Good church going man pleads guilty to being a serial killer.

A serial killer known by the initials BTK—for Bind, Torture, Kill—claimed the lives of at least 10 people between 1974 and 1991 in the Wichita area of Kansas and for a while it looked like the case would never be solved. Then a man by the name of Dennis Rader was arrested for the crimes and everyone who knew him was stunned. Rader was, for all anyone knew, a good and upstanding man they’d known for decades. He was a former president of the church council at Christ Lutheran Church as well as a Boy Scout leader and most folks who knew him would’ve vouched for him without question. Now that he’s been arrested he’s pled guilty to all counts. Rader went into some detail at his hearing about the people he killed and his methods:

Referring to his victims as “projects,” Rader laid out for the court how he would “troll” for victims on his off-time, then stalk them and kill them.

“I had never strangled anyone before, so I really didn’t know how much pressure you had to put on a person or how long it would take,” he told the court in describing his first killings in 1974, a couple and two of their children.

“The whole family just panicked on me. I worked pretty quick,” he said. “I strangled Mrs. Otero. She passed out. I thought she was dead. I strangled Josephine. She passed out. I thought she was dead. Then I went over and put a bag on Junior’s head.”

He later said about Mrs. Otero: “I went back and strangled her again.”

He described to the court how he chose his victims.

“If you’ve read much about serial killers, they go through what they call different phases. In the trolling stage, basically, you’re looking for a victim at that time. You can be trolling for months or years, but once you lock in on a certain person, you become a stalker. That might be several of them but you really hone in on one person. They basically become the … that’s the victim. Or at least that’s what you want it to be.”

No one ever suspected this man could ever be the serial killer they lived in fear of for decades and the police had no leads until Rader made the fatal mistake of using an old floppy from his Church’s computer which ended up being traced back to him. He’s 60 years old now. Been married for 34 years and has two fully grown kids. He shows no signs of being insane or possessed by evil supernatural entities. He was loved, trusted, and accepted by his community and church.

I point all this out because I’m sometimes told by True Believers™ that the power of faith in God is so great that it can turn the worst of murderers into shining saints. Or that true evil of the sort that supposedly drives men such as Rader to do the terrible things they do can not survive in the light of God. Rader would seem to put the lie to those claims; he survived and prospered just fine for most of his life. The truly scary thing about him is that it didn’t take Satan for him to do the things he did, just a desire to see what it was like to emulate his God in a small fashion.

184 thoughts on “Good church going man pleads guilty to being a serial killer.

  1. I was lucky enough to be eating my lunch in front of the living room television when Rader was, in fine detail, pleading guilty to the ten first degree murder counts.  No joke, i wasn’t able to finish my lunch of white clamsauce over linguine. 

    Like many a commentator that day, his calm demeanor and the cadence of his speech *immediately* reminded me of those 200 some German butcher-beasts (a.k.a., “defendants”) at the UN WarCrimes Commission trials in Nuremburg; Like those savage Germans with their fine, learned tastes and proper families, he was overtly calm, methodical, and seemingly at peace with his own, inner insectile-like morality.

    Whether this is all the mark of a “TrueBeliever”, i’m not as self-convinced as some.  (I’m not even sure the empirical evidence supports such self-concocted hyperbole.)  Let’s remember, “church” in America (like so much today in the West) is really just about having fun and socializing—not really about improvement of community or self, or any single codified set of values.  That, i’m afraid, is far too substantative for most Westerners’ lifestyles or psyches.

    In fact, Dennis Rader, the man who sexually self-pleased himself while standing in the presence of a strangled child, still-hanging with dead froth around the mouth, is very, very much like most Americans:  just trying to “have some fun.”

    He provides a mesmerizing, albeit sickening, glimpse into the Western psyche, and all those pathologies our communities ignorantly foster and promote amidst our ever-constant decadence and increasingly unbridled pleasure-seeking impulses.  That’s far more a mark of an American than, say, any one subclass within, such as “TrueBelievers.” or other scape-goats identified.

    Go ahead, embrace your desires, and scape-goats.
    It’s probably a lot more fun than the truth, if that’s what you get into.

    rob@egoz.org

  2. this story reminds me of a joke . . .

    An atheist was walking through the woods.

    “wow! what majestic trees! what powerful rivers! what beautiful animals!” he said to himself.

    as he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. he turned to look. he saw a giant grizzly bear charge toward him. he ran as fast as he could up the path. he looked over his shoulder, and saw that the bear was closing in on him.

    he looked over his shoulder again and, the bear was even closer. his heart was pumping frantically and he tried to run even faster. he tripped and fell on the ground. he rolled over to pick himself up, but saw the bear right on top of him, reaching for him with his left paw to strike him. at that instant, the atheist cried out, “oh my god!”

    time stopped, the bear froze, and the forest was silent. as a bright light shone upon the atheist, a voice came out of the sky.

    “you deny my existence for all of these years, and you teach others that I don’t exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? am i to count you as a believer?”

    The atheist looked directly into the light, “it would be hypocritical of me to suddenly ask you to treat me as a christian now,” he said, “but perhaps, could you make the bear a christian?”

    “very well,” said the voice. the light went out, and the sounds of the forest resumed. and then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed his head, and spoke:

    “lord, bless this food which i am about to receive and for which I am truly thankful.”

  3. Rob: “He provides a mesmerizing, albeit sickening, glimpse into the Western psyche”

    Oh, bullshit.  Torture and cruelty combined with perversion are hardly confined to Western culture.  They seem to be, er, human traits.

    Security expert Gavin DeBecker says; any awful thing you can imagine, someone has probably done somewhere.  And the fact that you can imagine it means that on some level, you are not so different from those who do such things.  A rather famous psychological experiment shows that the comfort of imagining the torturer as “other” doesn’t hold up.

    We have to be careful what road we’re on, and how far down it we’ve travelled.  It makes me think of how quick many people are to justify what is going on at Gitmo.  It’s the same road, we just have not travelled as far on it.

