A horrible story

You've probably already heard this one, since it is all over the news: a preacher, Anthony Hopkins, murdered his wife after she caught him sexually abusing their children and stuffed her in a freezer — with the daughter's assistance. This happened four years ago and the children's mother has been kept in the freezer in this house ever since. The pastor of Hopkins church reports that "the children were so respectful, just so easygoing", and that they "loved their dad. They were very close to him." Right. Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree.

What I find disturbing about the whole story is this. Anthony Hopkins spent all this time since as an itinerant preacher, traveling about and preaching the ‘Holy Word of Jesus Christ’. His daughter moved out of his house, finally, reported what he'd done to the police, the police went into his house and opened the freezer, and then they went off to the church where he was preaching that day. What did they do then?

Police allowed Hopkins to finish his sermon before arresting him.

Wait, what? Was this an example of Christians showing respect, that they allowed a child-raping murderer continue mouthing words of love and redemption in their church, words that clearly meant nothing to this monstrous psychopath? If only he'd crumbled a cracker, perhaps then they would have been less tolerant.

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Well, some people have their priorities a bit skewed.

You are right. That is just disgusting, and one of the most disturbing aspects of this story. This is incredibly ironic and horrifying when paralelled with the cracker story.

There aren't words to describe that sort of behavior that are not, "evil", "vile" or "hypocritical". This is the sort of story that should horrify even the most stoic of minds.

Inconceivable!

What a monster, and they let him prattle on! Sickening. If he was a car salesman, would they have let him close a sale first?

I actually think the police were right to not make a scene; it's not like he was going anywhere. Whether they would have done the same if he'd been a Muslim preacher is another matter, though.

WRT to the children*

Butch: You okay?
Marsellus: Nah man, I'm pretty fucking far from "okay".

*Yeah, yeah, won't somebody think of the children.

I actually think the police were right to not make a scene; it's not like he was going anywhere.

HUH? Why should he be afforded any leeway that someone who was wanted for murder in any other case would not get?

Besides, the folks might have been armed--and the police could have been outnumbered. Bad situation, all around.

As an attorney, it often bothers me when police go out of their way to make a public arrest. The suspect is innocent until proven guilty, but the police want to make the front page. Hours, days, weeks later, the suspect is quietly released - no apology, no public acknowledgement that he's innocent, just "we don't have enough evidence at this time". Is there a need to make an immediate, public arrest when the suspect is committing no further crimes and is unlikely to flee? whether he's having dinner with his family, giving a sermon, or running a meeting, let's wait a few minutes and do it right, I say. This is one case where the police were right to wait. I wish they did that more often.

My gut feeling is that he should be tortured to death by his in-laws without the formality of a trial.

I'm glad we have rule of law in this country.

By Ubi Dubius (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

So, he didn't think it might be a good idea to get rid of the body then...in 4 years.

If he was allowed to finish the sermon, he could have used the time to escape. That was foolish and dangerous of the police.

By Richard Eis (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

More than a little strange, this religion thing. I must agree with MH -- why upset the congregation at the moment when you can give them the pukes over their newspaper the next morning.

Beyond that, this is so disgusting that words fail me.

doov

Insert Silence of the Lambs joke here: ______________________

By Badjuggler (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Police allowed Hopkins to finish his sermon before arresting him.

What a monster, and they let him prattle on! Sickening. If he was a car salesman, would they have let him close a sale first?

Actually, I'm not entirely surprised by that.

If you saw any of what was happening on the eco-warrioring scene in the mid-1990s (Twyford Down, Newbury Bypass, Solsbury Hill, or the ones in my own neck of the woods: Bass's Rec and Nine Ladies) you wouldn't have been able to avoid learning that illegal occupiers cannot be evicted while a minister is delivering a sermon. This quirk was exploited by having successions of people babble nonsense in front of an audience (and thus be indistinguible from real priests) any time a camp was under threat of eviction.

Since US law is based on UK law before the creation of the Metropolitan Police, it's conceivable that a minister can't be arrested while delivering a sermon.

Doesn't make it right, though .....

where are all the christobots to remind us how you can't have morality without religion, again?

And, oh, by the way Ubi Dubious... did you forget the part where they found her body in the guy's friggin freezer???

Think about that again, please...

By Celtic_Evolution (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

That's. just. sick!

Kept his wife's body in the freezer for four years? When I think of the energy expended for the freezer -- the carbon footprint -- I really get mad! That guy has no respect for the planet.

Man, some people must have really big freezers!

Seriously though, it was the Alabama police. What do you expect from the same state that bought us 10 commandment monuments in the state capitol?

Best quote from article:

"Of Hopkins' preaching ability, Porter said, "he was a bulls-eye prophet. If he told you something, you could pretty much bank on it.""

"And, oh, by the way Ubi Dubious... did you forget the part where they found her body in the guy's friggin freezer???

Think about that again, please...

Nope. I didn't forget about that at all. Has there been a trial yet? Are you suggesting we not bother?

By Ubi Dubius (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

They should have made the biggest scene possible. Confront the bastard with photos, and show them to anyone who wanted to see in the congregation. Let them see what kind of sick monster their 'Holy man' is.

And as for the 'no morality without God' argument, sadly, I've heard the same people who say that crap defend shit like this. Something like 'Well, just because you only CAN have morality with God, doesn't mean EVERYONE with God has morality'.

Blah. How much do you wanna bet 'God told him' to do it?

I think the police did the right thing. He wasn't going anywhere, easier for everyone to make the arrest after the sermon. Less intrusive, less of a spectacle, less risk of violence. If police were going to arrest a rock star, should they wait until after the concert or go up on stage during a song?
And, as has been said before in this thread, there is still the presumption of innocence - an important concept.
Having said all this, after the trial I hope the guy gets to rot in jail for the rest of his life.

If Porter was so suspicious of this guy that he banned him from his church why didn't he mention his suspisions to anyone else? Porter must have thought there was foul play involved yet he sat in silence for years. WTF?

I sure hope they make him pay for the childrens' psychiatrists for the rest of their lives. Poor kids... makes me sick to think people like this are out there.
Much as I wish they would've just shot him from the door, Ubi Dubius has a point; once the police start doling out judgement on the spot, the rule of law has broken down and we're all screwed. He's in jail now, and I'm sure the other prisoners will give him all the welcome he deserves.

There are sensible reasons not to arrest the preacher publically in the middle of a sermon. As Ubi mentioned, it's not like the guy's going anywhere at that point. You don't know how the crowd is going to react, and you want the arrest to go as smoothly as possible. The first thing you need to do as a cop is tell the person what they're being arrested for; "You're under arrest for the murder of your wife and the sexual molestation of your children" could create complete havoc. Maybe you could interrupt the sermon, telling the preacher you need to speak to him immediately in private and then arrest him privately. If he'd been a teacher in the middle of class they would have done something like that.

While they could have done it differently, I'm not really all that offended by the way they did do it. It's not like they could execute him Punisher-style anyway.

By CrypticLife (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The thing that I find most astounding (and incredibly sad) is that *nobody in the whole world seemed to care that his wife had vanished for FOUR YEARS!* No relative or friend ever seriously tried to find her, or if they did must have accepted some lame excuse. Cripes, he was telling people that she had *died during childbirth*, and nobody even asked if she had a putative grave that they could visit, just . . . nothing. The congregations he spoke to, his fellow preachers, any friends *he* might have had, obviously thought of her as a non-person, a producer of babies and cleaner of houses, nothing else. Her vanishing was either a minor family tragedy, on a par with having a dog die, or else an embarassment that they wouldn't discuss. Nobody worth worrying about.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?

of htem waiting for the sermon to be over I read it as simple job safty, far less likely to incite fury from the parishoners.

Tbat's the insidious part about religion, PZ. They can always look the other way regardless of the transgressions.

All they had to do, once news of Hopkins' disgusting crime came out, was convince themselves that he was not a 'real' or 'proper' christian, and that god would judge him for his crimes.

It's the same with movement conservatism. It cannot fail; it can only be failed.

Andy must have been on vacation.

First clue, the dude is named Anthony Hopkins!

It puts the wife in the freezer. IT DOES WHAT ITS TOLD

The police wouldn't wait for any other type person to finish his business before arresting him. This is just pandering to the woo. Unbelievable.

Well, at least the catholics will be happy. Only real people were harmed in this story. Not a single cracker was even threatened.

Ok,skipping the Silence of the lambs joke....

First off,this is terrible,the guy is clearly mentally ill or a sociopath or both.
Secondly tho,this does not show that all evangelicals are child-raping murderers,and we should refrain from making that tempting connection.

Is being brainfucked by religious bullshit in your childhood a cause for more violence and antisocial behaviour? Yeah maybe,who knows,but like the guy who cut off the dude's head after stabbing him a million times in a bus in Canada,I think sometimes people are just fucked in the head,religious or not.

Ubi Dubious and others...

Ok, ok... I see your point, but still, considering the circumstances you don't thin kthe prudent thing to do would be to get this guy in custody as soon as possible?

I guess what I don't know is whether the goal in allowing him to finish was in reverence to his sermon (totally unacceptible), or to avoid making a seen (understandable, as you've made me see here).

So I guess I'll retract my criticizm unless someone can show me where the waiting was done specifically in reverence to the sermon...

By Celtic_Evolution (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Oh for the love of...

I meant, of course, in #33, making a "scene"...

Waitress! More coffee, please...

By Celtic_Evolution (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Comment from the local DA:

"Part of the mystery here is that, apparently, none of these children were in school" but were being home-schooled, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson said. "Home schooling, under this situation, removes almost any chances of us catching up with these kinds of things until there is a catastrophe."

Another great argument against home-schooling without VERY strict supervision. I guess Minnesota law requires very close supervision -- unless both parents have college degrees (this is to ensure that the parents are capable of actually teaching the material.) But it wouldn't protect the kids from being taught nonsense or abused.

Who would most like to home-school the kids and keep them out of the public eyes and ears? Some one just like this criminal nut-job. In my opinion, parents planning to home-school should be vetted as thoroughly as school teachers are. Teachers get certified and then a full background check, fingerprints and all.

Okay. I know I'm a bad person for this, but I laughed.

By Andre Vienne (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Porter said, "he was a bulls-eye prophet.

When reading that I couldn't help think about a scene in Ocean's 11. Or 12. Or 13. Anyway, Elliott Gould was having a reading when Andy Garcia and his muscle come swaggering through the door. He turned to the psychic and said something like "this you couldn't see coming?"

IMO They have a somewhat underdeveloped sense of perspective. But thats no surprise, as they have been selected this way really. To be part of that community you must believe that god created the world in 7 days and he had spare time to take the weekend free. He killed unborn babies and newly born as well with the great flood yet he gets touchy if you abort! He makes you suffer but he loves you!

You cannot afford rational thinking and literally believe that as well!

So let me get this straight.... a man whose wife's dead body was found in his freezer, whose daughter accuses him of sexual abuse and forcing her to help him with hiding the muder of her mother, was allowed to complete delivery of a sermon before he was arrested and frogmarched out of the church?

Does anyone think that another person, in a similar situation, would be allowed to so much as finish their lunch before the police would sieze them? Why should religious speech be given more respect than any other speech or activity?

I am all for due process, innocent until proven guilty, etc. but when a dead woman's body is found in someone's freezer I think that it is reasonable for the average person to assume that guilt is fairly certain.

I can only hope that the children of this horrible man have access to mental health counseling, which they desperately need. Years and years of abuse, compounded by the murder of their mother, has damaged them beyond what most people could ever experience. My thoughts are with the victims of this evil man.

I also hope that this is a wake-up call for members of the church where this man was "preaching". Just because someone claims to be a "man of God" does not indicate that he's telling the truth. They've lived with a monster among them for a long time, and remained blissfully ignorant of the truth behind the mask.

I have to say that had I been a police officer in that situation, I probably would have waited too, for three reasons: 1) out of respect for the parishoners (I know, I know, but I'm respectful!), 2) because by interrupting the sermon, the parishoners may have made the arrest more difficult than necessary, and most importantly, 3) to protect the safety of the parishoners--who knows what this vile man might have done to protect himself if the police had stormed in SWAT-style.

By defectiverobot (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I am not really so bothered by the police waiting to make the arrest. Obviously they felt like they had the situation under control and, like others, I would prefer that cops take this attitude more often. Its often seems the case that they can handle their jobs with a minimal amount of disruption and chaos if they would act a bit less impulsively and use their heads more.

Obviously none of us know the tactical situation here but I doubt very seriously, whatever their religious inclination, that they waited out of some admiration for the guy. I mean, I know we are not so fond of religion here, but try to give people at least a little bit of credit. They knew at that point that the guy was a child abuser and had manipulated his children into helping murder his wife. Are you really suggesting that you think these police officers felt some sort of respect for him?

I don't think it's a big deal that the police waited until the end of the sermon. They probably didn't want to deal with crowd control issues in addition to arresting the suspect. Much easier to handcuff him backstage, and escort him out.

Having said that, I hope he spends a good long time in prison, where he will have time to think over what he's done. It's quite likely that he will find himself on the receiving end of the kind of sexual abuse that he dished out to his daughters.

By Mark B. from A… (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I think that I have to agree with the minority here and say that the police did the right thing. While I think that the evidence is totally pointing in one direction (he did it), we all are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

# 10:

If he was allowed to finish the sermon, he could have used the time to escape. That was foolish and dangerous of the police.

Where does it say in the report that the police weren't in the room with him? For all we know, they may have been within grabbing distance, and may have had the exits covered.

Clinteas wrote: "Secondly tho,this does not show that all evangelicals are child-raping murderers,and we should refrain from making that tempting connection."

I agree with you, but I also think that turnabout is fair play. Can you just imagine the reaction if this man were gay? Or Muslim? Or an atheist? Every other member of these groups would be smeared with the same brush as the actual criminal.

No, not all preachers/pastors/priests/ministers/etc. are mudering child rapists. But neither does their "religious service" exempt them from scrutiny. Someone in that congregation knew what was going on. Someone had at least some suspicion that abuse was going on. But perhaps too many people gave the murderer the benefit of the doubt because he's a "preacher".

And didn't anyone notice that the wife went missing? Didn't someone think it strange?

i don't know they would have the same considerations if were, i dont know, at my son's birthday party... but i do think the police were thinking more about not making a scene than showing respect for this murderous bastard...

the crime had been commited 4 year ago anyway, he wasnt going to run away, he tought he was safe...

What the hell does respect for anyone/anything have to do with the arrest? Please read the charges again. I am from the south, and have seen the way small town law enforcement works. The issue isn't what "you" would have done. The issue is what would the police have done in any other circumstance. IMO, if the man had been in a cult compound or a well-known eccentric who happened to be out and about, the situation would have been handled differently. Standing by is not the attitude of the police I have witnessed. Ever. Southern respect religion is skewed toward religion. Sorry to say.

By C R Stamey (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

@ 39 :

//I also hope that this is a wake-up call for members of the church where this man was "preaching". Just because someone claims to be a "man of God" does not indicate that he's telling the truth. They've lived with a monster among them for a long time, and remained blissfully ignorant of the truth behind the mask.//

Have the exposed sexual or financial deviations of any "preacher" ever deterred the brainwashed from supporting them,or"believing" in them?
Too much to hope this will be a wake-up call of any kind,we will hear a lot about why this guy was never a "true christian" soon,im sure.

Hm, yeah, innocent until proven guilty. Just the facts. Sorry, I was angered and flew off the handle.

I suppose though, they could (and should) wait for John Q. Carsalesman to finish his sale, as long as he doesn't go for a test drive. Would that guy be a threat to flee? I guess at the end it's the inconsistency, and maybe I've been conditioned to expect the showy bust.

Further proof that religion is not some magic off switch for being evil, immoral, etc.

Now, play nice, he has a really good explanation.

What the preacher put into the freezer was just a bunch of lousy, busted up crackers.

And then when a catholic priest was visiting, the guy was getting something out of the fridge and sneezed. The priest said "Bless you!" and the crackers got consecrated in the blessing's blast radius.

And then some time over the course of four years, the broken crackers transubstantiated.

The only flaw in the defense is that it means the son of god was a black woman.

I suspect they delayed the sermon more out of respect for the poor folk in the audience. Folk who, presumably, hang on this guy's everyone word as some sort of shining beacon of the universal morality espoused by Jesus Christ.

Or some such crap.

I don't have a problem with them waiting until he finished his sermon, for many of the reasons the other minority commenters have expressed.

it's not an issue of it being deferential to religion - I think it's just safer/smarter/easier. And more polite, but I'm not sure that is a concern with police arresting a guy like this.

By CanadianChick (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I am always amazed at how much the police here in the UK like dawn raids, and how often a TV camera crew just happened to be on the scene.

It would be totally cynical of me to think that the police might be doing dawn swoops complete with camera crews just to garner publicity, so I won't.

Mind you having a camera crew along can cause the police problems. My favourite was when they were raiding a flat in Plymouth. One police team broke in through the outside window of a first floor (second floor to you Americans) flat and a second team broke down the front door. The only problem was that the second team had the wrong block of flats and ended up raiding a retired couple still in bed.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Well, he's already given his life to Jesus, so he's just got to issue a couple of good and godly squeaks, and all is forgiven.

And, that will probably come up during sentencing.

A few seconds of reading the comments here and I'm convinced the cops did the right thing by waiting and arresting him in private. Respect for woo has nothing to do with it. Despite finding a body in a freezer, the guy has to be treated as innocent until proven guilty and there's no legal reason to make a show of it, as much as some might enjoy the delicious schadenfreude of calling the guy out as an Old Testament murdering pervert in front of his congregation (I'd pay to see the looks on their faces...)

The other thing is, once you have damning evidence that the guy is guilty as sin, you don't want to screw up the arrest or processing and have the guy get out on a technicality. That means keeping the witnesses to the arrest to a minimum to avoid any legal challenges later. I finished a book on the 30 year hunt for the BTK killer in Wichita and was impressed by the degree to which the police had ensured all their i's were dotted and t's crossed to deliver an airtight case to the prosecutors. You don't want some cowboy cops screwing up an otherwise slam-dunk case against a monster like this.

Save the gloating until after sentencing and all the appeals are over.

It's not giving religion any more respect than any other public arrest situation. The guy wasn't going anywhere. Better to wait until there's less chance for a ruckus. Police wait until a suspect is done with an event all the time before swooping in.

The sad part of this situation is that religion lends cover by bestowing undeserved moral high ground. It shows that high religiosity does not equal high moral standing. The frequency of religious leaders engaging in immoral behavior should make believers question the effectiveness of religion as a moral compass.

By Jeff Schmidt (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"All eight were the children of Arletha Hopkins, and Anthony Hopkins fathered six of them, he said."

For all his failings, at least the good Reverend wasn't guilty of the mortal sin of contraception.

Why is it that these murdering incest types nearly always turn out to be good xtians?

By firemancarl (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

J:
"And, as has been said before in this thread, there is still the presumption of innocence - an important concept.
Having said all this, after the trial I hope the guy gets to rot in jail for the rest of his life."

Ummm... did you even take a breath between those statements?
Consistency: you're doing it wrong, hypocrite.

-Where does it say in the report that the police weren't in the room with him? For all we know, they may have been within grabbing distance, and may have had the exits covered.-

So your in church listening to the sermon, but then your surrounded by armed police, all waiting to make a move...but...don't do anything...hmm, like that's not going to get people jittery.

I believe part of a sermon involves people lining up to take communion? Can you imagine the possibilities for him there?

Ok, this is all speculation, but still...this guy would have to know about the body in the freezer...after 4 years. It's highly improbable that he is not insane.

By Ricahrd Eis (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"I actually think the police were right to not make a scene; it's not like he was going anywhere."

I agree. The police were in a VERY uncormfortable situation. They were probably waiting in respect for the congregation. What this man did to his wife and children was pretty horrible and deserves full punishment. It also makes me angry that when this sort of thing happens, people just LOVE to post it all over the internet to perpetuate the typical Meyers stereotype and guilt by assocation of all christians (which this pastor obviously was not).
I also find it disturbing P.Z. Meyers OBVIOUS jubilancy when posting articles like this givin his vitriol hate for true christians.

I see no problem with the police waiting to arrest him after the sermon. Why cause more problems and create a potential riot, when you can just wait him out and arrest him without incidence.

"I actually think the police were right to not make a scene; it's not like he was going anywhere."

I agree. The police were in a VERY uncormfortable situation. They were probably waiting in respect for the congregation. What this man did to his wife and children was pretty horrible and deserves full punishment. It also makes me angry that when this sort of thing happens, people just LOVE to post it all over the internet to perpetuate the typical Meyers stereotype and guilt by assocation of all christians (which this pastor obviously was not).
I also find it disturbing P.Z. Meyers OBVIOUS jubilancy when posting articles like this givin his vitriol hate for true christians.

"Of Hopkins' preaching ability, Porter said, "he was a bulls-eye prophet. If he told you something, you could pretty much bank on it.""

If he was a "bulls-eye prophet", why didn't he forsee that the cops were coming and move the body or bury it somewhere?

For that matter, why didn't he predict that fucking the kids and killing his wife wasn't going to be a good idea?

