Atheists in U.S. prisons argument and atheist morality

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The serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer engaged in cannibalism. He was an atheist while he committed these acts.[1] See also: Atheism and cannibalism

One of the arguments atheists use to address the issue of atheism and morality is the percentage of atheists in U.S. prisons.[2] See also: Irreligious prison population

The atheist Heina Dadabhoy published at the atheist website Skepchick an article entitled Fellow Atheists: Quit Bragging About Our Prison Underrepresentation which declared concerning the United States prison population:

Atheism is a movement comprised mostly of middle-to-upper-class white people. A middle-to-upper-class white person is far less likely to be incarcerated than a poor person and/or a person of color. The only way atheists as a whole might be less likely to be incarcerated than theists would be if we were a female-majority community. Atheism is hardly the cause of white middle-to-upper-class people’s underrepresentation in the prison population, injustice in the criminal justice system is...

Intersectional issues aside, being arrested and convicted means being caught breaking the law. Would most of us atheists consider, say, possession of small amounts of marijuana to be a crime worthy of incarceration, let alone an immoral act? Yet prisons teem with non-violent drug offenders. As for being caught, I will return to the example of marijuana. How many of us class and race privileged* atheists would be imprisoned for drug possession had it not been for residence in low-density housing in areas rarely patrolled by the police? Living in a detached home reduces the likelihood of a neighbor or passer-by reporting drug use to the authorities but is hardly an indicator of superior moral character.

Given that we’re a movement of people not exactly known for dealing so well, if at all, with issues of race or class.[3]

In 2015, BloombergView reported concerning the United States:

According to a much-discussed 2012 report from the Pew Research Center on Religion and Public Life, only 3 percent of U.S. atheists and agnostics are black, 6 percent are Hispanic, and 4 percent are Asian. Some 82 percent are white. (The relevant figures for the population at large at the time of the survey were 66 percent white, 11 percent black, 15 percent Hispanic, 5 percent Asian.)

...Craig Keener, in his huge review of claims of miracles in a wide variety of cultures, concludes that routine rejection of the possibility of the supernatural represents an impulse that is deeply Eurocentric.[4]

See also: Western atheism and race

The Pew Research Forum reported in 2013 concerning American atheists: "About four-in-ten atheists (43%) have a college degree, compared with 29% of the general public."[5]

In 2012, the Pew Research Forum reported regarding American atheists: "And about 38% of atheists and agnostics have an annual family income of at least $75,000, compared with 29% of the general public."[6] See also: Atheism/Christianity and socioeconomic status diversity

In order to scientifically determine the relationship between atheism as a causal factor for criminality/non-criminality one would have to do proper statistical analysis (for example, using the generalized linear model).

Religion and crime reduction statistics

See: Religion and crime reduction

FiveThirtyEight on atheists in prison statistics

See also: FiveThirtyEight on atheists in prison statistics

FiveThirtyEight is a prominent website that focuses on opinion poll analysis, politics and other matters.

Mona Chalabi wrote at FiveThirtyEight made some similar argument to Heina Dadabhoy, but she also added a few additional arguments:

So what explains these discrepancies between religious affiliation inside prisons and outside them? I’ll set out a couple of possible theories.

1. Maybe it’s income. We know that Muslims and Americans who identify with historically black Protestant churches tend to have lower incomes than the national average. And we know that 44 percent of federal prisoners earned less than $1,500 in the month prior to their arrest (I’m afraid the last time prisoners’ income was surveyed was in 2004, though, and those are 2004 dollars).

2. Maybe it’s race. We know that even though African-Americans represented only 13 percent of the U.S. population in 2013, they represented 36 percent of the prison population. And we know that Muslims are almost twice as likely to be African-American as the U.S. population as a whole. (I think race is also probably relevant when we’re thinking about the over-representation of Rastafarians and Santerians in prison too.)

3. Maybe it’s immigration. We know that most American Muslims immigrated to the U.S. sometime after 1992. And we know that 12 percent of the federal prison population is described as “non-citizens” (a term that means they’re foreign-born and, according to Ed Ross, a spokesman at the Bureau of Prisons, entered the country illegally).