  4. Oh, bullshit.  Torture and cruelty combined with perversion are hardly confined to Western culture.  They seem to be, er, human traits.

    I’ve always been fascinated with, what i erroneously believed to be, the widely known statistic that serial killers, by and large, are a Western social pathology:
    http://www.crimezzz.net/serialkiller_insight/geography_distribution.htm

    #  North America has produced some 80 percent of all known 20th-century serial killers, with the vast majority of those active in the United State.
    # Europe runs a distant second with about 16 percent of the world’s total crop: the European leaders are:

      * Great Britain (with 28 percent of the continent’s total)
      * Germany (with 27 percent)
      * France (trailing with 13 percent).

    # Third World nations presently spawn 4 percent of the world’s known serial killers, but a recent upsurge from South African and Latin America threaten to alter those statistics in the new millennium.

    (I did a google search on:
    “serial killers” population percentage countries)

    I think you’ll also start to see upsurges in Japan and also societies akin to Turkei and China with the advent of Western-style consumerism.  Japan, of course, is saturated with this psyche-destructive error—and probably shows other related problems too, like serial killers, in huge abundance.  (I’d point to the Aum Shinrikyo/AsimovFoundation sarin-gas-using cult as a particular example, but i think it was the result of mostly other historic factors unique to Japanese culture.) Serial killers are a symptom of the deeper, more pernicious disease of consumerism and the naturally accompanying fun-fun-more-fun!-dammit! mentality.

    If you think the West has problems now (i do, of course), just wait till this present playstation-saturated-generation grows up to run our nursing homes, state hospitals, and prisons.  EG:  AbhuGraibv, i think, is more an issue of American culture than it is of any institution’s problems. Empathy med-development, anyone?  It should prove to be a huge market.

    Maybe the West needs a collectivized form of group therapy before we dig deeper into sickness, like some nations before us.

    rob@egoz.org

  5. I point all this out because I’m sometimes told by True Believers™ that the power of faith in God is so great that it can turn the worst of murderers into shining saints. Or that true evil of the sort that supposedly drives men such as Rader to do the terrible things they do can not survive in the light of God. Rader would seem to put the lie to those claims; he survived and prospered just fine for most of his life. The truly scary thing about him is that it didn’t take Satan for him to do the things he did, just a desire to see what it was like to emulate his God in a small fashion.

    Hmmmmm.  I think the mistake many Christians make is thinking that simply believing in God will keep them on the straight and narrow and automatically make them good people.  Just like some of them think simply believing in God means they don’t need medical care. It’s childish and absurd.  But I also think the mistake many atheists make is assuming that just because a man says he believes in God, dresses in his SUNday best and carts the family off to church-it should somehow be shocking that he turns out to be not who he appears to be and somehow God can’t exist because of the man’s deception.  That line of thinking is childish in it’s own right.

    To murder 10 innocent people for the sheer joy of it has an element of evil to it.  It may not be directly the work of HaSatan-since all men have choices to do good or evil. The bottom line is the man CHOSE to do evil. He CHOSE to align himself with evil.  Certainly no man can be truly choosing God and do evil.  Success and prosperity have NOTHING to do with choosing God or choosing evil.  Again, this thinking is naive at best.  Simply because you choose God doesn’t automatically mean you are a successful person. Many sincere believers live in poverty their whole lives. Many atheists are wealthy beyond measure.

    And truly, Rader did what he did to play God.  But then who swore to be like God?

  6. just wait till this present playstation-saturated-generation grows up to run our nursing homes, state hospitals, and prisons.

    Oh geeeeeeeeeeeez. I am SO SICK of hearing people shift the blame to video games and movies.  Get over it already. Ted Bundy never picked up a Playstation in his life.  He had very real and very deep psychological problems stemming from his upbringing-and most likely some genetic predisposition towards violence.  Dahmer, I’m sure didn’t sit around playing Manhunt, either. Neither did Starkweather, Gacy or Speck for that matter.  With almost all of these men you find a pathology rooted in the hatred of women, particularly their mothers.  Had nothing to do with fantasy video games.  To place the blame there is to negate the social issues and problems that have spawned serial killers in the past.

  7. Les’s point is that you can be a VERY good, WELL-respected Christian, yet still do stuff like this … and even sleep well at night.

    There is NO CORRELATION, zero, zip, nada, between being specifically a christian and being a good person.

    Good people are simply people who habitually think good thoughts and do good things.

    Any overlap of the set “christian” and the set “good person” is almost purely coincidental. The proof being that billions of people who are NOT christians are good people. 

    I myself am an atheist, an anti-christian, yet the number of people I have personally strangled is very close to zero.

    HOWEVER, I think Les might also be subtly considering, and I’d agree with it wholly, that the non-rational mindset that christianity, and most or all other religions, establishes in the mind of the person who accepts it, predisposes one to other irrational thoughts and acts.

    Another thought follows: That it is LESS EFFICIENT to focus on teaching christianity as the path to good thoughts and deeds, rather than teaching good thoughts and deeds directly. A society which teaches christianity, or any religion, would therefore produce statistically fewer good people than a society which focused on goodness itself.

    In other words, if your overt test for goodness is which children know the lord’s prayer by heart, and recite it out loud every day, and not those who most often share toys on the playground, help little old ladies across the street, and rescue abandoned kittens, (assuming you value those things as part of the set of “good

  8. Certainly no man can be truly choosing God and do evil.

    Oh, Karen … deep, disappointed sigh.

    And heartfelt “Argh.”

  9. Serial killers are too rare to draw much of a conclusion about a “culture” as a whole.  Maybe our culture causes serial killers!  Or maybe the loose screws that lend themselves to serial killing find other outlets in other cultures.  Or, other cultures may have taboos against discussion of such things and serial killing is underreported there.

    But if I did have to point at some aspect of Western culture as tied to psychosexual serial killers, it would be the Puritan/Victorian abhorrance of all things sexual.  It’s custom-made to produce the kind of self-hating, twisted fascination that serial killers seem to exhibit.

