Posted by: David | April 8, 2008

Christianity and Crime

Foxnews reports that a sophomore at a California high school is suing his history teacher for anti-Christian statements made in class. The teacher told his students that those who look at things from a Christian perspective (through “Jesus glasses”) distort truth, and he implied that Christianity is linked to higher crime rates. The student brought a recorder to class as an aid and recorded the following comment:

What country has the highest murder rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rape rate? The South! What part of the country has the highest rate of church attendance? The South!

Now, I do not think there is a real basis for a lawsuit here, but these comments are irresponsible and misleading, and the teacher ought to be reprimanded by his school, in my opinion. The statement also demonstrates terrible logic. Consider this:

A is B. (The South is high in crime.)

A is also C.  (The South has a high rate of church attendance.)

Therefore, C  causes B.  (Therefore, high church attendance causes crime.)

You could just as easily say that Detroit is in the North, which does not have as high a rate of church attendance as the South. Detroit has also been suffering economically for some time now. Therefore, lack of church attendance results in a poor economy.

I would be willing to bet that this teacher got his ideas from atheist Sam Harris, who makes a similar claim in The God Delusion. Harris points to a study that showed that 76 percent of the most violent cities are in Republican (i.e., “Christian”) states, while 62 percent of the least violent cities are in Democratic (i.e., “secular”) states. Never mind that most major cities in the United States are Democratic[1]. (Think New Orleans.) Both the Californian teacher and Harris fail to realize that the causes of crime run much deeper than politics. “The difference is cultural,” writes David Marshall in The Truth Behind the New Atheism. It is “the difference between the breakdown of extroverted cultures and the slower breakdown of more introverted cultures. Half of all murders in America are committed by blacks, mostly young and male. Northern Europeans are more inclined to self-murder. (The suicide rate in Europe, especially Scandinavia, is thus the mirror image of the murder rate in America.)”

Marshall goes on to say wryly, “I don’t deny, however, that there can be a relationship between Christian faith and crime. I’ve met many former criminals who became Christians because of the desperation engendered by drug addiction. I’ve known ex-gangsters who started large churches in neighborhoods where Christians are rare.” Marshall then adds some citations of his own to show that his experience is not abnormal. One study found that “church-going cut crime and other risks among young black males in poor inner-city neighborhoods by 50 percent. Felons who attend Prison Fellowship Bible studies…are two-thirds less likely to reoffend.” Don’t forget about giving among United States and European Christians:  others simply cannot compete in charity.

Hints that Christianity causes crime are ignorant and should never go unchallenged. The Church is doing too much in the name of the King of Love for us to let others slander her.


[1] David Marshall prints these statistics in his book The Truth Behind the New Atheism, which I just recently finished reading.



  1. I know but it takes sooo much effort to rebut every ignorant comment. Even when atheists are shown and admit where they are wrong, they never, ever share that info with other atheists and often they just go on and repeat the same lies over and over again.

  2. Keep fighting, Makarios. Thanks for the comment.

  3. David, there is more than a colorable argument that the CA high school is violating the 1st Amendment. The court is the one who determines the viability of such a suit. Of course, appellate courts are there to insure whether such a determination is proper.

  4. Sure. I know it’s a matter for the courts. I was just giving my thoughts on whether there was a real case.

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