Some people have low criteria for what sort of accuracy a prophet should have.

But at least he didn't toss a cracker in the garbage. He is safe from Donohue, the Catholic league, and the Confraternity of Fascist Catholic Priests.

@64

"What this man did to his wife and children was pretty horrible and deserves full punishment"

Dude, I'd say it is a hell of a lot worse than 'pretty horrible'.

As much as you would like to deny this child-raping, murdering sicko the label of 'christian', he was one.

Brainwashing...

If the police wanted to be respectful to the congregation, they would NOT have waited. They would've walked straight front, turned to the congregation and said:

"This man is going to be arrested for raping his kids and chopping his wife and stuffing her in a freezer. You might wanna rely on someone else for morals."

Then they would've taken the asshole away. And hopefully, the congregation would've chunked over at him bits of crackers with boos.

If it had been a fry cook they would of dragged him to the ground and cuffed him while sepping on his neck.

Shut the fuck up Steve. He's one of you.

And it's Myers. Pay attention asshole.

The body in the freezer bit is odd to say the least. But the involvement of the daughter, that's just plain sick and twisted.

I've seen some pretty bad things in my life but that one is just a little hard to comprehend.

Yeah, my 2 cents is that they did the right thing waiting.

I have no respect for him or his preachings but I have to say it was a good call to wait until the end of the sermon. Spectacle is not helpful in any way. I am sure they had the place surrounded and were certain he wasn't going anywhere. Storming through the little old ladies with a swat team and making a big show would have done no good.

By Cardinal Shrew (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Whew, it turns out he wasn't a Christian after all. False alarm. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Steve. How well do you know the guy? How does he take his porridge?

Blessed Mary, Religion does not get a free pass. If the law is going to be this respectful to the prime suspect in a homicide/molestation case then it needs to be respectful across the board. The pastor is in customer service, the parishioners are his customers, and the cops let him finish his shift. I'm sure we can think of plenty of scenarios where this behavior would seem absurd: nail salon, maid service, flower shop, Taco Bell. Why the knee-jerk acquiescence to religion every single time?

I was reminded of a scene from a movie a quarter century ago -- no, not "Silence of the Lambs" but Mel Brooke's "To Be or Not To Be" remake. In the scene, the actor has just completed his second rendition of the Shakespeare soliloquy, and the young man has for the second time gotten up and walked out on him. Meanwhile, Germany has just attacked Poland.

The actor is moaning and groaning about being stabbed in the back, as he enters the Green room. His wife is agreeing, "Yeah, we hate him. The entire world hates him." And the actor answers, "Well, they should! He walked out on me again!" He's shortly corrected: "It's war!"

I came to this blog and saw the header, "A horrible story." The category was a single word, "Evil." The blog began, "You've probably already heard this one, since it is all over the news." Meanwhile, I had just come from reading various stories about biodefense researcher Bruce Ivins of the Ft. Detrick labs. He has just committed suicide, and was about to be indicted for the anthrax attacks of 2001.

Okay, I don't want to trivialize the murder of this blog. It's just that I was caught by surprise.

I'm with the police on this one. You have a person strongely suspected of at least two violent crimes, murder and rape, in a room filled with civilians. Had Mr. Hopkins been armed an arrest during an emotionally charged sermon could have gone very very badly. Far better to wait for the emotional lull at the end of the sermon and have a couple of people in suits calmly walk up and ask to speak to the preacher for a moment.
'course I'd have the exits covered by uniformed police and have aid cars and swat on alert. Remember at that point they had what MAY have been a murdered body in a freezer and one persons statement that Mr Hopkins was involved. Just off the top of my head I can think of 2-3 ways that Mr. Hopkins could have nothing to do with any of this. Frankly the police appear to have delt with what could have been a very touchy arrest with skill.

By Poor Wandering One (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Schmeer: You seem confused.
The man has the right to a fair trial, and the right to be treated as if innocent until he is found guilty.
At the same time, I happen to be convinced that he actually did these hoorible acts, and I hope that he is punished.
There is no contradiction here. I'm glad that the people in charge of the justice system don't think the way you apparently do.

The point of the police's efforts was to get the guy. With as little fuss and potential trouble as possible...either from Hopkins himself or from his parishoners who might not react too well to cops cuffing the man at his podium. Sorry, PZ, but I'm with the cops on this one. Having worked security, I can tell you from experience that discretion is usually more efficient and less risky to everyone involved.

I'm sure the congregants were properly horrified when they learned the truth.

I also find it disturbing P.Z. Meyers OBVIOUS jubilancy when posting articles like this givin his vitriol hate for true christians.

Posted by: Steve | August 1, 2008 11:23 AM

I think PZ's "jubilancy" stems from the imposition of religion into the lives of others. Then there are the double standards and hypocritical behavior of said "true christians". That and the fact they claim the moral high ground based on belief in ancient myth rather than admitting all people have a moral compass.

BTW, what constitutes a "true" Christian? By Christianity's own teaching, the minister can ask forgiveness and god will forgive him and allow him in heaven. So obviously your god would consider him a true christian. Or did St. Peter pass you the keys to the kingdom?

By C R Stamey (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Maybe I've seen too much Law & Order where the detectives arrest some guy/gal in the middle of a board meeting or whatever, but they should have arrested him on the spot. It was a heinous crime and every second they waited was another chance for him to flee. Unless churches don't have back doors, there was the possibility to escape.

A preacher for any other faith would not have received the same courtesy.

Insert Silence of the Lambs joke here: ______________________

He ate her liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti. ;-)

By Joe Blough (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Notice "jubilancy" (yeah, right) is in quotations, and I did not mean to speak for PZ or say that he took glee in any of this. Just my take on things. And please refer to previous threads. He took a stand against religious scare tactics and was harassed.

By C R Stamey (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I don't see a problem with the police having waited.

This isn't the same as arresting a car salesman on the lot or a fry cook at the grill. Members of a church behave like a community. It seems to me that a congregation would be likely to try to defend Hopkins (probably verbally, but potentially physically) if he were to be arrested during his sermon. The patrons of a diner or the customers at a car dealership would be far more likely to watch passively as the arrest took place.

Also (and I apologize if somebody has already mentioned this) children tend to be in attendance during worship services. Perhaps the police were trying, in part at least, to avoid a confrontational scene in front of children.

If police were going to arrest a rock star, should they wait until after the concert or go up on stage during a song?

Of course they wouldn't wait. Look what happened when they waited for the Blues Brothers to finish: they escaped through a trap door in the stage. :-)

But seriously, would they have waited for a college professor to finish a lecture? I doubt it. Regardless of whether you think the police did the right thing to wait, the point is they only did it for a preacher and would not have waited for a similar secular event.

I do not know any other details then what I have read in the links provided about this particular story.
If he had gotten away while he was allowed to finish his sermon that would have been pretty bad but he was placed into custody so it worked out OK.
The thing that bothers me the most about this story is the whole incest-sexual abuse thing. Those who have been abused often become abusers themselves or at the least have troubled sex lives. There is also part of sexual abuse-incest that is about power, powerlessness along with shame and guilt all very negative for self image for all parties involved. All of that needs and craves isolation and secrecy to continue, to perpetuate (fear, shame and guilt part of the cause and the result)
How did this father come to this end I do not want to know the details not because I do not care but because I find that more information personally depressing.

that home schooling contributed to the isolation and secrecy I find very objectionable. That the children will now be wards of the state is not reassuring either.
This kind of pathology does not often develop spontaneously it must be learned or taught.
If there was a god I could ask..

By uncle frogy (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I also have no problem with the police waiting till the end of the sermon -- probably because I suspect they would have done the same thing had the man been giving a public lecture on a topic other than religion (particularly if the lecture involved emotions.) You want to keep the crowd under control, and not set anything unexpected off. Personally, I appreciate police restraint in such situations. Law Enforcement shouldn't be encouraged to start thinking of themselves as a vital part of the punitive process.

There's also the element of respect for the audience, the community. It's easier to see this point by imagining if it had been a wedding, or funeral -- even a secular one. Interruption isn't necessary.

As for the crime itself, I'm not sure how far the authoritarian nature of their religion made it easier to commit, justify, or conceal it. It's probably a factor, but I don't want to jump on it as the main one without knowing more.

Celtic @#33
Logically, you're right, that would make sense to get the guy into custody asap considering the awful things that he'd done. I've spent some time around cops (dated one) and from what little I've learned about their thinking, I'd be wary of him trying to martyr himself or others (including his children that he was speaking to in the congregation) in front of the people at the church. Or pulling out a gun. People do crazy crazy things when they feel they'll get some publicity... perhaps they were being careful of that....

Michelle@69

This would be the worst way to handle this situation. Why? Because there are worst things then religious fundies. They're called lawyers.

If the cops had gone up and arrested him and said what you just typed, every high profile lawyer in the country would jump all over the cops for Constitutional rights violations.

... givin given his vitriol vitriolic hate for true christians True Christians®.

There, I fixed it for you, you slob.

When they arrest musicians and comedians or other people performing in front of a large audience, do the cops wait?

I believe I recall George Carlin talking on NPR about getting arrested after a concert. During the concert his wife warned him performance so he could dump any drugs he had. That would seem to be an example of the police waiting for a certainly non christian to finish his business before doing their job.

That is the only example I am aware of for either side of this discussion.

By Cardinal Shrew (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Too much to hope this will be a wake-up call of any kind,we will hear a lot about why this guy was never a "true christian" soon,im sure. - clinteas@49

...and right on cue:

It also makes me angry that when this sort of thing happens, people just LOVE to post it all over the internet to perpetuate the typical Meyers stereotype and guilt by assocation of all christians (which this pastor obviously was not). - Steve@64

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The police were wrong to wait until he finished his sermon. Arrest tactics should vary with the seriousness of the crime and the likelihood of attempted escape by the perpetrator.

Being arrested for parking tickets? Okay, Mr. Pastor, finish your sermon and we'll talk to you in the office.

Let's see: murder, incest, and rape. What are the chances that if the man thought he was about to be arrested he would leap out a window and escape? Pretty damn good. This is a sociopath who would take advantage of any opportunity offered him. Talk to the cops who let Ted Bundy escape.

Regardless of the presumption of innocence, the severity and perverted nature of the crimes demonstrates that the suspect could be expected to take severe action if he were allowed any time between knowing of the presence of the police and his actual arrest.

And note please the differential of respect the police give to various suspects, viz. the video yesterday of a NY cop beating with a metal truncheon an unarmed man already immobilized and held on the ground by another officer.

In cases like this, you DON'T take chance. The "respect" offered is not functional for society, and taints the suspect with the "respect" of the institution.

Ugh!

J:
"Innocent until proven guilty" =/= "I hope he rots in jail"

Now if you had thrown in "if he's found guilty" there would be no problem with your statement. I'm just having a little fun with your words. I assume most reasonable people would have thought "if proven guilty" was implied by your comment. But since you called someone else out on their comment I thought you made an easy target.

I hope the people running the justice system DO think like I do, otherwise they would be handing out guilty sentences without a fair trial or dropping people in a prison without access to a trial, lawyer or the benefit of the Constitution. What's this Guantanamo thing I'm hearing about?

Even from a Christian perspective, I don't see how this makes sense. If improperly disposing of a Communion wafer is blasphemy, how much moreso allowing someone genuinely evil to stand in the pulpit and make a mockery of the church, all those present, and the teachings he's impiously mouthing?

This brings up a good question for Christians:

Which act is worse? What this guy did or what Myers did to the cracker?

The police did exactly the right thing. Don't make judgments before trial. That's a point Dubya and his minions either forgot or never learned in pursuing their war on terror. Regardless of how despicable this preacher's alleged conduct has been, the police have no right to administer punishment before trial. Now, if Dubya and Cheney could just be made to understand what the rule of law means.

But I'm very much with Ubi Dubius in hoping they throw the book at him--and that applies to Dubya too.

@ clinteas #32

Is being brainfucked by religious bullshit in your childhood a cause for more violence and antisocial behaviour? Yeah maybe,who knows

Yes and it's scientific researchers (and lawyers) who know.

Aside: From what should have been a quick reply, it's just taken me an horrendous amount of time to re-find that middle link (and then only on the Wayback Machine) from a sequence of dead links. The post count on this thread could be colossal by now.

Regarding the people pointing out that "innocent until proven guilty" is a basic principle of our legal system, I've been mulling over scenarios where he might actually be innocent of murder. Not to say that we still don't end up with some pretty evil and twisted situations, but say for example it went down like this:

-Guy seduces the daughter (actually, two of the daughters aren't his. Is this one of the ones that he isn't actually the father of? Still pretty reprehensible, but now it's statutory rape, not incest as such)

-She decides she loves him, and resents her mother. Leaving aside details and exactly how it happens, *she* ends up killing her mother.

-For whatever reason, they end up putting the mother in the freezer. Possibility: daughter tells father that she will blame murder on him if he tries to turn her in, and forces him to keep the body around to keep her from telling.

-Time passes. Daughter ultimately has falling out with father, moves out. He keeps the body, either because he's not thinking so clearly at this point, or because he has some vague notion of using it as evidence against the daughter if she gets out of line.

-Daughter thinks it all through, decides it's worth taking the chance to get at him, and brings in the police. And here we are.

In this case, the father would be guilty of statutory rape and conspiring to conceal a murder[1], which while they are both serious crimes, are well short of actually murder. Meanwhile, the daughter would be the actual murderer.

This actually sounds as plausible (if not *more* plausible) as the story being assumed now. This sort of uncertainty is why we have courts. Don't shoot him yet. Sure, *somebody* was evil, criminally stupid, and insane, but it might not have been just him.

Please note: I'm not saying that he *isn't* an evil, murdering, raping monster. Just that he *might not* be.

[1] Actually, this scenario would work even if he *didn't* seduce the daugher directly, and I would think the blackmail threat would mitigate the concealment of murder charge. It is *possible* (although unlikely) that he didn't actually commit any non-justifiable crime.

So, he didn't think it might be a good idea to get rid of the body then...in 4 years.

"I used to love her, but I had to kill her"

"She's buried right in my backyard"

Guns N F'N Roses

By ConsciousMachine (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Has anyone noted the similarities to the 1997 film The Apostle with Robert Duvall?

OK, former LEO here.

We try to avoid creating a scene when arresting someone, especially if it in a public place where an arrest might stir up an even larger problem. From the description, Mr. Hopkins was in a controlled area, wasn't planning on fleeing, and was quickly arrested after the sermon. If there had been reason to believe he was armed, or was about to take off and run, then the officers would have moved in for an immediate arrest.

We try to do this for everyone, not just clergy.

By Doug the Trucker (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

#60:

If the police wanted to be respectful to the congregation, they would NOT have waited. They would've walked straight front, turned to the congregation and said: "This man is going to be arrested for raping his kids and chopping his wife and stuffing her in a freezer. You might wanna rely on someone else for morals."

That's implying guilt before trial.

The police did right in this situation. If the congregation were enthralled by his sermon, and the police just walked up and arrested him, then they could have had a crowd control situation. Their job is not to parade the assumed criminal in front of "court of public opinion", their job is to arrest the guy and prevent doing more harm in the process.

Imagine if the place erupted into a riot. How many people would get hurt? How many of them deserve it?

Imagine if the evidence was poorly collected and the police came to get you (accidentally) while you gave a speech/lecture in front of scores of like-minded individuals? Would you want the cops to turn toward your audience and say "she's a bad, bad person; go get a better education"?

I really dislike religion, especially Christianity, since it's the one that has messed with me the most, but some folks here really take their dislike to whole new disturbing levels. I am very glad that there is a not so small minority (may actually be a majority after a while) that still think outside the anti-religion box which we all hang out in.

Arrest tactics should vary with the seriousness of the crime and the likelihood of attempted escape by the perpetrator.

Indeed--but should they not also take into account the close proximity of a large number of civilians and the actions of the suspect at the time of the arrest? He wasn't actively threatening anybody when the police showed up, he was preaching at a pulpit. Because of the seriousness of the allegations they probably had all of the exits accounted for by officers outside the building. Rushing to the front to arrest him mid-sermon is more likely to have created a panic situation that would endanger the congregants.

Of course, I'm not a cop so maybe I'm talking out of my ass. Wouldn't be the first time.

Why is it that a good half, as a rough estimate, of those who come here criticising PZ are unable to spell Myers correctly ?

Steve at post #64 is a good example. He came here, probably read the post by PZ and still managed to spell Myers "Meyers" despite it appearing several times at the top of the page. It just smacks of inattention and carelessness, and does not do much for their message. If they cannot be bothered to spell someone's name correctly, why should the rest of us bother to read what they have say ?

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

...the police have no right to administer punishment before trial.

Saying the police should not have waited is not the same as saying they should have beaten him up. Taking him into custody immediately is not "administering punishment"

Sorry, that #60 in #105 should have read #69...

Make judgements??? C'mon Keanus. The issue is the arrest and its delay. They were not meting punishment only obtaining custody. It should of happened immediately.

No, no. The police did the right, prudent thing. They needed to be aware of the possibility that the suspect had been tipped off to their investigation, they went some place that they knew they would find the suspect, and they made an arrest in the way least likely to avoid confrontation or violence involving bystanders. The police needed to account for the possibility that the congregation would come to the suspect's aid in the middle of an arrest. It's just what they teach you in cop school -- when possible, minimize the amount of conflict. Sorry, PZ, but I don't see anything amiss in the cops' conduct. And yes, they would have done the same thing with a college professor in the middle of a lecture. Post cops with radios at all the doors and one near the suspect's car, then wait until the police have more control of the situation.
It goes without saying that the suspect seems to be a weirdo, and that the religious overtones to the story are creepy.

By Dr. Pablito (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The pastor of Hopkins church reports that "the children were so respectful, just so easygoing", and that they "loved their dad. They were very close to him." Right. Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree.

That's a little disingenuous - the guy being quoted is a Pastor of Hopkins former church, not someone in regular contact. Apparently when Hopkins ducked the "Dude, where's your wife?" question too much, they kicked him out of the church and parted ways. Apparently he based his comments on a single visit he'd made in the four years since.

Of course that immediately raises questions about why he either didn't think it was odd that Hopkins ducked the question and then later declared that she was dead, or more sinisterly, why he expected enough to kick him out of the church but not enough to mention to the police or anyone.

This brings up a good question for Christians:
Which act is worse? What this guy did or what Myers did to the cracker?

I believe it was stated frequently that nothing could be worse than desecrating a host.

It also makes me angry that when this sort of thing happens, people just LOVE to post it all over the internet to perpetuate the typical Meyers stereotype and guilt by assocation of all christians (which this pastor obviously was not).
I also find it disturbing P.Z. Meyers OBVIOUS jubilancy when posting articles like this givin his vitriol hate for true christians.

What exactly are you driving at? Athiests so often get labled as monsters when in fact the real monsters come from the religious. I know of no one in this country who mnurders and child rapes because they are an atheist. Not one. Name them if you can. It's always some freak in a robe that ends up doing it or one of the laity. Freethinjers actually reationalize and I even doubt they have thoughts of incest and murder anywhere, so the connection sticks. These monsters = the religious.

Unless churches don't have back doors, there was the possibility to escape.

Oh, come on. You don't think they had the back door covered? I don't think that respect for religion was the reason the arrest went down the way it did, it's way more likely it was a tactical decision by the police to arrest the suspect in a private setting that they could control, instead of in front of a large crowd where they could not predict the reaction.

The police did a professional job, and the congregants are going to find out what he did later, and they aren't being spared anything by the manner of the arrest. The cops are more interested in making a good arrest with a minimum of fuss instead of making a public spectacle. However satisfying that public spectacle may be.

By Mark B. from A… (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The fact that someone considered the children, some of whom at least were teenagers, to be respectful and easygoing should have run alarm bells.

Teenagers can be described many ways, but respectful and easy-going are not normally the terms used.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

@ Jonathon #39

Does anyone think that another person, in a similar situation, would be allowed to so much as finish their lunch before the police would sieze them?

Perhaps not lunch. But then the police may secretly know (even if they daren't admit to it) how dangerously insane and violent religious people tend to be - particularly en masse, whether "in mass" or not. The police might similarly avoid arresting a mob boss who was having lunch with a whole conference party of well-armed fellow mob bosses though; and instead wait until they could nab him quietly and alone.

It would have been a better moral lesson if they had cuffed, perp walked, and possibly tased him a few times, during the service.

I've not heard of the cops standing on propriety for an ordinary person- why bother with a man who has his freezer-burned wife in his 'fridge?

This is an odd one. Didn't his wife have any relatives, acquaintenances, or friends? Generally in our society, when people disappear, there is always someone to file a missing person report with the police.

Usually it is the immediate family but in this case, they did eventually file a report but it wasn't timely.

The story is a demonstration how evil requires no outside agent.

The jokes about this woman's murder is a demonstration of apathetic misogyny.

this is just asking for a movie to be made about it.I hope they dont pull any punches either

@Matt Penfold, #107: Why is it that a good half, as a rough estimate, of those who come here criticising PZ are unable to spell Myers correctly ?

I've noticed it a lot, as well, particularly in many of the "host-age crisis" messages which also contained assertions that Myers was Jewish. Perhaps they're rather childish attempts at further, "hidden" assertions of same. Maybe one level above "[cough]Jew[cough]".

