The Late Ariel Castro, Kidnapper and Rapist, Is ‘Saved’; Shows His Devotion to God One Last Time

The serial kidnapper and rapist Ariel Castro hanged himself in his cell on September 3rd, a police investigation has confirmed. The report, released by Ohio law enforcement authorities on Wednesday, also confirmed something else: Castro’s devotion to God.

I noted earlier this year, shortly after his arrest in May, that Castro loved to praise the Lord. In his last Facebook status update before he was finally arrested, he wrote of how excited he was about the birth of his fifth grandchild and about the arrival of spring. He concluded

Miracles really do happen, God is good :)

Castro had been enjoying additional religious musings on the day of his suicide. Investigators found a note

… invoking scripture and saying that those who confessed with their heart “will be saved.”

“God loves you,” Castro wrote in all capital letters, “for all are sinners, we all fall short of the glory of God. Christ is my saviour and yours!!

All are sinners. See, he’s not so different from you and me, our Ariel.

In his final letter, he quoted Romans 8:39:

“Neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Castro was right, of course. Christian doctrine conveniently holds that as long as you invite Jesus into your life, salvation and eternal celestial bliss are sure to follow, no matter how you’ve lived your life. This is true even for lifelong torturers and genocidal murderers.

Christians themselves usually present forgiveness as a particularly fine feature of their faith. As I’ve argued here, it’s actually a bug.

About Terry Firma

Terry Firma, though born and Journalism-school-educated in Europe, has lived in the U.S. for the past 20-odd years. Stateside, his feature articles have been published in the New York Times, Reason, Rolling Stone, Playboy, and Wired. Terry is the founder and Main Mischief Maker of Moral Compass, a site that pokes fun at the delusional claim by people of faith that a belief in God equips them with superior moral standards.

  • cyb pauli

    AG is omnibenevolent when it is convenient to the arguments of his followers, other times his morality is indistinguishable from that of psychopaths.

  • Heidi McClure

    I suppose it’s easy to get a genocidal, infanticidal maniacal imaginary friend to forgive you.

  • Kat Johnson

    It reminds me of Sufjan Stevens’ song about John Wayne Gacy. In it, he suggests the same thing. We are all sinners, just as evil as serial killers and rapists. It’s a really scary thought.

    • Blacksheep

      yes, but if Biblical doctrine is true, the idea of suffering forever (even if someone has done evil) is far scarier. I prefer the idea that everyone is loved by God and can be forgiven.

      • KeithCollyer

        But just because you prefer something doesn’t make it true

  • SkepticsRUs

    It is good to have fire insurance, especially if you are playing with fire.

  • realeasygoing

    I highly doubt that this was a suicide. Some prison guard(or inmate probably nudged him along. Not saying that he did deserve the nudging.

  • the moother

    Religion is sooo easy… Thinking for yourself is not… and it’s much more moral than religion

    “Take the risk of thinking for yourself, much more happiness, truth, beauty, and wisdom will come to you that way.

    Christopher Hitchens (Closing statement of the debate with William Dembski at Prestonwood Baptist Church, Plano, Texas, November 18, 2010)”

  • http://batman-news.com Anton

    Mock if you will, Mr. Glass House, but he was right. We are all sinners.

    For example, I swear and like to drink beer, and Ariel Castro liked to kidnap women and rape them and hold them hostage and subject them to sexual slavery and torture.

    What’s the difference, really?

    • RuBall

      Because my sin of watching football on sundays and his sins of atrocities to three innocent women and several unborn children are no different.
      Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain

      • Carmelita Spats

        In Christianese, por favor, “But-we-are-all-sinners-and-Jesus-died -between-two-thieves”…He was a sicko…He raped young women and obligated them to birth his crotch droppings…This is why the book Cunt is so important…It shows you how to perform a self-induced abortion, through herbs and abdominal massages, when all other means are closed such as in the case of Castro’s sex slaves or poor women in rural Texas…Every young woman should read this…

        http://www.amazon.com/Cunt-Declaration-Independence-Expanded-Updated/dp/1580050751

    • Neko

      Drinking beer is righteous.

