Religion is a Ethical Double Edged Sword

Religion is a Ethical Double Edged Sword

Religion is a double edged sword
Religion is a double edged sword

Faith-based prison programs: New study suggests religion may help criminals justify their crimes.

A new study in the academic journal Theoretical Criminology (hat tip to the Vancouver Sun) suggests that, far from causing offenders to repent of their sins, religious instruction might actually encourage crime. The authors surveyed 48 “hardcore street offenders” in and around Atlanta, in hopes of determining what effect, if any, religion has on their behavior. While the vast majority of those surveyed (45 out of 48 people) claimed to be religious, the authors found that the interviewees “seemed to go out of their way to reconcile their belief in God with their serious predatory offending. They frequently employed elaborate and creative rationalizations in the process and actively exploit religious doctrine to justify their crimes.”

First of all, many interviewees had only a vague notion of the central tenets of their faiths. Take, for example, an 18-year-old robber whose “street name” was Que:

Que: I believe in God and the Bible and stuff. I believe in Christmas, and uh, you know the commitments and what not.

Int: You mean the Commandments?

Que: Yeah that. I believe in that.

Int: Can you name any of them?

Que: Ahhh … well, I don’t know … like don’t steal, and uh, don’t cheat and shit like that. Uhmm … I can’t remember the rest.

Faith-based prison programs: New study suggests religion may help criminals justify their crimes.

Religion has not been a consistent force for morality. Savage wars, greed, theft and torture have all been favored by Christianity at various points in history. Other religions have similar checkered pasts. It is not surprising that prison preaching is not having the quite the effect expected.

It doesn’t help that the Bible is a complex work whose division into single verses complicates understanding. (I promise you that if you read the bible organized as paragraphs and books not verses, you will find that it is a much more consistent and eloquent document than when it is organized into brief comments – that get tossed like missiles by varying denominations and zealots of all stripes.)

It might do well to conduct studies to find out what religious systems are most effective in curbing recidivism.

I doubt that will happen. The results could be very dangerous. After all, what would people say if the Muslim Brotherhood was most effective in curbing later crime.

James Pilant


From around the web –

From the web site, Thoughtful Faith:

The United States keeps no official statistics on religious beliefs of inmates. The claim that atheists were under-represented in prisions was seemingly started, by Rod Swift, who wrote it on his website, and publicized the claim through the internet and sceptical magazines. He claims that he received an email from an employee of the Federal Bureau of Prisons, Denise Golumbaski. According to this email, 0.2% of those surveyed specifically answered they were “atheist” and 19.8% give no answer. This compares with 0.5% of the US population at the time who identified as atheist, and 4 to 6% (according to Gallop) who gave no answer.

From the web site, The Penal System: (This is an interview with Pete Brook – it’s fascinating – you should read it!)

People have to care about each other. It’s just really bizarre in a country that has professed Christian ideals that when it comes to the prison system people don’t seem to love their neighbour, they seem to hate their neighbour. They seem to have an incredible amount of indifference towards the fortune of their neighbour. I mean I’m not a religious person I’m not saying that you should let these people out because of Christian ideals. It makes it easy when I’m chatting to my parents because they’re catholic and I’m like Jesus is all about visiting people in prison and stuff. But it’s a very easy line of argument to use when you’re dealing with conservatives. You should care because that’s what you talk about elsewhere.

And from the web site, Prison Uncensored:

Our conservative government has also taken away funding for religious groups other than Christians in an effort to save money. Before the government looks at saving nickels and dimes in the prison system perhaps they should look at how much money is wasted by other government departments, maybe our Defense Minister could not waste billions of taxpayer dollars.


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Aung San Suu Kyi. The Reith Lectures. (via magsmuse)

I’m going to take a side here and it’s not with the government of Burma.