By Richard Smith (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"Another great argument against home-schooling without VERY strict supervision." - @35

Good job, dummy - you just argued for the presumption of guilt. For yourself.

For as unlikely as it may be that home-schooling - or any kind of schooling - might be going on at your house, the Thought Police will have to make sure.

It also makes me angry that when this sort of thing happens, people just LOVE to post it all over the internet to perpetuate the typical Meyers stereotype and guilt by assocation of all christians (which this pastor obviously was not).
I also find it disturbing P.Z. Meyers OBVIOUS jubilancy when posting articles like this givin his vitriol hate for true christians.

What exactly are you driving at? Athiests so often get labled as monsters when in fact the real monsters come from the religious. I know of no one in this country who mnurders and child rapes because they are an atheist. Not one. Name them if you can. It's always some freak in a robe that ends up doing it or one of the laity. Freethinjers actually reationalize and I even doubt they have thoughts of incest and murder anywhere, so the connection sticks. These monsters = the religious.

"What exactly are you driving at? Athiests so often get labled as monsters when in fact the real monsters come from the religious. I know of no one in this country who mnurders and child rapes because they are an atheist. Not one. Name them if you can. It's always some freak in a robe that ends up doing it or one of the laity. Freethinjers actually reationalize and I even doubt they have thoughts of incest and murder anywhere, so the connection sticks. These monsters = the religious."

I get what you're trying to say with thin, and I agree that it is absolutely galling when religious folks accuse us atheists of being amoral monsters, then try to hide or deny when one of their own wigs out and does something vile and evil. However, I don't think for a minute that being an atheist means that one is automatically unable to commit horrible crimes. Also, I don't think this pastor committed a crime because he is a Christian, I think he committed it because he is an evil, sick f*ck who just happens to be Christian. Even so, the hypocrisy of it is staggering. I can only imagine what those kids' life must be like, and I only that somehow, sometime, they can piece together some semblance of a normal life.

in above, should have said:

I get what you are trying to say with THIS

my proofreading just plain sucks.

RadWaste,

Actually a fair bit of child abuse within the home tends to get picked up at schools. With home-schooled kids there is not that long-term day to day contact with adults outside the home that there is with children who attend school, which would suggest that there is less opportunity to detect cases of child abuse amongst the home schooled.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"Right. Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree."

I don't know if this is a joke or not, but have you read the bible lately? It's full of that smut.

By keith twombley (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Did anybody notice that the Army lab guy who is supposed to have done the anthrax killings and scared half the country to death "played keyboard at a Catholic church".

Nice bunch to be associated with - NOT.

@ 119,raven

Completely agree,very odd even in 21st century society that the woman wouldnt have been missed,or that the reason for her disapperance was so readily accepted.
I have a feeling we havent heard the last about this one.

For those of you bothered by the police courtesy extended to the congregation - you might want to think about this a bit. If the BATF had anything other than publicity in mind at Waco, Vernon Howell would have been arrested while out jogging or while out shooting at the range with Federal agents, and 82 other people would still be alive (of course, to sue the uniforms off BATF for lying on the search warrant affadavit, but that's another thing).

Also, I don't think this pastor committed a crime because he is a Christian, I think he committed it because he is an evil, sick f*ck who just happens to be Christian.

Given how many times various "Christians" have admitted that the only thing that keeps them from raping and murder is fear of damnation, it should be no surprise that they so frequently snap and go raping and murdering. Viscious dogs do sometimes break their leashes.

&lt/snark&gt

I have to agree with tceisele about the passivity of the dead woman's friends and family. It certainly is peculiar.

When Cora Crippen disappeared and her husband gave out that she had run off with a lover and subsequently died in California, her friends didn't accept that unquestioningly. They took their suspicions to the police, with the result that Cora's body was ultimately found buried in Dr. Crippen's cellar and the doctor arrested, tried, convicted and hanged.

By Ktesibios (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Take it out a little further. I'll grant the Atheist sick fuck could, conceivably commit a crime like this. Where's the numbers? But beyond that it may be interesting to see if the religions attract and nurture the sick fucks. You start out sick then choose a religion. Sick fucks aren't atheists, they don't go that way. After all they are looking for redemption and forgiveness. In this society where do people go for that?

By Barklikeadog (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

@ #112:

Apparently when Hopkins ducked the "Dude, where's your wife?" question too much, they kicked him out of the church and parted ways. Apparently he based his comments on a single visit he'd made in the four years since.

Actually, it's not apparent. According to the article:

...he banned him from the church but remained on good terms with him.

He said he visited the family a few years ago, and their home was clean and well-kept.

Whether or not "remained on good terms" means they amicably parted ways, or they kept in touch was never specified.

Regardless, he booted the guy from his church because of suspicion, but never told anyone in law enforcement. To me, that makes Pastor Porter the same as those who covered up the Catholic child molesters. If it had been anyone else, he would probably have reported them promptly, but one of his "brethren" gets a free pass.

@21 and other:

(Haven't read the whole thread yet so don't know if someone else has made this point, but:) Yeah, let's make a huge scene so his poor kids can have everybody there know what there father did to them and relive the whole thing even more publicly than they're going to have to now.

I don't know why the police waited, but I'd do it for that reason alone, to spare the kids from being any more traumatized than they already are.

By astroande (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"Whew, it turns out he wasn't a Christian after all. False alarm. Thanks for clearing that up for us, Steve. How well do you know the guy? How does he take his porridge?"

OK bad choice of words on my part. If he were to follow the dictates of his religion, he would have turned himself in and take his full punishment.

The interpretation that obviously one gets from this article it that he did these things BECAUSE he was a christian.

By the dictates of Atheism, what has he done wrong? Is the abuse of children any worse than the abuse of putting a worm on a hook? Or killing his wife worse than killing a mouse in a trap? Is there no such thing as guilt?

@#23: Yeah, I wondered that too. Confront the guy and ask if his wife is dead and not call the cops when he avoids answering? Sketchy and a half.

By astroande (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Why is everyone so upset? Murder happens. It happens on a regular basis now that we have an ongoing war. I'm failing to see why people are taking it so personally. Maybe I've been desensitized to violence, but ultimately, if I gave an earnest damn about this, I'd have to give a damn about every psycho killing that happens, and there just aren't enough hours in the day.

Don't get me wrong, if the guy did what they say he did (unlike other people here who just say "innocent before proven guilty" I believe in it) then justice must be meted out appropriately. Still, everyone is acting so shocked, as though rape and murder never happens. The other day a man decapitated someone on a bus in front of the other passengers, but since it doesn't confirm the consensus on religion here, it doesn't warrant mention here I suppose.

The religious aspect of the post is pure bullshit. It's now my understanding that there doesn't need to be a clear causal relationship between religion and gruesome acts for PZ to connect the two in any given instance.

As for letting the man finish his sermon, putting completely aside the "not guilty before proven otherwise" aspect of it all: If you are a cop, and you've seen the pictures or the crime scene and know all the details, no matter how religious you are you aren't going to suddenly hold back and say, "Oh wait, gotta respect the man on the pulpit." In terms of explaining why the police let him finish, it fails the test for plausibility. Or did no one see "American Gangster"?

I think that the police waited till he was done so that the congregation of the church (non-thinking retards) wouldn't get riled up and start assaulting the police officers. Just my opinion.

Did anybody notice that the Army lab guy who is supposed to have done the anthrax killings and scared half the country to death "played keyboard at a Catholic church".

Nice bunch to be associated with - NOT.

Another odd story. He was supposedly a nice, quiet guy who attended a Catholic church regularly.

No obvious motive although the targets were all Democrats IIRC.

The anthrax was all weaponized military grade anthrax of the form produced by Fort Detrick. It was always suspected to have originated there either by theft or an inside job.

The world can be a strange place sometimes.

@#138
No, see, neither the story nor anyone else here has said that this specific act was done because the man was christian. We do not yet know his motives pending a confession or trial. The point everyone is trying to make is that so often christians say that the only thing that provides the moral guidance to not do such things to others is thier god. This would be pretty strong proof that people do sick things whether they believe in a god or not, so that argument is unfounded.

To say that this was done because he was religious is baseless (at this point in time, but who knows, the voices in his head, his god, or the fairies may have told him to do it, we don't know yet) as is saying he couldn't be a christian and have done this is absolutely untrue. People are people, no god prevented or caused this act.

also @#138
one more thing: atheism (note the lower case "a") does not have dictates. It is not a religion or a set of rules.

come on people, SWAT teams? covering all the exits in case he try's to escape? he's an old preacher not chuck norris... three policeman should be more than enough.

Tim Fuller@144,
Your link doesn't work for me.

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Any Christians out there who want to defend this guy (just joking: I know everyone thinks this is indefensible) or, more to the point, would care to make a pertinent comment that DOESN'T include the "No True Christian" gambit? In other words, is anyone likely to admit that this guy was a Christian (at least in the way that you can tell that anyone is a Christian) but used his faith as a cover for his activities?

(Cue chirping crikets)

By Tom Coward (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

@ 140

//The other day a man decapitated someone on a bus in front of the other passengers, but since it doesn't confirm the consensus on religion here, it doesn't warrant mention here I suppose.//

Yes,I mentioned that story about 100 posts ago.Pay attention.
Noone here is after confirming any consensus on religion,which you would realize had you read the posts in this and other threads.
You can be a fucked in the head sociopath without belonging to any sect,we realize that.

//Why is everyone so upset? Murder happens. It happens on a regular basis now that we have an ongoing war. I'm failing to see why people are taking it so personally. Maybe I've been desensitized to violence, but ultimately, if I gave an earnest damn about this, I'd have to give a damn about every psycho killing that happens, and there just aren't enough hours in the day.//

Yes,you are desensitized.And I am not taking it personally at all.But it still upsets me,probably because Im alive,call me old-fashioned.

By the dictates of Atheism, what has he done wrong? Is the abuse of children any worse than the abuse of putting a worm on a hook? Or killing his wife worse than killing a mouse in a trap? Is there no such thing as guilt?

Posted by: Steve | August 1, 2008 12:39 PM

Tired, tired argument. Speaking for myself, I do not kill others because I have no desire to do so, and a have a conscience. If you believe the only thing keeping someone from harming others is the fear of god, that says a lot about you. You reinforce the view of the most cynical unbelievers. And that is what an atheist is: one who does not believe in god. There are no "dictates" aside from that.

BTW, I use "cruelty-free" mousetraps, and I do not fish because I don't eat fish and find lancing a fish for sport to be cruel. Thanks for playing.

By C R Stamey (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The religious aspect of the post is pure bullshit. It's now my understanding that there doesn't need to be a clear causal relationship between religion and gruesome acts for PZ to connect the two in any given instance.

Your understanding would seem to be flawed.

As others have pointed out, a good number of religious people claim that they act in a moral manner because of their religion, and many who make such a claim say that atheists therefore lack morals.

If those people are correct we would expect religious people to behave in a more moral manner than atheists. The problem such people have is that the data does not suggest that is the case. If anything, and the data is not that clear, it shows atheists are more moral.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

This talk of true scotsmen reminds me of a discussion with a honest to god true scotsman who wondered why there is so many true scotsman around, that they give a bad name to the true scotsmen.

I could but agree with him openly but the irony was missed on him.

By jagannath (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Is the abuse of children any worse than the abuse of putting a worm on a hook? Or killing his wife worse than killing a mouse in a trap? Is there no such thing as guilt? - Steve

If you have to ask such questions, Steve, I can only surmise that you're a psychopath.

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I dont think it is an "all christians are guilty monsters" article; simply one that shows that christians aren't any less likely to be horrible monsters; and that simply being christian (or of any religious affiliation) doesn't make you more moral than a non-believer.

@ The Chemist #140... and maybe a few others...

The religious aspect of the post is pure bullshit. It's now my understanding that there doesn't need to be a clear causal relationship between religion and gruesome acts for PZ to connect the two in any given instance.

Well, maybe to you, but allow me to maybe explain where the religion connection really comes in for some of us:

And note, I'm prefacing this post by saying that any of this is assuming this man is guilty of the crimes (and I know that's a big qualifier, but for the purposes of this conversation I can live with it)...

I think the key element at play here, especially coming on the heels of the whole "cracker episode", is that this guy wasn't just some christian... he was a pastor and a leader of his church, spouting out lessons of morality to a large group of people while (supposedly) guilty of murder, rape, molestation and incest... pretty much 4 of the worst things you can possibly be guilty of as a human. And this hits a nerve with many of us because we've been told recently, and time and time again, that it takes religion for one to have a real sense of morality. We get sick of hearing that, and shit like this just reinforces our claim that such statements of requirements for morality are just plain full of shit...

Deos that mean he committed these crimes because he was religious? Of course not... but the "morality" one is supposed to derive from religion certainly didn't prevent him from committing them, now did it?

At least that's my issue where this is concerned...

By Celtic_Evolution (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I have to say that those religious people who claim that it is only the fear of god that prevents them from committing murder, rape etc. scare me. Assuming they are being honest they need to be kept a close eye on, as they are only a crisis of faith away from committing horrible crimes.

Of course I doubt they are being honest. They just want to think it is a fear of god that stops them from doing those things as otherwise they would be forced to admit humans are moral animals and morality does not come from god.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Anthony Hopkins?
This guy's name is Anthony Hopkins?
Seriously?
Please tell me this report is a hoax!

By Tom S. Fox (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The interpretation that obviously one gets from this article it that he did these things BECAUSE he was a christian.

No one has suggested that, and if they had I'd say they were wrong.

By the dictates of Atheism, what has he done wrong? Is the abuse of children any worse than the abuse of putting a worm on a hook? Or killing his wife worse than killing a mouse in a trap? Is there no such thing as guilt?

What are the dictates of Atheism?

LordJiro @21: "Blah. How much do you wanna bet 'God told him' to do it?"

...or at least told him it was ok afterwards, and after you have been forgiven by God, what matters the forgiveness of men? They don't even need to know about it. Jesus says they would just fuss about it anyway.

Clinteas@32: "First off,this is terrible,the guy is clearly mentally ill or a sociopath or both.
Secondly tho,this does not show that all evangelicals are child-raping murderers,and we should refrain from making that tempting connection."

True, but I would propose a different kind of connection.

People in secular social circles experiencing this kind of disorder in its early stages would informally be called crazy and, as any symptoms progressed, would be committed by friends and family, if not self-committed.

However, people in religious social circles may be more apt to interpret their symptoms as either communication with God, or possession by Satan.

So, it's not so much about religion making one crazy as it is religion blinding one to preexisting craziness and, in that way, making things worse.

By Jason Failes (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

And this hits a nerve with many of us because we've been told recently, and time and time again, that it takes religion for one to have a real sense of morality.

You said it better than me. Ditto.

If those people are correct we would expect religious people to behave in a more moral manner than atheists. The problem such people have is that the data does not suggest that is the case. If anything, and the data is not that clear, it shows atheists are more moral.

Posted by: Matt Penfold | August 1, 2008 12:53 PM

Matt, I'm with you on that. My point was the atheists aren't in the news for rape & murder. The religious are. The Xtians would then turn around and say it's a cover-up of atheist crimes. It seems that christians have the morality problem, not atheists.

By Barklikeadog (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I wonder if it was the case that he was being arrested for drugs, would the police have waited? In my personal experience they would have gone in with guns blazing, no matter if there were innocent people in the firing line.

@42 "Having said that, I hope he spends a good long time in prison, where he will have time to think over what he's done. It's quite likely that he will find himself on the receiving end of the kind of sexual abuse that he dished out to his daughters."

Having been an expert witness for prisoners who have been subject to systematic sexual abuse, having had to do forensic exams on prisoners as an ER physician after they have been sexually assaulted, and having had a brother who lived in a US prison for a decade, I will tell you nicely that even joking about prison rape is way out of line.

Just don't do it. Rape is rape. Because you judge the victim to have 'deserved' his or her sexual assault not only denigrates their experience, but also shows that we haven't really evolved that much. That nifty 8th amendment enshrines that in our constitution: " Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted." I think we can all agree that rape is cruel and unusual punishment.

Steve @138:

"By the dictates of Atheism, what has he done wrong? Is the abuse of children any worse than the abuse of putting a worm on a hook? Or killing his wife worse than killing a mouse in a trap? Is there no such thing as guilt?"

I hear variations of this a lot, and always from those who aren't atheists. At simplest form, the argument boils down to "There can't be morals without God."

I have to ask: really? Is that really how you feel?

It must be a very depressing mindset. To accept that humans are incapable of any kind of goodness unless it's derived from an outside source backed by the threat of punishment...that's just bleak.

Ok, beaten to it by #144 :-)

steve the wacko:

Is the abuse of children any worse than the abuse of putting a worm on a hook? Or killing his wife worse than killing a mouse in a trap? Is there no such thing as guilt? - Steve

Uh Steve, virtually anyone sane xian or not, would say yes, killing people and putting them in the freezer is worse than fishing.

The fact that you have to even ask brings up a good question. What is in your freezer? I hope you don't live anywhere near my neighborhood but unfortunately someone must live in your neighborhood. Or at least they were alive at one time.

I wonder if it was the case that he was being arrested for drugs, would the police have waited? In my personal experience they would have gone in with guns blazing, no matter if there were innocent people in the firing line.

You've personally experienced the police coming in with guns blazing? That must be some story. I hope none of the innocent bystanders got hurt.

Tom Coward, #139

Any Christians out there who want to defend this guy (just joking: I know everyone thinks this is indefensible) or, more to the point, would care to make a pertinent comment that DOESN'T include the "No True Christian" gambit? In other words, is anyone likely to admit that this guy was a Christian (at least in the way that you can tell that anyone is a Christian) but used his faith as a cover for his activities? (Cue chirping crikets)

Let's examine your more than generous offer: argue that he was not a true Christian--but not if your argument can be rebutted with a simple invocation of "No True Scotsman," or admit he was a Christian.

(Swims up to your bait, finds it unappetizing, and swims away.)

Now, is there any possible argument, or form of argument, that you would consider that you could not simply dismiss with No True Scotsman!, No True Scotsman!. The answer is no. Been there, done that. The response will always, always come back to "well if this guy says he's a Christian, then by golly he must be, and who are you to say otherwise! Judge not, lest ye be judged! No True Scotsman!"

There, I saved you the trouble.

By the dictates of Atheism, what has he done wrong? Is the abuse of children any worse than the abuse of putting a worm on a hook? Or killing his wife worse than killing a mouse in a trap? Is there no such thing as guilt?

What are those dictates again? I missed that meeting. Anyone have a copy of the transcript?

Get for real man. It's wrong because 1) there's laws against it. 2) it makes most thinking people ill just to imagine it & 3) it leads to more violence. Killing vermin and going fishing do not equate. He killed his wife, that is wrong for so many reasons. He raped his little girl, That is wrong for so many reasons. I wonder if he justifies it by thinking he can confess his sin and jebus will fergiv. Wait till the shock hits that it ain't going to happen.

By Barklikeadog (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The Chemist:

I'm guessing that you haven't failed to notice that this blog generally criticizes religion, which is something that, as long as it continues to reflect the spirit of intelligent and targeted opposition, I support wholeheartedly?

I'm also guessing that PZ highlighted this story because of the perceived favoritism in allowing the sermon to continue. It is something that I disagree with, and I am in general agreement with you that this is not something that is terribly unusual, and that anyone attempting to link it to the individuals religious beliefs is wrong to do so, but you might want to reflect on your own opinions concerning the presumption of innocence.

While PZ made an offhand remark about Abrahamic religion [which I took as a joke], he is quite clear about the disturbing aspect, as far as he is concerned. It would appear that it is you that is in the wrong, not PZ.

By Damian with an a (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

As a retired police officer with 22 years on the Phoenix Police department, I can see why they let him finish the sermon before arresting him. I can't know for sure what they were thinking, but I know if I were put in that position, I would have let him finish. But it has nothing to do with respect, its all about officer safety.

Your choices are:

1.Go up to the stage, grab him and haul him out. You can't really explain the details to the church. From their point of view, you just ran in and grabbed someone they know and like for no reason at all. If there is a large crowd there and only a few of you, then you risk a worse case scenario where you end up pepper spraying old ladies and children to get your guy out the door. There are only risks in doing it this way and no real up side.
2.Wait until his is done, walk up to him and in a low voice say "we found your wife's body in the freezer. We are taking you in to talk to you about it. Come along quietly and no one here has to know about it right now. Make a scene and we will be forced to announce why we want you. Those are your choices, pick one." This way you get the guy out the door without a fight and you get to treasure the expression on his face as your words sink in.

So I would have gone with #2 even though it looks like you are giving some respect to someone you would rather just beat to death right there, it is all about getting to go home at night in one piece and not having to run into the little old lady in the grocery store that you were forced to pepper spray last week.

"Take it out a little further. I'll grant the Atheist sick fuck could, conceivably commit a crime like this. Where's the numbers? But beyond that it may be interesting to see if the religions attract and nurture the sick fucks. You start out sick then choose a religion."

