Criminals Using Religion

June 8, 2018 – Sometimes I wonder where Christians get the idea that if they claim a personal belief in their god they can get away with murder. Or the prostituting of their children for drugs and money.

Image result for Morgan SummerlinAccording to the Sioux Falls CBS affiliate, WGCL-TV in Atlanta, 25-year-old Morgan Summerlin pleaded guilty to the crime of “allowing two men to rape her two daughters in exchange for cash and drugs…” She was eventually sentenced to 20 years in prison and 10 years of probation.

Two of her “clients,” Richard Office and Alfredo Trejo were also convicted of rape, trafficking, sexual battery, molestation, and other heinous crimes. Office is to serve life in prison plus 146 years. Trejo, 25 years and lifetime on probation.

Here is the caveat of this story. On her Facebook page, Summerlin identified herself as a “servant of God.” The Facebook page has since been taken down.

Though I could not find statistics for the claim, I am sure that many a convicted criminal has told a judge or probation board or governor or the president that he or she has “found God” since their conviction hoping for a more lenient sentence or an early release. On a Georgia State parole board website sharing successful parole hearings, a belief in God was mentioned in four of the five stories told.

More recently, Alice Johnson, 63, had her life without parole commuted by Mr. Trump with the help of Kim Kardashian. One of the photographs I recently saw of Johnson shows her with a Christian cross hanging from her neck. I am wondering if Johnson and Kardashian used religion as part of the persuasion rhetoric with the president.

A judge or member of the parole board, governor or the president cannot really tell if the person is sincere about a conversion to the Christian faith, or if this were a Middle Eastern nation to the Muslim faith, or Israel the Jewish faith. Sincerity is a matter of acceptance of what a person says or does, but the actual experience of conversion is a private matter. I am sure that some would lie about their conversion just to seek sympathy from the powers that be.

An American Atheist article found on the website has some interesting numbers. This undated article declares that “…two generations of statisticians found that the ratio of convicts without religious training is about 1/10 of 1%.” The author’s conclusion?

“Fifty-two percent of people belong to no church, yet live clean lives and supply less than 1% of the total criminal population.  So much for religious indoctrination.”

The problem with this column is that though it claims referring to major studies, there is no index of material indicated.

There is an article on dated March 2015 that refers to information provided to Hemant Mehta in 2013 concerning prisoner populations and religion. The Federal Bureau of Prisons keeps track of this information. According to the column, some 118,000 prisoners were in the federal system with only 161 claiming atheism as their religion. That is about 0.01 of a percent. The lowest number of the group? Bahai (or Bahia, depending on who is spelling it) with one.

Again, so much for religious indoctrination.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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