4. Maybe it’s conversion. Ross explained that prisons collect information on religious affiliation from inmates as part of the intake screening process. That information gets stored as part of their case management. But, he added, “anywhere along the way, inmates can have their information changed to reflect a change in their religious status. Anyone can find god or lose god while in prison.”...

Though almost all of the state prison chaplains describe spending their time organizing religious programs, many suggest that religious influence is coming from elsewhere in the system. Seventy-four percent of the chaplains said that efforts by inmates to proselytize or convert other inmates are either very common (31 percent) or somewhat common (43 percent) in the prisons where they work.[7]

There are also many churches/ministries that do outreach to prison inmates in the United States. In addition, the ministry Prison Fellowship is a leading advocated for criminal justice system reform in the United States.

Jesus Christ told his disciples a parable about visiting people who are incarcerated which states:

I was in prison, and you came to Me...

Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord,.. When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’ - Matthew 25: 36, 37, 39-40 (NASB)[8]

Chalabi also wrote: "Conversely, prisoners are far less likely to be Protestant than the rest of the country."[9] See also: Protestant cultural legacies

British irreligious prison population

A pie chart delineating the percentage of irreligious in prison (shown in light blue) in the United Kingdom; Click the graphic above to enlarge the pie chart and text. Data courtesy of The National Archives (UK)

See also: Irreligious prison population and Britain and morality

The irreligious prison population, according to government data of many sovereign states, as well as that of independent surveys, makes up a large percentage of the overall prisoner demographic. In the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, according to the 2011 Census, the irreligious make up only "around a quarter of the population."[10] However, they are over-represented in the prison population, forming over 34% of all criminals.[11][12]

These statistics confirm recent scientific research, which has concluded that "the more involved people are with religious life, the less likely they are to fall into criminal behavior." (see: Religion and crime reduction).[13]

Atheists in U.S. prisons argument to defend atheist morality ignores the vast amount of social science data and the historical data relating to religion and crime reduction

See also: Religion and crime reduction and Religion and morality

One of the major failings of the atheists in U.S. prisons argument is that it completely ignores the vast amount of social science data and the historical data indicating that religion reduces crime (see: Religion and crime reduction).

The fallacy of exclusion is a common logical fallacy employed by atheists (see: Atheism and logical fallacies).

Dramatic effects of the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 on criminality and ill-behavior

See: Dramatic effects of the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905 on criminality and ill-behavior

Korean Revival of 1906-1907 and crime reduction

See: Korean Revival of 1906-1907 and crime reduction

Atheists in U.S. prisons argument to defend atheist morality ignores the historical data and the social science data relating to atheism and immorality

See also: Atheism and morality and Atheist population and immorality and Atheism and violence

Another major flaw in the atheists in U.S. prisons argument is that it ignore the historical and social science relating to atheism and immorality (see: Atheism and morality and Atheist population and immorality and Atheism and morality studies).

For example, atheists have been the biggest mass murderers in history (see: Atheism and mass murder). Dr. R. J. Rummel's mid estimate regarding the loss of life due to atheistic communism is that communism caused the death of approximately 110,286,000 people between 1917 and 1987 (See also: Atheism and communism).[14]

Atheist Marquis de Sade, 120 Days of Sodom and prison

See also: Atheism and sadism and Atheism and violence and Atheism and moral depravity

The perverse and cruel atheist Marquis de Sade in prison, 18th century line engraving.

Marquis de Sade was an atheist.[15] Sadism, a paraphilia in which pleasure is derived from inflicting pain or seeing pain being inflicted on others, is named after him.

The 120 Days of Sodom was one of the Marquis de Sade's most notorious books. He wrote it over a thiry-seven day period in 1785 while he was imprisoned in the Bastille. He described this book as "the most impure tale that has ever been written since the world exists", which may very well be true to the present day. He died believing that this book was lost to the ages- unfortunately, a direct descendant found it in the mid-20th century, despite the attempts of his immediate relatives trying to destroy everything he wrote that remained unpublished immediately after his death.