That would be interesting to look into, although I'm not sure how you could gather a sample to do that statistics. I am sure there are more theist than atheist criminals of all types, simply because their are more theists than atheists. Whether the theists are disproportionally more likely to commit vile, evil acts is unknown to me. It does seem to me that religions often attract people with very extreme personalities or who are 'True Believers', and they are ones more likely to commit atrocities. That's pure speculation on my part, though.

On a related note, I just hate it when Christians use a ginned up example to argue that atheists are even more likely to mass murder than others. They seem to use Stalin a lot as an example. Total BS.

He found a way - using religion, of course! - to forgive himself for a horrible crime and go on with his life.

Ain't religion special.

By CalGeorge (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

heddle #169

The response will always, always come back to "well if this guy says he's a Christian, then by golly he must be, and who are you to say otherwise! Judge not, lest ye be judged! No True Scotsman!"

ummm... I think there may be no better example of invoking the "no True Scotsman" argument than this...

The man wasn't just a christian. He was a pastor... how much more "True Chrsitian" does one get?

Can you think of a better example to NOT use the "No True Scotsman" fallacy? I'm having a hard time thinking of one.

By Celtic_Evolution (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I love the No Scotsman when it occurs (daily) that a Christian steps in it. It is blantantly obvious that ones religious leaning matter nary a wit in terms of ones behaviour.

This man of course was a Christian, not just a Christian but a pastor leading a flock. The only reason the 'Scotsman' is necesary as an argument is because people run around with the mistaken notion that being a Christian makes one better behaved or moral. It doesn't.

It's like when people say 'You can trust me I'm Christian' or 'He's a good Christian man'. It's bullocks and it simply has become another vocabulary word that is meant to imply something. Unfortunately what it implies is false.

Ok, there seems to be some confsion about the dictates of atheism... such as 'what are the dictates of atheism?'
Fair enough: to answer this question we can't simply consult our holy book, "The God Delusion" (or for those of you reformed atheists, "God is not Great") because the precise moral code of conduct is left too vague and ambiguous to be of any real value. So, our beloved dictator, Richard Dawkins, residing in our most holy city of NoGodia has laid out his dictates in the Declaration of Trent, about what is and isn't acceptable moral policy, and we shall obey.

[Is that how Christians assume that we atheists get our morals? Cuz I get my morals from the frozen foods section like anyone else]

@ Matt Penfold & Some others:

Penfold said, "As others have pointed out, a good number of religious people claim that they act in a moral manner because of their religion, and many who make such a claim say that atheists therefore lack morals."

That's not at all the argument I'm referring to, PZ said nothing about that till the very end, regarding the waiting cops. This is:

Right. Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree.

If I don't tolerate fundies moving the goalposts mid-argument, I don't tolerate it from anyone. The statement from PZ posits that this was of necessity a religiously connected thing.

As for missing your decapitation comment, when I come to a post that's already a hundred comments long, I skim. I admit it, sue me. The point is that if it doesn't play into the confirmation bias, it doesn't get any play. When did skeptics start looking to anecdotal evidence, as real honest-to-goodness reasoning of any kind?

The failure to arrest Hopkins as soon as possible is a trivial matter compared to letting Bruce Ivins know he was about to be prosecuted. Probably Ivins was working alone, but even so, questioning him about his motives and method, and bringing him to trial, were surely important. Suspicions are bound to be raised that influential people did not want this to happen.

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Looking on the bright side:

At least they guy won't be able to claim he "found religion" while in prison.

I don't think I understand the "outrage" at the police having let the pastor finish the sermon. It's a bit kooky, I agree, but as a person that professes to value science and logic and reason, it seems you're jumping to a conclusion without any evidence.

If we're going to speculate as to *why* the police did this, isn't it reasonable to suggest they wanted to be respectful of the other church members? Good policework often requires maintaining a healthy relationship with the community - maybe there had been some bad blood in the past with members of that particular church?

I'm just speculating, of course. But, I'm not feigning outrage without knowing more about *why* it was done...

By Whateverman (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Steve, don't go away. I want to know what the dictate of Atheism are?

Being an atheist I think I should be informed on the matter and it seems like you can help me.

That's not at all the argument I'm referring to, PZ said nothing about that till the very end, regarding the waiting cops. This is:

Right. Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree.

I take it you have never read the bible, especially the new testament.

Plenty of murder, rape and incest in there.

It is pretty dishonest of you to claim otherwise really, since that is obviously what PZ was referring to.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Yawn, what is new. I would really like to see a study tallying the religion of criminals and especially how fundie they are, and compare those with the percentage in the normal population. I am sure that the more fundamentalist, the more crime occurs.

To heddle (#169): This is the same "argument" made by Christians when confronted with studies showing that the rates of divorce, child abuse (insert your favorite sin) are actually higher among evangelicals/funsdamentalists than in the general population: "The study is not valid, because no true evangelical/fundamentalist would get divoced/abuse a child, etc." A related argument is made when discussing 'abstinence only" sex ed. It just boils down to "heads -- I win, tails -- it doesn't count."

By Tom Coward (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

" I wonder if it was the case that he was being arrested for drugs, would the police have waited? In my personal experience they would have gone in with guns blazing, no matter if there were innocent people in the firing line.

You've personally experienced the police coming in with guns blazing? That must be some story. I hope none of the innocent bystanders got hurt."

They were firing up into the air, but still... Well, except for being knocked 'round by the cops, no serious injuries resulted. I almost wet myself, literally, that was the scariest experience of my life, all for a little bit of weed.

@ # 172

What exactly am I wrong about? Or do you just not like the spirit of my comment? Don't get me wrong, I could easily be factually wrong about something, but you haven't explained precisely where.

Either way, I've been reading this blog a while, and have commented under other names, mostly mundane non-argumentative stuff. I happen to like the blog because PZ speaks his mind directly, not because I agree with him all or perhaps even most of the time. To paraphrase Colbert, the man has balls.

Steve #138 wrote:

By the dictates of Atheism, what has he done wrong?

Don't confuse morality with obedience to an authority. All moral systems have to do with persons dealing fairly with other persons -- even in Christianity, you're still working within the framework of wanting to deal fairly with the person God, and therefore you obey.

I've noticed that a lot of what's considered to be 'conservative Christianity' puts a great deal of emphasis on the requirement that we develop habits of obedience -- particularly in our children. "Willfulness" is frowned on. After all, self-will is the original sin. I'm not surprised that the children were praised for being "respectful and easygoing." They wouldn't rebel against either God -- or, apparently, their father.

There is sometimes something to be said for habits of disobedience.

I don't think I understand the "outrage" at the police having let the pastor finish the sermon.

Me neither. Just common sense to do it in such a way to minimize fuss and get the arrest done.

I think it reflects poorly on folks here who want to maximize public humiliation and embarassment. That's punishment, which is what you want to do AFTER conviction.

There was a time, not too long ago where I would have been shocked that such heinous acts of violence could be possible without one realizing the hypocrisy of their actions. However, that innocence has been lost forever thanks to these fools with clouded judgments and religion as their badge to do anything possible. If some idiotic belief in a fantasy can be used as a crutch for hypocrites, then take those fantasies and burn them away. We don't need this shit in the world. Obviously practicing what one preaches is useless.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

PZ said "ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree."

I wonder if PZ was referring to religion as a patriarchy
as Hopkins seems to have been one controlling husband and father. At least the wife tried to protect her children prior to her murder.

He does seem to be a dim bulb in making no effort in four years to get rid of her corpse. Nothing like a freezer full of evidence. Also more evidence of how dim xians can be.

Chemist, #138:

The problem we see is as soon as one of their own is caught being an ordinary human monster, Christians immediately deny association - "He isn't a (real) Christian". Well, damn it, yes he is, in this case, a Christian preacher.

There's also the protective aspect of this, same as in the case of the Catholic church and their priestly child molesters. Surely his former pastor and his congregation should have, at least one of them, gone to the police with their questions about where the man's wife had gotten to. It's absolutely common that church people rarely rat on their own.

But I'd bet part of the reason no one did the right thing is because he gave them some cock and bull sob story about her running away from her family duties, which in the eyes of the church community put her in the category of being an unworthy unChristian slut, so they thought no more of her.

They were firing up into the air, but still... Well, except for being knocked 'round by the cops, no serious injuries resulted. I almost wet myself, literally, that was the scariest experience of my life, all for a little bit of weed.

Jesus Christ. Gotta love that War on Drugs. They'd probably have tossed in a few grenades if you had been smoking hash.

this guy was a Christian (at least in the way that you can tell that anyone is a Christian) but used his faith as a cover for his activities? - Tony Coward@139

[Cue some dishonest blather from heddle]

So, heddle, do you dispute Tony Coward's characterisation of the situation? If so, on what grounds?

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

You think its BAD that they waited in the house of god showing respect before arresting him?

Atheist are just AMAZING!

Everyone makes mistakes but when a christian does BANG the atheists are all over it. Maybe you should remember stalin and mao. Nooo nothing to do with atheist. But attack christians that made this wonderful country. You are sad.

I think the issue of whether the police should have waited until after the sermon has been settled by the expert testimony of experts: the several retired or active police officers who have commented on this thread that it would have been reasonable to wait, given the apparent circumstances.

On the other hand, I am persionally aware of situations where the police have indeed entered with guns blazing, under questionable circumstances.

By Tom Coward (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

@ Matt Penfold

Apparently all of what I said just whooshed over you at somewhere near the speed of light. (No, that's not a real word, but I'm using it anyway.)

He's connecting it all to the rape and murder of these innocent people as though it was religiously motivated. I can tell you right now I will VERY surprised if the man jumps up and down saying Jesus told him to do it. So it obviously doesn't apply.

I have by the way, only read small tracts of the Bible. I get the general idea. I was not raised a Christian, nor am I one now. In the interests of full disclosure, I was raised Muslim, though I'm waxing deistic. Just so my biases are clear.

Shows what a difference a word makes. It would have been more neutral if the reporter had written the police had waited for Hopkins to finish his sermon.

By notthedroids (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"What exactly are you driving at? Athiests so often get labled as monsters when in fact the real monsters come from the religious. I know of no one in this country who mnurders and child rapes because they are an atheist. Not one. Name them if you can. It's always some freak in a robe that ends up doing it or one of the laity. Freethinjers actually reationalize and I even doubt they have thoughts of incest and murder anywhere, so the connection sticks. These monsters = the religious."

I get what you're trying to say with thin, and I agree that it is absolutely galling when religious folks accuse us atheists of being amoral monsters, then try to hide or deny when one of their own wigs out and does something vile and evil. However, I don't think for a minute that being an atheist means that one is automatically unable to commit horrible crimes. Also, I don't think this pastor committed a crime because he is a Christian, I think he committed it because he is an evil, sick f*ck who just happens to be Christian. Even so, the hypocrisy of it is staggering. I can only imagine what those kids' life must be like, and I only that somehow, sometime, they can piece together some semblance of a normal life.

Tom Coward #168,

The point is, there is no argument that can be made, because "No True Scotsman" is an all-powerful, blunt-instrument, argument stopper. It doesn't matter the strength of the case you make, the response is always the same: Fred Phelps? Well he says he's a Christian! He's a pastor for cryin' out loud! And of course pastors, especially pastors, are always true Christians! Who are you to say otherwise! Judge not! and oh, by the way...

No. True. Scotsman.

Heh, gotcha succah! Game over man, we kicked your pious ass! <<back slap, back slap>>

Kent.

More BOLD and Italics. Plus, this post seems to be lacking in the usual extra capitalization.

You've lost a few points on style.

Content though you're still stating pretty steady. not much improvement but no loss of points either.

Just for Sam:

That guy who raped his kids and murdered his wife was a Christian who hated atheists. Like it or not he was one of you. Christians are violent and filled with hatred.

Everyone makes mistakes but when a christian does BANG the atheists are all over it. Maybe you should remember stalin and mao. Nooo nothing to do with atheist. But attack christians that made this wonderful country. You are sad.

Oh! we're playing bingo again. Let's see, I've got a Martyr, almost a Godwin, Patriotism and No True Scotsmen (from earlier).

And Kent, every time an atheist makes a mistake that is publicized, we're IMMEDIATELY pounced upon by the christians. See the Crackergate episode (though that was no mistake). Christians love to hang atheists any time they get a chance (figuratively, we're not making KKK references here...yet) and vilify them any time it's possible.

@ Bee #194

I see what you're saying, but that's still a very tenuous connection that's based on what we don't know about the case rather than what we do. We don't know what suspicions there may have been about the man's wife, nor do we know whether there was any protective aspect. You can't just fill in the gaps like that.

"Everyone makes mistakes but when a christian does BANG the atheists are all over it."

Murdering your wife and shoving her into a freezer is not a mistake.

By CalGeorge (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Apparently all of what I said just whooshed over you at somewhere near the speed of light. (No, that's not a real word, but I'm using it anyway.)

No, I understood what you said all right. The fact you either cannot, or will not, understand that when PZ said "Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree" it was a reference to the god and going ons in the old testaments is your problem, not mine. I am not responsible for your inability to pick up on cultural and literary references.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The argument here seems to go two ways: the cops waited to arrest the murder suspect because they were scared to incite the equally murderous mob of thugs he resided over. Or the more ludicrous responses here takes it that making an arrest at a possibly inconvenient time for the perp is just the same as extraordinary rendition.

Both reasons don't seem well thought out.

Kent @197:

"Everyone makes mistakes but when a christian does BANG the atheists are all over it."

Molesting your kids, dismembering your wife, and sticking her in the freezer is "making a mistake?"

Wow. And I'll bet you complain about ATHEISTS being moral relativists.

To be fair, Kent, the pastor did little to appear to be deserving of respect. And I can sympathize with people who think that "respect for the church members" could have included interrupting the sermon and hauling him out immediately.

But I tend to disagree that it was "bad" that the police did not do so. I also happen to disagree that those atheists who feel otherwise are "sad". At the very least, you opining such things shows as much disrespect as the people you criticize.

By Whateverman (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

So, let me get this, heddle (#202): Christians NEVER commit serious crimes, because if a person CLAIMING to be a Christian commits a crime, that shows he is not a REAL Christian?

Is this your analysis? If so, then religion has a "get out of jail free" card for anything. Or have I misunderstood you?

By Tom Coward (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"I know of no one in this country who mnurders and child rapes because they are an atheist. Not one. Name them if you can."

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

There I named 2. If I wasn't at work, I could find plenty more examples. Also ever heard of marxism?

They murdered because they were atheists?

Coincidence is not causality, however inconvenient that fact might be for you...

By whateverman (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

#119
This is an odd one. Didn't his wife have any relatives, acquaintenances, or friends? Generally in our society, when people disappear, there is always someone to file a missing person report with the police.
#130
Completely agree,very odd even in 21st century society that the woman wouldnt have been missed,or that the reason for her disapperance was so readily accepted.

Given the right set of circumstances, I'd say it's very easy for people to disappear off the face of the earth (or into the nearest freezer) -- more so than in the past. We've arrived at a culture that is very hermit-friendly, and you don't have to move to a shack in the woods to lose touch with everyone. That she was not missed enough to cause anyone to investigate her disappearance certainly adds to the pathos of the story, but it's not at all mysterious.

#120
The jokes about this woman's murder is a demonstration of apathetic misogyny.
Whoa, don't stop at misogyny! Play the race card, too!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_humor

To paraphrase Colbert, the man has balls. - The Chemist

Um, so do almost all men. This does not necessarily make them braver than people who don't.

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"I know of no one in this country who mnurders and child rapes because they are an atheist. Not one. Name them if you can."

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

There I named 2. If I wasn't at work, I could find plenty more examples. Also ever heard of marxism?

steve. Please.

Did it because they were Atheists? Thats the reason?

You're an idiot. Marxism isn't atheism. That was easy.

@ #208, Matt Penfold (again)

No, it's PZ's problem if anyone's at all, what he cannot communicate effectively, may as well not have been communicated at all. That is, if it is indeed a reference to what you say it is, I for one have no access to PZ's thought processes. Then I again I don't have my head inside his ass.

But hey, I'm all for a little rhetorical play, isn't that what we're doing here, just some argumentative masturbation? Let's say that's what exactly what he meant by it. Excellent, now it's even less relevant as a connection between this story and religion. It's not cohesively connected. It's just an interjection that's all sound and fury, signifying nothing.

(I just thought I'd throw in my own literary reference.)

Meanwhile I have some work to get done, and this is distracting me, I'll be back if this discussion hasn't gone completely off the rails. I wouldn't want to end up like this guy. Oh yeah, yet another semi-relevant reference. I must be making a really comprehensible argument now.

Tom Coward, #212,

So, let me get this, heddle (#202): Christians NEVER commit serious crimes, because if a person CLAIMING to be a Christian commits a crime, that shows he is not a REAL Christian?

Is this your analysis? If so, then religion has a "get out of jail free" card for anything. Or have I misunderstood you?

Yes that's my analysis. You got me pegged. Passages such as "All have sinned..." clearly don't apply to Christians.

C'mon man--what I have said, I think quite clearly, is that your call for a Christian to argue that this guy is not a Christian, but only if he can do so in a No-True-Scotsman-proof way, is pointless because it is asking for the impossible.

Nothing I wrote could possibly be parsed by any reasonable person to mean "Christians NEVER commit serious crimes."

Don't "wonder" if they would have waited had it been drugs. Tommy Chong just got out of federal prison for the dangerous criminal act of GLASSMAKING. They wouldn't have even wasted the time to warm up Tazers. It would have been straight to the M16's and full battle regalia.

Enjoy.

By Tim Fuller (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Oh, that makes sense. The evil creep was a pastor preaching a sermon, but he's not a true christian. Right. Same Heddle, different day.
*watch out for the troll poo*

... not to mention that a quick search of Wiki and the top 4 Google links gives no information that they were, in fact, atheists.

So, if you were hoping to show examples of atheism as a motivator for murder, you've failed.

By Whateverman (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The point is, there is no argument that can be made, because "No True Scotsman" is an all-powerful, blunt-instrument, argument stopper. It doesn't matter the strength of the case you make, the response is always the same:

Partially heddle because rarely is a strong case made and asI posted previously it's only because people erronously think being a Christian makes one moral is this even a discussion point.

Since much of the USA claims to be Christian it is rather obvious that belief and behaviour are not remotely linked and Barna and his myriad of surveys have confirmed the obvious again and again. People accept Christianity due to (mainly) childhood indoctrination and/or need to conform. This superstitious mantle doesn't really affect people's behaviour.

As such their is really 'No True Scotsman' among Christians and thinking Christians ought to behave this way or that way in the mistaken notion that professing a superstitous belief somehow makes one 'moral' is the root of the problem.

It perception not reality.

Don't "wonder" if they would have waited had it been drugs.

I was being facetious :-)

It would have been straight to the M16's and full battle regalia.

Like I said above, not an experience I ever wish to repeat. Oh, here in South Africa, the cops use R5s

Patricia, #222

Oh, that makes sense. The evil creep was a pastor preaching a sermon, but he's not a true christian. Right. Same Heddle, different day.
*watch out for the troll poo*

If I said that, anywhere, show me and I'll retract it. If not, then you're truly a dipshit. Please, please put me in your kill file, because your comments about my posts are so asinine, and so without substance, that they are painful to read.

heddle #202 wrote:

The point is, there is no argument that can be made, because "No True Scotsman" is an all-powerful, blunt-instrument, argument stopper.

While the "No True Scotsman" fallacy can legitimately be called on people, I agree that you have to be careful with it, because it is, as you say, "blunt." There can be a lot of ways to define a Scotsman -- or a Christian. If people don't agree upfront on which definition they're using, they can slide into the Equivocation fallacy.

What does it mean to be classified as a "Christian?" I think we need to talk secular definitions here, and not just leave it all up to God. If you leave it up to God to decide, then in most theologies "immoral Christian" is an oxymoron, and it's a worthless tautology to say that all Christians are moral.

So what's the secular classification? Does it involve belief, behavior, sincerity, undergoing a ritual? I think atheists are concerned that belief and behavior are going to be slid together -- but sometimes that's what you have to do. Look at "scientists" practicing pseudoscience. It's legitimate to say that a homeopath, for example, is No True Scientist, whatever degrees he may have after his name.

There are different ways one can be immoral -- by one's own standards, or by other standards. There are people who commit crimes despite the fact that, as a Christian, they know the crime is wrong. And then there are people who commit crimes because, as a Christian, they know that they are not committing a crime at all -- in God's eyes, they are really doing good. Those are very different situations.

There is also an interesting subset of Christians who commit crimes because, as Christians, they know that they are not capable of living sinlessly -- in God's eyes, we are all sinners, can be nothing else, and our task here on earth is to acknowledge that fact. This line of reasoning can lead to that rather creepy situation Steve earlier was accusing atheism of leading to: murdering one's wife is no better, and no worse, than putting a worm on a hook to fish on Sunday. All sins are equal to God, who alone is pure.

Actually, that seems pretty dangerous, as well as creepy.

