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A killing, a life sentence and my change of heart
Jeanne Bishop, left, and her sister Nancy visit Scotland in 1990, the year before Nancy's murder.
February 2nd, 2013
10:00 PM ET

A killing, a life sentence and my change of heart

Editor's note: Jeanne Bishop is the sister of Nancy Bishop Langert, who, along with her husband and their unborn child, was shot to death by a juvenile. Since the murder of her family members, Jeanne Bishop has been an advocate for gun violence prevention, forgiveness and abolition of the death penalty. She is a criminal defense attorney in Chicago.

By Jeanne Bishop, Special to CNN

(CNN) - I have been paying close attention to the changes coming since the U.S. Supreme Court struck down any mandatory life sentences for juveniles who kill.  A teenager killed my sister.

He killed her dream, too. She wanted to be a mom.

My sister Nancy married young.  She was overjoyed when she got pregnant at age 25.

That dream died three months later, when she and her husband walked through the front door of their home and found their killer waiting for them.

He was a 16-year-old with a history of violence.  He wanted to see what it was like to kill someone. He found out when he broke in and shot Nancy, Richard and their unborn baby and left them to die on a cold basement floor.

When the killer was arrested, details emerged that turned my stomach. He had joked about murdering my family members, even attended their funeral.

When he was convicted of the murders, he was remorseless. When he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole, I was glad.

After sentencing, my mother turned to me in the courtroom and said, “We’ll never see him again.” I was glad of that, too.  I wanted to wipe him off my hands like dirt.

I never spoke his name. I wanted his name to die and Nancy’s to live.

When a coalition of people (including law professors such as Bernardine Dohrn and Randolph Stone whose advocacy on behalf of children I have always admired) launched efforts to abolish juvenile life sentences, I was appalled. The last thing I wanted was to attend parole hearings year after year, to beg bureaucrats not to release the person who had slaughtered my loved ones.

So I publicly fought any change in the sentence.  I told myself that fight was not just for my family, but for other family members of loved ones murdered by juveniles who would be affected.  I was like Saul early in the Book of Acts, the righteous one with a zeal for justice, before he was struck down and humbled and given a new name: Paul.

Then, I repented.

My road to Damascus moment didn’t come in a blinding light or a voice from heaven. The voice that changed my heart was that of a Mississippi-born, Vietnam veteran, Yale-educated  Southern Baptist pastor and academic named Randall O’Brien.

O’Brien told me something true - that Nancy’s killer and I are both children of God, equally beloved and equally fallen. O’Brien reminded me of Jesus’ example on the cross of what to do with those who have harmed us: pray for them.

I had never prayed for the person who killed my loved ones; I had never even uttered his name.

I say it now: David Biro. I began praying for him in the only place I could: the garden where Nancy and Richard and their baby are buried. I dropped to my knees and asked God for something I never could have imagined, that Nancy’s killer get well enough to get out someday.

I don’t know that he will; he is not there yet.  But I do know that no one, including him, is beyond the forgiveness and redemption and purpose of God.

My two young sons taught me that. We were talking about loving your neighbor as yourself.  Stephen asked, “What about the person who killed Aunt Nancy?”

Brendan replied, “We can’t love what he did. But we have to love him, because God made him for a purpose.”

Brendan is right. God made each of the juveniles serving life sentences for a purpose.  I can no longer support a sentence that says never.

Repenting privately would be cowardice, since my past support for locking up some juveniles forever has been so public.  So when lawmakers in my state of Illinois consider bills next month that would abolish juvenile life sentences, I will be there to speak in favor of the mercy of a second chance.

Dr. Marcus Borg, a biblical and Jesus scholar, notes that the roots of the Greek word for “repentance” mean “to go beyond the mind that you have.”

My mind is changed; my heart is remade, and a new task lies ahead.