    Les is spot-on about the correlation of Christianity to morality.

  10. # North America has produced some 80 percent of all known 20th-century serial killers, with the vast majority of those active in the United State.
    # Europe runs a distant second with about 16 percent of the world’s total crop: the European leaders are:
    * Great Britain (with 28 percent of the continent’s total)
    * Germany (with 27 percent)
    * France (trailing with 13 percent).

    # Third World nations presently spawn 4 percent of the world’s known serial killers, but a recent upsurge from South African and Latin America threaten to alter those statistics in the new millennium.

    Rob, although the stats you quoted are interesting, I would point out that they are misleading for several reasons:

    First, you’re talking about numbers of the world’s “known” serial killers. This number is likely to be an underestimation of the number of actual serial killers—not all serial killers are caught.

    Second, in 3rd world countries, record-keeping and tracking such things is considerably more hit-and-miss. So, the data available is particularly likely to underestimate the numbers in 3rd world and (former/present) communist countries.

    Third, 3rd world and (former/present) communist countries are far less likely to have access to much in the line of historical (early 20th century) data.

    (As an aside, I would also point out that the apparent upsurge in serial killers in South African and Latin American countries could be nothing more than a reflection of improved recording and tracking.)

    Fourth, you might need to consider that the definition of the term, “serial killer” may differ in various parts of the world (for both political and social reasons) causing either overinclusion or underinclusion of data.

    Fifth, it almost goes without saying that not all countries would be as forthcoming with this kind of information as we are in North America, and this seems likely to create an underestimation of the population for some nations.

    To suggest that North America(n lifestyle) leads to an increase in serial killers is not at all supported by the numbers you’ve produced.

    I’d point out to you that we know that sociopathy likely has a genetic/biological basis and we (scientists) are actually pretty good at identifying some of the early markers for sociopathy in kids.

    You need to remember that while most serial killers are sociopaths, not all sociopaths turn into serial killers—some are highly productive citizens whose victims are primarily the people closest to them: close family and friends who suffer tremendous personal and psychological damage. 

    Sorry, Rob. It ain’t the playstation that causes it and quoting those numbers doesn’t make your argument.

  11. I myself am an atheist, an anti-christian, yet the number of people I have personally strangled is very close to zero.

    First of all, Hank, spare me your “disappointed sigh”. I am not here to win your approval or disappoint you.  I stated an opinion. That opinion being no man who is TRULY (and I mean that word) choosing to be close to God can then turn around and commit evil. Case in point, the MAN (not the god/man) Yahshua. The messiah (again my humble opinion) chose to walk with God his entire life and he did NO evil-hence why he was without blemish and sufficient to be sacrifice for the sins of man. That is if you believe he existed and believe what is written about it. I choose to. My choice. Not yours and that’s FINE.

    Secondly, why do you HAVE to be “anti-Christian” per se?  Why not just be atheist and move on with life?  I consider most of the “christian” religion to be the religion of Paul and therefore discount most of it-through my studies-as pagan based and erroneous in doctrine and theology. However, I wouldn’t go so far as to say “anti-Christian” when describing myself. I certainly don’t focus my energies on being “anti” anything. What’s the point?

  12. That it is LESS EFFICIENT to focus on teaching christianity as the path to good thoughts and deeds,

    Why can’t one teach their children to believe in God and ALSO be a good person?

    Another common misconception about today’s Christianity, Hank: They teach good works AND faith.  The majority of church trekking Christians believe all they need is faith and that the “law” is dead, aging, past, etc.  They behave much like this (some do all of these and some do only a few): Monday through Saturday they back bite, gossip, form jealousies over their neighbors and friends and family, cheat mentally as well as physically on their spouses, abuse their children, drink and drug to excess, slobber over porn, lie to their bosses, steal from others and generally behave like jerks to their fellow man…but come SUNday they are right there in the pew, singing, listening as attentively as they can appear to be and basically love showing off their best clothes and truly believing in their hearts that they are saved (and anyone else who doesn’t believe as they do is NOT) because they have “faith”.  They have been saved!  They have salvation through Jeeezus Christ simply because they believe he was God in the flesh who came down and died for them-so they can behave the way they want and still reach heaven someday. Making the messiah “god” has relieved them of all responsibility to NOT sin. After all, they have original sin and can’t help but sin!  Jeeeezus was capable of not sinning because he was god!

    This is all a far, far cry from the true, original faith of the earliest believers who vehemently argued that faith without works is dead. That being a good person is just as important as believing in God…obeying the law was just as important as having faith. Mind you, these early believers did not subscribe to the false teachings of those that followed and corrupted the original faith converting it to “mystery Babylon”.

    Any argument that Christianity should be discounted simply because from time to time we see a psychopath emerge from it’s ranks is at best worthless.  Christianity should be judged on it’s merits, or lack of, intellectually and intelligently and with a clear understanding of it’s history…not based on one serial killer who lived his life outwardly as a “christian”.

  13. That opinion being no man who is TRULY (and I mean that word) choosing to be close to God can then turn around and commit evil.

    Ahh… the “No True Scotsman” fallacy.  What a simple way to explain away the inability of Christianity to effect moral change.  Simple, but wrong.  You can’t get off that easy.

  14. That opinion being no man who is TRULY (and I mean that word) choosing to be close to God can then turn around and commit evil.

    Well, folks, I was going to gently debate the above quotation (No true Scotsman …), but 1. decrepit-old-fool beat me to it, and 2. after seeing another Karen post elsewhere here on SEB, I did a little research on the ‘net, and decided debating her would be at best, tossing pearls before swine.

    Incidentally Karen, do you live in rural Michigan?  Are you on the Atkins diet?  Or is that another Karen?

    —Joe

  15. Les’s point is that you can be a VERY good, WELL-respected Christian, yet still do stuff like this … and even sleep well at night.

    There is NO CORRELATION, zero, zip, nada, between being specifically a christian and being a good person.