We have no idea whether what the cops did was or was not the right thing to do. We don't know HOW the arrest was made. If the cops entered the room it would have increased the odds of someone being taken hostage or something similar. I lean towards thinking that how they handled the arrest was inappropriate and put people at risk. The reason I say this is because there is no reason to even mention that they waited until the sermon was over in the news article...UNLESS they are purposely trying to show that they had respect for religion. It is my opinion that they treated the situation differently than they would have if he had been speaking at a non-religious event or doing some other activity. If they waited outside and had all exits blocked then I will change my opinion. If anyone at the church knew they were there, they should have interrupted the service and arrested the suspect immediately, before he had time to react and grab a human shield.

I feel very sad for the children. The mind control and abuse must have been truly horrendous. I hope they get the therapy they need. I especially feel bad for the eldest daughter. She must feel incredible guilt because she was the one who allowed him back in the house after the mother tossed him out. She probably blames herself for the death.

I do not think there should be more interference from the government in regards to homeschooling. I don't understand why people assume it's okay for the government to have control of your children. This is a dangerous mindset and one you should think about. If the predominantly Christian government thinks we Atheist are raising our children wrong, do you really want them to have the power to interfere in your lives? I homeschool and I do not want the government interfering in my family life. Yes, that means on occasion we will have a tragedy such as this one, but overseeing the children's education probably would not have helped in such a situation. The same kinds of things can (and do) happen when children are in public schools. I know many, many victims of incest and abuse who went to public school and never told anyone what was going on. The internal dynamics of the abuse those children suffer keeps them quiet, regardless of where they are or how many people they are exposed to. The children in this tragic situation were around other people,(church), so outsiders having access to the children was not a factor in the cover-up. The eldest matured to the point she could break from his control and talk about what happened. Her internal dynamic changed.

By Rayven Alandria (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Hey, the guy was storing her for the Rapture, when she would rise, and be his baby-making machine again. That, or he was waiting for her to age properly for cooking.

I did wonder how long it would take to see the "no Christian" card played.

That said, I do agree that the police were correct - can you imagine what might happen if they tried to arrest him and he turned his flock on the police. There are a lot of ways to stir up a crowd of people, especially religious people who are used to following the authority of their pastor/preacher/etc. It could have easily turned ugly, and I am sure that the officers had the exits covered. I see it as a safety issue and not one of respect for the religion. I do believe that as the details go out and he goes to trial, his flock will turn out to support him, as he is a "man of God" and his "sins are forgiven". I also think that there are members of the Church who knew, or at least has suspicions - from a friend at work who's life pretty much is her Church, they are like small towns, where gossip is a way of life. If his wife disappeared, there would be a lot of attention to that. Whether anyone did figure it out, or suspect...now that I think about it, maybe not. He always had the religious "respect" to shield him.

Honey!, It's whats for dinner!

By Benjamin Franklin (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

No, it's PZ's problem if anyone's at all, what he cannot communicate effectively, may as well not have been communicated at all. That is, if it is indeed a reference to what you say it is, I for one have no access to PZ's thought processes. Then I again I don't have my head inside his ass.

Well I got the reference, and going on what others have said I am not alone. The fact that you lack comprehension skills reflects on you, not us or PZ.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

The Chemist, you said:

The religious aspect of the post is pure bullshit. It's now my understanding that there doesn't need to be a clear causal relationship between religion and gruesome acts for PZ to connect the two in any given instance.

But apart from PZ's offhand remark that, "Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree", which, as Matt Penfold has explained, is probably a reference to the Old Testament, your comment seems to be suggesting that PZ was linking Hopkins' religious beliefs to the murder, and in a causal relationship.

I just don't see that in the post, if I'm honest. PZ specifically said that his main concern was with the fact that the police waited until he had finished the sermon. I disagree with him on that point. There is nothing unusual about not wanting to cause a scene.

And I'm also very sensitive to the fact that too many people see this as a reflection of religion, which is, of course, nonsense [up to and including the point that some real research is done, and even then, that wouldn't necessarily tell us anything about an individual case such as this].

I'm glad that you brought the point up, but I don't think that you aimed your fire at the right people. I've argued before that we can't claim to be rational, while at the same time, entertaining sloppy and disingenuous arguments. But that also works both ways.

By Damian with an a (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Pretty much pointless to engage with Heddle. Actually, I have to admit to a grudging respect for the guy. He's not your ordinary christobot troll. He's a physicist, intelligent and often reasonable, has a sense of humor sometimes, hates the Intelligent Design bullshit, and--most importantly--he's a Steelers fan and an Iron City drinker.
How he manages to remain certain of his Calvinist theology is beyond me, but it's not that he hasn't thought it through--I don't ever recall him contradicting himself, and he's been around a while (on this and other forums).

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

heddle I agree the no true Scotsman card is frequently played out. But having said that, and I'm sure you've been asked this before, is there a definition you would accept for what a Christian is?

#228:

The reason I say this is because there is no reason to even mention that they waited until the sermon was over in the news article...UNLESS they are purposely trying to show that they had respect for religion.

Sure there is a reason: make the story more complete than "police arrested some dude at some time at some place". People are reading in intent where there may be none.

With regards Heddle, what people need to understand is that when Heddle has his brain injury, sorry, conversion, he was appointed the sole arbiter of who is and who is not a Christian. Not God, not the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury, or any other religious leader. The only person who knows who is a "true" Christian is Heddle.

Will you all therefore please stop arguing with him.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

@238
well I didn't say it doesn't happen. Just that it shouldn't be encouraged... :/

"Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree."

Just like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold are so typical of atheist youth, right, PZ?

By Dav Laurel (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

So, lemme get this straight: according to steve, Heddle and other religiots here, if someone who might have possibly once stated a vaguely atheistic view commits a heinous crime, it is because of their alleged atheism, and not only that, it implicates all other atheists and disbelief itself in the foul deed.

OTOH, if a "Christian" commits a terrible crime, then it just proves that they weren't really "Christian" to begin with. (Nothing to do with the hateful, capricious, spiteful imaginary being they worship, either, natch!) Got it!

Then there's the asshole who shot up the Unitarian Church in Tennessee, who was motivated by "ati-Christian bias", according to the wingnuts' Authorized Version of events. (Nevermind that Unitarians--my parents belong to the local church here--don't believe in any of the magical mumbo-jumbo that is generally considered membership requirements for that silly religion.)

Nice racket you Godbots have going, there.

By Heathen Matt (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

"Rape, murder, and incest are just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree."

Just like Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold are so typical of atheist youth, right, PZ?

No but Rape, Murder and incest are ordinary events in the Bible.

Hey, they let John Dillinger finish watching the movie before they took him down. Well, didn't they?

They waited for two reasons: fist, they were staking out two theaters and were not sure which one he was in, and second, they had an informant with him who was going to point him out for them. I believe he had had cosmetic surgery shortly before then, and they had no recent picture of him to identify him with.

Read up on your old testament Dav.

Kept his wife's body in the freezer for four years? When I think of the energy expended for the freezer

It's a good thiong Hopkins wasn't a Mormon, or he would have needed a walk-in freezer

You're right Matt.
It's the trolling for use on his own blog that blows my skirt up. :)
Does anyone know if MAJeff or Holbach are OK?

Note that atheists, being a moderate proportion of the USA population (about 8-16%) are disproportionately less in the prison populations (0.21%).
http://www.holysmoke.org/icr-pri.htm

By Uncanny Valet (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Patricia,

I have no objection to anything blowing your skirt up!

What gets me is how some seem to think Heddle is worthy of respect. If he is intelligence as some have claimed then surely that makes his apologetics even worse. Someone as smart as he is supposed to be should know better. If someone has the intelligence to go to university, get a first degree and then a doctorate (which I am told Heddle did) then they are intelligent enough to see through the arguments for god that pass for theology.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

He murdered his wife and stuffed her in a freezer -- with his daughter's assistance.

Words fail me.

And I thought "'97 Bonnie and Clyde" was bad.

Paging Clayton from the thread "It's been a while since we boosted a poll"

Clayton? Clayton? Clayton? Anyone? Anyone?

By CortxVortx (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Plenty of intelligent people also hold strange (to me and you) religious beliefs, Matt. It's some kind of compartmentalization that I don't really grok, but religiosity and intelligence are far from mutually exclusive. Compare Heddle's comments to pretty much any other Xtian's around here (Scott Hatfield excepted) and it's clear he's not stupid. Deluded--in my strongly held opinion--but not at all stupid. Plus--did I mention?--he's from da 'Burgh. Big points in my book.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

then they are intelligent enough to see through the arguments for god that pass for theology

But not necessarily and crucially honest enough.

The reason the police waited for the end of the sermon was out of a healthy respect for poisonous snakes. Can you blame them? They charge on up there and grab him, and bam, the snakes go all over! Much better to wait until he puts the snakes away and the snake-box (with Scriptural inscriptions) is carried away by virgins.
And that's more than likely what the sexual abuse consisted of, those guys just love to check to see if Daddy's little princess is still pure. Checky-checky-checky!

There's nothin' so ugly as home-made sin!

By Mooser, Bummertown (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

RevBigDumbChimp, #234

heddle I agree the no true Scotsman card is frequently played out. But having said that, and I'm sure you've been asked this before, is there a definition you would accept for what a Christian is?

I don't really want to go there; it has the potential to seriously derail the thread. Sastra made many good points in #227. The bottom line is that Christians are called to judge other Christians and, under certain circumstances, excommunicate them. That is as close as we can come to claiming someone is not a "true Christian." But what we are actually saying is that, given the evidence at hand, we will treat that person as if they are not a Christian. That determination is generally made on the basis of a history of willfully unrepentant sinful activity, such as someone saying "I like my relationship with this married woman, and I'm going to stay in it because I think God wants me to be happy." It is not on the basis of someone committing a crime.

As for a definition I would accept, I am fairly liberal in that regard. My circle of orthodoxy is large. I have no hard-fast rule but I would consider the historic creeds, especially the Nicene, as a decent litmus test.

Sven DiMilo, #233

Get your SuperBowl tickets early.

Heathen Matt, #243

So, lemme get this straight: according to steve, Heddle and other religiots here, if someone who might have possibly once stated a vaguely atheistic view commits a heinous crime, it is because of their alleged atheism, and not only that, it implicates all other atheists and disbelief itself in the foul deed.
OTOH, if a "Christian" commits a terrible crime, then it just proves that they weren't really "Christian" to begin with. (Nothing to do with the hateful, capricious, spiteful imaginary being they worship, either, natch!) Got it!

No you blithering jackass, I said nothing of the sort. Ever. Either in regards to atheists, or to Christians. Not once in my life have I made such a claim.

Spidergate, #249

And Off-Topic: XKCD is particularly funny today.

Clearly. Because Munroe is a genius. As is expected, having graduated from our physics department!

Sven,

I do not think Heddle is stupid. Deluded yes, ignorant, yes, dishonest, yes, but not stupid. He just seems to have something going on in his brain that stops the bit of of him that believes stupid stuff from talking to the bit that is intelligent. Scot Hatfield does not seem to suffer from quite the same problem. Heddle seems to look for excuses that mean those who commit heinous crimes such as described above are not really Christians. Scott as far as I have seen does not so such thing and does not regard religion as leading to morality.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

(BTW. That was not a joke.)

Has anyone noted the similarities to the 1997 film The Apostle with Robert Duvall?

Yes, except that was not a premeditated murder... interesting flick, that.

Steve: By the dictates of Atheism, what has he done wrong? Is the abuse of children any worse than the abuse of putting a worm on a hook? Or killing his wife worse than killing a mouse in a trap? Is there no such thing as guilt?

Atheism had no dictates. Thanks for playing.

Our evolved (biologiaclly and culturaly) morality does have dictates, but that has SFA to do with atheism.

@197: "Everyone makes mistakes but when a christian does BANG the atheists are all over it."

A mistake? Dude (allegedly) killed his wife and molested his children. I think that's more than a fucking "mistake", Kent.

By astroande (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I'm tired of the whole Mao and Stalin argument linking their atheism as the cause of their authoritarian rule. Listen assholes, it's not atheism that causes people to act so violent, but the megalmoaniacal tendencies that certain individuals may possess. However, magalomaniacal beliefs are inherent in religion. Look at the self-righteous assholes posting on this thread, assuming that their god, their belief system, their "higher" moral equivalency is what keeps them from doing the same thing as this pastor. You are at best, delusional, and at worst, lost in your own pathetic religious institutions, unable to access a rational world-view. You need religion as a crutch for comfort, and use it to bully independent thought that happens to stand up to straw-man arguments.

PZ posted on this topic because it's another case of hypocritical behavior by the supposedly moral crowd. The point is that religion does not give one moral justification for their belief system. It is part of our evolutionary heritage and if you can't live with that, then don't pretend that these artifices you've created for yourselves have any relevancy to us.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Matt your point at 251 is a good one. For myself, I should have gotten old enough to know better - but didn't.
Ha! Yep, good thing I have lots of petticoats, I get my skirt blown up here all the time. ;)

It's just another frigid wife story, what's the big deal?

It's a shame Aretha didn't get no respect after all.
just a little bit
just a little bit

ohhh baby it's cold in here

just a little bit just a little bit

get that ice cream outa my face

just a little bit just a little bit

preach it to me , baby

just a little bit just a little bit

I can't feel my TOES!!!!

just a little bit just a little bit

Got a real bad case of the BLUE

just a little bit just a little bit

fade

I don't really want to go there; it has the potential to seriously derail the thread. Sastra made many good points in #227. The bottom line is that Christians are called to judge other Christians and, under certain circumstances, excommunicate them. That is as close as we can come to claiming someone is not a "true Christian." But what we are actually saying is that, given the evidence at hand, we will treat that person as if they are not a Christian. That determination is generally made on the basis of a history of willfully unrepentant sinful activity, such as someone saying "I like my relationship with this married woman, and I'm going to stay in it because I think God wants me to be happy.

Ok I'll make a comment and not expect an answer so as not to further derail the thread knowing full well that it probablt won't just remain a comment.

I am curious how we are ever able to define a Christian if there are such seemingly arbitrary (within the bounds of religious morality) borders of the circle of inclusion that can be changed depending on which self described Christian you talk to. I mean there's got to be rules somewhere that define it? Right?

Examples I use, that are overplayed but I believe valid are men like Pat Robertson. Is he a Christian? He behaves in ways I don't see as repentant for the sins he has committed. Lying, wishing harm on others, fraud, etc.. Yet he is held up by many as a good Christian man. If the definition of Christian can change with each and every subset of the large group, is anyone a Christian? Yes of course. But WHY? What makes that group in the intersection of all of those circles Christian.

Ok sorry for the continuation of the derail.

I'm going to play devil's advocate here. The police may have thought it would be safer to arrest him in private. If they came to arrest him while he was preaching, he might have pulled a gun or something and put the lives of the parishioners in danger.

253 - Cortx Vortx - If you're looking for some troll meat go to the Poster thread. Two of Brownians worst 12 year old step-sons are over there annoying the ladies.
Be warned though - it SMELLS! There's troll poop everywhere.

AJS -"illegal occupiers cannot be evicted while a minister is delivering a sermon. This quirk was exploited by having successions of people babble nonsense in front of an audience any time a camp was under threat of eviction."

Erm, almost.
It is illegal to interrupt an ordained minister in the course of a sermon (still). This was exploited on a couple of occasions where vicars happened to be part of the protesting groups. If they had not been ordained ministers, the police could have stepped in at any time.

I don't think it applies to Mohammedans, as imams are not ordained, but it appllies to all flavours of chjristians.

By John Flemming (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I don't know why the police waited, but I'd do it for that reason alone, to spare the kids from being any more traumatized than they already are.

I don't think that's the worst sentiment in the world, but I still wonder, it doesn't seem to be applied very consistently. How many times do you hear about drugbusts that "they came in and put him in handcuffs right in front of the kids"? That's not an uncommon thing to hear.

As for "he wasn't going anywhere," neither is the meth lab operator sitting on his couch in his underwear watching cops and eating dinner off his TV tray with his kids. Are the cops going to wait for him to get done with dinner before sidling up to him calmly and whispering, "We found a meth lab in your toolshed and want to ask you some questions about it?" I mean, they won't want to traumatize the kids, right?

Heck, not only do they not "try not to make a scene" but they also show up with the stinking TV cameras to make it as big of a scene as possible!

So why all the concern about upsetting the good people of church or the preacher's kids? That sentiment is not applied to everyone in society.

The fact that Pastor Freezer Burn is a Christian is not the point.

The fact that he's a PREACHER is what makes this seem so cold.

You don't have to be an Atheist for THAT to set off the irony alarms. Raping his children, icing the wife, then preaching every sunday? For Crackersake, that's twisted in anybody's book.

Yall need to chill out

While I have no sympathy for murderers, pedophiles or, come to that, evangelical preachers, it's really inadvisable to call someone a "child-raping murderer" and "monstrous psychopath" prior to arraingment, much less trial and conviction.

By Yossarian (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Holy crumbling shortcake! Munroe is younger than I am! (Ok, only by a few months, but still... I feel old.)

Pablo: It's a good point and our country's attitude toward drugs and the arrest of people that use them is bizarre. But as your comment relates to protecting the kids, there probably isn't an audience full of people at the meth lab. And the concern isn't because they are the kids of a preacher, it's because of what they went through and having to sit there while everyone finds out what they went through.

And as others have pointed out, it may not have been a case of not wanting to upset the congregation so much as it was wanting to do the arrest in a more controllable environment with less people around to cause a riot/get injured.

By astroande (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

What I find disturbing about the whole story is this.....the police went into his house and opened the freezer, and then they went off to the church where he was preaching that day. What did they do then?
Wait, what? Was this an example of Christians showing respect, that they allowed a child-raping murderer continue mouthing words of love and redemption in their church, words that clearly meant nothing to this monstrous psychopath?

What a stupid irrational thing to say. You have evolved the gene that allows you to know things that have not been spoken and hear things that have not been said.

Where does the article talk about the arresting officer's religious affiliations? You're sounding delusional.

However, magalomaniacal beliefs are inherent in religion.

Where's the megalomania in being fallen? You imbecile.

To all the bible thumpers here:If the good pastor is found guilty of all charges and assuming he does accept je-bus and all that:the wife killing,child raping scum has a better chance of going to heaven than us heathens. True? Yeah nice religion ya got there!

And as others have pointed out, it may not have been a case of not wanting to upset the congregation so much as it was wanting to do the arrest in a more controllable environment with less people around to cause a riot/get injured.

And hence my comment about the cops showing up with the TV cameras all over the place. That's a controlled environment?

Somebody shut off the troll making machine! ;)

Where's the megalomania in being fallen? You imbecile.
So...

You can only be a megalomaniac if you're a Christian in good standing?

I'm gonna file that one away for future reference...

Now, is there any possible argument, or form of argument, that you would consider that you could not simply dismiss with No True Scotsman!, No True Scotsman!. The answer is no. Been there, done that. The response will always, always come back to "well if this guy says he's a Christian, then by golly he must be, and who are you to say otherwise! Judge not, lest ye be judged! No True Scotsman!"

There's a reason for that. The assertion being made by many proponents of the faith is that Christianity is a source of morality and those who believe are more moral than those who don't. That is, belief in the Christian god makes one more moral. The problem is whenever an example of someone who is, or at least claims to be, Christian acts in a clearly immoral manner, the proponents cry "No True Christian" based solely on the fact that he acted immorally. It's changing the definition of "Christian" from "one who follows the Christian faith" to "one who acts morally" which is, in short, assuming the assertion. The claim "Christians are more moral than non-Christians" ceases to mean anything more than "Moral people are more moral than immoral people." That's the whole point of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. It's a form of confirmation bias: counting the hits and ignoring the misses.

The long and short of it is, if you are going to disqualify a self-proclaimed Christian from being Christian, you have to do it on a basis other than whether or not he acted morally if you want to support the argument that Christianity encourages morality.

Speaking of horrible stories...

I was just reading some info about the terrible beheading incident on a Greyhound bus in Manitoba (http://mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/193490.php) when I came across this little gem:

One of the better arguments for God is that since it is clear that absolute evil exists then so too must absolute good.

The commenters on that site are arguing about the truth/silliness of that statement.

One of the better arguments for God is that since it is clear that absolute evil exists then so too must absolute good.

The commenters on that site are arguing about the truth/silliness of that statement.

I heard a similar argument from someone who claimed that the existence of fake psychics proves that real psychics exist.

Secondly tho,this does not show that all evangelicals are child-raping murderers,and we should refrain from making that tempting connection.

It does, however, both refute the claims that evangelicals are somehow more "moral" than non-believers or others, and confirm the accusation that society as a whole is willing to give an inexcusable amount of leeway to people who are considered devout and/or religious authorities. Seriously, four years and no one thought to mention to the authorities that his wife mysteriously disappeared? Letting him finish his sermon there may or may not have been a good reason for (per previous comments), but that's just absurd.

Baba shows that Baba doesn't know the difference between a question and a statement. Good going, Baba!

You can only be a megalomaniac if you're a Christian in good standing?

I'm gonna file that one away for future reference...

Good idea! Preserve your stupidity for future generations to see!

Yall watch WAAAAYY too much Television. Cops NEVER do that bust the door down bullshit unless it's a crime in progress.

When they DO bust their way in for an arrest, they plan it out in advance, assemble a team, and usually strike around 5 am.

The fact that the cops staked out the church, then waited for PastorFreeze to exit before arresting him is standard procedure, by the book all the way.