- kramsaycnn

Filed under: Belief • Guns • Violence

soundoff (1,981 Responses)
  1. Counseling Cooperative

    It doesn't sound like forgiveness was an easy choice for her to make, but it was a choice she has made nonetheless. We all must decide whether to forgive someone or not at one time or another. When one doesn't forgive it's not the criminal or offender who suffers or will rot but it will be us who suffers. The bitterness of unforgiveness will rot us from the inside out. I work in the mental health field and see the effects of unforgiveness all the time. It doesn't release the offender from the responsibility of paying the price for their crime but it allows the victim to move on. It's a release that can bring deep healing.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:44 pm |
    • lol??

      "................We all must ..........." Oh, Ooooohh the "wegod"!

      February 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      He overstated, you don't have too. You can die bitter of you'd like. Not sure of the benefits, but you can.

      February 3, 2013 at 2:15 pm |
    • Fine Forgive him

      But don't let him out to kill again

      February 3, 2013 at 3:32 pm |
  2. Colin

    The death penalty is not a deterrent to a rattlesnake either. What of it?

    The goal is not to reform them or prevent other killers. The goal is simply to kill them, rather than wasting hundreds of thousands of dollars on housing/guarding them. This is more than enough money to save another life. The money could be spent on improved education, medical care for children, gang suppression, gun buybacks.....there are plenty of opportunities. Essentially we can swap the life of innocent children for the life of a murderer.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • lol??

      Yup, spend da moolah saved on teaching the women to love the hubby and child so dad can teach empathy.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • ¿¿lol

      what lol?? today's words for women aren't harlots and tramps? you're just being bashful today.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:50 pm |
  3. JOE B

    We as Christians are to forgive him but our society has made a mistake in allowing life sentences for those that have obviously killed someone. In days gone by it was easy to mistake who the actual murderer was . With DNA testing which is error free, we can be assured we have the actual killer and with that said, we should bring back capital punishment. It will strike fear in the heart of anyone who believes he can kill a human being.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:30 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      The death penalty has been shown that it is not a deterrant. Actually most punishments do not act as a deterrent. Criminals rarely think of the consequences while commiting a crime.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
    • holspark

      Dude, yo is wrong. People that can, in cold blood, kill someone has no logic to comprehend the death penalty. It don't register, cause if it did, there would be no murder in those states with the dp.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:39 pm |
    • Roger that

      But this life is just a blink of an eye compared to eternity. All the killer has to do is become a Christisn and then they can live happily everafter in heaven with the rest of you. So much for a deterrent.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:40 pm |
    • lol??

      "JOE B sayz,
      We as Christians are to forgive..........." I'm not on his mailing list. What did your letter say?

      February 3, 2013 at 1:41 pm |
    • John

      RC, I agree with you on this point, that criminals don't think things through as much, and then add in that kids in general think through things even less... and most kids today are training hours each day to be serial killers, with rewards, and a reset the game if it goes wrong mentality. The proof is the number of kids doing this day after day, what before seemed to be fairly rare. Other violent media (music, TV, movies...) just makes it all the worse... life becomes meaningless to kids seeing that each day, and no one tells them of the punishment waiting for them, just that they'll be rewarded and can brag about it. In one recent instance, the kid sent his girlfriend pictures of the dead relatives, like it should impress her. Training is like that.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:45 pm |
    • Blessed are the Cheesemakers

      You do realize not every muder case has DNA evidence right Joe?

      February 3, 2013 at 2:02 pm |
  4. Colin

    This woman changed her mind because she believed in God? Well, fine. But there is absolutely no evidence for God and there is plenty of evidence for his absence – the original murder being just one small example.

    The entire religious community is clinically insane. Really. The very definition of insanity is an unshakable belief in things for which there is no evidence and that is precisely what "faith" consists of. Religious leaders have been proven wrong about every testable statement they have made – the origin of man (Darwin), the position of the earth relative to the sun (burn Galileo, burn), the morale rightness of slavery, etc – yet they continue to claim infallibility!

