Reader Grania was incensed when finding out that a big-time thief appears poised to get leniency from the courts because “he’s a good Christian”. She wrote a brief report for us:
The Importance of Being Christian
by Grania Spingies
Even the guiltiest of criminals has a right to a robust defence, and a good lawyer will do their best to ensure that their client is represented fairly, a practice that helps ensure that justice will be done. Too often lawyers to whose lot is to defend the indefensible must take ignorant abuse from people who seem to think that criminals deserve nothing and to represent an accused person is to show a lack of morality.
On the other hand, in the 21st century I naively thought that “He’s a God-fearing man, Yeronner” was an anachronism. Surely no lawyer would try that one anymore? Surely no judge would fall for that these days? And the police, hardened cynics that they are, wouldn’t buy that either. Amirite?
No. I am wrong.
So, this guy steals €2.8 million euros, gambles on the stock market and loses it. But his lawyer avows that his client is a devout Christian, and even the Detective Sergeant agrees he is “driven by Christian values”. We don’t know yet if the judge is convinced yet, for sentencing will only happen later this month.
The last time I checked, one of the things that both liberal and fundamentalist Christians agreed on—and God knows, agreements are few and far between—was that robbing your clients blind was not endorsed by the Ten Commandments. It’s not even in the Sermon on the Mount. Nor is being sorry after you get caught a trait unique to the devout Christian.
Tugs at your heart-strings, it does.
Being a “devout Christian” is not shorthand for being a moral or good person. If it was, our penitent sinner would not be standing in the docks in the first place. It’s both lame and lazy to use the phrase as some sort of Monopoly Get Out Of Jail card.
39 thoughts on “Guest post: thief pleads for leniency because he’s a good Christian.”
Great title. But they can play the other card too: the Devil made me do it, it wasn’t my fault; it was the temptation of the evil of Satan.
But didn’t God give you free will? And therefore, the ability to opt out of Satan’s temptations. I know, I’m confused too.
I saw this on the American Atheists Facebook site a couple of days ago. The judge would do well to think of this:
Great quote! I have argued with fundamentalist colleagues along the same lines…
It’s perfect – an entire moral system in two sentences.
And blows the whole “you can’t be moral without (my own interpretation of my particular) god” right out of the water. Way, way, way out of the water.
Oh my, this will be used, often and gleefully.
(Chants, to the chorus, “Attica, Attica”): Euthyphro, Euthyphro, Euthyphro!
Brilliant quote – tried to look up the source but it seems to be that person Anon again.
Very well said.
“It’s both lame and lazy to use the phrase as some sort of Monopoly Get Out Of Jail card.”
Right, and that brings us back to that Hobby Lobby brouhaha here in the US, where being a devout Christian INDEED can get you an exemption of certain laws.
I’m referring to that bizarre Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 1993, which basically states that if a law violates your deeply held beliefs, you’re exempt from that law.
(Yes, I know, that may be a bit over-simplifying it, but that’s the gist of it).
I had no idea there was such a law until this Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case .. and now I’m dumbfounded that we HAVE such a law …
From the link:
LOL… He stole from the church… I wonder if they will forgive him.
Well, let’s ask them to testify on whether he really is a good Christian.
OK, if I was the judge I’d quote ‘render unto Caesar’ and give the guy a free pass on the E750k he pinched from the Archdiocese and just sentence him for the other E2M…. 🙂
Maybe the judge will take that as a sign of the desperate pandering it so clearly is and show mercy proportionate to the sincerity of the defense.
Hardly without precedent: in February 2010 the appalling Cherie Blair, wife of Bush’s lapdog, passed a ridiculously lenient sentence on someone convicted of assault, after he paraded his supposed religiosity.
Yes, I remember. I’m pretty certain the accused was a devout Muslim.
I killed my daughter because she refused to obey me, my neighbour because he insulted the prophart, and Salman Rushdie because I am a devout muslim and must carry out the will of Allah.
Cherie: that’s all right then.
Well, he claimed to be devout.
Actually, you have exaggerated Cherie Blair’s position. While she strongly supported the worst kind of multiculturalism, she also professed strong concern for woman’s issues.