James Pilant

Aung San Suu Kyi.  The Reith Lectures. SECURING FREEDOM/LIBERTY I believe that if you really want or need to say something, then you really should  have the freedom to gently clearly and directly speak that Truth.  A soul should not be denied. God will forever inspire us to articulate and seek the Truth.    It is an injustice to be wrongly convicted or under house arrest, spiritually or physically.  To communicate yourself, directly is so important, for through another you can never b … Read More

via magsmuse

Access Ministries: Dissent Is Prohibited (via grey lining)

This is from Australia. In that country, religious groups are given time to teach their views in school. Get a good read. This is what schools in the United States could look like if religion is allowed entry.

James Pilant

Access Ministries: Dissent Is Prohibited The antics of Access Ministries alternate between comedic and genuinely disturbing – and the degree to which they appear to have permeated all levels of government and public service, both state and federal, is something that requires some serious scrutiny. The relentlessness of the disinformation and misguided, railroaded policy not representative of community requirements does not happen by itself. There are serious resources at work amongst pr … Read More

via grey lining

Why I do not believe in busiess ethics? (via Abqur)


We can expect companies to do other than exist to make profit.

There is no religion and no moral philosophy with Milton Friedman’s dicta that corporations exist only to maximize profit anymore than we exist to maximize our bank account or our stock portfolio.

We can expect companies to act morally, to act against monetary self interest and, yes, to give up competitiveness to do what is right.

I do believe in business ethics.

James Pilant

The issue of business ethics has been a much discussed issue in the business world, and the term “socially responsable” has been very much a prize that many firms seek to achieve under the expectation that it will increase sales, though most cases showed that they do not necessarily lead to this result. In my opinion its pointless and it should not be a company’s goal to be socially responsible. Its not that I want companies to run rampant and di … Read More

via Abqur

Terry Jones Needs to be Committed (via Off the Top o’ My Head)

I don’t know if Terry Jones is insane or not. I don’t know if he should be committed for a long period of time. However, I do know that his conduct merits temporary custody and a mental exam by a professional. There certainly seems to me enough evidence of deviate behavior to merit such custody.

Even if he were found sane, the fact that he was examined would convey to the Muslim world how strange we find his behavior.

People in other nations find our willingness to allow virtually anyone to have their own church to be bizarre and a good number believe Christianity is a top-down organization with some kind of control. Churches in the United States cover the spectrum from the sublime to the bizarre. People in nations with more unified religions do not get this.

I’ve never been anywhere but the United States and sometimes, I find it bizarre. “That’s a church!,” I’ll think to myself while watching people handle snakes or preach that the bible is a self help handbook on how to get rich. How much more do the adherents of Islam find behavior here odd?

Let’s do something about Terry Jones.

James Pilant

Please read the post from Off the Top o’ My Head. He is more eloquent than I.

Terry Jones is coming to Dearborn, Michigan to celebrate Adolph Hitler’s Birthday on April 22, 2011, but his mental instability is indicated by the fact that he is two days off. Hitler was born on April 20, 1869. Jones plans to demonstrate against Islam and is hoping for a large turnout of like-minded religious nutcases. Just as Timothy McVeigh hoped to incite racial conflict and blew up the Murrah Federal Building as a means to that end, Jones w … Read More

via Off the Top o My Head

A Threat To Religious Liberty for Some is a Threat To All (via Confessions of a Small Church Pastor)

I have said on this blog a number of times that I consider those Americans who practice the religion of Islam to be as much patriots as any other religious group in American.

Thus, it is not surprising that I like this article.

James Pilant

A Threat To Religious Liberty for Some is a Threat To All Religious liberty is at risk in the United States today.   Rep. Peter King (R-NY), chair of the House Homeland Security Committee will hold a hearing on Thursday to explore the issue of the radicalization of Muslims here in the United States.  While this might appear to be a legitimate national security concern, Rep. King’s history and previous statements raise serious questions about his intent. Civil rights groups, religious leaders, and other … Read More

via Confessions of a Small Church Pastor