Fitness club murderer is in Heaven according to Deacon.

I wasn’t planning on writing anything about George Sodini, the nutcase who killed three women and himself at a fitness center in Pennsylvania, because there’s honestly not a lot to be said. The guy was unbalanced, to put it mildly, and years of isolation and bitterness finally took its toll. Even after his online journal was discovered and found to contain some indications that his religious delusions may have made it easier for him to go through with the shooting, I still resisted the urge to say anything about. After all, I’ve provided plenty of examples of people using their religious belief to justify the most heinous actions and, in comparison, Sodini’s rantings weren’t particularly exceptional on that point.

So I almost got away without ever bothering to mention this asshole and giving him yet more of the attention he craved in life and only got by killing a bunch of innocent women and himself. Then I read this Salon.com article about his church and their reaction to this tragedy:

Aug 9th, 2009 | FOREST HILLS, Pa.—If prayers were said Sunday for the soul of the gunman who killed three women at a Pennsylvania health club, they were not by the parishioners of a church where he apparently sat quietly for many years: Tetelestai Church doesn’t pray for the dead.

“We pray for the living—the victims and the family of George Sodini,” said Chuck Matone, a senior deacon.

And Sodini? “God will hold him accountable. God has his justice.”

OK, so far so good. The Salon.com writer then brings up Sodini’s blog wherein he states his belief, supposedly taught to him by his church, that he will go to Heaven in spite of what he’s about to do:

Sodini’s misery was apparent in his rambling, hate-filled blog, in which he complained of a nonexistent sex life, years of rejection by women and social isolation. Among those he blamed for his perceived troubles were his family and Tetelestai’s longtime pastor, Alan “Rick” Knapp, whose teachings he interpreted as assurance he would go to heaven even after committing murder.

“This guy teaches (and convinced me) you can commit mass murder, then still go to heaven,” he wrote.

Knapp, who left town Saturday to care for his critically ill father in Florida, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Friday that “the message of the word I preach never reflected such a thing.”

It should be said that the once-saved-always-saved message isn’t unique to this church. It’s actually a common belief among a lot of Protestant sects. The Baptist church I used to attend as a child, for example, taught me the same message. I found it an odd belief at the time and still do. Of course you’ll find disagreement over whether it’s a firm rule or not depending on which Christian you happen to be talking to at the time.

That’s why I find the following comment by Deacon Jack Rickard somewhat galling:

Personally, though, Rickard believes Sodini is in heaven.

“We believe in permanent security—once saved, always saved,” Rickard said. “He will be judged, but he will be in heaven. … He’ll be in heaven, but he won’t have any rewards because he did evil.”

I’m sure that’s a major comfort to the families of Sodini’s victims.

Seriously think about this for a second: If these people are right, that there is a God, Heaven, and Hell that are as they claim them to be, and Hell is as horrible an experience as they say it is, then even a bad day in Heaven is still better than the best day in Hell. So Sodini won’t get any ‘rewards’, whatever the fuck they might be, in Heaven, but at least he won’t be in Hell. What possible judgment could God give Sodini that would justify his remaining in Heaven?

“You killed three innocent women and then, coward that you are, you took your own life so as not to answer to your fellow man for your evil crimes. Bad Sodini! Bad! Bad! Now go sit in the corner for eternity.”

You’d think the guy would qualify for at least a couple millennia in Hell. Maybe a century or two? Couple of decades at least? How about a month? Can’t we get these ladies a month’s worth of punishment in Hell for that asshole? No? Pretty stupid rules if you ask me.

All the church will say for sure on this issue is that whatever the message they might or might not be giving to their congregation they don’t feel they’re in any way responsible for what happened:

The sermon, however, avoided addressing the fate of Sodini’s soul.

“You are accountable and you are responsible for what you do,” Dorohovich told the congregation. “God knows the motives of all men’s hearts, and as my pastor said Friday night, we will give account for all that is done in this body.”

Matone also sidestepped the issue: “Is he in heaven? Only God and he know.”

But the church leadership says one thing is clear: Sodini alone is responsible for the pain he has caused.

“There’s absolutely no guilt on the part of anyone in this ministry,” Matone said. “What he did, he did on his own.”

Clearly someone in the church sees the potential tie between what was taught and how Sodini interpreted the teaching. Shame they don’t have the moral fortitude to own up to possibly giving the wrong impression to a crazy psychopath in their midst. Not that I think they should be legally liable for the actions of a nutcase, but perhaps they may want to rethink the message and how it’s presented.

13 thoughts on “Fitness club murderer is in Heaven according to Deacon.