    • Theodore Shellhamer

      Seriously? If you are no different from Ariel Castro, I invite you to follow his good example and terminate your life. I’d like to think there’s a difference between those who intentionally cause harm to others and those of us who don’t.

      • feffer

        Sarcasm.

      • http://batman-news.com Anton

        A little irony-deficient today, Ted?

      • The Other Weirdo

        The sarchasm is wide with this one: the gulf between those employ sarcasm and those who fail to grasp it.

  • Blacksheep

    “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’

    • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      Obviously, there is no god. There is no kingdom of heaven. Castro is in the same place now as Mandela.

      The problem is, what can you say about the dogma and ethics of a religion that offers a false promise allowing evildoers to feel good about themselves while they are alive? Because after they are dead, nothing about religion matters.

  • Matt D

    I’m not suprised a man like Castro would find comfort and peace with a diety who shares similar morals.

  • http://somaticstrength.wordpress.com/ Tor

    And my raping, abusing family are all saved too.

    When forgiveness and redemption are the defining keys to your religion, when a religion’s mark of pride is how it accepts and loves the people who do really horrific things, that’s how you make a religion that enables abusers and rapists.

  • joey_in_NC

    Christian doctrine conveniently holds
    that as long as you invite Jesus into your life, salvation and eternal
    celestial bliss are sure to follow, no matter how you’ve lived your
    life.

    That might be fundamentalist “doctrine”, but it’s definitely not orthodox Christian doctrine. You should know the distinction.

    • Psychotic Atheist

      No, it’s Christian doctrine. Many Christians don’t ascribe to it, but it is doctrine:

      If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.

      Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out

      Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!

      As a random selection of Biblical statements made authoritatively.

  • John

    Well, most modern Christians believe it, and the leaders teach it, so any ambiguity in the source material is kind of moot in that context.

    • Neko

      most modern Christians believe it

      I hope not.

      • John

        We must know different sorts of Christians, then. The only ones I can recall that don’t believe in Hell as a place of eternal torment are the “personal relationship with Jesus” or “spiritual but not religious” types that don’t really follow any of the organized denominations.

        • Neko

          Outside members of my family, with whom I try to avoid talking about religion (they’re all supremely confident they’re going to Heaven), I know relatively few Christians well, and I don’t ask them about their religious views.

          But online I notice progressive Christians have abandoned several points of orthodoxy: substitutionary atonement, heaven and hell, anti-homosexuality, anti-abortion, and the like.

          • John

            “Progressive” being the key word. Many Christians aren’t progressive, more so in other denominations than others (in particular Baptists, one of the largest Protestant denominations, are typically very conservative).

            • Neko

              I looked it up, and you are right. According to Pew almost 60% of Americans believe in Hell.

              Appalling.

  • joey_in_NC

    could we focus on harm instead of sin here? please?

    FWIW, I just copied the rhetoric used by C Peterson.

    I can’t see the issue your way.

    Psychopaths will always exist, both atheist and “Christian”. They will cause harm to others for their own benefit, simply because they are psychopaths. However, even psychopaths generally won’t do harm if they feel that they can’t/won’t get away with it. That’s why a belief in justice in the afterlife could actually benefit, provided it’s a ‘healthy’ concept of afterlife justice.

    Otherwise, a psychopath with no concept of ultimate justice, or a wrong/unhealthy concept of justice as in the case of Castro, would have absolutely no problem continuing his psychopathic ways, harming others for his own benefit, provided he feels that he would continue getting away with it throughout his earthly life.

    • baal

      I’ve never seen any evidence that psychopaths are in the least bit dissuaded from their bad acts by consideration of an afterlife. Given the relative decrease in apparent criminality of atheists, the argument that’s more compelling is that criminals see the chance of redemption as a reason not to worry too much about the bad acts they do today.