Cops are concerned with their own safety first, unless there is an immediate danger. Arresting someone off the street is the safest, easiest way.

As far as the Meth Lab analogy, cops will usually stake the place out first and try to arrest the suspect leaving the building, then search the place.

none of this thread as pertaining to the arrest is applicable to real world cops and robbers.

You said it, not me.

Seems you're pointing that "stupidity" finger in the wrong direction...

By Whateverman (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Never underestimate the extent to which people can rationalise what they are doing as perfectly right and moral. The US has gone to war and tortured people and imprisoned them without trial and built weapons which could kill hundreds of thousands, and used them as well, not just under Bush but for decades, because this disconnect is natural to the human mind.

Baba shows that Baba doesn't know the difference between a question and a statement. Good going, Baba!

Baba love Baba talk!

The creepiest part of this isn't what the guy did, it's what other people will do. Somewhere out there is at least one person who will argue that these are trumped-up charges and he was really arrested on account of his being black, and millions of people who will characterize this as a "persecution" or a "crucifixion" or whatever bullshit they spouted when Ken Lay was indicted.

Seems you're pointing that "stupidity" finger in the wrong direction...

Not at you, at the stupid banner above your head.

My apologies to you.

By Whateverman (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Pablo: Maybe I missed something in the article PZ linked to, but did they have cameras with them at the church?

I know police have used cameras during arrests before, which is indeed kind of stupid -- but then we wouldn't have "Cops" I suppose.

By astroande (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

@ Baba,
The megalomania is in believing that your specific fantasy is reality. That's the megalomania you idiot. All religions profess to have a deep understanding of the world, and those who embrace those dogmatic notions also fall prey to that megalomania. What are you saying besides the fact that your belief gives you the moral high ground, and connects you to your idea of god, which happens to be everything intrinsic and extrinsic to the universe? How perverse that you buy into this whole idiotic notion of superiority. What annoys me about your views is the arrogance in thinking a belief that you hold, with no evidence whatsoever usurps the physical universe and functions at some supernatural level. This my idiotic friend, is called megalomania. Face the facts, and let me save you a lot of wasted time and effort by pointing out that there is no god. Morality and ethics are inherent in our evolutionary past, and part of our social fabric as we've observed in other social primates. Just because our ideas of morality have evolved does not make the seeds of it outside the evolutionary process.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

My apologies to you.

It's okay - you can't help it!

Maybe the police didn't want to be confronted with opponents from the congregation. Seems like a reasonable precaution to me.

Tsg, #280

The problem is whenever an example of someone who is, or at least claims to be, Christian acts in a clearly immoral manner, the proponents cry "No True Christian" based solely on the fact that he acted immorally. It's changing the definition of "Christian" from "one who follows the Christian faith" to "one who acts morally" which is, in short, assuming the assertion. The claim "Christians are more moral than non-Christians" ceases to mean anything more than "Moral people are more moral than immoral people." That's the whole point of the "No True Scotsman" fallacy. It's a form of confirmation bias: counting the hits and ignoring the misses.

But we are told to judge, in the bible, not on the basis of one's profession of faith (even the demons believe...), and not on the basis of their sincerity (many will say, Lord, Lord.. I will tell them plainly, I never knew you), and not on the basis of their mature theology (watch for false prophets...) , but on the basis of their actions--i.e., their morality (and again, it is not on a hair trigger firing at the commission of this sin or that sin, even something like murder, but is applied to those who in some manner adopt a sinful lifestyle and continue, in spite of repeated attempts at reconciliation, to claim it is acceptable). And again, that's why the arguments of this type are hopeless. But you are trivializing our position if you are claiming that we say "this person committed a horrible act, therefore he is not a true Christian."

Now, I wouldn't treat Fred Phelps as a Christian if he flew into my office on angel wings, wore a halo, and displayed stigmata. But that is because of his lack of repentance, not because of his sins. He has been told time and time again by Christians that his behavior is abhorrent and unbiblical. This kind of persistent lack of repentance is what would get him excommunicated if he were not in his own, independent church. So it is his immorality that makes me regard him as a non-Christian, but it is not just his immorality. So a Christian who commits a horrible crime would non automatically be treated as a non-Christian. On the contrary--the first response is always "a fellow Christian has sinned, as do we all." The declaration of "not a true Christian," in as much as we can make that determination (as described) comes only after evidence of a stubborn refusal to repent.

I am always amazed at how much the police here in the UK like dawn raids, and how often a TV camera crew just happened to be on the scene.

There's a good reason for the dawn raids. (Pre-dawn, usually, I think around 4 or 5 AM in the US.)

That's the time when things are least likely to go awry and get people hurt. Late-night partiers have usually come home and crashed, guests have left or gone to bed, children have gone to bed, the target is asleep, etc. (And early risers mostly haven't gotten up yet.)

Basically, the cops want to act suddenly when they're alert and the target isn't, nobody's in the way, and neighbors are likely not watching. (The latter makes good sense if the person being apprehended is innocent. It minimizes the number of spectators to the humiliating event, as well as the number of friends who might take sides and interfere.)

This maximizes the chance that the target won't hear the cops coming, or wake up enough or think fast enough to prevent capture or hurt somebody.

It's a "police state" tactic, but if the raid is justified at all, it's just sound policing.

As for having the press there, that's a whole different issue. But if you're going to have the press there, it's better if you don't have a lot of other people complicating the situation.

If only he'd crumbled a cracker, perhaps then they would have been less tolerant.

Touchè.

I laughed my @$$ off for over 10 minutes after reading this last remark, Genius!

The megalomania is in believing that your specific fantasy is reality. That's the megalomania you idiot.

Actually you are a moron.

All religions profess to have a deep understanding of the world, and those who embrace those dogmatic notions also fall prey to that megalomania.

This is extremely irrational - you are claiming possess deep knowledge of all the world's religions and also claiming the ability to read minds. If it's true, bravo, if not then you are an irrational megalomaniac.

What are you saying besides the fact that your belief gives you the moral high ground, and connects you to your idea of god, which happens to be everything intrinsic and extrinsic to the universe?

I'm saying that you are irrational.

What annoys me about your views is the arrogance in thinking a belief that you hold, with no evidence whatsoever usurps the physical universe and functions at some supernatural level.

Your making me cry!

This my idiotic friend, is called megalomania.

Actually that's none of that describes megalomania means. You're still looking irrational.

Holy shit, who left the fucking door open.

My Sky-Daddy!

But we are told to judge, in the bible, not on the basis of one's profession of faith (even the demons believe...), and not on the basis of their sincerity (many will say, Lord, Lord.. I will tell them plainly, I never knew you), and not on the basis of their mature theology (watch for false prophets...) , but on the basis of their actions--i.e., their morality (and again, it is not on a hair trigger firing at the commission of this sin or that sin, even something like murder, but is applied to those who in some manner adopt a sinful lifestyle and continue, in spite of repeated attempts at reconciliation, to claim it is acceptable).

That may well be true. But all that allows you to do is judge someone a "good" or "bad" Christian, not proclaim they aren't a Christian at all. The argument is that belief in the Christian god inspires morality. In that case, you can't disqualify him from being Christian, ie. believing in the Christian god (which is the important part of the argument because the atheist argument is that you can be moral without believing in god) on the basis of being immoral or you are engaging in the No True Scotsman fallacy. If you want to support the argument that believing in the Christian god inspires morality, count the "good" (ie moral) Christains and the "bad" (ie immoral) Christians and show the ratio of moral to immoral is higher in Christians than in non-Christians. You don't get to ignore the "bad" Christians simply because they don't conform to the assertion. That's confirmation bias.

And again, that's why the arguments of this type are hopeless. But you are trivializing our position if you are claiming that we say "this person committed a horrible act, therefore he is not a true Christian."

I can assure you it happens often, based on no more information than the person committed an immoral act. In this particular case, you (or anyone else) is in no position to judge whether Anthony Hopkins *really* believes in the Christian god and is therefore "No True Christian". At best, you can only say he is a bad Christian and gets counted in the "immoral Christian" column for comparison.

I don't claim to understand every single aspect of all religions, and I wouldn't really care. Why would I waste my time undrestanding a delusion? The point is that I do understand how it's possible to take rational concepts of the world, and apply irrational beliefs to them and then purport to understand a deeper significance. What's irrational is people assuming they understand these concepts because it makes sense to them, without any evidence to justify their beliefs. You want people to believe something, well show them the proof. I'm not talking about an abstract revelation, but some physical proof, some empirical evidence that can hold up to rigorous testing, if you can't do that, then you're straddling a delusion.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Maybe the police didn't want to be confronted with opponents from the congregation. Seems like a reasonable precaution to me.

Why? Because good Christians have no regard for the law, no respect or concern for the well-being of their local law enforcement officials? Especially while in church?

Interesting. :-)

Seriously, though, that may be one aspect of the more reasonable explanations: There was no need to take the guy down in public, no need to go out of their way to make a dramatic scene. He wasn't going anywhere, and he's innocent until proven guilty and all that. Yeah, it seems like an open-and-shut case, but due process must be followed.

From the linked article:
At the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Hopkins was preaching at a revival, pastor Beverly Jackson told CNN affiliate WKRG. His message, she said, was about forgiveness and not passing judgment -- and at one point, he turned to his seven children and asked them to forgive him his past, present and future. Police allowed Hopkins to finish his sermon before arresting him ...

You know, this is another creepy aspect to this story which I don't think has been mentioned yet. Just minutes before he is arrested, this murdering pastor is preaching before a congregation on the topic of forgiveness and not passing judgement. I wonder if he knew what was coming?

I also wonder whether the congregation will follow his advice, and stand behind him as a Christian of otherwise good character who has made, like all sinners, a "mistake." I think this popular meme in some Christian theologies -- that God is testing you, to see how great your capacity for trust, faith, and forgiveness is -- contributes to either developing, or attracting, criminals and con artists to churches.

My guess is that most Christians will read about the topic of the good pastor's sermon and snort in derision. Nice try, Buck-o. But it will be interesting to see how the people who actually knew and admired him, in the church, react. If he plays the repentance card, and cries, and pushes the "all have sinned" pedal, I'm not sure whether they won't see it as a test of their ability to forgive others as they would want to be forgiven. Because he is a Christian, one of them, and needs to be brought back by the Power of Mercy.

It is in general a good and healthy thing to forgive and not hold on to grudges, but religion can have a tendency to take away the rational brakes on that.

What's irrational is people assuming they understand these concepts because it makes sense to them, without any evidence to justify their beliefs. You want people to believe something, well show them the proof.I'm not talking about an abstract revelation, but some physical proof, some empirical evidence that can hold up to rigorous testing, if you can't do that, then you're straddling a delusion.

Like your rationality? Where's the proof? It's faith without evidence, you're rational because you say you are.

"Like your rationality? Where's the proof? It's faith without evidence, you're rational because you say you are."

That's nihilistic, and invalidates the notion of rationality itself.

Of course people have faith in the arguments and opinions they express (when doing so ernestly). Presence of the word faith does not preclude rationality. However, when that faith becomes your argument, you can no longer claim to be arguing rationally.

It's not rocket surgery...

Somebody shut off the troll making machine!

What - even if it's part-way through the finishing process and ends up producing a trollop instead? ;-)

That's nihilistic, and invalidates the notion of rationality itself.

Of course people have faith in the arguments and opinions they express (when doing so ernestly). Presence of the word faith does not preclude rationality. However, when that faith becomes your argument, you can no longer claim to be arguing rationally.

It's not rocket surgery...

That's measurable, empirical proof that you're rational?

Yaawwn!

Next!

Looks like I was right about the faulty application of that Stupidity Finger.

It's obvious you don't want to discuss anything, so I'll stop. And if it makes you feel better, you can log off today feeling like you've won an argument of some sort.

Faith that exists is not a rational argument for the existence of . You'd be surprised at how much you actually live your real life by this principal, idiotic forum trolling notwithstanding

By Whateverman (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Did anyone consider that they might be the type of Christians that worship by tempting snakes to bite them? If so, maybe the cops wanted him to put 'em back in the bag before they went in for the arrest.

Tsg, #303,

Thanks for the reasoned discussion.

That may well be true. But all that allows you to do is judge someone a "good" or "bad" Christian, not proclaim they aren't a Christian at all.

I almost agree. That is why I try to be careful and say that if the church takes the drastic action of excommunicating someone, it means we treat them as if they are not a Christian. But we don't treat someone like that as a "bad" Christian, but as if they weren't a Christian at all. Of course we have no way of knowing one way or another--which also applies, by the way, to anyone claiming to be a Christian, not just the one's in trouble. My wife treats me as if I am a Christian, but she has no way of knowing for certain.

If you want to support the argument that believing in the Christian god inspires morality, count the "good" (ie moral) Christains and the "bad" (ie immoral) Christians and show the ratio of moral to immoral is higher in Christians than in non-Christians. You don't get to ignore the "bad" Christians simply because they don't conform to the assertion. That's confirmation bias.

In terms of whether atheists are less moral, you'll have to take that up with someone who argues that a belief in God makes someone more moral. I don't, and I don't think that that is what the bible teaches. I believe God provides all people with a moral compass, whether they believe in him or not. (Sometimes called common grace.) So you can argue with me that your morality doesn't come from God, but I'll say it does, which is unfalsifiable. Why I won't say is you are less moral because you don't believe in God. Thus I won't attempt to defend the position that belief in God makes someone more moral.

I can assure you it happens often, based on no more information than the person committed an immoral act. In this particular case, you (or anyone else) is in no position to judge whether Anthony Hopkins *really* believes in the Christian god and is therefore "No True Christian". At best, you can only say he is a bad Christian and gets counted in the "immoral Christian" column for comparison.

Well, first of all, believing in the Christian God, even *really* believing, does not make someone a Christian. That is demonstrable from the bible itself, which has counter examples. As for Anthony Hopkins, you are right, I cannot judge him, I don't know him. In fact, I'd go farther than you--not only cannot I not say, given what I know, that he is not a true Christian (with the caveat I attached to that phrase) I could not say he is a "bad Christian." He may be a better Christian than I. We have the lesson of the thief on the cross. It would all depend on his repentance.

But we are told to judge, in the bible, not on the basis of one's profession of faith (even the demons believe...), and not on the basis of their sincerity (many will say, Lord, Lord.. I will tell them plainly, I never knew you), and not on the basis of their mature theology (watch for false prophets...) , but on the basis of their actions

1. Which itself goes against much official Christian doctrine. Eg the stuff about good people who aren't Christians not making the cut.

2. The demons don't exist and not all people do believe. It's that theistic inability to comprehend disbelief again.

3. The warning is there because: (a) believers are not particularly moral at all (as per the demon clause); and (b) they are particularly stupid about gullibly trusting people in the in-group (both naturally, hence being believers in the first place, and through being artificially retarded by the religion for its own purposes).

Nope. I didn't forget about that at all. Has there been a trial yet? Are you suggesting we not bother? Posted by: Ubi Dubius

Yeah, she could have just climbed in there for a nap and the lid slammed shut. He probably searched in vain for his wife for years tacking fliers to telephone poles, going on the local news to make a plea for help. He consoled himself in his childrens bed when things just got to be too unbearable.

By all means let's have a trial... and then hang him.

By Eric Paulsen (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Regardless of whether it's actually SOP to let rich white males get arrested for heinous crimes in private or not, it certainly is a moral good to question this seemingly blatant example of undeserved respect for/terror of religion.

Heddle @ #257:

Heathen Matt, #243

So, lemme get this straight: according to steve, Heddle and other religiots here, if someone who might have possibly once stated a vaguely atheistic view commits a heinous crime, it is because of their alleged atheism, and not only that, it implicates all other atheists and disbelief itself in the foul deed.
OTOH, if a "Christian" commits a terrible crime, then it just proves that they weren't really "Christian" to begin with. (Nothing to do with the hateful, capricious, spiteful imaginary being they worship, either, natch!) Got it!

No you blithering jackass, I said nothing of the sort. Ever. Either in regards to atheists, or to Christians. Not once in my life have I made such a claim.

Matthew 5:22, Asswipe.

Maybe I got you mixed up with the other Godbot trolls infesting this thread, as I only skimmed the comments while on a work break, you god-fellating twat. Other commenters' evaluation of the worth of your comments certainly lent credence to that interpretation. If you never said that in your fucking life, then my apologies, cuntwad.

Your Xtian love and patient forbearance is a marvel to behold, and makes me want to emulate you in mindless devotion to an embarassingly idiotic creed which should have expired long ago for want of dumbasses simple enough to swallow half-baked fairy tales that would put a stone-age cannibal to shame.

By Heathen Matt (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Heddle (#220): No, you are misunderstanding me. You deny that this guy was a Christian because he murdered his wife and raped his step-daughter. My challenge is for any Christian to discuss this situation WITHOUT disowning this guy as a Christian. So far, no one, most especially you, has done anything other than say: "Not our problem; He's not one of us!"

By Tom Coward (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

By all means, more trollops! But damn, pull the plug on the trolls.
I see the christians and the children are still up to the same thing - blah, blah, blah.

I believe God provides all people with a moral compass, whether they believe in him or not.

Except that's not true. Not just the god part but also the "all people" part. Some people noticeably lack a moral compass, eg the ones called sociopaths / psychopaths.

So you can argue with me that your morality doesn't come from God, but I'll say it does, which is unfalsifiable.

The significant difference being that the naturalistic view has evidentiary support, by fitting with other social animals also having evolved co-operative morality as a survival advantage (and precise morality being environment-dependent), whereas your view has no evidence at all to support it and much evidence from reality contradicts the details of your scriptural claim of it.

I believe God provides all people with a moral compass, whether they believe in him or not.

Except that's not true. Not just the god part but also the "all people" part. Some people noticeably lack a moral compass, eg the ones called sociopaths / psychopaths.

It also ignores the evidence that morality is an evolved trait.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I guess Heddle's claim to accept evolution is now shown to be false. You cannot claim that evolution happened, but morality comes from god and not nature, and be taken seriously if you want to claim you accept evolution. "Goddidit" is not more a valid explanation of human nature than it is of human anatomy or physiology.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Heddle @297, re: Fred Phelps "He has been told time and time again by Christians that his behavior is abhorrent and unbiblical. This kind of persistent lack of repentance is what would get him excommunicated if he were not in his own, independent church. So it is his immorality that makes me regard him as a non-Christian, but it is not just his immorality."

However, that lacks any coherence because what right do these other so-called Christians have to rebuke him? The same right that he has to rebuke them and call them bad Christians. Given the thousands of denominations and the thousands of opinions, there is no one standard. There are thousands. So one persons "bad Christian" and "immorality" is not another's, and they all claim the right to make that judgement. Pretty confusing for an outsider (or an insider who has actually looked at it). This is still the standard "get out of jail free card" since it is really a non-answer. Heddle claims to read the Bible and understand it, just the same way Fred Phelps does. Both claim they are right. How do we judge the veracity of their claims?

It also ignores the evidence that morality is an evolved trait.

Erm... read the second half of my post. :-/

SEF,

Yeah, I somehow managed to miss that. Sorry.

Can we put it down to being Friday night, gone 10pm here and the consumption of wine and vodka ? Oh, and the fact we are dealing with Heddle.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

In terms of whether atheists are less moral, you'll have to take that up with someone who argues that a belief in God makes someone more moral. I don't, and I don't think that that is what the bible teaches. I believe God provides all people with a moral compass, whether they believe in him or not. (Sometimes called common grace.) So you can argue with me that your morality doesn't come from God, but I'll say it does, which is unfalsifiable. Why I won't say is you are less moral because you don't believe in God. Thus I won't attempt to defend the position that belief in God makes someone more moral.

There are, in fact, many people who claim that atheists cannot be moral because they do not believe in god, and it is the whole purpose behind pointing out stories like this. And it is often these very same people who play the "No True Christian" card when examples of "immoral Christians" are pointed out. Yes, "No True Scotsman" is bandied about quite a bit, but it's only because it is engaged in so often by those who claim belief in a god leads to morality, or no belief in god leads to immorality.

You are perfectly free to say he doesn't behave as a Christian ought to and is therefore "No True Christian" in the context of following Christian teachings (for example, not killing your wife and stuffing her body in a freezer for four years). But that isn't the argument that is being made.

It is a common problem in these arguments:

Christian1: Christians believe X.
Atheist: The Christian belief X is false because of Y.
Christian2: Strawman! Christians don't believe X!

I call it "theological whack-a-mole".

I understand you do not claim that simply believing in god makes one more moral than someone who doesn't, but there are plenty who do and it is at that claim these examples, and the claims of "No True Scotsman", are directed. If you don't believe the claim that is being argued against, then the best I can say is, we aren't talking about you.

Either that or I've only managed to dispel enough of my natural SEP field to be half-visible - translating locally to only half a post, half my name etc being seen by the average reader. ;-)

10pm meaning that you're in the UK (or equivalent) too?

Well, first of all, believing in the Christian God, even *really* believing, does not make someone a Christian. That is demonstrable from the bible itself, which has counter examples. As for Anthony Hopkins, you are right, I cannot judge him, I don't know him. In fact, I'd go farther than you--not only cannot I not say, given what I know, that he is not a true Christian (with the caveat I attached to that phrase) I could not say he is a "bad Christian." He may be a better Christian than I. We have the lesson of the thief on the cross. It would all depend on his repentance.

