Faria: Is 'the only good church a burned-down church'?

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.

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Comments on this post

Stalking a bully?

Under another column by Dr. Cummings, Jim Sandefur, the bully of the Telegraph full of hatred for his fellow Southerners (or so he claims to be) and Christians, writes (April,13, 2015):

"... To my stalker, Miguel Faria, keep stalking and I'll leave you a good quote soon."

Don't worry, when you come out with another original irresponsible piece of gravel, I will call you out!

This is what Sandefur wrote: "The only good church is a burned-down church... Basically, if you want to increase crime, and degeneracy in an area just build a church."

Calling me a stalker and being a cyber "stalker" because I condemned his words, such as the irresponsible statements above and the series of derogatory names with which he bullies others in this community, is flattering to himself; and for me, time well spent!

As to the stalking part, the Telegraph bully full of hatred, now trying to become a cyberspace victim, is laughable. I invite Sandefur to call the police for cyber protection, so they can have a good laugh too!

--- Dr. Miguel Faria

The angry Left comes alive with atheism!

Bosque Flores (University of South Carolina): Dr. Faria, this article, "Why is the angry left so angry?" written by an atheist, probably does the best job explaining the anger exhibited that you discussed in your opinion piece.

Willy Bean (Warner Robins, Georgia): I'd be angry too if I didn't believe in life after death. It's a safe, effective and affordable treatment for unhappiness. See a preacher for more details.

FeltonFaye Swicord (Wilkinson County): It's to be expected with these "fools"(Ps. 14:1). The RESURRECTED ONE said, "....men love darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil." (Jn. 3:19)

Brian Westley: "but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22).

FeltonFaye Swicord (Wilkinson County): The condition there is "...without a cause....". The infallible WORD declares "The FOOL hath said in his heart, there is no God."

Brian Westley: FeltonFaye Swicord -- "The infallible WORD." It's pretty worthless to try and argue using your religious book with people who don't consider your book to be accurate.

Bosque Flores (University of South Carolina): Dr. Faria, this article, written by an atheist, probably does the best job explaining the anger exhibited you discussed in your opinion piece.

Brian Westley: There's a better article by atheist blogger Greta Christina explaining why atheists can be so angry.

Bosque Flores (University of South Carolina): Brian Westley Seems Greta made a choice that has created quite a bit of anger in her life. Seems that at some point in her rant, she would have acknowledged the personal responsibility of the action creating her anger. Can't be a fun way to live your life, but she is free to make that choice.

I honestly tried to read her rant with an open mind, but when she started talking about how angry she was about the mistreatment of Galileo, that is when I realized she is just another in the myriad of "social atheists." Those who profess an atheist point of view for either attention or to run away from personal responsibility in their lives.

Brian Westley: Bosque Flores -- it seems you didn't read it. She specifically talks about all the stereotypes you just used about atheists.

Fact check: It looks like that article by Greta also had similar material as the real to life experience described by Dr. Cummings in his article last week — i.e., about the little girl supposedly terrorized by the Church sermon. What a coincidence! Moreover, the extremely long and hatred filled article by Greta SUBSTANTIATES fully the article cited by Bosque Flores in the first place.

Addendum: A quotable quote:

Every once in a while, a man should look introspectively at his friends; it tells much about himself. (And Socrates and the great polymath Aristotle agree with me.) And if the man is a great leader of men, he should look at the character, motives and virtues of those who follow him with even more avidity! --- Dr. Miguel A. Faria

Atheists still angry!

Bob White (UGA): When you look at the demographics in Boulder, Colorado and Macon, Georgia , you have to be amazed that the disparity in crime rate is not even higher.
Obviously Mr. Cummings is more successful at being a business man than as a Priest. Maybe he should stick to what he is good at.(March 30,2015)

Jim Sandefur (Lizella, Georgia): Sorry I’m late responding to this. I was in church all day yesterday--just kidding. I was firing an anagama kiln all day yesterday. I missed seeing this when I breezed through the paper online yesterday morning but a friend helping fire the kiln told me that I’d get a good laugh out of one of the letters to the editor. Well, I did, and at first I was almost flattered that Miguel is so obsessed with me that he take notes on even my most flippant comments in the comments section of the Telegraph. But then I felt more creeped out than flattered that someone was so obsessed with me that he was stalking me. Also, for someone to read every comment you make here and just be a lurker without the cojones to comment makes one think they are too cowardly to be worth taking seriously... But, just one comment on the content of my fan’s letter. He gave excuses for crime rates being so much higher in Macon than Boulder that have some validity but failed to address the main point which was that if you overlay a map of the worst per capita crime over a map of the Bible Belt, it matches exactly.

FeltonFaye Swicord (Wilkinson County): High winds, dark clouds, some lightning.....but no rain(substance)!

Dr Faria: Exactly Mr. Swicord! The Telegraph bully, Sandefur still trying to bully ("a lurker without the cojones") wants to become the crying victim at the same time ("Miguel is so obsessed with me ...stalking me") — wow!

The spiteful and condescending remarks he repetitively makes even if "flippant" are irresponsible. And the fact he looked up statistics for bogus comparisons makes it deliberate raging hatred!

As to my cojones...he has not read my book and knows little about me!

Jim Sandefur: Brian Westley, very interesting blog but it makes me so angry that it is hard to finish. Thanks for posting it.

Dr. Faria: The rants of an angry atheist (by her own admission) makes him so angry "it is hard to finish." More flippant or revealing comments, hmm! By their own words, they reveal their uncontainable, blind, and unmitigated hatred.