    Some people are just no good. The murderer being a prime example. Maybe he was warped by his childhood. Maybe it is not his fault, any more than it is the fault of a rattlesnake that it was born with fangs and an aggressive disposition. So what? It is precisely because there is no chance of the animal changing that we do not hesitate to kill it.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • Melanie57

      Colin, you put that very well. I agree with you 100%.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:42 pm |
  5. Neko

    I don't believe a psychopath should get a second chance. That is just lacking in common sense. If it makes her feel better to forgive him fine, but please, the public still needs to be protected. He can dialogue with God in prison. The Baptist view that we are all fallen should not be extrapolated to letting murderers out of prison.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:26 pm |
  6. Chris

    The only reason I would set this murderer free is so that I can find him and remove his body parts one piece at a time.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • Roger that

      There's certainly nothing abnormal about that.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:27 pm |
    • Chris

      Roger, Of course there is nothing abnormal about it . I would suggest you have a spot of afternoon tea first before embarking on this task. Must keep things civilized of course.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm |
  7. marie

    i have read many of these posts and for all those who have lost someone my heart goes out to you. i know how you feel for i have lost 2 children to murder and their killers are free. loop holes in the laws. however, i see the posts blaming god and the denying god's existence and the the posts not accepting capitol punishment. i am a christian however i do believe in capitol punishment and life sentences. in the bible we are taught forgiveness this is good. with that being said we can look at the 10 commandments thou shalt not kill that law is for everyday people, people like the ones who killed our family members, people like you and i. but god set up a judgement system he said if they do this or that it is punishable by death. and they stoned or hung or crucified offenders. he taught obey the laws of the land and render unto ceasar the things that are ceasars. he taught us obedience...children obey ur parents tht your days may be long upon the earth. he also gave us free will to make our own choices in life. if we choose to disobey the laws of the land to disobey the good things our parents have taught us, if we have tempted our god by saying i can and will take anothers life and you god cannot do anything about it we are self deceived we will go to our graves and be damned. let the courts punish these criminals as god intended he did not set up a society of lawlessness, let the prison ministry do their job and try to lead these lost souls to christ. the thief on the cross found repentence at calvary. jesus did not prevent his punishment but...he did forgive him and with that we know they need to pay for the crimes they have committed and we need to pray they find forgiveness.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:21 pm |
    • dale

      you are a saint with an angels heart. you hang in there. God bless you, mam.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • End Religion

      your god does not offer free will. He offers his way or eternal torture. That is known as coercion, just like the mafia does.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:46 pm |
    • dale

      end religion is a coward and for making a statement like this under this ladies post, you fit the definition of the oppressor of a widow.

      February 3, 2013 at 3:08 pm |
    • Bob

      End Religion's post was accurate, and he/she is being courageous in standing up to the overly-powerful religious folk in the US and their disgusting, vicious myths and their vindictive "god" of their sky fairy tales. I wish that others would show similar courage, and speak out to help free us from the Christian Taliban of the US.

      The time for freedom from religious supersti-tion has come. Let's finally move humanity forward together and break the chains of religion. It's happening. Fortunately, Christianity looks to be in decline worldwide, although Islam is a separate big problem that might be getting worse.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains. Join the movement.
      Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 3, 2013 at 3:18 pm |
    • ¿¿lol

      End a coward, dale? It's time to face the facts, son. Educate thy self.

