Religion Does Christian confession incite crime?

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I have much to reproach to Christianity. Apart from being nonsensical, irrational belief system built on fairy tales and contradictory rules, and apart from all the excesses of the Church committed over the centuries, there is a more pernicious element to being a Christian that has, IMHO, had a tremendously negative influence of the behaviour of its believers for centuries: confession.

I am sure that it will come as a surprise to many unsuspecting Christians. But give it some thoughts. Christianity was founded on the belief that God is infinitely good and merciful. God will forgive anything as long as believers acknowledge their sin and repent. To obtain God's forgiveness (or absolution), the faithful needs to confess their sins. The problem with this is that any Christian can basically commit any sin or crime and expect to be forgiven as long as they confess and repent. It's essentially a "get out of jail free card", at least from a spiritual point of view. But that is all that matters to true believers.

Let's not forget that Christianity's early success during the Roman Empire was first and foremost based on the idea of a better life in Heaven after what was for many a wretched life on Earth. The belief in Heaven in the after-life is one of the most powerful selling point of religions like Christianity and Islam. Most religions have a sort of after-life, but that could be reincarnation (Hinduism, Buddhism) or just an underworld of the dead in most ancient European polytheisms, with an alternative better underworld (Valhalla, Elysium, Mag Mell) accessible only to a select few - a sort of "exclusive club", a concept that humans seem to have held dear since the rise of civilisations and social classes.

For Christians (and Muslims) far more than for polytheistic people, the after-life can be seen as the ultimate goal of life, the main reason why they believe. For ancient Greeks, Romans, Celts, Slavs and so on, the Gods were fickle and played with the destinies of mere humans. But the Gods also didn't have a say in whether people went to hell (Tartarus), the normal afterlife (Asphodel Meadows), or the exclusive club (Elysian Fields). That was decided by the judges of the underworld, who were themselves deceased humans, not gods. Judaism centralised all the power of the gods and the judges into a single omnipotent despot, a single God. Christians (and later Muslims) inherited this concept of an Almighty God, with the main difference that the New Testament God was no longer a vengeful, choleric and judgemental despot (like most human rulers at the time the Old Testament was written), but a completely different kind, benevolent, merciful God, a protective father who will do everything to help his children.

Of course, throughout the history of Christianity believers had to reconcile this schizophrenic image of their single God, who appeared to be two very different entities depending on whether they read the Old or the New Testament. Nowadays far more people prefer to believe in the merciful New Testament God. In any case, most Christian priests or pastors, of any denomination, will tell you that God is merciful and that you can "wash out your sins" through confession and repentance, so that the road to Heaven always remains open. I am not sure if they realise how dangerous that is. It is basically a religion that says that this life doesn't matter much because it is very short compared to the eternal after-life, that this after-life will be infinitely better, and that whatever you do here on Earth, as God is infinitely merciful and kind, you will be forgiven no matter what you do, as you as you keep the faith and repent your sins. The message is clear: do whatever you want: cheat, lie, kill, rape, lead a life of the worst excesses, as in the end all will be forgiven. You may fear the justice of humans (prison or even capital punishment), but that is nothing as once you die you will have all eternity to enjoy Heaven.

I don't understand how it's still possible to teach children (and adults) stuff like this in today's world? That's basically telling people that morals don't count as long as you don't forget to go to confession before you die. Christians are quick to point out that Muslims brainwash Jihadists and suicide bombers with the belief of reward in the after-life for dying for their faith. But their religion isn't better. It's the same, and maybe even worse as you don't even need to die for your faith. Just do anything you want and all will be forgiven by Almighty God in its infinite kindness and mercy.

I think that this goes a long way in explaining why Christian religion has never managed to engender a peaceful society. Indeed the more religious a Christian country or region is (think of the South-East United States or most of Latin America) or was, the higher the crime rate and the more endemic the violence. In contrast, Japan is one of the most peaceful societies on earth with some of the most altruistic people and yet only 1% of them are Christian (ironically most Japanese politicians happened to be Christian).

I think that the reason why Christian societies have not degenerated in a free-for-all chaos is mainly because Christians cannot be sure whether their God is the harsh punishing one of the Old Testament or the all-forgiving one of the New Testament. That and human nature, as I believe that most people have the potential to be good, but that it is poverty, ignorance (the mother of fear) and corrupting influence of religion and superstitions (fomenting more fear and ignorance) that is the root of most evil.
 
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In Western countries, where Christianity has traditionally been the dominant religion, prisoners facing death penalty typically have (or had in countries that abolished capital punishment) the right to confess to a priest or pastor before being executed. This is because for a Christian it is normally unthinkable to die without confessing their sins and repenting, especially if they are criminals, as it would prevent them from going to heaven.

It's a bit similar to the belief of ancient Germanic/Norse warriors that they would not go to Valhalla if they die without a sword in their hands, or the belief of ancient Greeks and Romans that dead people needed a coin placed in their mouth or on their eyes to pay the ferryman that would bring them to the underworld of the dead, otherwise they are soul would wander for all eternity without finding peace.

The similarity is limited to having a ritual to access the afterlife. Only Christians have a God that will forgive everything, and that is what makes Christianity dangerous for public order.
 
I know it's just a movie but it reflects reality pretty well in this case. See how quickly and easily the cardinal absolve the sins of the Godfather. I like how he admits that he "always has time to save souls". That's his main business. That's what keeps the herd faithful.


The "aah" at the end feels like he is thinking: "This is so refreshing. I feel better already. Like a brand new man. Okay let's go kill someone."
 
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The meaning of a confession is first to be humble and feel sorry for the mistake you made. Only then you can be forgiven.
 