    Well, it all depends, I suppose, on how one defines “Christian.”  A Christian, properly speaking (which is certainly not congruent with simply being a regular church-goer) should be striving toward doing good, should be aware of their own failings, and should be trying to obey the commandments Jesus laid down (love of God, love of one’s neighbor).

    A real Christian will not claim perfection.  As much as I utterly despise the bumper sticker “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven,” the small kernal of truth within it is that Christians seek to not need forgiveness, take comfort in the forgiveness they perceive, but acknowledge that part of that forgiveness is tied to further striving to do better.  Forgiveness from God is, to a Christian, both freely given and very expensive to accept.

    Any overlap of the set “christian

  16. Christianity should be judged on it’s merits, or lack of, intellectually and intelligently and with a clear understanding of it’s history…not based on one serial killer who lived his life outwardly as a “christian

  17. Let’s not forget Christian support for slavery and Christian… opposition against slavery.  Along with Christian support for and opposition against racism, lynching, Jim Crow laws, intermarriage, freedom of speech, and so on.  Christianity does not seem to be a determinate variable there.

    Think of any good person you know.  I bet that same person would be a good person no matter where they were raised (US, India, Africa, China, or a future atheistic culture as yet uninvented).  Yet where they are raised is strongly predictive as to what they believe, religion-wise.

  18. Funny that you would mention slavery, DOF.

    Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are Good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.—1 Peter 2: 18-20

    – straight from the “Good Book” itself

      On the same page I found some more interesting information:

    The pro-Christian bias that mars so many of our history texts today can be seen in the way the abolitionist movement is treated. The Second Great Awakening, beginning around 1800, is usually cited as an important causative factor in the abolitionist movement that followed. However, this is revisionist history. The implication here is that Christianity was at the heart of the movement to free the slaves. Nothing could be further from the truth. The eradication of human bondage is in fact a by-product of the Enlightenment and the Age of Rationalism, secular reactions against the 1500-year-old stranglehold Christianity had on the throat of Europe. This movement, which swept across Europe at the end of the seventeenth and into the eighteenth centuries, profoundly affected the men who founded this nation. They founded the first governmental system in history entirely free from the shackles of religion. Thus did the secular realm enter American lives. Only then did the abolitionists come on the scene. By no stretch of the imagination can religious impulses or devotion be cited as causative factors. If so, why didn’t the abolitionist movement begin after the first Great Awakening? Did that movement’s leaders, George Whitfield and Jonathan Edwards, cry out in indignation against human bondage? They did not. Was the anti-slavery banner raised in the colonies as a result of this re-awakening of Christian sentiment? IT was not. Slavery was not eliminated in this country until secularism had attained an ideological foothold. Certainly, many of the leaders of the abolitionist movement were religious. But, although they most likely were not aware of it, they were acting on humanistic, rather than religious impulses./quote]

  19. If we’re going to consider Les’ argument that there is no correlation between being religious and being a “good person,” I think it is worthwhile defining our terms a little because there is a difference between having an intrinsic or an extrinsic religious orientation.

    For those with an extrinsic orientation (utilitarian—useful for social standing, personal solace) toward religion, there is no increase in altruistic and helping behaviours.

    However, for those with an intrinsic orientation toward religion (unification of being, brotherhood, a desire to trancend self-serving needs), there is an increased level of helping others. This probably sounds good to the religious among us and born-agains might want to be counted among the intrinsics.

    For those with an intrinsic religious orientation, however, helping others is NOT associated with greater altruism. In fact, “pattern of results suggested that the prosocial motivation associated with an intrinsic end orientation to religion was directed toward an egoistic goal — either gaining social and self-rewards or avoiding social and self-punishments . . . It appears that the highly moral self-image associated with this way of being religious does not reflect selfless concern for the welfare of others; instead, it reflects a more self-centered desire to obtain social or self-rewards for being a good person.”

    (See Religious prosocial motivation: Is it altruistic or egoistic?
    By Batson, C. Daniel; Oleson, Kathryn C.; Weeks, Joy L.; Healy, Sean P.; et al
    Journal of Personality & Social Psychology. 57(5), Nov 1989, 873-884.)

    So . . . Though those with an intrinsic religious orientation are perhaps more likely to help others, they do so for rather selfish and self-serving reasons. Are they nicer persons? I wouldn’t be too sure about that.

  20. LOL Thank you for proving my point, warbi.

    radical Pro-Lifers engaging in domestic terrorism

    While I agree that there are a few fanatical pro-lifers out there that seem to think they can take the law in their own hands-I don’t see how you can blame only Christianity for this.  There are MANY religions (Islam, Hinduism, Judaism) opposed to abortion, all of which play a role in the pro-life organizations.

    I might also add that the death and destruction of millions of human beings can also be considered domestic terrorism.  But then the secular argument would be they don’t count because they are still inside their mother-whose sole job, if I may, is to protect them, not erase them from existence.  I won’t argue abortion from a biblical standpoint or as a fanatical Christian (which I am not).  I only argue it as a woman and a mother who believes the end result of any abortion is always the same no matter how you slice it or spin it: the woman is left the murderer of her own offspring and must live with that knowlege for the rest of her life.  Is it a choice? Yes, it certainly is. But NEVER one that should have been made fodder for insensitive men, politicians or bloggers to take lightly and try to use to discredit an entire religious sect of people.

  21. Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are Good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.—1 Peter 2: 18-20

    This really is a tired argument, warbi.  Simply because the bible ( an historical document) speaks of slaves and masters (written during a time when slaves were common and merely a fact of life) does not mean the whole of Christendom supports slavery.  I mean honestly, how can you insinuate that with a straight face? Is your drive to discredit Christianity (using weak arguments I might add) stronger than your common sense?

    There are so many valid arguments for discrediting Christianity, one need not pull out the old, immature ones that don’t hold water.  Do some research on Christianity and within moments you will see where it’s real Achilles heel is. Trust me, it doesn’t lie with pointing to verses within the historical text that simply characterize the time in which it was written. There are far more jucier contradictions-especially within the “new testament”.

