Dr. Bill Cummings is a successful executive CEO as well as a former Catholic priest, whose stint in the church over 50 years ago apparently left a scar, or rather a spiritual wound that refuses to heal. Following Dr Cummings' last column, Jim Sandefur of Lizella posted the following comment on the online version of The Telegraph:
The only good church is a burned-down church. Even a cursory look at crime data shows that the more churches per capita the higher the rate of crime. One quick example: Macon and Boulder are about the same size but Macon, in the Bible Belt, has a church on almost every corner and is full of church-going fundamentalist (including idiots who think the earth is 6,000 years old). Boulder has very few churches and has more Buddhist than Baptist, yet it has the University of Colorado there, famous for parties and drunk students and drugs are everywhere ("where the hip go to trip") and there are probably more atheists there than fundamentalists. But if you Google "crime in Macon" and "crime in Boulder" you will see that in 2012 (the last year showing in the charts) there were 21 Murders in Macon, 0 in Boulder; 242 robberies in Macon, 48 in Boulder; 1828 burglaries in Macon, 472 in Boulder.... Basically, if you want to increase crime, and degeneracy in an area just build a church.
A caustic comment indeed! The use of cultural differences between Boulder, Colorado, and Macon, Georgia, in order to blame the religiosity of the Bible Belt for the increased crime in Macon is absolutely bogus and preposterous. Studies have been done to account for differences in crime rates in various cities, most notably between Vancouver, Canada, and Seattle, Washington. Experts have tested all kinds of hypotheses, but it always comes down to socio-economics, education, and the integrity of the family — and the last two are related to moral conduct and upbringing. I have myself analyzed some of these studies in detail.(1-4)
The reason for the differences between Boulder and Macon are much more complex — e.g., their historic background, the poverty level, the percentage of the population on welfare, educational level, etc. These differences account for the disparity in crime rates. It is one thing to have students coming from higher socioeconomic backgrounds attending college and drinking and carousing; it is another to have gangs made up of juvenile delinquents, school dropouts, coming from broken homes and economically depressed backgrounds, perpetrating violent crimes. If anything, religious faith has probably kept the crime level in Macon lower than it would be otherwise. In short, Sandefur's comparison is a good example of the fallacy referred to as post hoc ergo propter hoc (i.e., "after this, therefore because of this").
Moreover, the South, as Mr. Sandefur well knows, has never completely recovered from its agricultural roots and the devastation wrought by the Civil War, followed by the mismanagement of Reconstruction. The South still lags economically and educationally behind the North and West, and certainly not because of the excessive faith of the Bible Belt. The increase in welfare dependency, the loss in educational standards, and the growth of single parenthood have all resulted in increased violence and crime,(5-7) particularly in the most economically depressed areas in the South, as well as large cities in the North such as Detroit, Cleveland, and Chicago.
Sandefur has called Southerners and Christians all kind of names, from "nincompoops," "Confederate nuts," and "mental midgets" to "superstitious idiots."(8,9) His contempt for religious people speaks more about Sandefur than it does the faithful whom he so much despises. Considering the historic problem of burned black churches, Sandefur's opening statement, "The only good church is a burned-down church!" is the epitome of irresponsibility.
That anyone would be motivated by so much hatred to make such ludicrous assertions to undermine the religious faith of others in this day and age is truly beyond me!
1. Centerwall BS. Homicide and the prevalence of handguns: Canada and the United States, 1976 to 1980. American Journal of Epidemiology 1991;134:1245-1260.
2. Faria MA. Statistical Malpractice 'Firearm Availability' and Violence (Part I): Politics or Science? HaciendaPublishing.com, March 12, 2002.
3. Faria MA. Statistical Malpractice 'Firearm Availability' and Violence (Part II): Poverty, Education and other Socioeconomic Factors. HaciendaPublishing.com, March 24, 2002.
4. Faria MA. TV Violence Increases Homicides. Newsmax.com, August 17, 2000.
5. Rector R, Sheffield R. The War on Poverty After 50 years. Heritage Foundation, September 15, 2014.
6. Richardson CE. Back when we were Negroes. Macon Telegraph, July 31, 2011.
7. Riley J. Please Stop Helping Us: How Liberals Make It Harder for Blacks to Succeed. Encounter Books, 2011. Commentary reprinted with permission from Imprimis.
8. Faria MA. Slavery and the Civil War. HaciendaPublishing.com, July 25, 2011.
9. Faria MA. Fighting Lost Causes in the American Civil War. HaciendaPublishing.com, December 7, 2014.
Written by Dr. Miguel Faria
Dr. Miguel A. Faria is an Associate Editor in Chief and World Affairs Editor of Surgical Neurology International (SNI).
The original version of this article (with references omitted) was published in The Macon Telegraph on March 29, 2015.
This article may be cited as Faria MA. Is "the only good church a burned-down church"? The Macon Telegraph, March 29, 2015. Available from: http://www.haciendapub.com/randomnotes/faria-only-good-church-burned-down-church
Copyright ©2015 Miguel A. Faria, Jr., M.D.