The meaning of a confession is first to be humble and feel sorry for the mistake you made. Only then you can be forgiven.
That's what I said above, wasn't it? That's what it means to confess (acknowledge the sins) and repent (feeling sorry). But that doesn't make it any less of a problem. Basically Christians can be forgiven anything as long as they feel sorry for what did it. That's completely unacceptable to me. This is a recipe for disaster as believers think that they can ultimately get away with anything.

What's more it's easy to say that you are sorry but who is going to verify that you mean it? Christians are known to be pathological liars. In fact that is how I usually recognise Christians. When I was living in Japan where only 1% of the population is Christian I could usually tell fairly easily if someone was Christian from their attitude including their tendency to lie. It's not surprising that almost all top politicians in Japan are Christian. Lying is part of the job description.

Christians tend to be liars because they lie to themself first. They are self-deluded in their whole belief system. The most obvious lie is their belief in heaven. How many Christians do you know who will tell you they will happily die so that they can more quickly go to heaven and enjoy eternal blissful life? The truth is that almost all Christians are afraid to die because they don't truly believe in heaven. It's just a self-delusion.
 
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A good demonstration of Christian faith. 😆

This is a scene from the series The Last Kingdom. Viking leaders Ubba (son of Ragnar Lothbrok) and Guthrum are meeting with the Christian Anglo-Saxon King of East Anglia, who is trying to convert them to Christianity.

It didn't take long to confirm the self-delusion even though he seemed quite convinced by his beliefs at first.

 
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The meaning of a confession is first to be humble and feel sorry for the mistake you made. Only then you can be forgiven.
With respect, God is supposed to be all-seeing so why do we need intermediaries like priests and the Sacrament of Confession?
 
With respect, God is supposed to be all-seeing so why do we need intermediaries like priests and the Sacrament of Confession?
True. And if we take this reasoning further, why would an Almighty God who created the Universe and all life beings specifically created sins for humans but not for other life beings? God can't ever accuse plants or bacteria to be sinful or immoral as they have no brain to reflect upon their actions. Even non-human animals would lack the language and concepts necessary for them to understand such concepts and follow religious rules. Why single out humans like that? Why cause so much more suffering among humans than in all other life beings?
 
All those considerations makes me think in a photograph published by the NASA , called " The pale blue dot" by Carl Sagan. It was a photo showing what the Earth looks like as seen by one of the Voyager spacecraft. As Sagan said, all our beliefs, our history, our loves and hates, all our lives are sumed up in that small dot. An there is a huge Universe outside...
 
With respect, God is supposed to be all-seeing so why do we need intermediaries like priests and the Sacrament of Confession?
That is another matter. Don't look for any logic in religions.
But even in secular discusions, ideology obscures logic.
Unfortunately most people prefer ideology, religious or not.
 
I asked ChatGPT its thought on the subject. It could be interesting what AI has to say based on the analysis of millions of online articles and posts on the subject.

I asked: "Would you agree that Christian confession incites crime as people know they can be forgiven by God for anything they have done?"

ChatGPT's answer:

"Christian confession, as a religious practice, is intended to provide individuals with a means to seek forgiveness for their actions. However, it's important to note that the concept of forgiveness in Christianity typically comes with the condition of genuine repentance and a commitment to change one's behavior. While some individuals might misuse the idea of forgiveness as a "free pass" for wrongdoing, the teachings of Christianity emphasize personal responsibility and accountability.

In reality, the impact of confession on crime rates is complex and multifaceted, influenced by various factors such as individual beliefs, societal norms, and legal consequences. While some individuals may find solace in confession and be motivated to reform their behavior, others may take advantage of the forgiveness aspect without truly acknowledging or addressing the harm they've caused."


Obviously not all crimes are caused by Christians, and even among Christians crimes are not normally motivated by the knowledge that they will be forgiven by God if they repent. But for someone who really believes in God and heaven, the possibility of confession, even if it requires repentance, does sound like an easy way to clear your slate of all the bad things you did at the end of your life. Just knowing that you can do that surely weakens the moral resolve of Christians with a criminal mind. So it's not a motivation for committing crimes, but a way to ease one's conscience.

I have noticed time and again that Christian often justify their crimes by saying that God would have wanted to do it, and even if God didn't want it, He/It would forgive them anyway. Someone who is poor and hungry might justify stealing by saying that God would not want them to starve and that Gid created the opportunity for them to steal in order to help them. The problem with this kind of attitude is that you start with stealing and then can justify any crime based on a similar reasoning.

Personally I am much more of a hardliner when it comes to punishing crime. I don't think that society should ever forgive criminals, especially in the case of malicious crimes that directly hurt people (assault, bodily harm, rape, kidnapping and of course murder). I never understood why a murderer could get out of jail early for 'good behaviour'. This kind of legislation is based on the Christian concept of repentance.

In Belgium there is an infamous criminal named Marc Dutroux who, with three accomplices (including his wife), kidnapped at least 11 girls whom they repeatedly raped for weeks or months. They also murdered five of the girls. These horrendous paedophiles and serial killers should all have been sentenced to life imprisonment. Only Dutroux was (in 2004), while the three others only got 30 years, 25 years and 5 years respectively. What is unthinkable is that all of them have now been released for "good behaviour" (Dutroux in 2021 after 30 years in prison, his wife in 2012 after only 16 years, and the two others in 2006 and 2019). Considering the severity of the crimes, which were all premeditated, malicious and repeated several times, I don't understand how they were not all condemned to several life sentences without possibility of parole. All the justifications I've heard are based on the concept of Christian repentance and forgiveness. That's unacceptable to me. There are some crimes that you shouldn't be able to repent and be forgiven for.
 
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