  22. I’d have to say the the verse Warbi quoted clearly places God’s endorsement on slavery.

    Funny the Christians who insist on the most literal reading of the good book are those who seem least able to relinquish various bigotries and regrograde social practices.  Those who are willing to distinguish “the times in which it was written” and do a little interpretation, were often the reformers who brought about great social good.

    Literalism and social absolutism seem not to be such a good thing…

  23. Imagine if this guy had run for office, as a conservative republican christian.  How many ministers/priests/pastors/shamans would have backed him from the pulpit because he is such a great ‘christian’? Religion and politics…
    – Matt

  24. I’d have to say the the verse Warbi quoted clearly places God’s endorsement on slavery.

    Please. God’s endorsement?  So you have spoken directly with Him and have heard His endorsement?

    And for the record, I am the last to espouse literal reading of the “good book”. I stand behind the contention that the “good book” has been corrupted by the hand of man and is more a reflection of man’s endorsements and guidelines than it is of God’s.

  25. Please. God’s endorsement?  So you have spoken directly with Him and have heard His endorsement?

    Yes, we have all spoken to God, haven’t you?  Oh, and she says that you, Karen, are wrong on all of your points, and you should go sit down and be quiet.

    – Matt

  26. Slavery was not eliminated in this country until secularism had attained an ideological foothold. Certainly, many of the leaders of the abolitionist movement were religious. But, although they most likely were not aware of it, they were acting on humanistic, rather than religious impulses.

    Can we therefore assume that Dennis Rader was acting on sadistic, rather than religious impulses?  Or that those who propagated horrors ostensibly in the name of Christ were no acting on religious impulses, either?  Sauce for goose and all that …

    This movement, which swept across Europe at the end of the seventeenth and into the eighteenth centuries, profoundly affected the men who founded this nation. They founded the first governmental system in history entirely free from the shackles of religion. Thus did the secular realm enter American lives. Only then did the abolitionists come on the scene. By no stretch of the imagination can religious impulses or devotion be cited as causative factors.

    Of course, those same Enlightenment-affected Founders didn’t do a very good job in and of themselves of getting rid of slavery either, either as a nation or as individuals.

    I’d have to say the the verse Warbi quoted clearly places God’s endorsement on slavery.

    Actually, it’s an extension of turning the other cheek, and being loving to others, regardless of who they are and what they’ve done. 

    The full passage, in fact, continues:

    For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. 20But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. 21To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

    In other words, if you’re virtuous, and you’re mistreated, it’s to your credit in God’s eyes.  That makes a certain measure of sense, and ties to the whole cheek-turning thing. 

    So the passage is not about “slavery is good,” any more than the preceding section is how autocracy is good, or the next paragraph is how oppression of women is a good thing.  Rather, they are aoubt how you should react to such things when they are done to you.

    Again, you can argue that submitting to slavery (or cheek slapping) is not a good thing, and I’d have a hard time arguing with you on it, though both why and how one reacts is also open to some discussion.  But I really don’t understand how someone could argue that the passage is in support of the slavery of humans, unless (a) one had an interest in being a slave-holder, or (b) one wants to tar Christianity as supportive of slavery.

    Literalism and social absolutism seem not to be such a good thing…

    Agreed.

  27. But then the secular argument would be they don’t count because they are still inside their mother-whose sole job, if I may, is to protect them, not erase them from existence.

    I didn’t know you were all over this blog sowing seeds of lunacy, I figured it was only in the eminent domain thread. Chalk one up for Karen, she’s like the energizer bunny of the conservative movement – if the bunny had a screw loose, and was on fire, and smelled like cat pee. By the way, just because it grows inside you does not mean it is now your duty to nurture it otherwise tapeworms, hemmorhoids, and tumors would have advocacy groups.shock

  28. By the way, just because it grows inside you does not mean it is now your duty to nurture it otherwise tapeworms, hemmorhoids, and tumors would have advocacy groups.

    You have nerve accusing me of sowing seeds of lunacy when you sit here and compare a developing human fetus/embryo to tapeworms, ‘rrhoids and tumors?

    Again, this would be amusing if it weren’t so absolutely inane and devoid of any logic.  But then I might be inclined to believe YOU are simply an overgrown ‘rrhoid who probably did cause your mother a lot more grief than you were worth.

    I am officially shocked at how far pro-choicers are willing to take their argument in favor of abortion.  Comparing them to parasites and ‘rrhoids?

      Unbelievable.  Eric, until you grow a uterus and can carry a living child inside you, you have no business comparing said child to simple medical pathologies or nuisances.

  29. While I agree that there are a few fanatical pro-lifers out there that seem to think they can take the law in their own hands-I don’t see how you can blame only Christianity for this.  There are MANY religions (Islam, Hinduism, Judaism) opposed to abortion, all of which play a role in the pro-life organizations.

      Of the Pro-lifers in the US, the overwhelming majority are Christian.  Fanatics, there are many, radicals are less common. I notice that you only picked the one idea with a small number of people to rebut. 

    This really is a tired argument, warbi.  Simply because the bible ( an historical document) speaks of slaves and masters (written during a time when slaves were common and merely a fact of life) does not mean the whole of Christendom supports slavery.  I mean honestly, how can you insinuate that with a straight face? Is your drive to discredit Christianity (using weak arguments I might add) stronger than your common sense?

      First of all, ideas don’t occur in a vacuum, they happen within a social, political, and historical framework.  Secondly, I wasn’t necessarily insinuating anything.  If you look at the very beginning of the post, you see that it was addressed specifically to DOF- I was merely playing off something he had said in a previous post.  Finally, this thread is about the “goodness” of Christians vs non-Christians, not about discrediting Christianity.  What a person believes about a religion (and not just Christianity) is seldom swayed by logic or evidence.  A person who wishes to believe in myths and superstitions will continue to do so no matter how much another might argue.  My point is that individual Christians as well as Christianity as a whole have been responsible for some fairly egregious acts of hate and slaughter- nothing more, nothing less.

