Brent over at Unscrewing The Inscrutable has a couple of entries asking asking the question: Anyone Doubt That Christianity Drives Some People Insane? The latest of these links to a news story that hits rather close to home for me. In fact, it takes place in the city of Taylor, Michigan which isn’t too far from where I live in Canton. It’s about a 49-year-old Eagle Scout who got into an argument with a 62-year-old atheist he knew about whether or not there is a God. Growing increasingly frustrated with the atheist’s refusal to accept the truth he was trying to present to him, the suspect went into another room and returned with a shotgun and a revolver which he pointed at the victim.
He tried once more to convince the victim to believe in God, but this time, he had the shotgun.
“How long would it take you to believe in God?” the suspect said he asked the victim.
“Not until I hear Gabriel blow his horn,” the victim allegedly replied, while tipping his hat.
That’s when the suspect shot him.
“I did it because he is evil; he was not a believer,” the suspect told police.
They say there are no atheists in foxholes. That in the face of death even the staunchest atheist will realize the truth deep down in his heart. Yet stories like this one show that isn’t the case at all. If I were like some Christians I’d probably be writing glowing praise for the victim for his willingness to be martyred in defense of his beliefs. I’d forward the news item around to all my friends and family as an example of how innocent atheists are being persecuted for no crime worse than trying to bring the truth to others. If the roles were reversed I’ve no doubts I’d receive several chain letters in my email of a similar nature before too long. I still get email over the fictional stand-off between a Christian girl and the two teens involved in the Columbine massacre. But the truth is I don’t think there’s much to be proud of in this event. The death of a fellow atheist who refused to recant his position even with a shotgun pointed to his face isn’t anything that swells the heart with pride among fellow non-believers. The whole situation to us is stupid and sad.
Brent entries do leave me a bit uneasy, though. While I agree with the idea that Christianity makes some people go over the edge, I think that’s true of just about anything. People who are mentally unstable have been pushed over the edge by all manner of things from books to songs to political ideology and I find it difficult to hold the catalyst responsible for the instability that was already present in the person. If it hadn’t been Christianity it might have been Grand Theft Auto or something else the person ended up fixating on instead. Granted, there’s much in Christianity that doesn’t help someone who’s unstable to get a better grip on reality, but again that can be said of many other catalysts. Someone who’s already nuts losing it big time because they’re wrapped up in their religious beliefs isn’t much of an indictment against those beliefs as much as an indicator of how nuts the person was.