Terrance Heath

Religion Does Not Equal Morality

Filed By Terrance Heath | May 13, 2011 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: agnostic, Christian beliefs, LGBT atheists, morality, murder, violence

PZ Meyers makes an excellent point about this horrific story.gore.png

A young girl was found caged and attempting to eat herself in a mobile home in Virginia, and cops say her parents are responsible.

The malnourished girl, believed to be either 5 or 6, was discovered in a crib that was converted into a makeshift cage after police arrived at the home in Gloucester County to investigate a burglary last week.

The girl's parents, Brian and Shannon Gore, were arrested and charged with felony child abuse. The mother was also charged with attempted capital murder.

However, the gruesome twosome now faces first-degree murder charges after the remains of what authorities believe to be another child were found buried outside their mobile home

Towards the end of the story we hear from the husband's ex-girlfriend.

"He was really a nice guy," Brian Gore's ex-girlfriend, Sandy, told WTKR 3 News in Norfolk. "He went to church and everything."

To which PZ says:

I don't consider every Christian to be a child-torturing murderer, but one thing I wish we could get across is that church attendance has nothing to do with morality or ethical behavior or goodness of any kind. So why do so many people consider a weekly session with a deranged, delusional ranter in a pulpit to be a seal of approval?

Well, I'd go one better and ask why people assume that religion equals morality. Better yet, why do people assume that a religious person is almost by default more moral than a non-religious person?

Of course we can be moral without religion.

WikiHow has a handy guide.

I'm sure some people will say that these parents can't really be Christians and do what they allegedly did to their children, but parents have done all kinds terrible things to their children, some of them in the name of religion. Since none of us can look into their hearts or minds and determine the sincerity of their beliefs, maybe it's better not to make assumptions about people's morality based on their church attendance, religious beliefs, or non-religious status.

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J. Calvin | May 13, 2011 2:32 PM

$10 says that Brian Gore was a member of a sect rather than an historic denomination.

In a week in which the Presbyterian Church (USA), the contemporary American representative of the Scottish Reformation, chose to ordain partnered gay and lesbian people to the ministry, let's not forget that there are, you know, different kinds of Christians than the 'deranged, delusional ranters' that are overrepresented in this country.

dharmapupil | May 14, 2011 10:02 PM

Doesn't matter what type of religionist he is, religion is by definition irrational. ALL religions are equally crazy.
Expecting moral behaviour from people who can't reason is like trying to teach a pig to dance: you look like an idiot and you annoy the pig.

dharmapupil | May 14, 2011 10:05 PM

Make that "expecting reasonable behaviour". I misspoke using the word "moral".

Another recent story involving the same perverse use of religious morality is this story (and I really do want to warn people of how disturbing and heartbreaking this is. I teared up after thinking about it and I find it incredibly haunting, sick, and perverse.):


A father and stepmother forced one of their children, a 12 year old boy to live in a dog cage for a year, beating him with metal pipes, slapping him and punching him, strapping him to a bed and abusing him (especially when the father had arguments with the step mother) and enlisting his 17 year old sister to film and take part. They claim he was found "molesting" one of his siblings and stated that he was a "dog" and would be treated like that.

He was forced to live that way for a year, allowed to leave only to eat or go to the bathroom, and left gagged and naked except for a diaper. He was unable to eat or stand near the end, causing his father to fly into a rage and punch him repeatedly in the face. He later died in the cage.

They buried him in the back yard and told people he ran away for the past year, then put a concrete slab over his burial spot. They had the audacity to plant a Christian bible on his chest when they buried him.

This year (a year after he was killed and buried) the sister confessed to their birth mother (who did not have custody of them) when she asked what had happened to him. The mother called the police when she found out. Police have since unearthed the body.

It's absolutely sickening what people will do based on their perverted sense of "morality". When I heard about the bible, it was the last straw.

In fact religion can be deeply immoral if someone has convinced themselves, or is convinced by others, that they are doing their deity's will. If you think that you are doing what your gods commands you to do, there is no crime that can't be justified.

Morality comes from within us and it evolved naturally because humans are highly social animals. In tribal cultures it's in your own best interest to be good to your neighbors. Your survival depends on them and in return they are good to you.

Decent Christians will admit that too if you press them hard enough. They aren't children who behave only because they are rewarded and punished. They've just been brainwashed to think so.

stephanie | May 13, 2011 3:45 PM

there is no god

get over it. xx


I live and work not too many miles from Glouster, Virginia, so this horrific treatment of this young girl is a local story down here. You nad Meyers are correct that church attendance means nothing in terms of one's morality. Some of the most moral people I know never go to church while some of the most immoral people that I have encountered can be found in the pews every week.

I'd take it further and poit to Tony Perkins, Maggie Gallagher, and similar "professional Christians" who make a living off of peddling hatred of others who, in my view, are utterly immoral individuals. The same holds true for the members of the Catholic Church hierarchy who enabled and/or covered up for sexual predators for years - if not decades.

Regan DuCasse | May 14, 2011 1:13 PM

We are confronted everyday by Christians who are NEVER modest about it! They DO announce it as if it IS enough character reference so therefore their word, opinions or other utterances cannot be challenged or disputed.
Their attitude about morality is how much control they can exact on others and the only freedom that matters is theirs to maintain that control.
I've even pointed out that morality is about how fairly, kindly and with empathy you treat another person, not how much Scripture you can lecture AT them with.

And the assertions that gay people are aggressive recruiters into the gay 'lifestyle' and doesn't deserve Constitutional protections because it's an acquired behavior is the biggest hypocrisy they muster. Ever.

Those Christians that live their faith by the creed of treating another the way they'd like to be treated, committing to equal treatment for all under the law, and participating in that faith as an individual who chooses it for themselves and respecting those who don't, are the GOOD Christians I fortunately know and care about.

I know a bad Christian when I hear one and when I see one.
The ones that through marriage discrimination keep fomenting the lie that op sex parents are inherently superior is refuted by the reality and evidence of so many children in foster care, welfare, abuse shelters and in their graves because of their own biological parents.

Sexual orientation and gender is no standard by which to set parental and moral values either. Making the stigma of not procreating and using it as a tool of discrimination extremely puzzling AND irrational, considering.

Gaytorguy | May 14, 2011 4:29 PM

When people claim to be Christians, they follow whatever they are preached, usually. Like before Luther printed the first Bibles for the masses.
Even if one reads the Bible and is told what it "really"means. One will have a distorted view. Similar to the literalists who take the Bible at its literal words. They believe the world was made in 6 days. Cain and Abel just sprang up offspring without wives. Et al.
But Christians are supposed to follow the teachings of Christ. And it was put very succinctly and to the point.
Matthew 22:36-40
36* “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?”
38* “This is the great and foremost commandment.
39* “The second is like it, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’
40* “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”

Now, love does not mean invoking hatred, violence, etc. on others. After all, if God can create a universe, he can very well defend himself. But some people do not reason this out.

So many terrible things were done in the name of religion. Weather it was a crusade, the twin towers attacks or torture and death to a child. These are wrong in ANY moral person's belief system.
However, the news only covers the bizarre and the bad. So, any group is painted with the same brush.
My main point in this story, for me is I am so sad for these children. And for others who are treated similarly, but no one knows or cares to interfere due to religious belief.