Elements of his book were likewise utilized for the victims of the Guillotine by Joseph Lebon, one of the Jacobins, where he and his wife had the decapitated corpses unclothed and placed in obscene positions mirroring that of the batteries nationales.[16] This book was adapted by controversial director Pier Paolo Pasolini in that director's final and most radically offensive film.[17] The last years of the Marquis' life were spent in an insane asylum, though the reasons for this vary depending on the source. His years in the asylum have been dramatised in the critically-acclaimed play (and later film) Marat/Sade,[18] as well as in the dramatic film Quills.[19]

His work was largely banned in the USA until the relaxation of obscenity laws in the 1950s and 1960s.

Atheistic China, political prisoners and forced labor in prisons

See also: Atheism and repressive prisons and Atheism and forced labor and Atheism and communism

According to CNN, hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of labor camps and forced labor prisons (called laogai) still exist in modern China.[20]

Most atheists are East Asians (see: Asian atheism).

China has the world's largest atheist population.[21][22]

In 1955, Chinese communist leader Zhou Enlai declared, "We Communists are atheists".[23] In 2014, the Communist Party of China reaffirmed that members of their party must be atheists.[24]

In 2016, the International Business Times reported:

A senior Chinese advisor on religious affairs has said the country should promote atheism throughout society, in remarks that appear to reflect a deepening campaign to reinforce traditional Marxist values in China — and could add to concern about official attitudes among believers in the country’s five officially recognized religions.[25]

According to CNN, hundreds (or perhaps thousands) of labor camps and forced labor prisons (called laogai) still exist in modern China.[26] The prisons house political prisoners and dissidents alongside dangerous criminals.

The Chinese government run media outlet Xinhua reported in early 2013 that the country plans to reform its "controversial re-education through labor system this year."[27]

See also:

China and involuntary organ harvesting of prisoners

See also: China and involuntary organ harvesting

Several researchers — for example, Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, former Canadian parliamentarian David Kilgour, and the investigative journalist Ethan Gutmann estimate that tens of thousands of Falun Gong prisoners in communist China have been killed to supply a financially lucrative trade in human organs and cadavers, and that these human rights abuses may be ongoing concern.[28]

North Korean communist prisons and torture

See also: Atheism and cannibalism

The atheistic communist regime of North Korea presently uses forced labor.[29][30]

North Korea practices state atheism and belief in God is actively discouraged.[31] Open Doors, an organization based in the United States, has put North Korea at the very top of its list of countries where Christians face significant persecution - for 12 years in a row.[32]

The Christian Post published an article entitled North Korean Defector Who Spent 28 Years in Prison Camp Details Hunger, Torture, and Cannibalism in the DPRK which stated:

More than 200,000 North Koreans, including children, are imprisoned in camps where many perish from forced labor, inadequate food, and abuse by guards, according to Human Rights Watch. The isolated, secretive nation has no media, functioning civil society, or religious freedom, and pervasive problems include arbitrary arrest, lack of due process, and torture.[33]

Soviet Gulags, political prisoners and forced labor

See also: Atheism and forced labor and Atheism and communism

According to the University of Cambridge, historically, the "most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power."[34]

The Gulag is the extensive network of prison camps used in the atheistic Soviet Union to imprison Joseph Stalin's political enemies. Although the prison camps housed a wide variety of criminals, it also had a large amount of political prisoners.

