AP news article: Atheism book found in home linked to fire suspect

Found on Yahoo! News

DALLAS – Court records say books on demons and atheism as well as rifles and knives were found in a home linked to one of the suspects in a string of church fires in eastern Texas.

The items were listed in an affidavit filed after a residence in Grand Saline linked to 19-year-old Jason Robert Bourque was searched on Sunday.

Bourque and 21-year-old Daniel George McAllister were arrested and charged that day with a single felony arson charge.

Eleven area churches have been torched this year in what authorities believe was an arson spree.

The affidavit seeking the search says Bourque left graffiti linking him to one of the blazes in the bathroom of a Tyler store.

Attorneys for the two men are not commenting publicly because of a gag order.

--

I have a few issues here. First, and probably least important, is the title. It singles out the "atheist" book found in the house. The book on demons is sort of thrown into the article as an afterthought. It would appear that the writer or the Associated Press is, in a way, guiding people to believe that the men who set the church fires in Texas were atheists, even though all other evidence does not point this way. If anything, these young men were struggling with their beliefs and very troubled. It's been reported that they attended churches in the area. They were not atheists.

Secondly, who cares that books on atheism and demons were found in the house? The evidence is circumstantial at best right now. It's not as though those books were written to influence anyone to burn down churches. No one can say "the books made them do it" any more than Marilyn Manson and slasher films made Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shoot up Columbine High School. Again, these young men are obviously troubled individuals in need of professional help.

Atheists don't go around habitually burning down churches or persecuting religionists. Why? Because we believe in the guarantees of free speech and religious practice provided in the Constitution (of course, I'm speaking of American atheists here, but the idea is the same worldwide I would hope). For the most part, atheists are upstanding, law-abiding citizens. I can think of no leading atheist who would advocate the burning of churches out of spite or malice. The discovery of these books means nothing. Of course, had the authorities found a copy of the Quran or Dianetics, it would cast suspicion on Islam or Scientology also. It's wrong that the AP would report this without any other facts or evidence. It's as though they're intentionally trying to mislead the public and make non-Christians, in this case atheists or followers of occult religions, look guilty. Of course, we all know that no Christian could ever be capable of such violence...

Views: 7

Tags: Texas, arson, atheism, church, news media

Comment by Dan on February 24, 2010 at 6:17pm
Did they find a phonebook too? How about a dictionary?
Comment by Charlotte on February 24, 2010 at 6:21pm
Those darn atheists! Always burning stuff down in the name of nothing!
Oh, wait, maybe it was the demons... We'll have to wait & see which one to blame or not blame.
Comment by Michel-san on February 24, 2010 at 6:43pm
Quick! Bring me my rubber gloves, I dare not touch this with my bare hands.
Comment by Graham E. Lau on February 24, 2010 at 6:54pm
I agree that the author of the article appears to be trying to single out the atheist book as if that book inherently drove these young men to crime or violence. That's just silly, but, then, that's Texas...

I disagree though with the thought that they can't be atheists. Regardless of the high quality individuals we have here at TA, there's no reason why a criminal or a vandal can't be an atheist. Obviously, it wasn't a lack of belief in a god or gods that drove these two young men to burn these churches. However, if we assume that all atheists have the same viewpoints and moral guidance that some of us do then we are no better than the fundamentalists.
Comment by Doug Reardon on February 24, 2010 at 7:56pm
Why do they only burn them down when they're empty?
Comment by Velogiraptor on February 24, 2010 at 9:32pm
This is purely because the most terrifying thing that most religious people can imagine is someone who does not use a deity as a crutch. The religious understand demons, they understand other religions, but can't fathom no religion. It terrifies them more than the demon book.
Comment by Aric on February 25, 2010 at 12:38am
"Atheists don't go around habitually burning down churches or persecuting religionists."-Kristi

Actually, that pretty much describes my Saturdays. I'm just joking. I think it's horrible that someone would burn down a church, or any other building.
Comment by Trevauhn Grant on February 25, 2010 at 5:17am
Well it's not hard to imagine now religion as a Christian, but it's hard to imagine no Christ. A world without Christ. I don't think I want to live in such a place. Well I can confidently say, that no bible abiding Christian would advocate the burning down of their own church. That would be a little messed up. As Jesus said, a kingdom divided against itself will surely fall. If we actually condoned burning our own churches, there would be no churches today. So wouldn't it make sense for it to be someone who opposes the church. I'm not saying it's an atheist or even a satanist, but the most likely culprit is someone who hates the church. Well i'm just saying!!
Comment by Velogiraptor on February 25, 2010 at 6:25pm
@Trevauhn Grant
I would say that a bible abiding person, and a Jesus-like person are different. For starters, there were many, many books in existence at one point. It was a council of humans, basing their decisions on very human factors that selected the books that are known today as the bible. (New Testament) If you abide by the Bible, you should probably kill the person who burns the church down, but if you abide by Jesus' teachings, you should forgive and rehabilitate that person. Show them the error of their ways. I think that what flares atheist tempers the most is organized religion which, like the New Testament is very human-decided and human-driven. For example, priests weren't always celibate. It was only after their families were inheriting their land (church land) that they were directed to be that way. Tokens were even sold in order to absolve you of your sins. I would think that Christ would have granted you forgiveness for free, but the church did not. (We're talking mostly about the middle ages here.) I would bet that Christ existed, and that he was a good person. I would bet that most atheists would grant the existence of a person called Christ who taught much of what he is said to have taught. However, like Jews and Muslims, atheists would say he was not the son of God, although for different reasons than Jews or Muslims would. I notice a 'tone' in your response that implies that you're bracing for a barrage of angry replies. I would bet that you don't have to worry about that here. :) (Don't make a liar out of me people! :P )
As you mention, a house divided will fall. I'm not sure it will, and I would argue that Christianity is divided already. (Otherwise there would be no such thing as a Protestant.) For all we know, it was someone who was clearly deranged, and thought that other denominations were impure. In this case, the athiest outrage is that such a possibility was not considered, nor was the demon book mentioned in the headline.
Comment by Matthew on February 25, 2010 at 6:54pm
I read another version of this article. In that article it throws in the fact that 3 Bibles were also found in the home...only it's in the last paragraph. So I tend to agree that the evil "A-word" is being used to fire people up unnecessarily.

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