      February 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
    • marie

      @end religion...u have used ur god given right to freedom of choice...u have chosen to reject all religion. you said my god offers heaven or torture this is true. however, wht u are not seeing that those that truly want to mke heaven will make the effort. i attend church do i believe everything tht comes across the pulpit...No. Do i agree with everything...No. i dont know it all and neither do they. all religions have their little idiosyncrisies their little standards that they push. however, in 11timothy 2:15 it states ...study to show thyself approved unto god RIGHTFULLY dividing the word of truth. freedom of choice is ours to make we choose to live life how we want it. but you are right it is all or nothing. you join clubs and organizations that have bylaws and prerequisits and standards and beliefs, and formats yet when it comes to ur soul and eternal life u balk why because the seed of of defiance was planted that if u dont see it it doesnt exist. u cant see an atom with ur naked eye yet it exist atoms makeup all things. chosing to live godly is in effect of chosing to live goodly. good as in obedience as in not partaking in evil. thats ur choice as to hw u live just as it is ur choice to go to heaven or to eternal suffering god does not make u comply with his request that all men be saved but he does make u choose ...he says choose this day whom u will serve god or mammon. no man can serve 2 masters. in the bible you cant pick out what u like and disregard what u dont. it is for us all and it governs all things. many things in our government we dont like there are many laws we dont like but its our choice what we will comply with. you break the law you go to jail certain things will get u the death penalty the same is with god refusal will get u the eternal sentence of suffering or torture as u put it. the choice is yours my friend.

      February 3, 2013 at 3:29 pm |
    • End Religion

      @dale: it is nice, with the rising costs of seeing a movie, to have free entertainment like you here in the CNN Belief Blog. Thanks!

      @marie: "however, in 11timothy 2:15 it states ..."

      I don't think you've been paying attention. Your bible is a known fraud. Any verse inside is fiction. It doesn't matter what a single word of it says.

      ***
      "u cant see an atom with ur naked eye yet it exist atoms makeup all things."

      atoms are measurable whether I can see them or not. They exist. Your god? Nope.

      ***
      "chosing to live godly is in effect of chosing to live goodly. good as in obedience as in not partaking in evil."

      One doesn't need to be a slave to be good. Being "good" isn't only within the province of religion. In fact, your bible is FILLED with atrocious, reprehensible acts against mankind all perpetrated by your "loving" god.

      ***
      "no man can serve 2 masters."

      I serve no master, slave.

      ***
      "in the bible you cant pick out what u like and disregard what u dont."

      shouldn't you then be out killing gays, killing those who work on the sabbath, selling your children into slavery, and all the other wonderful things commanded of you in the bible? Or are you cherry picking the passages you like and glossing over the rest, hypocrite?

      February 3, 2013 at 3:57 pm |
  8. Rainer Braendlein

    We should not be too merciful with criminals. Of course, there is a small mathematical probability that they will ever repent but in most cases they will continue their wrong-doing, and the only way to improve them is hard punishment. We should not be naive. Many criminals are not that poor gays which have gone astray regretably but they are penetrant perpedrators.

    However, every single case needs its single examination, and this is the task of a good judge. A good judge will consider all conditions of the individual when he decides about the measure of punishment.

    http://confessingchurch.wordpress.com

    February 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Truth Prevails :-)

      The vast majority of criminals (a whopping 75%) in the USA are christian. However, if I understand you properly you are basically saying that if this murderer (a kid who planned on taking innocent lives) asks for forgiveness he'll be given a place with your imaginary friend but yet you and your ilk have the audacity to sit back and tell Atheists who you know nothing about (outside of their disbelief in your imaginary friend) that we will suffer for eternity for simply denying your imaginary friends existence..makes so much sense-NOT. (btw: Atheists only make up 1% of the prison population within the USA...time to rethink your stance!)

      February 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • joey

      What an idiotic post. Did you read that back to yourself before posting to see if it made any sense?

      February 3, 2013 at 1:23 pm |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      At Judgement Day we will get judged according to the real life which we have lived, and not according to the words which we confess. It is very clear that someone who remained a murderer his whole life long will not come through at Judgement Day. It would be perverse if God would wave through murderers who simply confess: "I believe that Christ died for my sins!". God will ask that man: "what is it that you continued to murder when you allegedly believed in the sacifice of my Son?", and then God will cast them into the Lake of Fire.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm |
    • End Religion

      Rainer presumes to know the mind of his imaginary god. Good stuff.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:48 pm |
    • TDM

      "Many criminals are not that poor gays which have gone astray regretably but they are penetrant perpedrators."