Repentence as in asking for forgiveness and saying he will never kill another wife and freeze her?

but is applied to those who in some manner adopt a sinful lifestyle and continue, in spite of repeated attempts at reconciliation, to claim it is acceptable).

What exactly is a 'sinful' lifestyle? I don't recall Jesus saying anything about conditions. Everyoone 'sins' therefore everyone leads a 'sinful' lifestyle which by your own admission renders it impossible to tell who is a good Christian or a bad one.

He has been told time and time again by Christians that his behavior is abhorrent and unbiblical. This kind of persistent lack of repentance is what would get him excommunicated if he were not in his own, independent church. So it is his immorality that makes me regard him as a non-Christian, but it is not just his immorality.

BS. There are so many sects he would find a home in many without excommunication even the RCC. And his take on the bible is as well grounded as yours. You just disagree with his view. Your view justhappens to be socially acceptable in the USA in 2008. 300 years ago you likely would have agreed with him.

SEF,

Yeap, West Wales. A few miles East of Cardigan.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink
Maybe the police didn't want to be confronted with opponents from the congregation. Seems like a reasonable precaution to me.

Why? Because good Christians have no regard for the law, no respect or concern for the well-being of their local law enforcement officials? Especially while in church?

Interesting. :-)

Depending on what part of Alabama it is, the law enforcement may be mostly white, mostly black, or more evenly-mixed. I don't know who's on the force in this particular case, but given Alabama history, if the cops were white, I can definitely see a scenario where choosing not to look like Bull Connor--whether or not that perception is true--by going into a black church by force is the better part of wisdom.

I'd want to know more information before doing more than just venturing one possible scenario, though.

Yeah, I think PZ got this one wrong, for a simple reason: You want to do as little damage as possible to the pool of potential jurors. A big scene with guns and shouting and cameras and general chaos would have hurt that cause.

On moral grounds, yeah, I think you stop that sermon right there. But if you want a conviction, well, I think practical reasons demand that you back off a little.

It's the world we live in today.

I regret the decision by the police for a very specific reason. I believe that they gave religion a slip through the back door out of a situation where this complete hypocrisy could have been exposed right in front of the very followers of the faith, and during a moment of emotional commitment.Why wait until later when their dose of placebo "god love" has worn off to arrest this man? I say we should take advantage of moments where people have their attention fixed on something and they actually have respect for it. You know that these people don't listen to actual evidence, so outside arguments have 0 sway with them. But here is a situation where someone they respect and trust, in a moment of personal connection with this preacher (the main representative of god in their life), gets arrested for dismembering his wife and raping his children. Perhaps when you actually have their attention and emotional committment, when they actually believe what they are being told, they would actually see that this faith thing doesn't work. I understand that most of them would have still rationalized it somehow, but maybe there was one type of person sitting in that audience that would have decided to cut off the chains after seeing something like that.

What these police officers did is save the confrontation between this hypocritical preacher of dogma and the very followers he is deceiving. It's like feeling bad for a con artist and going out of your way to help him not have to confront the very people he just ripped off. And it's unjust for both parties involved. The preacher gets to be more comfortable not having to confront his followers. The followers miss out on an opportunity to see, during a moment of full emotional commitment, that the man who claims he has a connection to the all powerful and all mighty God of life and purity, the man who threatens them not to sin, is being arrested for dismembering his wife and raping his daughter. Perhaps that moment of realization and cognitive dissonance would have been strong enough to rescue some people out of the mind control. Maybe at least one would have snapped out of it to finally see his/her faith as the sinister and fraudulent system of oppression that it is.

# 306

I wonder if he knew what was coming?

He probably suspected it was coming. The molested daughter had run away two weeks earlier and it follows she'd soon give him up to the cops.

Another reason not to do a full frontal arrest with citizens around, he may have armed himself anticipating the inevitable.

Yeah, I think PZ got this one wrong, for a simple reason: You want to do as little damage as possible to the pool of potential jurors. A big scene with guns and shouting and cameras and general chaos would have hurt that cause.

On moral grounds, yeah, I think you stop that sermon right there. But if you want a conviction, well, I think practical reasons demand that you back off a little.

I think the question we need to answer is would the police still have waited if it wasn't a preacher in a church. If it was the mayor speaking in town hall, I don't know. If it was a comedian performing on stage, probably not.

Heathen Matt, #318,

Maybe I got you mixed up with the other Godbot trolls infesting this thread,

Gee, you think so?

Rev. Big DumbChimp,

Can you clarify what you mean by [treat as if they are not a Christian]. I've seen you say that a few times.

It doesn't have a lot of teeth. About the only overt action is that you would not offer that person communion. I have only seen it happen twice, and in both cases the person stopped coming to church long before the excommunication, so there were no ugly scenes of their demanding to participate. There would be some more nebulous results that fall under the general umbrella of Christian fellowship.

Tom Coward, #319,

No, you are misunderstanding me. You deny that this guy was a Christian because he murdered his wife and raped his step-daughter.

Where? Where did I deny that? Please point out where I denied that he was a Christian. I deny that Fred Phelps is a Christian--that I'll defend, but I never said that Hopkins was not. I don't know anything about him. What I said was, any argument to demonstrate that he (or Fred Phelps) was not a Christian was doomed to uselessness, because the No True Scotsman charge is argumentus interruptus.

So far, no one, most especially you, has done anything other than say: "Not our problem; He's not one of us!"

Especially me? I never said that, even once. I defy you to produce the comment number where I said "he is not one of us."

Matt Penfold, #323

I guess Heddle's claim to accept evolution is now shown to be false. You cannot claim that evolution happened, but morality comes from god and not nature, and be taken seriously if you want to claim you accept evolution.

Why, because you say so? Matt Penfold gets to decide who is a True Believer™ in Evolution? He gets to set the bar? Guess what--I call: NO TRUE SCOTSMAN!!

Thinking that we need to really have a theological understanding of Christianity to relegate it to the same delusional nonsense that we do with the other religions is like having to taste shit to understand that it's unpleasant.

By Helioprogenus (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Guy seduces the daughter

This is a disturbing way to put it....

I believe God provides all people with a moral compass, whether they believe in him or not.

That's why every time I walk past a powerful magnet I want to fucking KILL SOMETHING!!!

What I said was, any argument to demonstrate that he (or Fred Phelps) was not a Christian was doomed to uselessness, because the No True Scotsman charge is argumentus interruptus.

No, what you've done is said that the No True Scotsman charge doesn't apply because you don't believe the claim that is being argued against. As I've pointed out, others do, and it is those people the charge is leveled against.

Why, because you say so? Matt Penfold gets to decide who is a True Believer™ in Evolution? He gets to set the bar? Guess what--I call: NO TRUE SCOTSMAN!!

Unlike Christianity, there is a clearly defined set of standards that tells us what evolution says and does not say.

Heddle,

I see you are back to you usual dishonesty.

Earlier on you claimed morality was something given to us all by god. Scientists tell us morality is an evolved trait. Both statements cannot be true. You implicitly rejected the scientific evidence for the evolution of morality yet in the past you claimed that you accept the theory of evolution. Your true colour are showing, and it clear you are not as accepting of science as you would like people to think.

Why do you need to lie ?

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

#336

There would be some more nebulous results that fall under the general umbrella of Christian fellowship.

Did you have anything to do with that Heddle Telecope thing?

(Muddle)Heddle @ #336:

Heathen Matt, #318,

Maybe I got you mixed up with the other Godbot trolls infesting this thread,
Gee, you think so?

You're still a worthless, equivocating, hacktackular Jeebus-felching troll, and a piss-poor example for Christian behavior (not that I have any illusions about silly superstitious beliefs making anyone a better human being, anyway).

By Heathen Matt (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I will tell you nicely that even joking about prison rape is way out of line.

I wasn't actually joking about it. I think it's horrible, but an entirely probable and somewhat ironic turn of events.

By Mark B. from A… (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

About the only overt action is that you would not offer that person communion. I have only seen it happen twice, and in both cases the person stopped coming to church long before the excommunication, so there were no ugly scenes of their demanding to participate

Ahhh just like Jesus would do.

Just for the ake of discussion what had this person done to merit not getting communion and how was it a greater 'sin' than whatever everyone else did that week?

Did he freeze his wife?

Is Heddle not aware that a number of Christian denominations do not perform communion ? Or are members of those denominations not really Christians ?

Is he also unaware that the Church of England, which does perform communions has no criteria, and no procedures in place for excommunicating someone ?

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

# 344 Mark from Austin

apparently there is some kind of prohibition on talking about prison rape around here, but your suggestion that it is probable is quite accurate.

Child Molestors are the A number one target of prison rapes.

They get gang raped just on principle. In CA they keep all child molestors in seg units because of this. I believe TX is the same.

Don't know about Alabama.

Vlad #333 wrote:

I regret the decision by the police for a very specific reason. I believe that they gave religion a slip through the back door out of a situation where this complete hypocrisy could have been exposed right in front of the very followers of the faith, and during a moment of emotional commitment.Why wait until later when their dose of placebo "god love" has worn off to arrest this man? I say we should take advantage of moments where people have their attention fixed on something and they actually have respect for it.

Two points:
1.) Who is this "we?" We're talking here about the police. I really don't want the Law Enforcement branch of government deciding its arrest tactics on the basis of finding the best way to "snap people out" of religion. Separation of church and state, etc.

2.) I wouldn't make bets on how rational a decision will be when made in the heat of passion. Making an arrest at that moment could also have the opposite effect. Armed officers of the State storming up to a Man of God preaching forgiveness and abruptly leading him away in handcuffs when everyone is already caught up in religious enthusiasm could create an image and sense of outrage in the viewers which overrides whatever they later discover about the crime. It might be more effective for them to reflect quietly later on, and remember "why, he asked his children, right then, not to judge him -- when he knew and they knew he had killed their mother."

Baba: That's measurable, empirical proof that you're rational?

There is no such thing - empirical measurement presumes rationality. You can't just flatten things like that. You can have logic without empiricism (see all the apologetics), but you can't have empiricism without logic.

You can't measure logic --- it's not that kind of a concept.

This story reminds me of a recent arrest in Austria, where a man had been keeping his daughter in a dungeon under his house for a decade. He got her repeatedly pregnant, and adopted the children with his wife (who lived upstairs), and raised those children with the children through his wife.

He had claimed that his daughter had joined a cult and was leaving the babies at his doorstep to raise. No one batted an eyelash at that outlandish story --- no one ever reported the "strange noises" coming from his house --- the police just ignored the fact that the man had a rape conviction from the 60s.

It's a sick sick world where everyone just minds their own business. "Your wife left suddenly? Sure, I'll just keep on mowing my lawn and going to church."

Don't tell me there weren't endless signs of his behavior.

Didn't his wife have any relatives, acquaintenances, or friends? Generally in our society, when people disappear, there is always someone to file a missing person report with the police.

It's SOP for abusers to isolate their victims from all social contacts - friends and family - the better to control them. Absolutely standard. This man was clearly a major-league abuser who kept the family isolated (homeschooling FTW) and on the move, making any friendships unlikely to endure or develop in the first place. Gawd knows what if any family the poor woman had or how much if any contact she had with them over the years preceding her murder, either. Gaps of years between contact may have been absolutely expected.

Damn Matt - You got some stamina going there. Still at it with Heedle! I quit to bake peach & berry pies. It's almost sangria time though... *grin*

Jason #178

[Is that how Christians assume that we atheists get our morals? Cuz I get my morals from the frozen foods section like anyone else]

<>

Whoa ! Where's your wife ?

By Rolan le Gargéac (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

For reference, Heddle previously enlightened me with his Christianity 101 definition of a True Christian:

a "true Christian" is one who has been regenerated and is presentable to a holy God not by his own righteousness but by the righteousness of Christ.

I think rational discussion is somewhat elusive with someone holding such a view.

Maybe for a minority of Christians (those who seem to have a hatred for Atheists), their attachment to religion is like a recovering alcoholic's attachment to AA -- they (personally) need the rigid structure and the intensive support that system to keep their sicknesses in check. To this way of thinking, Atheism would be seen as a temptation to live immorally in the much the same way an Alcoholic might view household liquor as a temptation to drink excessively.

If so, then such folk probably do not realize that most of us - Christians, Agnostics, Atheists, et. al. - do not share their sickness, and thus do not need a nanny state to act as our moral guardians. Perhaps this explains why some prominent anti-gay, pro-Christian advocates (like Ted Haggard, Larry Craig, and Troy King) turn out to be closet homosexuals disgusted with themselves.

By R Hampton (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

tsg, #340

Unlike Christianity, there is a clearly defined set of standards that tells us what evolution says and does not say.

Really? So all TRUE BELIEVERS have affirmed these clearly defined standards, and there is no differences of opinion? Everyone has the same, standarized view of evolution? Now that's news to me! Verily, verily I say, that is amazing! Where is this set of standards? Is it available on-line? Or is it secret? And can you point me to the rule in those standards that states: And you must, under penalty of having your I Am A TRUE BELIEVER card revoked, affirm an evolutionary explanation for the development of human morality, even though there is as yet no hard, irrefutable proof thereof, because we are really, really, really sure it is correct.

Matt Penfold,

Scientists tell us morality is an evolved trait.

Yes some scientists "tell us" morality is an evolved trait. I am free not to believe that until it is proved experimentally. It has not been proved. Even Miller, the least theistic of the theistic evolutionists, calls (I heard him with my own ears) the evolutionary explanation for morality interesting but speculative. Is he not a TRUE BELIEVER? Some scientists "tell us" that there are multiple universes. I am also free not to believe that until experimentally verified. Or do I have to turn in my TRUE PHYSICIST card too?

#355 - StuV - Thank you for teasing this definition out from The Heddle. It's gonna hurt, but I'm going to put on my church lady hat and consider this.
(After a slice of peach pie!)

"Mr." "Heddle", "You" are "a" TRUE CRANK!

This means you are unfunny, unpleasant, and unworthy of more than disgusted dismissal on any subject, including today's weather. You have no place being allowed on this site, as you have nothing to say and provide no entertainment value.
In short, you are a dull, crazy shit posing as a human being. Go back to your thousands of vanity blogs.

Wipe off the spit. It shows. And fer goodness sake change your underwear more than once a month!

By Sioux Laris (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Why isn't that thing banned?

Holy shite! DUCK MATT!!!!!
His pressure valve is stuck, he's gonna blow!

Heddle #297

The declaration of "not a true Christian," in as much as we can make that determination (as described) comes only after evidence of a stubborn refusal to repent.

<

That may be true of your particular sect but what about all the other christian sects which beg to differ ?

By Rolan le Gargéac (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

GAH I was talking about baba. Thread going too fast

heddle,

Physicists still use Newtonian Physics even though it is not "true," but because it can - with a high degree of accuracy - describe and predict events in the observable universe.

So the point you wish to make is that Evolutionary theory, Genetic research and Psychological experimentation do not accurately describe nor predict moral behavior even on a rather rudimentary basis. Okay then - if that's your point, then you have much to dispute with current scientific knowledge and much you will need to provide explanation for.

Objectively viewed, your argument is very weak in comparison to the other. Good luck ... you'll need it.

By R Hampton (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Baba heap wrong name
Blabla heap better name

By Rolan le Gargéac (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Heddle #313

Well, first of all, believing in the Christian God, even *really* believing, does not make someone a Christian...He may be a better Christian than I. We have the lesson of the thief on the cross. It would all depend on his repentance.

Aaaaah, morality is totally irrelevant then ! I am savèd !

By Rolan le Gargéac (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

R. Hampton,

Physicists still use Newtonian Physics even though it is not "true," but because it can - with a high degree of accuracy - describe and predict events in the observable universe.

As an aside, I'm a practicing physicist who teaches physics at all levels at a university and works a national accelerator lab. I don't really need a Newtonian Physics lesson, but thanks for the help.

So the point you wish to make is that Evolutionary theory, Genetic research and Psychological experimentation do not accurately describe nor predict moral behavior even on a rather rudimentary basis. Okay then - if that's your point, then you have much to dispute with current scientific knowledge and much you will need to provide explanation for.

Yes, that is my point. I do not have much to dispute. Evidence for evolution is, to take a great example, the human chromosome fusing. There is absolutely no evidence (that I'm aware of, point me to it if I am wrong) that is anywhere near that caliber in the area of the development of human morality. As a hard scientist, evolutionary psychology is too "just so" for my tastes. But again, if there is hard evidence, point me to it.

The point is, there is not "standards for evolution." I am a theistic evolutionist, closer to Collins than to Miller. There is no such thing as a requirement that one accepts the evolutionary explanation for morality--it simply is speculative. Penfold overstated his case when said that you had to accept it to claim you believe in evolution--unless he is simply making a blanket statement that all theistic evolutionists are not true evolutionists. That's fine--I don't need his stamp of approval, but it was fun turning the No True Scotsman Charge back on him.

Patricia, #358

I actually would have liked to have a serious discussion with you, but you never tried.

Rolan le Gargéac, #362

That may be true of your particular sect but what about all the other christian sects which beg to differ ?

Well then they are free to consider, say, Fred Phelps a Christian in good standing, and welcome him to their church. Although somehow I doubt there will be many takers.

NanuNanu - Yep, it's past baba's bedtime.

heddle,

How is human morality different from any other biological process? I presume you do not believe in magic, which means you accept that morality resides within the brain, like self-awareness or depth-perception. Furthermore, I presume that you are aware that certain injuries and diseases of the brain have been clinically proven to alter the moral states of individuals.

If I'm correct, then what non-evolutionary process do you use to explain the nature of morality?

By R Hampton (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

# 357

Yes some scientists "tell us" morality is an evolved trait. I am free not to believe that until it is proved experimentally.

We were able to evolve morality in fruit flies over several hundred generations in the Laboratory here at Hannon University.

It was a system of reward using cornsyrup as positive reinforcement for collective behaviors.

Unfortunately it was too successful and a Lab Technician was seriously injured.

Once they achieved morality, they became self aware, then totally insufferable and self righteous so we persecuted them and then fed them to the lab ferrets.

We don't have any lions

This whole True Christian(TM) discussion is giving me a headache. I'll be using Occam's razor on this one, so anyone who claims to be a Christian is a True Christian(TM), and anybody who is a priest/father/pastor is automatically a True Christian(TM). If Mr. Heddle can send me plans to his meter so that I can tell if the imaginary god has received the appropriate repentance for a given subject I might believe him. Other wise, to paraphrase Don Imus, "Heddle is a weasel". If Mr. Heddle is ashamed to be associated with people who commit murder, rape and incest, he need to keep in mind that one leading indicators of person likely to commit incest is a man with fundamentalist religious leanings, particularly one with strong patriarchal leanings.
Mr. Heddle, Anthony Hopkins is one yours and any attempt to say otherwise gives a real indication of the state of your soul.

By Nerd of Redhead (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Heddle #367

Well then they are free to consider, say, Fred Phelps a Christian in good standing, and welcome him to their church. Although somehow I doubt there will be many takers.

Not a true christian then ?

By Rolan le Gargéac (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

R Hampton, #369

How is human morality different from any other biological process? I presume you do not believe in magic, which means you accept that morality resides within the brain, like self-awareness or depth-perception. Furthermore, I presume that you are aware that certain injuries and diseases of the brain have been clinically proven to alter the moral states of individuals.
If I'm correct, then what non-evolutionary process do you use to explain the nature of morality?

Actually I do believe magic, if you mean the supernatural. There is hardly any sense in being a theist if you don't believe in the supernatural. So I believe, for example, in the virgin birth and the resurrection.

But as for head injuries, nothing I believe regarding God or God's moral compass precludes the possibility that head injuries alter behavior. In fact, if I didn't believe in evolution at all, if I were a YEC, I could still claim that, of course, head injuries can alter behavior.

I don't know anything at all about the nature of morality. As for its source, I have already stated I believe it is God--not a belief in God, but God.

Nerd of Redhead, #371,

Mr. Heddle, Anthony Hopkins is one yours and any attempt to say otherwise gives a real indication of the state of your soul.

Um, for the Nth time, I didn't say otherwise. Although I will say that your post is particularly brain dead.

scooter #370

Once they achieved morality, they became self aware, then totally insufferable and self righteous so we persecuted them ...

Mwahahahahahahahahahahahaaha, isn't this Once they achieved morality, they became self aware the prime Atheist Dictate ?

By Rolan le Gargéac (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I don't know anything at all about the nature of morality. As for its source, I have already stated I believe it is God

So there was something wrong with Hopkins' God?

The suspect is innocent until proven guilty, but the police want to make the front page.

...

And, oh, by the way Ubi Dubious... did you forget the part where they found her body in the guy's friggin freezer???

Missing the point rather widely. What we have is a daughter claiming that her father killed her mother and that she helped him stuff the woman into a freezer. Regardless of likelihood, there are numerous ways in which it may not have happened exactly the way the daughter says.