      • joey_in_NC

        I’ve never seen any evidence that psychopaths are in the least bit dissuaded from their bad acts by consideration of an afterlife.

        You don’t think people generally would not do an action if they firmly believe they’ll be punished for doing that action? For evidence, just remember your days as a toddler, if you have good enough memory.

        • baal

          That’s just it, even the true-believers we get around here don’t seem to mind lying or pretending they didn’t say things they did further down the same page.

          By the way, I find it interesting you split atheists into the free-will and non-free-will types.

        • John

          I can’t help but notice that you conveniently cropped out the bit where he mentioned that atheists are under-represented in the prison population.

        • KeithCollyer

          If the only reason you don’t do something is because you might be punished then that makes you at best amoral. Toddlers don’t have a sense of right and wrong, as an adult you should have. Your argument is like saying because I couldn’t drive as a toddler then I can’t drive now.

  • Don Gwinn

    That a statement which is true and unpleasant is better than a statement which is false and seems pleasant.
    The idea that people who do evil, who would feel bad about themselves if they were told that an imaginary being would torture them for their transgressions after they die, will not feel bad enough about their transgressions if they find out that there’s no evidence that anyone gets tortured after death, has no support. You have no evidence that it’s true; you’ve simply smuggled several very big assumptions in.

  • guest

    He’s dead. He killed himself to escape prison. Believing he would go to Heaven. He was wrong, in my view, and can now no longer do any harm to anyone because he’s rotting in the ground. One less monster in the world. Meanwhile the women he brutalised survived, are free and have a chance to recover.

    There’s a reason death is the ultimate penalty in the penal system. Because once you lose your life, you don’t have anything.

  • joey_in_NC

    Most atheists fully support an earthly justice system that punishes evildoers in the here and now.

    For the atheists who believe in free will. For those who don’t believe in free will, the notion of “punishment” becomes incoherent. “Justice” systems would only be about deterency and prevention.

    • Anathema

      For those of us who don’t believe in libertarian free will, punishment is about deterrence and prevention. What’s the point of punishment for it’s own sake? To my mind, forcing someone to suffer simply for the sake of making them suffer is just evil.

    • Anat

      Not believing in free will does not equal not believing in choices. We make choices. We do not make them freely. This is why behavioral sciences are even possible – we make choices in response to other events, internal and external, with some randomness mixed in. This somewhat regularity allows studying how behavior responds to causes, and it allows interventions intended to modify behavior. Punishment intended to modify future behavior can be one form of intervention.

  • joey_in_NC

    Sadly, you’re right. The divisions in Christianity is a scandal in and of itself.

    • DavidMHart

      ” The divisions in Christianity is a scandal in and of itself.”

      I’m astonished at just how little this seems to worry Christians. Given the irreconciable differences between denominations, there only two logical possibilites:
      All of them are wrong in some of their core beliefs, or
      All but one of them are wrong in some of their core beliefs.

      Given that they all hold that it is possible to know at least something of the truth about their respective Jesuses, why are they not pooling their intellectual resources into a grand project to figure out which one is the true faith (or at least the most accurate)?

      If Protestant, Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Coptic, Mormon etc theologians were regualarly exchanging views and proposing tests that could be done to settle their differences – for instance, Catholics and Protestants agreeing a way of determining whether or not Transubstantiation is real – Catholics saying what it would take to persuade them that the wafer and wine were merely symbolic of Jesus-meat and blood, and Protestants saying what would persuade them that it was actually transformed into the flesh and blood of a Jewish preacherman, figuring out who to test these claims and framing the tests so that both sides would accept the results, whatever they turned out to be, that would be a respectable use of theologians’ time and efforts. The fact that they are not doing this kind of thing should suggest that all the denominations of Christianity are just making stuff up, and that none of them have any better reasons for believing what they believe than anyone else.

