The government should study the role of religion in gun violence.

Yeah! Unlike TV, video games, and movies there isn’t any gun violence in the Bible, Koran, or Torah.

According to this (more here and here), the majority of prison inmates are religious, and atheists are make up a disproportionately smaller percentage of inmates than there are in society as a whole. So I have to question your conclusions.

If you’re using the Old Testament as a guide to your personal behavior, no wonder.

Leaving aside the rest of the thread, it would be a fool’s errand. Suppose the study found that those rascally Presbyterians are the ones responsible for instilling violence in children. Unless they openly advocate violence (which no major religious organization does to my knowledge) there’s not a damned thing anyone can do about it because of the First Amendment.

Believers and nonbelievers alike.

I think it’s pretty clear that Enuma Elish is trying to set up a “No True Scotsman” gotchaya.

I’d want to know when the inmates in your cites “got religion.” I for one would be much more likely to pray to God to save my mortal soul after I was incarcerated than before it!

Leaving aside questions about the motives of the sites you linked to and the fact that the first and third lacked proper references, I have to wonder whether you read what you linked to. From the second link:

A disproportionately high number of prisoners were not in any way practicing religionists prior to incarceration. That is, they exhibited none of the standard sociological measures of religiosity, such as regular prayer, scripture study, and attendance at worship services.

Thus, some commentators on one side have claimed that being religious is associated with incarceration. This is based only on religious preference statistics. American sociologists are well aware that nearly all Americans profess a religious preference. But there is a major difference between those who are actually religious affiliated, that is, members of a congregation (approx. 45 to 65% of the population, varying by region), and those who merely profess a preference, likely the name of the denomination that their parents of grandparents were a part of. (One of the best discussions of this phenomenon can be found in The Churching of America, 1776-1990, by Roger Finke and Rodney Stark; New Brunswick, New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1992.)

Attempts to “prove” either simplistic statement: “Religion leads to incarceration” or “Religion prevents incarceration” are polemical in nature and are neither academic in their approach nor statistially supportable. Neither statement is completely true, and both statements ignore the extremely large differences between religions. Each religious affiliation exhibits different statistical properties relating to incarceration. The actual situation in America can no more be summed up by a discussion of “atheists in prison vs. non-atheists in prison” than by analysis of “Buddhists in prison vs. non-Buddhists in prison.”

One atheist web page ( presented statistics stating that 0.209% of federal prisoners (in 1997) stated “atheist” as their religious preference. This site said that this is far less than the 8 to 16% of the American population that are atheists.

The atheist site, however, provided no source for the notion that “8 to 16%” of Americans are atheists. This statistic is completely without support from the available data. Gallup polls which include questions about religion have consistently shown that between 93 and 96% of Americans say that they believe in God. Presumably atheist writers would not suggest that up to half of their claimed “atheists” believe in God. The actual proportion of atheists in the United States is about 0.5% (half of one percent). This is the figure obtained from the largest survey of religious preference ever conducted: the National Survey of Religious Identification (Kosmin, 1990), which polled 113,000 people.

So your second link debunks the other two.

In addition, I should note that incarceration and violence are two different things. The greatest number of inmates in the USA are incarcerated for having or selling a substance that’s harmless, like marijuana, or only harms those who use it, like cocaine. There’s nothing violent about that.

Indeed, it would be easy to flip the argument around. If it’s the case that religious folks are more likely to be incarcerated, why shouldn’t we view that as evidence that our notoriously unjust “justice system” discriminates against religious believers?

Man, the Jews get blamed for everything


Because there’s no evidence whatsoever that the justice system discriminates against people on the base of religion. There is evidence it discriminates based on race. And if, as is claimed, only 0.5% of the population is atheist (pretty much certainly not true), why would the justice system discriminate against religious believers? Unless you’re claiming the justice system is the minority of the population that just happens to be atheist?

