Hey everyone, this is Ron Gold checking in:
There have been a string of arson attacks against churches this year in Texas, which is obviously horrible. Happily, it looks like the ordeal is over, as the suspected perpetrators were arrested last Sunday.
I’m curious to learn what their motivation was, but since many details have yet to emerge, it’s too early for me to guess. However, it’s not too early for the Associated Press. They have published an article titled “Atheism book found in home linked to fire suspect,” which would seem to insinuate that atheists have the inherent urge to burn down churches. But the relevance of this headline quickly becomes questionable when you see how the article begins:
Investigators have seized books on demons and atheism as well as rifles and knives from in a home linked to one of the men charged with setting an east Texas church on fire and suspected in a string of similar blazes.
Jason Robert Bourque, 19, and Daniel George McAllister, 21, were arrested Sunday and charged with a single count of felony arson in the torching of the Dover Baptist Church near Tyler about 90 miles east of Dallas.
Court documents link the suspects to the Feb. 8 Dover Baptist fire and another the same day at the Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church in nearby Lindale. The churches are among 11 that have burned in Texas this year in suspected arson attacks.
Investigators searching a home Sunday in rural Grand Saline where Bourque’s girlfriend and family live discovered paperback books titled “Demon Possession” and “The Atheist’s Way,” according to an affidavit filed Tuesday by Texas Ranger Sgt. Brent Davis. Also found were four rifles, three knives and a GPS device at the double-wide manufactured home, the affidavit said.
That’s it? All it says is that the girlfriend had The Atheist’s Way in her double-wide. It doesn’t even say who owns the book. Incidentally, the book’s subtitle is “Living Well Without Gods,” and not “Finding Meaning Through Church Arson.”
Additionally, the book on demons is equally worthy (or unworthy) of being in the headline. For that matter, the fact that there was a weapon cache might have been more notable.
Perhaps one or both of the suspects really are atheists. Or maybe they are Satanists. Or maybe they are even Christians. Though in a way, it doesn’t really matter, because anyone who goes on an arson spree is almost surely sanity-challenged. Therefore, they aren’t going to have any sort of coherent personal philosophy or ethical code, which makes their religious affiliation almost moot.
And finally, no book can make someone burn down a church, which the Associated Press should realize.