Richard, correct. But then you’d think she’d be less sympathetic to Islam – cognitive dissonance squared.
The Hobby Lobby ruling in the USA may result in future legal arguments based not on secular legal tradition but instead on exemptions for religious privilege.
This Irish media report suggests prima facie religious privilege defense, but until I learn more I am reluctant to suspend my own personal speculation this is merely the new shoes purchased to go with a time-honored, traditional formal gown hanging in the justice closet of every nation of laws that exists, present and past.
Wealthy defendants often participate in a justice system distinctly more favorable to the offender than the one someone of my level of means would experience.
A recent example, with a small caveat of historicity perspective on matters of privilege and blind justice (note: if the sentence in this Irish case when rendered is solely determined on religious grounds, it is likely that the tiered system of justice that results will be similar to present tiered wealth legal outcomes in many respects):
All religious belief is at best a delusion and at worst a mental disorder. Unfortunately, about 90% of humans suffer from one or the other, including law enforcement and judges.
An excellent description of Cherie’s husband Tony Blair when he followed her into the Roman Catholic Church.
Since he’s a good Christian he should get extra punishment for doing what he must have known what was wrong and setting a bad example to the rest of us.
Christians expect easy and instant forgiveness. That’s how it works.
This brought to mind the time I was represented by a blind lawyer. I was in court on drug charges, and my lawyer earnestly described me as an “all-American boy.” The courtroom erupted in laughter because, you know, they could see me.
According to this aprox. 83% of federal prisoners are religious.
If religious “values” were a recipe for morality that number ought to be way down.
Not that all prisoners deserve to be there, though….
On the flip side, how important is profession of religious faith in parole hearings. Last time I checked, it was inordinately important.
Way back when America was just beginning the post World War 2 economic boom, my grandfather was starting his own business and had a few deals where he got cheated by people who everybody said were good Christians.
At that point, he decided that if someone could cheat someone else out of a business deal that was bargained in good faith and people still thought you were a good Christian, it meant that being a Christian wasn’t worth anything and he stopped going to church.
Which is why I come from a nonreligious family.
We all know Grania’s moral compass has the setting “super accurate”. And if we didn’t, we now that know.
[I hate to think of the energy penalty for such apps, though. =D]
If the christians read the US prison statistics of frequency of religious vs atheists relative to the non-prison population, they should issue themselves a “Go Directly To Jail” card.
I meant “moral GPS” of course, re energy consuming apps.
If the Christian view is upheld consistently, being one should *increase*, rather than mitigate, the penalty for wrongdoing, since you have no excuse for not “knowing what’s right”.
I know people use “I have been a pillar of society” as a form of character reference and a plead for leniency. With his butt is on the line, it’s show time! and what are we left with, a hipocrite with no sense of irony. You don’t have to be religious to be one of these. I just hope justice is done, one thing for sure, God won’t be in the witness stand, mores the pity.
Ye gods, that is an odd approach. Not that Christianity should make any difference in the first place, but if it did shouldn’t they check wether somebody’s actions actually show them to be a ‘good Christian’ instead of merely using an empty label as a get out of jail free card?
I see somebody already mentioned Cherie Blair; that was also my first association.
“Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves.”
Seeing as how a good chunk of this money was taken from an institution that collects untold dollars and defends child rapists, maybe these are the Christian values being referred to.
As we have seen previously on this site the same leniency is shown to religious parents who reject medical care for their sick children and resort to prayer.
It we are to believe the more fundamentalist religious believers then being a devout Christian should surely not be an argument used by the defence to reduce a sentence but rather by prosecution to increase a sentence. After all, we are told by many (but no means all) Christians that being Christian makes someone more moral.
There seems to be no half-ways about it: if religion is going to coexist with modern society, it has to be demoted to no further status than a private social club, on par with any other private social activity like political groups, sport clubs, and themed societies. Religious moderates coexist with us largely because their institutions have been disarmed and their beliefs washed down to a (benign) hypocrisy. Receiving leniency for one’s religious standing should be as ludicrous as receiving leniency for one’s enthusiasm for golf, socialism, or the stock market.