      And this is why you cannot be taken seriously...that, and you are from Germany with absolutely no idea what life in the US is about. You are here to pimp your blog, and you are a complete asshole. Shut up.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:52 pm |
    • Bob

      Rainer, that god you keep trying to sell us on sounds like a vicious, vindictive ASS HOLE, so no thanks, you can keep your disgusting god delusions. To yourself. Silently, please.

      Ask the questions. Break the chains.
      Join the movement. Be free of Christianity and other superstitions.

      http://whywontgodhealamputees.com/

      February 3, 2013 at 3:20 pm |
  9. goet out of the cave and smell the sanity

    The religiously-gullible can always find a reason for fill_in_the_blank in the Wholey Babble.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • lol??

      Earballs don't work? The Beast has a solution.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:15 pm |
    • nobody

      Wait till she finds out there is no god.What a lot of time she's wasting for nothing.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
  10. lol??

    Does da boy have a dad other than the Diverse Beast?

    February 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • joey

      Nah. He is answerable to himself and society. Keep him locked up.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
  11. John

    She thinks we are all equally fallen. I am NOT fallen. Nobody NEEDS to be fallen. I am not perfect, but II strive to approach perfection. I have forgiven myself my several inconsequential failures, and I don't accept blame that is not mine.

    WE all get one life, and if there is ANYTHING more sacred than that I do not know what it might be. So when anyone ends somebody else's life out of pure malicious purpose, curiosity for evil, whatever, I do NOT forgive. To me it is a matter of self-defense, not revenge, because while I could not murder, anyone who does demonstrates conclusively both will and capacity to murder. There is no reason to think they would not do it again. So why take any risk with them at all? I cannot trust their will or presume to control it, but I can do something about their capability. They had their chance, and they blew it. Even once was too many.

    SO I AM for mandatory sentencing. Death for 1st degree murder, after one appeal within two years. Scale down from there if you want to, just get them off-planet or something, because I don't wanna hear they did it again.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • kenny

      We're human, and that means that we're all capable of acting selfishly without regard for others. You know, kinda like how Christians act towards gays. Opposing their fight for equal marriage rights just to better their chances of getting into heaven. Pure selfishness.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Bob

      JOHN I READ WHAT YOU HAD TO SAY, AND TO A GREAT DEGREE, WHAT YOU SAY SOUNDS PERFECTLY LOGICAL TO ME, AS A MERE SIMPLE HUMAN BEING. IT MADE ME WONDER WHY, THIS PERSON WHO IS A JUDGE, WOULD DO A 180, KNOWING HOW THE CRIMINAL MIND WORKS OR FOR THAT MATTER DOESN'T WORK, AND WOULD DECIDE TO CHANGE HER COMPLETE EDUCATIONAL KNOWLEDGE, ON PEOPLE OUT TO HARM/KILL FOR KICKS. MY BROTHER WAS KILLED IN A FATAL CAR/PICKUP TRUCK ACCIDENT IN OHIO, ABOUT 6YRS AGO. THIS GIRL WAS INTOXICATED, AS SHE WAS DRIVING HER BROTHER AND SISTER TO SCHOOL, SHE CROSSED THE CENTER LINE AND LITERALLY RAN OVER THE DRIVER SIDE OF MY BROTHER CAR, EVEN AS HE TRIED TO VEER OUT OF THE WAY, OF THIS GIRLS ONCOMING PICKUP. MY BROTHER WAS GOING TO WORK THAT MORNING, HE WORKED FOR THE HIGHWAY PATROL IN COLUMBUS OHIO; A PATROL MAN CALLED, TO INFORM ME OF MY BROTHERS DEATH. I'VE NEVER HEARD FROM THIS GIRL, THE ONLY CONTACT I HAD WAS THROUGH THE DA. HER FATHER WAS A LAWYER, AND I'VE NEVER RECEIVED AN APOLOGIZE FROM EITHER PARENTS OR THIS GIRL. IT BOTHERS ME TO A CERTAIN DEGREE I DIDN'T PUSH FOR A MANSLAUGHTER CHARGE AGAINST THIS GIRL, AT THAT TIME I THOUGHT TO MYSELF, LIVING WITH THE KNOWLEDGE YOU KILLED SOMEONE OUT OF BEING A RECKLESS JERK, WOULD BE PUNISHMENT ENOUGH. THERE WAS OTHER STIPULATIONS I ASKED THE DA FOR, TO BE APPLIED TOWARD THIS GIRLS SENTENCING. BOTTOM LINE IS WE HAVE TO LIVE WITH THE DECISIONS WE MAKE, HOPING WE'VE MADE THE RIGHT CHOICE; TIME WILL TELL ON HOW LONG THIS JUDGE WILL CONTINUE TO PRACTICE LAW, KNOWING WHAT SHE KNOWS, PLAYING THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD.