  1. Believers enjoy preaching that belief in the afterlife makes believers live moral lives and that this makes theists better people than atheists. I have never believed this, even when I was a religious believer, and this is a pretty good example of why that is the case. Belief systems claim certain benefits which can allow for wicked behavior. I always thought “once saved always saved” to be a rather juvenile doctrine. But when you approach believers on that question they are of course adamant that this belief is found in the Bible. I think it is questionable that the Bible actually says or means to say this, though it is wrong to look at the Bible as one book with one message, as believers do, it had different writers with different ideas. But, even if that were the message of the Bible, that murderers who are “saved” go to heaven, then that would only go towards proving how immoral a document the Bible really is. It isn’t moral just because the Bible says it, and believing in Jesus does not make you a good person. But it is more than what the Bible says, and it is more than the idea of good person vs. bad person; Christians have been debating these questions of salvation throughout their history, and these debates led to these very complex, very confused theological formulations, until you get these rather awkward concepts such as “once saved always saved.” Heaven vs. hell is supposed to be about good vs. bad, but that often is not how devout Christians view it, it is about believer vs. non-believer. All people are evil and stained by sin, they would say, it is just a matter of accepting Christ and receiving grace, in their view. It is a very pessimistic view of humanity,  and not particularly uplifting. Christianity often becomes a very legalistic religion, and often becomes something of a sales product, “believe this and you’ll get that in return, half off”, and there is nothing moral about it.

  2. Positive, you need to break up your writings into legible paragraphs. I usually separate thoughts into different paragraphs for blogs. It just makes it easier for everyone.

    The whole idea of being saved and confessions never made much sense to me. So I as an atheist will go to hell because I haven’t been saved, even though I am very moral and ethical. But yet someone less moral and/or ethical than me, could go to heaven because they got saved. Seems odd.

  3. Well, it was in paragraphs when I first wrote it, but being that this is a blog I decided that this would take up space and annoy people. Glad to see my intuition working.
    In the future I will try to imitate your use of two-three sentence paragraphs with little substance.

  4. So according to some.. The Women who were murdered, and if they were lacking in this confession of faith. Are now in Hell, and the mental case that took them out is now enjoying Heaven in the afterlife.

  5. Wasn’t trying to piss you off positive, but instead help you. You are welcome to write your comments however you like, I was only trying to offer advice. I have been a member of the blog for awhile thus I have some insight into how to get more folks to read a comment. Generally speaking, separation of ideas is preferred. If you look back through the archives of this blog (and many other blogs as well) you will see that generally commentators try to break up their writings into more manageable parts.

    But you are welcome to any style you deem appropriate. No one will censor you here unless you spam.

  6. Positive, it’s just easier for us to read what you write if you break it up in logical paragraphs.  How much substance you put in them, and how well they are organized, it up to you.

    Many Christians hold to an incoherent doctrine of salvation.  We’re saved by faith.  Well, you have to repent.  But of course you’re still going to sin, I mean, nobody is without sin.  And no sin is really any worse than any other, because each is short of God’s perfection, so you’re saved entirely by faith, just faith alone.  Plus works, because faith without works is dead…

    No wonder the C-street crowd can justify anything.

  7. Paul hits the nail on the head with his comment.

    I’ll add something that I find interesting:

    Matone also sidestepped the issue: “Is he in heaven? Only God and he know.”

    Now, note that when Christians want to, they’ll claim to know every small detail about what God wants, what God doesn’t want, what will happen to you if you do or don’t do this or that, and so on.

    But when it’s convenient to duck it, well, “Only God knows.”

    It seems appropriate to use the words of Bill Cosby, here, as Noah talking to God:
    “Riiiiight.”

  8. So this guy is going to Heaven, but won’t have any “rewards” there?  The way I figure it, though, a cold-water flat in Heaven is probably more comfy than a villa in Hell.  So my best option is to chuck this prissy secular humanism and go for the gusto: a little raping, murder, and pillaging will be lots of fun and make for fond memories; plenty of time on my deathbed to convert.  After all, at least according to the good folk at Triablogue, even Hitler might be in Heaven, if he happened to accept Jesus just before he died.

    I love it!  Morality is for suckas!  Time to get down!

  9. Using the melting point of sulfer (molten brimstone) and some other statements from the bible, the sun shall shine as seven fold seven and the moon shall shine as the sun, it is possible to easily show that heaven is hotter than hell.

  10. And, at least according to Thomas Aquinas, the blessed in Heaven will be able to watch the writhings of the damned in Hell in order to increase their bliss even further.  Although when you think about it, how great can Heaven be if you just end up being a couch potato watching your hellevision set all the time?

  11. Although when you think about it, how great can Heaven be if you just end up being a couch potato watching your hellevision set all the time?

    Don’t we do that now anyway?

    This is the double-standard problem I find with people who believed that the ‘saved’ get to go to heaven and the ‘unsaved’ don’t.  Apparently evil people are judged and…. according to this guy aren’t given any reward in heaven.

    Does that mean the ‘unsaved’ but good people get judged and not punished in Hell?  Nope… it doesn’t apparently work that way.  Unbelief is a sin.  You’re screwed.  I wish someone had asked Deacon Jack about that.

    Unless he believes in purgatory, which sounds like an eternal line-at-the-bank which may as well be hell.

  12. Unless he believes in purgatory, which sounds like an eternal line-at-the-bank which may as well be hell.

    As I understand it, purgatory was an invention of the Catholics to get around the pesky feeling of unfairness in the heaven/hell setup.  I don’t think there’s any Scriptural evidence for it.  Any Catholics here who can set us straight on this?

    Does that mean the ‘unsaved’ but good people get judged and not punished in Hell?  Nope… it doesn’t apparently work that way.

    Well, for Dante it did- his first circle of hell, limbo, was like a pleasant countryside on Earth; it was reserved for virtuous pagans and unbaptized babies.  Of course, Dante was taking liberties with the Bible too.

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