      • Neko

        why are they not pooling their intellectual resources into a grand project to figure out which one is the true faith (or at least the most accurate)?

        The origins of Christianity are an enigma, but the earliest texts (Paul’s letters) attest that the religion was factionalized from the beginning. The only assertions the historical consensus agrees upon is that Jesus existed, [forgot: was baptized by John the Baptist,] and was crucified. Everything else, it seems, is contested.

        The Roman Catholic Church isn’t interested in negotiating Christianity; it was founded on the conceit of exclusive possession of the one true faith. It will never budge on the fantastic doctrine of transubstantiation, the basis for empowerment of its (now seriously compromised) priestly caste.

  • joey_in_NC

    What do you imagine “ultimate justice” to be?

    If God exists, then “ultimate justice” is whatever God gives him, by definition. Our own personal versions of justice won’t matter one iota.

    • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

      If it isn’t human justice, it isn’t justice.

      • joey_in_NC

        If it isn’t human justice, it isn’t justice.

        So what is “human justice”? Who decides?

        • http://www.dogmabytes.com/ C Peterson

          Humans. Let some god decide and it’s no different than all the horrible despotic oligarchies that humans have existed under, and which were finally tossed aside during the Enlightenment. You know… when educated men gave up gods in favor of humanistically based ethics.

          Justice cannot be handed down from above. It comes from our peers, or it doesn’t come at all.

    • Anathema

      I don’t think that you’ve really thought this through.

      Let’s say that God allows Ariel Castro into paradise. Let’s say that when Castro’s victims die, God hands their souls over to Castro so that he can go on tormenting them for the rest of eternity. In that situation, by your logic, rewarding Castro by allowing him to torture those women forever would be “ultimate justice.” Is that really what you think?

      • joey_in_NC

        In that situation, by your logic, rewarding Castro by allowing him to torture those women forever would be “ultimate justice.”

        If God exists, can you claim to know what is in store for Castro now that his life on earth has ended?

        • Anathema

          No, I can’t claim to know what is in store for Castro if God actually exists. But that’s not the point.

          You claimed that anything that anything that God chooses to give Castro must qualify as “ultimate justice” by definition. My point is that, if that is the case, then you would have to consider it just for God to allow Castro to continue torturing those women forever if God decided to do so.

          If whatever God decides to do must be justice, then you have to acknowledge that even the most evil-seeming acts would be just if they were carried out by God. It’s not the consequences of an action that determines whether or not it is just, or even anything inherent in the act itself, but the person doing the act. If you were to discover that God was going to allow Castro to continue tormenting his victims for the rest of eternity, you should feel satisfied that justice is being done.

          But I doubt that you would actually feel that way. I’m almost certain that you believe that doing such a thing is contrary to the character of your God, and you’d be deeply shocked, betrayed, and appalled if He were to reward Castro in this manner. But if anything that God does is just simply because God does it, then why would you find it so revolting if God were to reward Castro in this manner?

          • joey_in_NC

            I’m almost certain that you believe that doing such a thing is contrary to the character of your God, and you’d be deeply shocked, betrayed, and appalled if He were to reward Castro in this manner.

            Yes, that is correct.

            But if anything that God does is just simply because God does it, then why would you find it so revolting if God were to reward Castro in this manner?

            Because your hypothetical idea (that Castro will be allowed to torment his victims forever) is revolting to me, right now. But IF hypothetically that is exactly what is ‘just’ to God, then that is what is ‘just’, regardless of how I or anyone else feels about it.

            The point is, if God exists…whatever God feels is just…is just…period. Why would our own opinions trump the Creator of the entire universe?

            • Anna

              The point is, if God exists…whatever God feels is just…is just…period. Why would our own opinions trump the Creator of the entire universe?

              Wow. This is why religion scares me. You think your god can torture people forever, and that it’s perfectly moral for it to do so.