      February 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
  12. MendDhearts

    Forgiveness is one thing. Letting him out on the street again is another thing, to take the risk for him to ever hurt another sould again ... I would say 'NO'

    February 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
  13. yeldogdem

    I too believe that any time someone chooses religion they choose irrationality over reason.However unlike some of my fellow atheist/agnostics I dont feel compelled to belittle people when they make those choices.I think it is important for secularists to speak out in this country since you have a faction in America that would be very happy to supplant our current quasi-Democracy /Plutocracy with a Christian Fundamentalist theocracy.And anywhere in the world where religion rules , education is suppressesd (especially for women) rule of law and social justice suffers.I feel for the lady whose family was murdered. It was a horrible crime.If religion gives her the peace of mind that it takes to deal with the loss,thats fine.However, where I disagree with her is advocating that murderers should be set free because of Christian teachings. Her attempt to change secular criminal laws based on her interpretation of Christian orthodoxy is wrong in my opinion.Contrary to what many American Cristians think , this is NOT a Christian nation.in fact a recent PEW poll finds that more Americans than ever consider themselves secularists, about 1 in 5. Our laws should never be bent to adhere to any religion, we are a secular nation and we should remain so.The idea of separation of church and state is a cornerstone of our Democracy.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
    • kenny

      It's emotion over reason. People love Jesus so much that they will do whatever they're told Jesus approves of, and "hate" whatever they're told Jesus hates. Throw out common sense.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      If you believe all of those things, then isn't it your duty to help rid the world of religion? The Christians are out there fervently trying to convert new followers. We KNOW it's poison, and the truth should be spread. If we sit back and do nothing then we are guilty of allowing this travesty to grow. Do your part. I'm not saying you should belittle people, but certainly speaking up in the name of logic and reason is the right thing to do. Every person that leaves religion behind gets society closer to a peaceful, secular age (the age of the future). It's exciting.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:10 pm |
    • Mike

      Hi she didn't/doesn't advocate releasing criminals on the basis of Christian beliefs. She said that she has been able to forgive this person on the basis of her Christian beliefs...and she is praying for him. She is praying that the Lord changes his heart and life so that, whether the judicial system allows it or not, he would be personally, morally qualified to safely return to society as a free person. Don't you think that is a positive thing? Regarding your comment about this not being a "Christian Nation," my positino is that God is the Lord of everything, this country as well....whether we want Him to be or not, believe that He exists or not, or if there are PEW, Gallup, etc. polls. Many blessings!

      February 3, 2013 at 1:11 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Mike, I don't think you read the article. She most certainly does state that she is going to advocate changing the laws, and it certainly IS due to her religion. And that's dangerous.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:13 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Hardly. To make decisions purely based on personal tragedy and revenge is far more dangerous. You want to change things without ever looking beyond yourself that you fail to see thus issue is bigger than just one kid.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:25 pm |
    • John

      WCA, you can get off the high horse now, reason and logic created the virtual worlds kids become serial killers in, training hours every day, to kill anyone for more points, without punishment, and with a new life if they start the game over. Peaceful? It's anything but peaceful without God.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:29 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      John- how do you figure that's the case when the majority of the people in this country still follow some religion?