The fact is, no matter what statistics you want to use, that the majority of people in prison identify as religious, which makes sense, based on the makeup of the general population. I’d wager that would hold for people who committed violent crimes as well, no matter how much of a “No true Scotsman” spin you try to put on it.

Kosmin’s 1990 survey did not count atheists individually. They were lumped into a group with agnostics called “none”. So, the article apparently made up its figure. Interestingly, however, lower down on the page we find this:

Kosmin’s 2008 survey found that 0.7% self-identified as atheist and 20% were “nones” or “don’t knows”. Using the same logic, therefore, “nearly all” those people are atheists.

Well, one could jump up and down shouting “living constitution” and “my kids’ lives are more important than your so-called freedoms” and “this isn’t 1790 anymore, no one could have conceived of really dangerous religions then” and pretending not to understand how dependent clauses work. That seems to be a good way to ignore Constitutional restrictions that one doesn’t care for without actually passing an amendment.

Prisoners themselves don’t seem to think so: just look at all of the miraculous Death Row conversions that seem to happen. Surely if the prisoners thought they’d get more lenience if they pretended to de-convert, we’d have a lot of public apostasy in the prison system.

:rolleyes: Yeah, the rabidly Christian nation with judges who want to show up in robes embroidered with the Ten Commandments is “anti-religion”.

America is a nation filled with Christian hatred; I fully expect that non-Christian religious people are subjected to persecution by our Christian judges. But most Americans are Christian and that doesn’t apply to them; as said, convicts are notorious for saying they’ve “found Jesus”.

And that’s only part of what Christians embrace. The OT doesn’t even have the weirdest shit. And the Mormons even add to that.


Religions openly advocate violence against other societies (out-groups). Most religious organizations support armed violence by the society in which they reside. I did not see any organized religious objection to torture by the US. Extreme religious organizations (Neo-Nazis, various militias, KKK etc.) often specifically define their out-groups.

Given this template a religious individual need only define an out-group to justify violence against it’s members.


“… marching off to war!”

How many seem to happen and what’s your source for it?

There were plenty of such objections. If you didn’t see them, you evidently were keeping yourself remarkably ill-informed.

Example 1.
Delegates to the 2005 General Assembly of the National Council of Churches USA and Church World Service, held November 8-10 in Hunt Valley, Maryland, have deplored the fact that, as the House of Representatives begins debate on anti-torture provisions in the 2006 Defense Appropriations bill, some high-ranking U.S. government officials have declined to support the provisions.

“We find any and all use of torture unacceptable and contrary to U.S. and international legal norms,” the delegates said in a November 9 statement that passed unanimously. “We find it particularly abhorrent that our nation’s law makers would fail to approve the pending legislation disavowing the use of torture by any entity on behalf of the United States government.”
Example 2.

From: “Torture Is a Moral Issue: A Catholic Study Guide”, put out by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops or the USCCB.

“Means of punishment or correction that either undermine or debase the human dignity of prisoners” must be eschewed by public authorities, he said. Immediately he added the following statement, which incorporates a quote taken from the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church: “The prohibition against torture ‘cannot be contravened under any circumstances’” (No. 404).

Additionally, the USCCB states: “The use of torture must be rejected as fundamentally incompatible with the dignity of the human person and ultimately counterproductive in the effort to combat terrorism”.
If you search on Google, you can easily find many other examples.

Neo-Nazis, militias, and the KKK are not religious groups.

If you want to keep posting here, perhaps you should try a little harder to get your facts right.

To justify the OP’s assertions, one needs more than evidence that “the majority of people in prison identify as religious”. One needs a scientific study that compares rates of crime to religiosity of individuals. In post #20 I linked to four such studies. In a direct contradiction to what Der Trihs said in post #6, all four showed that religious people are less likely to be criminals. If those four studies are insufficient for you, you can easily search and find many more.

Needless to say, none of the atheists here who are claiming that religion causes violence have been willing to address those four studies showing the opposite, or even acknowledge the existence of those studies.

I assume you have sources for public apostasy happening after conviction? Of any sort?