Beyond that, regardless of what we may think of religious sermons, especially those given by suspected murderers, the police would do well to tread lightly in disrupting a service, given the 1st amendment and all.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Mr. Heddle, do you have the drawings for the instrument to determine who has been properly repentant to your imaginary god or not, and are you willing to post them for us? Otherwise, you have been very ignorant all day. We require proper evidence. Either show us the proof via the instrument, or shut the fuck up. Otherwise, you bear false witness, and will need to do proper obeisance to your imaginary good to get back into his good graces. You will need to show us proper repentance via the machine before we believe you.
Good bye.

By Nerd of Redhead (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

I don't know anything at all about the nature of morality. As for its source, I have already stated I believe it is God--not a belief in God, but God.

That isn't even close to coherent. But hey, it's magic, so I suppose it doesn't have to be.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

the prime Atheist Dictate ?

Here at Hannon University we try to avoid dialectic interpretations. We're lean toward phenomenological abstracts and and manipulating statistical data.

We're also big on judge-mentalism.

We don't have much of a budget, so we have to get straight to the projected results of our studies and not muck about endlessly with experimental methodolgy, or scientific dogma, as we call it.

heddle,

You failed to directly answer my question, so I'm left with two possiblities as to your explanation of morality.

1) Morality is a supernatural. [[ But we know this to be false, since we can directly and indirectly measure and influence morality. ]]

2) Morality is a natural biological process of the brain, but God divinely engineered and inserted this part of the brain by magical (supernatural) means into our genetic code. [[ In which case I presume your evidentiary stand is the same one used by IDers - too complex to have arisen by evolution. ]]

As a physicist, you must acknowledge that arguments of like this will never measure up to the standards of Science. Even the "god" particle needs to be validated with physical detectors.

On a related note, do you think miracles can be "detected"? Had modern science and technology existed two millenium ago, what could an objective scientist have measured in regards to the Virgin Birth (the fathers DNA or no DNA at all?) or the resurrected Christ (a physical body or an apparition of light?)

By R Hampton (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

In short, you are a dull, crazy shit posing as a human being. Go back to your thousands of vanity blogs.

Oh, for crying out loud. Disagree with his theology and philosophy as much as you want, but heddle conducts himself well -- and in the face of this sort of provocation. He's a likable person, and he addresses issues and makes arguments addressed to point. This sort of thing is uncalled for.

Knock it off. Go find Baba. Sheesh.

Chimp and Steve_C:

The historicity of Klebold and Harris is just a little more certain than that of the murder of the slave overseer by Joseph, and Lot's incest. Not so incidentally, the killings at Columbine took place far more recently, though I daresay the point is lost on you two--and on Myers.

By Dav Laurel (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Are you saying the bible is flawed? That it is not historically true? I would agree.

And what does that have to so with the Columbine murders.

Nothing.

That's quite the thin thread you're hanging from there. Harris' psychopathic anti-social mental issues and Klebold's need to be a follower and feeling as an outcast were the reasons for their crimes. Atheism had exactly zero to do with it.

So you are correct.

The historicity of Klebold and Harris is just a little more certain than that of the murder of the slave overseer by Joseph, and Lot's incest.

Unfortunately for you, not in the way you think and it doesn't bolster your point even a little. In fact it is damning.

He's a likable person

I've never found him to be.

and he addresses issues and makes arguments addressed to point

Sometimes. He also avoids issues and offers non sequiturs.

This sort of thing is uncalled for.

Who appointed you as Heddle's protector and the arbiter of appropriate response?

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

P.S.

he addresses issues and makes arguments addressed to point.

This is ironic when Heddle made a big point here of complaining that people dismiss No True Scotsman fallacies in re Christianity by wielding the "blunt instrument" of pointing out that they're No True Scotsman fallacies.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

truth machine,OM:

Ah -- but you know that both you and I have seen much, much worse.

Sastra: congratutions on your fine example of what I call the "He's not Hitler!" fallacy of irrelevance.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Insert "la" sylbles as required.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

DO YOU THINK:
Maybe his daughter moved out after he showed her his huge stash of stolen boxes of blessed communion wafers and told her she was to make shake and bake for dinner.

@ Heddle:

So you can argue with me that your morality doesn't come from God, but I'll say it does, which is unfalsifiable.

Replace "God" with "an intergalactic council of spiritually ascended space baboons" and this statement remains just as unfalsifiable. Unfalsifiability in no way equates with plausibility. Produce some evidence for your absurd claims, or go crawl back into your Bronze Age delusions and let the reality-dwellers talk.

By irukandji (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Not "He's not Hitler," but more like "He's not Baba." I wasn't passing judgment on either the validity or even the quality of heddle's apologetics there. But he doesn't just preach or repeat mindless insults: he pays attention to what's being discussed, and tries to specifically address the issue at hand. Or explain that he's not going to. He's also usually courteous -- which isn't necessary, of course.

As for whether heddle is likable, it's pointless to argue over taste. For what it's worth, I told Glen D. I thought Robert O'Brien was kinda cute -- so I have lousy taste.

@JBlilie, re: homeschooling
Please do some more research. I would implore you to do so, but I think it might fall quietly upon your ears. You've no idea what you are speaking of, about homeschooling, if you are insisting that more regulation is what's needed to prevent this sort of thing from happening. I would gather the stats for abuse occurring in public schools would shock you just as much, if not more.

However, I won't turn PZ's blog into a homeschool fight fest. I'll simple say, @ alandria, thank you. You beat me to it. I find it sad that the article had to focus on them being homeschoolers and tried to lay the blame of these kid's unfortunate abuse. It would have occurred just the same, whether they were at home or at a school. I can attest to this one.

~~Toni
A Homeschooling Mom who is flabbergasted at the assumptions some people take, and the large leaps in logic that occur, when things like this happen. :(

By ElectricBarbarella (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Heh. My reply to truth machine was held up, and still hasn't come out. It was probably because I used the words R*b*rt O'Br**n.

what's the problem here?... just take a little taste of (+)... it'll all be O.K.

Not "He's not Hitler," but more like "He's not Baba."

Pointing to lesser villains doesn't make the response any more relevant. And the lesser they are, the less accurate your "much, much worse".

But [blah blah blah]

As I already said, sometimes. I tend to agree with Matt Penfold@251.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

Does anyone know of a killfile script that works with Opera? There are a handful of annoying droolers I'd rather not waste any time with. Opera suits me for most things, so I'm resisting switching.

eh. just move to firefox. it's snappy. and greasemonkey works like a charm.

a "true Christian" is one who has been regenerated and is presentable to a holy God not by his own righteousness but by the righteousness of Christ.

Time Lords are True Christians?

By Wowbagger (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

What I find disturbing about the whole story...

What I find disturbing about this whole post is this: a woman is murdered, etc, and what disturbs PZ is how the cops made the arrest! Hopefully he's also bothered a tiny bit by what happened to the women.

Let's not be too harsh on the cops - all they knew was that a body was in the freezer and his daughter said he did it. For all they knew, it went down in an entirely different way.

It's not like the cops shuffled him off to another church so he could have access to more altar boys.

Well there we go.

Heddle has finally come out. I always doubted that he fully accepted evolution and it would seem I have been proven right.

I wonder if he has exploded yet.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 01 Aug 2008 #permalink

There is absolutely no evidence (that I'm aware of, point me to it if I am wrong) that is anywhere near that caliber in the area of the development of human morality.

I've already pointed you at some of it (#321) and been ignored (as per usual - and also perhaps for being too dangerously right). Some more:

1. Human babies are not born with any god-given morality (so anti-abortionists can definitely forget about conception being the marker). They have to acquire basic intrinsic morality through natural mental development and then specific local morality through nurture (environmental feedback). This is all easily observed, repeatedly demonstrable and very well documented.

2. Some humans are born with a mental defect which precludes them having natural morality. They are called psychopaths or sociopaths. Some humans receive brain injuries later in life which result in much the same effect. No sign of an inerrant god there and every sign of it being natural.

3. Human morality is very similar to that of other animals to which they are most closely related (by evolution, which you have already acknowledged you accept) - viz primates. See primatology research for more details. However, not only do various primate groups have moral structures but they can even raise cross-species adoptees into accepting and passing on the morality. No sign of a god there. Every sign of basic evolutionary functionality being tuned by the environment.

4. Go back and read (and comprehend and fully take on board) my example of #321 of other social animals who aren't closely related to humans at all also evolving co-operative morality as a selective advantage, viz wasps. Contrast it with non-social animals who lack morality. Consider the lower level situation of cells in organisms also gaining advantage by co-operation and "morality" (eg apoptosis and other acts of cell-suicide for the common good vs "immoral" cancer cells) vs loner cells which don't do these things.

I think we need a new term for the likes of Heddle.

He clearly is not a typical creationist, in that he accepts some evolution happens. However it is now clear he also rejects some aspects of evolution that do not accord with his religious beliefs.

How about calling him a pick & mix creationist ?

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

It's pretty common for theistic evolutionists to hold back on the evolutionary development of morality, or, at least, on gradual evolution of the higher type of "internal conscience" which separates humans from other animals. Depending on how it's defined, this inner conscience can look a lot like their "God-shaped hole" in the human heart. Calvinists (and other sects of Christians and non-christians) often posit a special sort of ability to connect with/know God anyway. It's the Extra-Sensory Perception Sense that atheists ignore.

One of the things that's always bothered me about this type of argument is that it seems to too closely resemble a really weird apologetic I got from some Jehovah's Witnesses once.

One of them said that miracles were proof of God. When I pointed out that miracles had not yet been confirmed by scientific research or common experience, I was surprised when I was told that was not true. Miracles HAD been confirmed and accepted into the scientific mainstream. We all knew about them. I asked for an example of a miracle commonly experienced today. I expected her to bring up some faith healing or other anecdote.

Instead, she said "The birth of a baby!!!"

It didn't have the awwwww effect she obviously assumed it should have. "Human reproduction requires supernatural intervention??" "Yes!"

What about the birth of babies with life-ending defects? (yes) What about ape reproduction? (?) Does that defy all natural probability? The birth of kittens and puppies? (yes) Wasp reproductive cycles? (no)

If it was "cute," it was a miracle. She thought. But our own babies -- definitely.

It's probably not entirely fair, but every time I read some theistic evolutionist claim that HUMAN conscience requires God direct -- though other species can muddle by on nature set in motion by God -- I hear the words "The birth of a BABY!!!"

That's clearly because babies are a subset of pygmies and dwarfs. ;-)

Toldja that arguing with Heddle was a waste of time. He can do this kind of shit all day long and you won't catch him with an obvious "gotcha." He insists on believing that humans evolved as organisms but then were endowed by a god with souls and morality. He is not alone in this take; the view is shared not only by Francis Collins and Ken Miller but was also the gist of the previous Peripatetic Pontiff's well-known Message or Encyclical or Uttering or whatever on the subject, and traces back to Alfred Russell Wallace.
It's the last refuge of a religious scientist, and I doubt there's any way to budge 'em.

By Sven DiMilo (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

"Human reproduction requires supernatural intervention??" "Yes!" What about the birth of babies with life-ending defects? (yes) What about ape reproduction? (?) Does that defy all natural probability? The birth of kittens and puppies? (yes) Wasp reproductive cycles? (no)

What's different about wasp reproduction than mammalian reproduction? Wasps manage to fit everything the average mammal does into a much smaller package, plus wasps can fly (bats being the only mammals sharing this trait).

What's different about wasp reproduction than mammalian reproduction? Wasps manage to fit everything the average mammal does into a much smaller package, plus wasps can fly (bats being the only mammals sharing this trait).

Now JoJo don't you know that bats and birds are of the same Kind? How could they be like mammals?

"pick & mix creationist"

I want to start calling him trail mix.
It's not too insulting and it's fun.

This is truly a horrible situation. And how the cops waited until he finished his sermon - why? It's like a Stephen King novel - now wait, worse. Praise God.

#409

Or meusli, full of fruit, nuts and flakes.

Sorry 'muesli', needs muh coffee!

I like pick & mix.
It's a bit like hit & miss.

Chimp:

Among those Klebold and Harris specifically targetted were students of faith. You appear to miss the point: that it makes no more sense to call them typical atheists than it does to point to Hopkins' crimes as "just ordinary events in the Abrahamic family tree".

By Dav Laurel (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

For all the police knew, this guy was some kind of a paranoid cult leader. He might have had a dozen armed people in the congregation charged with "protecting" him from the minions of Satan.

When the feds went after David Koresh, they chose to storm his compound, instead of snagging him while he was out jogging. Which he did every morning.

FWIW:

heddle has a blog, "He Lives," in which he describes himself as an associate professor of physics at Christopher Newport University and a member (but not an elder) of Grace Baptist Chapel.

From his proposed outline for a Sunday School series on the tension between science and faith:
4. The Genesis Days
a. What does yom mean?
b. Can we literally take this literally?
c. Rabbit Trail: the Tree of Life.
. . . . .
6. Intelligent Design
a. Good: Intelligent Design as an apologetic.
b. Bad: The Intelligent Design Movement and the culture wars.
c. Ugly: The poor witness and the proclamation of victimhood.
. . . . .
8. Who can be a Christian? Is theistic evolution incompatible with Christianity?
a. Remember, we are Protestants.
b. Remember, we are Calvinists.
c. Think of the Children!

Please, if you find yourself on his blog, show him the same respect and courtesy he shown us.

By R Hampton (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

R Hampton,

Please, if you find yourself on his blog, show him the same respect and courtesy he shown us.

Which would be: If you want to have a reasoned discussion, that would be great. If you just want to upchuck simpleminded insults, don't expect me to take you seriously.

Awwwe, I kinda like heddle...after all, the only thing wrong with baptists is they don't hold'em under long enough.

By queenofdenyl (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

#397, Steve_C
Firefox is compatible with more web sites and has better add-ons than Opera, but it doesn't integrate email and notes, and the current version does not allow mouse motions, which to me are huge advantages for Opera. For now I'll have to put up with heddle's obscurantism and baba's fuckwittery.

PZ, you even when I think you are wrong I have never thought that you would say something so bone-headily stupid. There are a lot of dead people in who knows how many incidents because police acted in a way you just suggested.

Never go barging in unless events require it. It is always best to arrest the suspect without making a scene and in a situation where the police are in control and the suspect is catch by surprise. The man is suspected of being a murder. If he had a gun and police stormed in, people could have died. Heck how would the crowd have reacted? Even for a completely secular crowd that is a horrible risk. It could start a riot, panic, or make someone die of a heart attack. And this is assuming that everyone in the crowd is innocent. If that assumption is even the slightest bit off then things could get very ugly, very fast.

One may fool man but one cannot fool God , on judgement day he will have to pay for what he has done. We live , at the most 80 -90 years on earth on average but in the after life, it is for eternity, imagine eternal punishment !.

By Mat jusoh (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

Mat jusoh,

Even Hitler could be warmly embraced by God _IF_ he had honestly turned to God before his death.

Now a lot of Christians accept this - at least in principle - to be doctrinal Truth because they are taught that Salvation is granted to all who accept Jesus as their Lord & Savior and who ask for forgiveness. However, it seems that a lot of Christians want murderers, rapists, etc. to burn in hell. They find solace - even pleasure - at the thought. And there you have a contradiction of faith.

Ask the average Christian if (hypothetically) they could accept a God who would allow into heaven the man who raped and murdered their child and you will soon discover how few are truly Christian.

By R Hampton (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

Late to the fray... stupid work schedule!

He does seem to be a dim bulb in making no effort in four years to get rid of her corpse.

But... Hopkins was praying every day!

By Longtime Lurker (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

One may fool man but one cannot fool God , on judgement day he will have to pay for what he has done. We live , at the most 80 -90 years on earth on average but in the after life, it is for eternity, imagine eternal punishment !.

Cretin.

By truth machine, OM (not verified) on 02 Aug 2008 #permalink

Cretin.

Indeed. Faced with the blatant evidence that such beliefs and imaginings don't really stop anyone much who's already that way inclined (and typically their religious faith has some pre-packaged get-out-of-jail-free schticks anyway), he still regards it as a killer argument. It also doesn't seem to occur to him that some of us aren't sadists like him and wouldn't get the same kick out of his vile imaginings as he does even if we did believe in his evil god existing.

Did the police arrest Anthony Hopkins at the pulpit, or was he arrested outside of the view of the congregation? If the arrest occurred in view of the congregation, I would say the police were respecting the sermon rather than being concerned for the safety of the police and the congregation.

Ask the average Christian if (hypothetically) they could accept a God who would allow into heaven the man who raped and murdered their child and you will soon discover how few are truly Christian.

Posted by: R Hampton | August 3, 2008 2:54 AM

====

The prerequisit condition is that the person must have genuinely repented before God and this only the person and God can know and now one else .

Jesus has revealed God's Mercy through Sister Faustina of the Divine Mercy Prayers.

By Mat jusoh (not verified) on 03 Aug 2008 #permalink

Mat jusoh,
Do shut up you tedious godbot. No-one's interested, you're just stroking your own ego.

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 03 Aug 2008 #permalink

The prerequisit condition is that the person must have genuinely repented before God and this only the person and God can know and now one else .

Jesus has revealed God's Mercy through Sister Faustina of the Divine Mercy Prayers.

Hallucinatory Visions of a Polish Nun are not really very supportive of anything other than that people will believe anything.

"The prerequisit condition is that the person must have genuinely repented before God and this only the person and God can know and now one else ."

And there's the get out of hell free card. It doesn't matter if you raped, killed, and then ate 365 babies a year, so long as you were genuinely sorry, then you get to go to paradise and not be tortured forever and ever and ever (nevermind that infinite time in the afterlife maes this time on Earth a meaningless speck in duration). Of course, the unbeliever who has helped thousands with no thought of any reward will, by virtue of their unbelief, be tortured forever.

Tell me again how Christians believe in "justice". That's a really twisted version of justice by all measures.

If the cops knew this sick fuck would be at his church at a certain time, why didn't they arrest him before the service began? That's the real problem with this whole thing, you know, not upsetting the godbots indulgence of their guaranteed weekly fix.

Guy seduces the daughter (actually, two of the daughters aren't his. Is this one of the ones that he isn't actually the father of? Still pretty reprehensible, but now it's statutory rape, not incest as such)

IANAL, but from what I understand, sexual relations between a stepparent and a stepchild is considered incest in the laws of most US states and foreign nations (enforcement, of course, is another matter). Nearly every nation in the world outlaws it. Confirmation of it is in the rarity of places which permit stepparent and stepchild to marry. Go ahead. Find a country or state that permits it. I think there are one or two, at most. If that. It's just about impossible for a stepparent and stepchild to marry. The reason given is that it violates laws about incest.

The gray area is when a man and woman live together without being married, and one of them has sexual relations with a child who is not his or her own. Some places call it incest; some call it rape/statutory rape.

Steve Dimilo said "Pretty much pointless to engage with Heddle. Actually, I have to admit to a grudging respect for the guy. He's not your ordinary christobot troll. He's a physicist, intelligent and often reasonable, has a sense of humor sometimes, hates the Intelligent Design bullshit, and--most importantly--he's a Steelers fan and an Iron City drinker.
How he manages to remain certain of his Calvinist theology is beyond me, but it's not that he hasn't thought it through--I don't ever recall him contradicting himself, and he's been around a while (on this and other forums). "

Heddle has contradicted himself rather dishonestly. In one thread he claimed the biblical story of the woman caught in adultery proved the old testament was no longer in effect. In a later thread he agreed that the story of the woman caught in adultery was not originally part of the bible and that it doesn't belong there. Heddle peddles such twisted tripe he can't keep his lies straight.

Sastra said "Disagree with his theology and philosophy as much as you want, but heddle conducts himself well -he doesn't just preach or repeat mindless insults: he pays attention to what's being discussed, and tries to specifically address the issue at hand. Or explain that he's not going to. He's also usually courteous -- which isn't necessary, of course."

Yeah, right, Sastra. Like on this thread where he refered to another polite commentor as a "blithering Jackass" or where he told another that their post was "particularly brain dead.". Heddle is far from courteous or conducting himself well, although I'd agree that that is true of many pharyngulites.

R. Hampton said "Please, if you find yourself on his blog, show him the same respect and courtesy he shown us".

You're as willfully blind as Sastra. Heddle is frequently disrespectful to people who've been polite to him frequently discourteous.

Heddle said "[The murdering child raping preacher] may be a better Christian than I. We have the lesson of the thief on the cross. It would all depend on his repentance.".

And hence the moral bankrupcy of your religion and idiocy of your defense of it. Only a perverted philosophy can rationalize that a child raping muderer can be a better person than someone who's not.". According to your sick philosophy as long as Hitler imagined he apologized to the Jesus character he deserves a lifetime in paradise and someone who finds the Jesus story unbelievable but selflessly helps thousand deserves an eternity of torture.

Heddle is a sick pervert and no one should respect anyone with his disgusting philosophy.

By Priya Lynn (not verified) on 04 Aug 2008 #permalink

Because he had the attention of a large audience. Fundamentally, the delay is out of consideration of them, not him. An immediate arrest might have upset them, or even started a riot.

He wasn't going anywhere, so much wiser and safer to wait. It had been 4 years since the crime. What's the harm in waiting an additional half hour to make a calm and orderly arrest?