The Praying Robber? October 22, 2009

The Praying Robber?

Gregory L. Smith planned to rob the Advance America check cashing store on Monday.

He pointed a gun at the sole store clerk, Angela Montez. He told her he had a son to feed and that “he had no choice.”

“I started crying and praying and telling him, ‘Don’t do this,’ he was too young to throw away his life,” Montez said on a 911 call to police.

And what happened after that? See for yourself:

This is not a feel good story. This isn’t about the “power of a god.”

Ron Gold‘s reaction is shared by many of us, I’m sure:

But if prayer is so fantastically powerful, why did the guy keep robbing? And so what if he turned himself in later? He was caught on camera and recognized by his family, so he was probably going down one way or another. Also, what about everyone else, atheist or religious, who didn’t commit a felony? They all deserve more credit that a praying robber.

If you want to give a god credit for preventing this robbery, then god should also get the blame for letting robberies happen in the first place.

(Thanks to everyone for the link)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jonas

    If you want to give a god credit for preventing this robbery,

    God nor any other deity, nor belief in any deity prevented this robbery. The thief chose to steal about $20 and a cell phone. – Yes it could have been worse, even murder, or robbery/murder.

    The outcome was likely less severe due to a shared belief system, in that both could related to a ‘nebulous God concept.’

    As a humanist, would I like to see a similar story where the victim approaches the perp and stops him/her solely on humanitarian grounds, sure.

  • “The clerk begins witnessing..” Confronted with an armed robber is that really the best option? I mean, honestly?

    She is a very lucky woman

  • Are you asking what is the predictable effect of prayer? Ha ha ha. Are you going to ask for double-blind experiments next? Awesome. I’d pray for your success except I wouldn’t based on my prejudgment of the odds of determining any consistent result related to faith. But you’re right. We can only attribute the known unknowns and the known knowns. We know that people are their own agents and that people pray all the time for stuff they don’t get.

  • Ron in Houston

    Hmmm, most criminals usually wait until they’re in jail to “find” Jesus.

    Surprisingly they usually “lose” him once they’re released.

  • Are you asking what is the predictable effect of prayer? Ha ha ha. Are you going to ask for double-blind experiments next?

    Not to nitpick, but:

    They’ve already done that.

  • Staceyjw

    The woman LISTENED to his sad story, and showed human empathy.This is why he didn’t want to harm her. I don’t think mentioning God mattered a bit.

    People that share the same beliefs can be appealed to, but I would still bet that once he saw her as a fellow human, he didn’t have the heart to follow through.

    Of course, he still took HER phone (?) And $20- that was just dumb.He only turned himself in because his face was all over the news and a relative told him to. Sounds more like self-interest to me……

    I also think that this guy was not a serious offender. She was very lucky he was just a down and own guy with a bad idea. Any hardened criminal would have robbed all the money, and possibly even shot her for trying to stop him.

    Either way,you can’t give any supernatural agent credit, for one woman’s actions.

    No one will ask- Where was god when this man needed to feed his family? Why was he feeling so desperate?


  • Miko

    If you want to give a god credit for preventing this robbery, then god should also get the blame for letting robberies happen in the first place.

    That’s debatable, depending on exactly why the deity is being given credit. For example, would you say: “If you want to give the police credit for preventing a robbery, then the police should also get the blame for letting robberies happen in the first place”?

  • Valdyr

    Still completing the robbery after having a tearful prayer session and confessing his hardships… you stay classy, confused gunman. Stay classy.

    My immediate snarky reaction to this story was: “See? Religion represents a clear benefit to human society by making criminals slightly more thoughtful while they’re taking your shit.”

  • Jeffrey

    This may be a bit off topic, but I’ve been wondering… what happens if you pray to god for something bad or “wicked” to happen, and then it does? And I don’t just mean praying for something bad to happen to your enemies, like xtians praying for gays to die and go to hell. What if I pray for the little boy that lives across the street to get hit by a car, and then he does? Did god answer my prayer? Does this show how prayer works? Or, maybe, it could explain to the crazies out there how it DOESN’T work?

  • muggle

    I wouldn’t try it, Jeffrey. If the little boy coincidentally does get hit by a car you’re gonna get a test of mob mentality.

    This woman would be better served by getting up off her knees and getting her employer to put in the bullet proof glass. I was amazed not to see any. There’s a reason most of those places rely on just that rather than prayer.

    However, I’m willing to bet she’s going on about winning a soul for Jebus even though he still robbed her without a thought as to why she’s desperate enough to work this dangerous job.

    And what’s with removing one bullet? He only had one bullet in his gun? Maybe police should check other robberies in the area.

    Also, anyone else thinking there must be other petty criminals making note of prime bait once the publicity dies down?

  • pete

    “Oct 21: Robbery suspect prays with victim”

    Maybe he was praying for more money

  • I think there is a good lesson here for all criminals: when caught redhanded in a crime, start praying like this guy does. You’ll probably get a lighter sentence.

  • Polly

    This situation is sad and pathetic in so many ways.

    If the guy’s telling the truth about being hard up, it’s too bad. But where did the money for a gun come from?

    That poor lady who wanted to “witness” to him while risking her life (or to try and save it?) is also kind of pathetic.

    The fact that the man actually engaged in the ritual is sad and bizarre.

    The fact that he still robbed her afterward just shows how meaningless it all is.

    If he gets off or even a lighter sentence because of this religious display then our system has a blind spot and is pathetically naive.

    Seeing people cling desperately to totems depresses me.

  • jigsawtooth

    Stories like this really annoy the crap out of me. Don’t the majority of Americans who get held up pray to god (since the majority is christian) for help and still get shot in the face anyway? I’d like to hear from them.
    Oh right.
    They got shot in the face anyway.

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