  30. I notice that you only picked the one idea with a small number of people to rebut.

    I may be tired. But I am not following this comment.  What do you mean?

     

    Finally, this thread is about the “goodness

  31. Hmmm. I figured it would be the cat pee comment that got your knickers all in a twist, live and learn. I don’t understand your shock, it’s an obvious comparison – all four ‘grow’ inside a human body, all but the hemmorhoid derives sustinance from the host while contributing nothing quantifiably beneficial (ie: is parasitic), and the tapeworm as well as the fetus is a life form. Just because you are emotionally attached to your fetus and not the tapeworm does not nullify my comparison. If a woman decides she does not want to bring a fetus to term she can have it removed just like the tapeworm, hemmorhoid, and tumor.

    Maybe you find the comparison outrageous but it isn’t innacurate.

  32. And you sit there and tell yourself, and me, you are not out to discredit Christianity with this topic?  Sir, a lot of non Christians have done heinous things, including waged wars, slaughtered innocents and oppressed races of people. Namely Ghengis Kahn, Ayatolla Khomeini, Polpot, Saddam Hussein, Alexander the Great, etc.  Christians don’t hold the monopoly on those things.  I guess I don’t see any point in constantly using Christians and Christianist as a whipping post when it comes to horrible acts perpetrated on mankind when there are a plethora of legitimate ways to criticize Christianity-intelligently and intellectually-with a clear perspective of their REAL stain on mankind and their own self-inflicted wounds.  But then THAT would take real critical thinking, huh? Not just knee jerking and generalizing.

      Not at all.  To be honest, I hold a pretty dim view of humanity in general- not just Christians.  Christians just tend to be more hypocritical and sanctimonious about their actions than others.  I never said that Christians were worse than others, they are just not as well-off as they would like to portray themselves.  You were the one that said that no one who believed in God would do something evil.  I merely offered evicence to the contrary.  Evidence that shows individuals as well as “herd” movements doing nasty things to fellow humans.  Are their good Christians?  Of course- hell, my daughter is at Bible camp right now.  Are their bad Christians and have atrocities been committed in Christianity’s name?  Also, yes.  The point is that atrocities will be done by Christian and non-Christian alike.  Just because someone professes a belief in a supernatural puppetmaster, does not mean that said person won’t commit an “evil” act.

  33. Eric, does anyone take you seriously in your life?

    This argument is absurd.  None of the items you mentioned develop in to a human life. None of them can think, feel, breathe, cry, touch, love, experience pain, etc.  A ‘rrhoid is an enlarged blood vessel-devoid of any emotion and will NEVER qualify as a human being. A tapeworm is a parasitic lifeform, lowest of the low, incapable of ever experiencing emotion.  A tumor is a growth within the human body that may or may not cause pathology, but which can never be classified as human.

    Your comparison is inane and you know it.  Any woman can choose to remove her fetus. Of this you are absolutely correct. But unlike removing the ‘rrhoid, tumor or taking medication to clear up her tapeworm infection-she is, when the day is over, her own offspring’s murderer. Nothing more and nothing less.  She is not merely ridding her body of a nuisance. She is ridding her body of her own CHILD.

    Eric, I may be afraid I am asking you to do this because you may not like the answer your own mother gives you, but next time you talk to your mom ask her if she looked on you as nothing more than a medical nuisance to be gotten rid of when she was carrying you in her body.  Ask her if she loved you and felt it her responsibility to care for you-even when you were unborn and moving inside her.

    Then, we’ll talk.

    Now, on a side note-are you having problems loading the eminant domain thread?  I responded to you and although my comment appeared in the sidebar and I see you responded to me-it is not showing up in the thread itself and the response I am getting is that my comment “can not be accepted at this time”. Can you actually see my response to you in which I explain about the “fat cat governor”in my state who released the mentally ill people who became homeless?

  34. Christians just tend to be more hypocritical and sanctimonious about their actions than others. 

    We agree on that.

    You were the one that said that no one who believed in God would do something evil.  I merely offered evicence to the contrary.

    Then you wasted your time because I did not say no one who “believed” in God would do something evil.  I said NO man who is truly choosing to know God and be close to Him would do something evil.  It would go against all that he is striving to accomplish.  Maybe that’s a hard concept for you to entertain…and I don’t blame you. You are a self admitted atheist. You have absolutely no idea what it means to TRULY be seeking God.  Any evidence you think you supplied was for naught.  I won’t argue that many professed believers in God have done evil things.

    The point is that atrocities will be done by Christian and non-Christian alike.  Just because someone professes a belief in a supernatural puppetmaster, does not mean that said person won’t commit an “evil

  35. No, something does appear to be wrong with the ED thread, but it is beta software.

    The only reason you believe my analogy is inane is because you have made the value judgement that a human embryo is more valuable than other forms of life. It is true that I do not feel any desire to campaign for the rights of parasites but I guess I am trying to see if you have the ability to understand that not everybody feels the same way you do. To you abortion is murder, to me it is a medical procedure. This disconnect occurs because I think you belive that life begins at conception, while I believe that life only begins after birth. Take the dollar in my pocket as an example: it has the potential to become $55 million dollars if I play the lottery and win, but unless that happens it is only a dollar. An embryo may have the potential to become a human being but until it is born it is only a mass of subdividing cells with potential.

    As far as people taking me seriously, it happens all the time. It’s a lot easier when you can see on my face if I’m joking or not. Does everyone? Of course not, but on the whole I’d guess somewhere in the 60% to 70% range.

    Regarding my mother I know her answer without needing to ask, but how does her care and nurturing for a child she wanted make it wrong for the woman who does not want a child to abort? It’s too bad we can’t have Ed Gein ask his mother the same question. I bet he’d get a different answer than I would.

  36. Karen said: I only argue it as a woman and a mother who believes the end result of any abortion is always the same no matter how you slice it or spin it: the woman is left the murderer of her own offspring and must live with that knowledge for the rest of her life.

