Are known atheists more likely to be convicted of violent crimes?

This question came to me after watching a forensics show recently. This lady in Atlanta had been killed and the DA had a pretty strong case against her husband. One of the husband's good friends (whom he owed money to) was also killed. The husband said the friend had came into his house (thinking it empty) to rob him for the debt and surprised the wife, so he killed her, then husband came in and killed friend in self defense. Both men were bookies, by the way.

One of the things introduced in the trial by the prosecution was the idea that the couple was having big problems, including their difference of religion. She was a Christian with "very strong feelings" about her spirituality. He was atheist. Again, the prosecution already had a good case without this tidbit.

What stood out to me was the jury deliberation time. They came back with a guilty in 45 minutes. That's awful damn fast. Do you think the jury just thought "sure he's guilty because atheists have no morals"? Seemed like it was at least a contributing factor.

So, if one of us was on trial for murder or some other violent crime, do you think it would sway a jury to "guilty" due to our lack of religion?

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God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exi...

If god exists, as conventionally presented in the Judeo-Christian and Islamic traditions, there would be evidence of such an existence other than stories, legends, myths, fairy tales, and nursery rhymes. Stenger, a particle physicist, philosopher, author, and religious skeptic, he stated,  "Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings".

I read that book, and recommend it!

Among Dr. Stenger's many arguments, he posits that a god that cares about humans' well-being and doesn't hide from sincere seekers would at least give some worthwhile moral guidance to adherents of some true religion, or at least to their leaders. Ain't happening.

Being an atheist is so unrelated to one's potential for violence and criminal behavior. People force that connection based on the records of infamous atheists like Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot. Of course they is an enormous historical record of religious figures committing atrocities as well, and atheists who exemplify virtuosity, and religionists who exemplify virtuosity. This quote sums it up perfectly:

"There will always be good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."

Steven Weinberg, Nobel prize-winning physicist

All evidence suggests exactly the opposite. I think only 2% in prisons identify as "non-religious" or "atheist."

James, it's actually much smaller.  0.07% of atheists in prison, according to the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

Thanks, Pat.

But I heard somewhere that it's rewarding for a prisoner to ´find jeebus´: it gets you more privileges and earlier release. So that could influence the statistics.

Charles Colson, of Nixon-era Watergate infamy, found jeebus while in prison and started an organization to reward incarcerated folk, including kids, who find jeebus.

The issue has been taken to court, by the ACLU I think.

I heard of one case the jeebus people lost.

Bias in favor of religious conversion wouldn't surprise me in the least, Chris, and it's one more finger on the scales we have to deal with.

Pat, thanks for the information and the reference. 

Unfortunately the majority of people, at least in America, seem to be Christian. I remember in Sunday school, how they would warn us of the evil people in the world, mainly those without our view of gawd. So there is a good chance of being convicted of any crime if not only the judge but most of the jurors are religious and view you as evil. 

When I was in Catholic schools (for which I don't thank my dad who paid to put his five kids there) I often heard nuns say the purpose of discipline, such as fasting, was to strengthen us for attacks by the Church's enemies.

Does saying that to kids increase tendencies toward paranoia later in life?


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