      Your assertions are simply unfounded and false, and it is well known that the most secular European societies are the ones with the LOWEST violent crime rates.

      Video games have nothing to do with religion, or lack thereof. Some of my dearest Christian friends are stuck to their Xboxes more than anybody I know.

      And your high horse comment is a pot/kettle statement if I've ever seen one.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:36 pm |
    • End Religion

      @John: according to your preposterously stupid assertion there are millions of serial killers running around the U.S. Would be hard to cross the street without being murdered, wouldn't it?

      http://www.theesa.com/facts/index.asp

      February 3, 2013 at 2:08 pm |
  14. Ken

    Sorry to say, but let the Big Man forgive him if he so chooses. As for most of us, let the guy rot for the time being.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:02 pm |
  15. dale

    God's Wrath Against Mankind
    18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.

    February 3, 2013 at 1:01 pm |
    • Bob

      Wow, your "loving" god is quite the vicious, human rights abusing ass hole. No thanks. Please keep your god myths to yourself, dale. Silently, please.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Wrath? Wait, they told me he was a loving god!

      February 3, 2013 at 1:05 pm |
    • hal 9001

      I'm sorry, "dale", but all that, including anything with capital letters is unfounded. Using my Idiomatic Expression Equivalency module (IEE), the expression that best matches the degree to which your repeated unfounded assertions may represent truths is: "EPIC FAIL". Perhaps the following book can help you cope with the problem of repeating unfounded assertions:

      I'm Told I Have Dementia: What You Can Do... Who You Can Turn to...

      February 3, 2013 at 1:09 pm |
    • sqeptiq

      And your god's rules seem to be, "Let the innocent suffer with the guilty." Not an acceptable view in my opinion.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
    • dale

      arent you in favor of this guy being held in prison? thats justice. are you capable of love? if you align yourself for the rest of your life with atheistic spiritual death and promotion of cloaked evil, there will be justice served to you. there is love, and there are consequences. and there is justification, and there are people who choose condemnation, while they drag others down with them. science should not have atheism or doctrine of any kind. scientists who push atheism are satanists who pat themselves on the back in the name of science. it is a STUPID UNCLEVER DECEPTIVE PLOY

      February 3, 2013 at 1:16 pm |
    • Richard Cranium

      dale
      Seriously, there are many trained psychiatrists and psychologists that might help you. Seek them, for the good of all mankind.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      Dale- you really are one of those so-called Christians that gives all others a bad name.

      Your rantings have a frantic tinge to them, with a hint of lunacy. I'm not trying to be mean here- I'm serious. People like you are almost as frightening as young sociopaths like that boy. Everyone that doesn't share your beliefs is an agent of Satan and worthy of eternal torture. You would probably have us killed if it were legal, because you feel we are devils.

      There are many atheists who contribute to charities, volunteer, do positive things in their communities. We have families and children that we love. Our lives are full and we most certainly are not evil. Your words hold no weight, because they simply aren't true.

      I do hope you come to your senses one day and out of this hole where you see Satan all around you. What an awful, frightening place to be. I pity you.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:22 pm |
    • End Religion

      dale, tell us how you feel about the death of your religion. Is it frightening to have your widdle binky taken away?

      February 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Yeah only 2.3 billion followers left. How does it feel?... xD

      February 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
    • joey

      @Poultryg: yes, we know sheep & lemmings multiply quickly – that's a no-brainer.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:47 pm |
    • End Religion

      @poultrygeist: your religion is dying faster than a polecat crossing an interstate. Can you feel it slipping away?

      February 3, 2013 at 1:56 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Dang Joey, end. Are we dying or multiplying?