    If Christian ideals (societal ones even) included talking about sex, teaching contraceptive methods or even encouraging same sex couplings as a way to avoid unwanted pregnancies, you might have my sympathy when a fetus was aborted because I would say the aborter had options and knowledge.

    Too many decisions regarding conception are left to legal rapists (only one of the partners makes the decision), mothers farming the welfare systems or young fertile dunces convinced that being a parent is easy, or if not; easily abandoned. Until we cease to view child-free couples as failing, we will have couples who are having children primarily because it’s expected of them and “real” men will continue to feel they have something they need to prove, (not to mention what “real” women feel they should be doing.)

    Wanted, planned-for children make great additions to families: Unwanted, accidental ones not so much.

    You know, it might not be a bad idea to require an adult to live with a same sex partner for several years before they’re allowed to live with an opposite sex one whom they can make stuff with.

  37. The only reason you believe my analogy is inane is because you have made the value judgement that a human embryo is more valuable than other forms of life.

    Ok, now let’s think about this. You asserted that a human embryo/fetus is nothing more important than a tapeworm, tumor or ‘rrhoid.  Of those 3 only the tapeworm can be considered “a form of life”. Right?  Yes, I unequivocally assert that a human being is more valuable than a tapeworm.  Are you asserting that it is not?

    I am trying to see if you have the ability to understand that not everybody feels the same way you do.

    Of course I realize not everyone feels the same way I do.

    To you abortion is murder, to me it is a medical procedure.

    You want to view it as a sterile, nonconsequential medical procedure. It is both a medical procedure and murder. Murder is the deliberate ending of a life-a human fetus or embryo is alive before it is aborted. The procedure is medical one in the case of abortion. Reason and logic, my friend…try to follow them and connect the dots.

    This disconnect occurs because I think you belive that life begins at conception, while I believe that life only begins after birth.

    As I have stated before, I am pregnant with twins. My babies are moving inside me as we speak. I have seen them on ultrasound kicking one another, sucking their thumbs and one was even blowing bubbles. I assure you they are very much alive. Have you ever seen an ultrasound performed?  My babies are alive now as they will be when I deliver them. They certainly aren’t “dead” as evidenced by the heartbeat my OB hears at each visit.

    An embryo may have the potential to become a human being but until it is born it is only a mass of subdividing cells with potential.

    Abortions can not be performed until after the 6th week of conception.  I had an ultrasound at 6 weeks to determine if there was more than one embryo.  I assure you they were not “clumps of cells subdividing with potential”.  They both had brains, beating hearts and one was waving his arms around.  They were as alive then as they are this moment.  And I loved them then as I do now.

    Regarding my mother I know her answer without needing to ask, but how does her care and nurturing for a child she wanted make it wrong for the woman who does not want a child to abort?

    This is precisely the point I am trying to make.  Wether the baby/embryo/fetus is wanted or not is IRRELEVANT.  The relevant argument here is wether the fetus/embryo is alive or not.  If your mother states to you that you were alive inside her and she considered you a human being even before she delivered you-not merely a medical nuisance like a tumor-then you have not a leg to stand on in your argument that the embryo/fetus is not living and therefore can not be killed.  Just as you were alive and she cared for you-so does every developing human being deserve the same consideration-at the very, very least.  Just because a woman does not want the baby does not mean the abortion she chooses to have is not selective murder.

  38. Brock, what does this discussion have to do with Christian ideals?

    Wanted, planned-for children make great additions to families: Unwanted, accidental ones not so much.

    Wow. What a small minded, ignorant comment.  Unwanted children do not make great additions to families? Tell that to the thousands of couples who have adopted said unwanted children.  For my own experienc-my son was an unwanted pregnancy. I had him when I was 18 years old. He is 14 now and has been the anchor in my life and my best friend.  My family would not be the same without him. He is as we speak helping his Grandpa build a pole barn and keeps his Grandma chuckling daily. He may have been an unplanned child and perhaps in the beginning of my pregnancy I did not want him-he has turned out to be the light of all our lives.  And to think I could have killed him to spare myself the inconvenience of raising him and giving him LIFE.

  39. Wow, This conversation has veered way off course. I probably should have chimned in early, since this is a field I’ve done rather extensive studies in, but I have a herniated disc and my back has been killing me for days. (So forgive me If I seem crabby at any point.)

    In regards to what makes a serial killer and possible influences of religion and western culture:  All of these things may play a small part, but not in the formative way that you might think. For one of these monsters to develop, you need two things.

    1 – The have to be wired wrong from the start. Serial killers are envariably socio paths with no ability to feel guilt. Right and wrong to them are nothing more than abstract concepts. They have no empathy towards other human beings.

    2 – They need to be somewhat independent. They have to have a source of income and a fair amount of free time. (This may be why the US has the most of these creatures. Our culture breeds free time and urges us to “get a hobby.”

    Once those two things are established, outside sources may come into play. Misunderstood religous beliefs, poor gender models from childhood, even a desire to become famous. But those firts two conditions must be met first.

    As a writer of mysteries and thrillers, I have always found the subject fascinating. At one point in my life, I had intended to join the Behavioral Sciences Unit at the FBI. My research on the topic has been more extensive that the research most of you here have put into your religous beliefs.

    Hell, I think I’m one of the few people on Earth who could give you an accurate profile of Jack The Ripper. Hint – Every single theory you’ve heard in the press has been wrong.

  40. Karen said: Wow. What a small minded, ignorant comment.

    Sorry, but I think you took the “smells like ass” award with this gem in the “15 year old boy suffers from menstrual-like conditions” thread:

    Suffice it to say-men and women fit together naturally and beautifully. There’s nothing natural or beautiful about a man and a man together, no matter how you try to spin it or slice it by trying to point out other species that may or may not be exhibiting what you consider homosexual behavior.

    Loving (or making love to) someone and wanting to live with that person, no matter if they are the same gender IS beautiful though not so in your bigoted reality.