For information about forced labor in Soviet prison camps, please see: Atheistic communism and forced labor

Islamic countries and crime

In most cases, Muslim countries average 2.4 murders per annum per 100,000 people, compared to 7.5 in non-Muslim countries.[35]

See also

External links

References

  1. Serial Killer Jeffrey Dahmer blames Atheism and Evolution belief for Murders
  2. The Atheism Gap By Stephen L. Carter, BloombergView, Mar 27, 2015 4:26 PM EDT
  3. Fellow Atheists: Quit Bragging About Our Prison Underrepresentation (Related to United States statistics)
  4. The Atheism Gap By Stephen L. Carter, BloombergView, Mar 27, 2015 4:26 PM EDT
  5. 5 facts about atheists By Michael Lipka, Pew Research Forum, October 23, 2013
  6. “Nones” on the Rise - Demographics, Pew Research Forum, October 9, 2012
  7. Are Prisoners Less Likely To Be Atheists?
  8. Matthew 25: 36, 37, 39-40 (New American Standard Bible translation)
  9. Are Prisoners Less Likely To Be Atheists?
  10. Religion in England and Wales 2011: Part of 2011 Census, Key Statistics for Local Authorities in England and Wales Release. Office for National Statistics (UK) (December 11, 2012). Retrieved on May 14, 2013. “Meanwhile the proportion of the population who reported they have no religion has now reached a quarter of the population.”
  11. Religion in Prisons 1999 and 2000. The National Archives (UK). Retrieved on May 14, 2013. “Prisoners with No religion formed 34% of all untried prisoners and 31% of all convicted prisoners in September 2000.”
  12. Prison Population Statistics. House of Commons Library (UK). Retrieved on May 14, 2013. “30% were recorded as having no religion.”
  13. Dreher, Rod (June 29, 2011). Is God an Effective Crime Fighter?. Templeton Report. Retrieved on May 14, 2013. “Research indicates that the more involved people are with religious life, the less likely they are to fall into criminal behavior.”
  14. Rummel, R. J. (November 1993). "How many did communist regimes murder?" University of Hawaii website; Freedom, Democracy, Peace; Power, Democide, and War. Retrieved July 19, 2014.
  15. http://www.trivia-library.com/a/biography-of-famous-atheist-marquis-de-sade.htm
  16. Operation Parricide
  17. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0073650/
  18. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180073/
  19. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0180073/
  20. Labor camps reinforce China's totalitarian rule. Cnn.com (1984-10-09). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  21. Top 50 Countries With Highest Proportion of Atheists / Agnostics (Zuckerman, 2005)
  22. A surprising map of where the world’s atheists live, Washington Post By Max Fisher and Caitlin Dewey May 23, 2013
  23. Noebel, David, The Battle for Truth, Harvest House, 2001.
  24. Senior Chinese Religious Advisor Calls For Promotion Of Atheism In Society, International Business Times
  25. Labor camps reinforce China's totalitarian rule. Cnn.com (1984-10-09). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  26. "China to reform re-education through labor system", Xinhua, January 8, 2013. Retrieved on January 8, 2013. 
  27. Review of: Ethan Gutmann, “The Slaughter: Mass Killings, Organ Harvesting and China’s Secret Solution to Its Dissident Problem”, (Prometheus Books, 2014).
  28. North Korea: Economic System Built on Forced Labor New Testimonies Say Even Children Must Work or Face Detention Camps, Human Rights Watch, June 13, 2012
  29. Qatar’s ambitious future driven on by North Korean ‘forced labour’, The Guardian, Pete Pattisson in Doha, Friday 7 November 2014 07.52 EST]
  30. Elizabeth Raum. North Korea. Series: Countries Around the World. Heinemann, 2012. ISBN 1432961330. p. 28: «North Korea is an atheist state. This means that people do not pray in public or attend places of worship. Buddhist temples exist from earlier times. They are now preserved as historic buildings, but they are not used for worship. A few Christian churches exist, but few people attend services. North Koreans do not celebrate religious holidays.»
  31. Repressive, atheist North Korea has a surprising relationship with Christian missionaries
  32. North Korean Defector Who Spent 28 Years in Prison Camp Details Hunger, Torture, and Cannibalism in the DPRK
  33. Investigating atheism: Marxism. University of Cambridge (2008). Retrieved on July 17, 2014. “The most notable spread of atheism was achieved through the success of the 1917 Russian Revolution, which brought the Marxist-Leninists to power. For the first time in history, atheism thus became the official ideology of a state.”
  34. Vox Sets Out To Prove All Religions Are Equally Violent. And Fails By David Harsanyi, February 2, 2015