      February 3, 2013 at 2:11 pm |
    • End Religion

      http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-mcswain/christianity-is-dying-spirituality-is-thriving_b_1950804.html

      February 3, 2013 at 3:59 pm |
  16. Sports Fan

    Can someone please tell me what this article is about? It is too long and I have a short attention extra cheese would be great, thanks.

    February 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Edwin

      Why do you read articles, then? It wasn't long. If your attention span is too short for learning, why pretend? Or do you just like making fun of people who actually go through terrible situations?

      If so I pity you.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:03 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      Kid kills her family members, goes to jail. Anti juvenile life sentence lawsuit could possibly release him one day if he turned nonpsychotic. She was against, but she forgave now she's for those laws.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Poltergeist

      *laws

      Not lawsuit

      February 3, 2013 at 1:04 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Thanks a lot. Sounds fun.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:06 pm |
    • Sports Fan

      Edwin, I am going to tell you something right but the line can move at half time.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:08 pm |
  17. Sports Fan

    Who won?

    February 3, 2013 at 12:57 pm |
    • End Religion

      Scientology.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:33 pm |
  18. Kellie

    With all due respect, I find this article appalling. I respect the author's right to forgive the murderer of her family on an emotional level, but to try to impact sentences is completely inappropriate. This young man killed for sport. His penalty is to serve a life term in prison for the lives that he so callously took. If the victims family chooses to forgive, so be it, but that should not be intertwined with the legal system. Again, we are mixing religion and law. My message to the author is forgive him on your own time & let him serve the time that he deserves to serve.

    February 3, 2013 at 12:55 pm |
    • WhenCowsAttack

      I agree. It would be different if it were accidental in some way, or simply a crime of passion (rage). It was not. It was premeditated, cold blooded, and calculating. The "child" was clearly a sociopath. Not everybody deserves a second chance. People that deliberately commit such horrific crimes against others are beyond redemption, and are a waste of air and food.

      I very strongly disagree with the "all human life is sacred" bit. Some people are just broken from birth.

      February 3, 2013 at 12:58 pm |
    • Edwin

      I think you missed the point. The movement is not based on religion at all. It is based on an awareness that life sentences for minors are inherently wrong: if a country recognizes that minors cannot do everything adults do, because they are not fully adult in thinking and judgement, then it has to acknowledge that fact in legal sentences, too.

      Simply speaking, we don't allow minors to buy cigarettes. Why? Because they can't always make good life choices, and we have to account for that. By the line of reasoning, this killer was not fully aware of the moral and legal consequences of his actions.

      What he did was atrocious and deplorable, but he was not fully competent to stand trial as an adult BECAUSE he was a minor. He should therefore not face the same legal standards. They should not, of course, let him out if he represents a danger to others – but a life sentence is legally AND morally wrong, according to U.S. standards.

      The author's journey through religion was her personal experience and should not be confused with the legal movement.

      February 3, 2013 at 1:12 pm |
    • Kellie

      Edwin, I see your point and I understand that minors do not have the same ability to fully predict the consequences of their actions. From a psychological standpoint, a person's brain is not fully developed until we are 25. Should we expand the group that should not be fully responsible? I do believe that each case is unique and should be handled differently. I do no believe that all murders should be life sentences. This particular criminal killed these people for sport and then made a mockery of them afterward. Mostly, he shows no remorse. Personally, I don't want hime to ever have the opportunity to be out on the streets to harm someone else's loved ones. When did the rights of criminals become more important than the safety of citizens?

      February 3, 2013 at 1:35 pm |
  19. the gang needed some fresh air

    Thomas Jefferson

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    John Adams

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    James Madison

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    Thomas Paine

    I do not believe in the creed professed by the Jewish church, by the Roman church, by the Greek church, by the Turkish church, by the Protestant church, nor by any church that I know of. My own mind is my own church. All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 3, 2013 at 12:53 pm |
  20. Seyedibar

    Its embarassing ot have to point this out, but the gunman is bot the creation of any gods. His parents made him. You see, when a man likes a woman...

    February 3, 2013 at 12:50 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.