    Taking your childbirth is a noble and glorious ordeal mindset to it’s logical conclusion, I have to wonder why you even accept adoption as an alternative. I fear you would view it as a cop-out.

    But don’t change the meaning of my words. I didn’t advocate death over adoption and I speak of unwanted as in the family that raises the child. Adoption is a positive alternative in that scenario.

  41. He may have been an unplanned child and perhaps in the beginning of my pregnancy I did not want him-he has turned out to be the light of all our lives.  And to think I could have killed him to spare myself the inconvenience of raising him and giving him LIFE.

    How sweeeet.  I got all weepy there for a second. . .  and then I remembered how the State had to physically remove me from my biological mother’s home because she was so negligent and abusive that it almost killed my sister and I.

    And then I remember all the time that I spent in fosterhomes, and the long-term psychological damage that that caused for my sister, myself, and my eventual adoptive parents.

    And then I -also- remember all the statistics about drug dependence rates and incarceration rates for the children who spend that much time in the system, and I realize that I’m not an example of the results of fosterage, so much as an exception to the rule.

    And then I remember, finally, the bullshit that my not very religiously observant parents had to put up with from ‘good Christian’ folk who suggested that our familial bond must somehow be less, or not quite ‘real’, because it wasn’t a ‘blood’ tie.

    I find it pretty damn amusing that the ‘good Christian’ folk who make these kind of suggestions, while simultaneously citing adoption as the answer to abortion, aren’t the ones who leaped in and saved my ass.  Nope, they were too busy having ‘real’ families to be bothered with little ole me.

    No, it was my real parents, the ones who adopted me, who saved my ass.

    There is one distinct benefit to my experiences, however.  When someone tries to sell me a load of sentimental crap, I’m pretty comfortable telling them to take a flying leap at the floor of the Grand Canyon.

    On a side note, Eric, I find your intimation that my ‘roids are somehow equivalent to some nasty tapeworm, or fetus, quite offensive.  I’ll thank you to keep a civil tongue in your head, or I’ll be reporting you to the Roid Anti-Defamation League.

  42. Karen said: Suffice it to say-men and women fit together naturally and beautifully.

    If you believe men in women should only be together to have children (otherwise “natural” has nothing to do with the venture) then I understand my life’s missive. Still, I will unnaturally abstain from fulfilling it.

    And what nowiser said.

  43. On the drive home it occurred to me that I have better things to do than debate Eminent Domain (I don’t own property so don’t have a dog in that fight) or the OT abortion topic (I can’t convice you and you aren’t convincing me). Instead of prattling on and on and making no headway I would rather invest my time (the few hours I have between work and more work) doing something productive. just a thought though before I go: if you insist on calling women who have had abortions murderers try not to be so indignant when someone questions the tenets of your religious beliefs. I personally find calling someone a murderer FAR more offensive than pointing out the hypocrisy in a major religion.

  44. ***Dave: But I really don’t understand how someone could argue that the passage is in support of the slavery of humans, unless (a) one had an interest in being a slave-holder, or (b) one wants to tar Christianity as supportive of slavery.

    You’re right, ***Dave – that passage by itself is using slavery as an example of a social situation in which one might be mistreated. 

    However, it does not present slavery itself as mistreatment.

    Many places in the bible the powerful are taken to task for their mistreatment of those under their care, yet slavery itself does not surface does not surface in that context.

    In fact, nowhere in the bible is slavery condemned even though the subject does often come up.  In a book presented as The Word Of God it is fair to conclude that means slavery is “OK”.

    I have no interest in tarring Christianity with an endorsement of slavery, and I do not know a single Christian today who believes slavery is good or morally neutral.  Yet if the bible is the word of god, it pretty much stamps slavery with god’s approval as explained above. 

    Today even Christians who read the bible literally quickly start talking about “historical context” and doing a remarkable imitation of a sputtering motorboat engine when confronted with biblical acceptance of the terrible and obvious evil of slavery. 

    KPatrickGlover, I hope you will do a separate post on Jack The Ripper someday.  That sounds interesting.  (And I hope your back feels better soon.)

  45. I wonder if part of the reason Africa has a low occurance of serial murderers is due to the amount of genocide/tribal cleansing (if that’s even the right descriptions) and other violence is attracting those who would lean to serial murder.  Providing an outlet, as was mentioned earlier. 

    Brock said: If you believe men in women should only be together to have children (otherwise “natural

  46. DOF:

    KPatrickGlover, I hope you will do a separate post on Jack The Ripper someday.  That sounds interesting.  (And I hope your back feels better soon.)

    I’ve been working on that for some time, but unsure of where such an article should find a home. Do you think it would fit in here at SEB?

  47. I’ve been working on that for some time, but unsure of where such an article should find a home. Do you think it would fit in here at SEB?

    Might as well now.

    You had me at “Every single theory you’ve heard in the press has been wrong.”

  48. Karen, for chrissesake get over yourself.  I speak as a mother of two children who STILL supports a woman’s right to abortion.  Call it removing a tumor, call it murder, whatever you like—SHE HAS THAT RIGHT, and it’s none of your business what she does with her body any more than it’s her business what you do with yours.

    I have done all the ultrasound things, felt my babies move inside me, and STILL didn’t see them as fully human until they had actually developed into functioning humans.  If I hadn’t wanted them, I would have aborted them, no doubt about it, and the world would have been better for my not inflicting unwanted children on it.  Did you know that it’s been statistically determined that the legalization of abortion has caused the US crime rate to drop?  Read Freakonomics by Steven D. Levitt.

    Just being a mother doesn’t entitle you to speak for all mothers, or dismiss the arguments of people who aren’t mothers.  You’re probably all excited about being pregnant, and that’s great, but don’t put on that crown and play queen just yet.

  49. I said: If you believe men in women should only be together to have children.

    Sorry for the Freudian slip there and just to make it clear, once men are IN women, they might as well feel free to make whatever they want,  even if it’s just an orgasm.

    Where the hell have you been GeekMom. No soup for you!

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