  • Psychotic Atheist

    If there are Christians who reject the Bible as doctrinal, then so be it. However, the Catholics do in fact believe that confession, penance and so on can earn forgiveness for sins for example. Protestants too believe that God will forgive those who truly repent. Jesus is quoted as specifically saying there is only one sin that is unforgiveable.

    By any reasonable standard, the teachings within the canon holy book of a religion (especially when quoting important prophets or founders) should be considered ‘doctrinal’. For instance, the Bible teaches us that if we repent and turn to God our sins will be wiped out.

    I agree that there are many individual and groups of Christians who choose to ignore or to confound with sophistry passages from their holy book, but to deny that forgiveness of sins through some act (baptism, confession, penance and reconciliation or confession and repentance depending on sect) is somehow not a doctrine of Christianity – seems completely unusual.

    Could you explain what it is that you think the Catholics don’t believe regarding forgiveness?

    • joey_in_NC

      Could you explain what it is that you think the Catholics don’t believe regarding forgiveness?

      As I mentioned above, you’re missing out on Purgatory.

  • busterggi

    Wow, this makes him my second favorite Christian, right behind Jeffrey Dahmer.

  • Bdole

    “saviour”?
    Did Castro use the Queen’s English?

  • Psychotic Atheist

    Did my reply get eaten?
    Are you suggesting that forgiveness of all sins (except one, according to Jesus) is not possible in Christian doctrine? That Catholics don’t believe sins can be forgiven through confession and penitence and reconciliation? That Protestants don’t believe that forgiveness follows repentance?

    My understanding is that if anything can be considered a teaching or belief (ie., doctrine) of a religion or church, it would be the canon holy books of that religion or church. Since I directly quoted the holy books of Christianity, I directly quoted original source material of Christian doctrine.

    While believers in practice may ascribe to ideas that may differ from the doctrine of their holy books, it seems perverse to suggest that Christianity does not have as a central teaching the notion that almost any sins can be forgiven. Whether that be through baptism, being born again, the sacrifice of Christ, confession or repentance.

    • joey_in_NC

      That Catholics don’t believe sins can be forgiven through confession and penitence and reconciliation?

      They do. But they also believe in the doctrine of Purgatory. Look it up.

      My understanding is that if anything can be considered a teaching or belief (ie., doctrine) of a religion or church, it would be the canon holy books of that religion or church. Since I directly quoted the holy books of Christianity, I directly quoted original source material of Christian doctrine.

      Here’s the thing. The “canon of holy books” weren’t officially organized until well over three centuries after Jesus’ death. So it would make sense to me that the official deciders of Christian doctrine would be around even before the Bible had been assembled, and were actually the ones who decided the canon of the Bible. (Can you tell by now that I’m Catholic?)

      • Psychotic Atheist

        I’m not sure how interjecting a temporary period of torture or suffering makes the statement you objected to false. What happens after one is purified in purgatory? One goes to heaven, now having their impurities burned away from them and being fit for the presence of the Lord, right?

        So Christian doctrine conveniently holds
        that as long as you invite Jesus into your life, salvation and eternal celestial bliss are sure to follow, no matter how you’ve lived your life.
        This is still basically true (the exact method for assuring entrance to heaven may vary by sect), even if you include purgatory as a transitional stage. The Catholic Church teaches that everyone can get to heaven (thanks to Jesus!) but that all sins will be punished. It’s just that for some reason if you performed the right magic in life, what is just for you is a temporary suffering but if you failed to do that magic the just thing is eternal suffering.

        • joey_in_NC

          So Christian doctrine conveniently holds that as long as you invite Jesus into your life, salvation and eternal celestial bliss are sure to follow, no matter how you’ve lived your life.

          No, this is still not true for orthodox Christianity. Orthodox Christianity states that if you die in state of unrepentant mortal sin (as is seemingly the case with Castro since suicide is a mortal sin), then you can forfeit heaven completely…regardless of whether you’re “Christian” or not.

