is no statute of limitations in Alabama involving sex crimes against children.” I did not know this, and if it is true, it means that we can perhaps pursue a prosecution of my aunt’s husband, who molested me, all my female cousins, my aunts, and my mother when I was a child. (To make it a bit more relevant: Nobody pressed charges before because my grandmother on her deathbed urged us to pray for him rather than go after him, because that’d make it all better. I loved and still love my grandmother, but that was just…wrong.)

    Once again, thank you for bringing this to my attention. Keep up all your good bloggity-work!

  60. #60 Ryan F Stello
    November 30, 2007

    Thanks Prior (58),

    I had almost forgotten the tendency of ‘alternative’ Christians to lay all the problems of religion at the feat of fundamentalists, and also claim that the ‘new atheists’ are only complaining about them (which they can say only if they never read any of them).

    Kinda proves PZ’s point that ignorance, chauvinism and self-righteousness aren’t bound by unique constraints, no?

  61. #61 Tracy P. Hamilton
    November 30, 2007

    “Can you imagine the type of stuff these people would be doing if they didn’t have God keeping them in line? The world is lucky that fear of divine retribution kept them confined to sexual battery and fraud. We might be looking at a bunch of serial killers otherwise.”

    Like the atheists who obviously don’t have God keeping them in line.

  62. #62 Billy
    November 30, 2007

    #46: “There are countless examples that show that religion has no affect whatsoever in terms of encouraging morally righteous behavior.”

    Call me a grammar Nazi but I can’t resist:
    There’s plenty of affect, just no effect.

  63. #63 Damian
    November 30, 2007

    “Call me a grammar Nazi but I can’t resist:
    There’s plenty of affect, just no effect.”

    Grammar Nazi!

    I should warn you that I will now follow you around and patiently wait for that fateful day.

    Oh, you will regret it!

  64. #64 Amanda
    November 30, 2007

    Christianity definitely doesn’t make you a good person. Christians are human, just like everybody else. The folks who actively try to live like Jesus (generous, humble, compassionate, etc.) are the ones who are real Christians – but even they are only human.

  65. #65 Billy
    November 30, 2007

    I regret it already.

    It’s just that, having been a Christian, I recall the affect of encouraging morally righteous behavior, never mind the effect. Now I’m reduced to sniping at the grammar of commenters who make excellent points. The affect is similar, but it’s not the same.

    Oh, for an imaginary friend to maintain my sense of smug self-righteousness!

  66. #66 Tom Rees
    December 1, 2007

    Paper out this month shows that people with strong moral identity are more likely to engage in morally dubious behaviour: Cheating and moral certainty go hand in hand

  67. #67 Doug Rozell
    December 1, 2007

    RE: Grammar Nazi (Billy #62) — I’m right beside ya, Kid. Damian #63, you and what army? 🙂 Observance of the rules of correct grammar, punctuation, and actual word choice are critical to the effective and efficient conveyance of meaning. Confusion between affect and effect is really common, and misunderstanding follows among those who don’t take the onerous time to deecode what was actually intended. Misuse of “there”, “their” and “they’re” is also common; and the effect upon the reader is akin to hitting a deep pothole in the road: it really disrupts the flow of communication between writer and reader. Writer owes it to reader to make the medium of communication as transparent as possible. Other improper word choices can be even more insidious. I was once arguing with a fundie when he complained about my “rigid beliefs”. I was startled for a moment then realized “Oh. oh! You mean ‘*rigourous* beliefs'”! The guy actually blushed and hung his head, knowing that I’d caught him out, and he retired from the room, abashed.

    DR

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.