          • Psychotic Atheist

            Yes, there is some variety among the sects as to what cultic behaviour is required, but the central fact remains: upon performing them regardless of sinful behaviour (except one) one is assured heaven. Suicide does of course, get argued as a matter of theology to be a gateway to hell in many sects, I wonder why Jesus didn’t mention it when he said there was only one unforgiveable sin. He probably thought it was obvious, right?

  • gg

    How is this not victimizing those three women again? Was there any real need for the authorities to put that ‘information’ out?

  • rg57

    If you learn more about the people who commit terrible crimes like genocide, the glaring fact is that they are often not different from many other people. Something in their lives sent them down a different path. It’s either something in their biology, or their environment. As free will is an illusion, and deterrence by punishment doesn’t seem all that effective, we need to be smarter about what we’re doing.

    My problem with Christianity is not forgiveness, which is not a bug, as evidenced by the entire country of South Africa, but my problem with it is the means to forgiveness, which is basically a recruitment tool for Christianity’s club. It’s also hypocritical, because if you deny their holy spirit, you can never be forgiven for that. (When I speak of forgiveness, I don’t mean an elimination of all responsibility, which would be to deny facts, but the elimination of pointless condemnation and worthlessness of a person)

    It doesn’t give me a lot of satisfaction (although I will admit to some) to wish revenge on people who’ve done terrible things, and to delight in their pain. But what makes humans so special? Should I also take a moral delight in the deaths of pit bulls and box jellyfish? There needs to be a better, some might say, humanist, solution.

    If prisons weren’t overcrowded for-profit businesses containing mostly people who committed victimless crimes like drug possession, we might have a chance to do something useful there.

    By permitting Ariel to kill himself, his guards have acted as executioner, and cost us all the opportunity to find out how to prevent other Ariels from happening to other potential victims, and importantly how to influence other Ariels so that they are able to live fulfilling lives without wanting to what he did. There must surely have been many, many points along the way where this could have been stopped. The fact that he wasn’t stopped tells us a lot about the current state of psychology, as a “science”.

    It shouldn’t be overlooked the likelihood that a culture that glorifies and justifies rounding people up so they can live in depressing, cramped, violent, and unhealthy conditions where they are expected to be raped, would ultimately produce a man who would duplicate, and make even worse, such conditions in his own home.

  • Daniel_JM

    Maybe he didn’t believe in mortal sins. I was raised as an evangelical Christian and we were always taught that the only unforgivable sin was blaspheming the Holy Spirit and dying unsaved. The vast, vast majority of Christians I know think suicidal people go to heaven, as long as they asked Jesus into their heart at some point in their life.

  • Anat

    Castro is dead. He will never hurt anyone again. What more should I want?

  • Pauly

    There are no mortal sons in protestantism, so that didn’t matter to him.

    • The Other Weirdo

      Are you sure? I heard of quite a few mortal sons in Protestantism.

  • ZenDruid

    The bastard just demonstrated how much of a cowardly weakling he was. Each of his victims endured by more than a hundredfold, and in too many aspects to detail, that miserable shit’s time in the hole.

  • DavidMHart

    Are you seriously suggesting that a worldview that says “as far as we ca tell, there is no afterlife in which justice is served, so if we care about justice at all, we’d better do all we reasonably can to achieve it in this world, even if our efforts are never perfect” would be inferior to one that says “You can be as kind as virtuous as you like, but if you fail to believe in the right myths, you’re going to be held for all eternity in a state of conscious torment, and likewise, you can be as cruel and murderous as you like, but if you do believe in the right myths you’ll receive eternal bliss”? Because the latter is still very much a mainstream position among Christians.

    If you don’t personally believe in hell, then you are better than that, but still, you seem to be wanting to say that a system that strives to achieve at least some justice is worse than one that is completely arbitrary.


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