Prisoner Wants Non-Bible-Thumping Cellmate January 5, 2010

Prisoner Wants Non-Bible-Thumping Cellmate

A prisoner is making news because he wants a new cellmate. His current one won’t “shut up about God.”

In a letter to an inmates’ magazine, [Steven] Relf wrote: “I recently had the displeasure of sharing a cell with a Bible-thumping believer.”

A source said Relf was “furious” at having to share at Manchester Prison with the Christian convict and wanted him to be “evicted”.

I have no sympathy for this guy. He raped two women (possibly more) while serving them as a bartender.

But I am curious about the story appearing at FOXNews (via The Sun).

They call him an atheist. Based on what? They don’t say. Because he complained about a Bible-thumping roommate? Well, who wouldn’t?

Reader Tom also asks a good question:

Why is it important to mention that the inmate who complained is an atheist, rapist, could have had as many as 40 victims and is a sexual predator, while there is no mention of the believers crimes or his name?

I don’t know if it’s false information. But it does look like sloppy, biased reporting.

(Thanks to Tony for the link!)

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Jeff

    Sloppy, biased reporting from FOX News? Dear me!

  • The story on FOX is a verbatim copy of the story in The Sun.

    So of course it’s sloppy and biased. It’s The Sun. It’s the UK equivalent of a US supermarket tabloid, for crying out loud.

  • J B Tait

    The problem is that there are so few atheists incarcerated, they are unlikely to be able to find him a more suitable cell mate.

  • J B Tait

    Also interesting is that the comments on the Sun site seem to universally equate listening to Bible thumping with punishment.

  • Trace

    Nothing new, though.

    Nightly news here (rural NY): if crime involves Caucasian perpetrator “race” is rarely mentioned. Other ethnicities?, always mentioned.

    The minoritiy status of individuals who are perceived as ” deviant” by mainstream society is normally highlighted in the news, whether it is origin, ethnicity, belief, or belonging to some other subculture.

  • Alex

    It does sound like the guy is getting the perfect punishment for his crime. I think he is likely not an atheist since if he revealed that to the BTB, this story would be “Defenseless Christian Housed With Evil Atheist”
    I guess he could just rape him and get it over with.

  • Otto gives the Sun too much credit. The best thing you could say about the quality of Sun journalism is that it makes the Daily Mail look good.

    Seriously though he’s a convicted rapist. I have little sympathy for him and do not believe that he should have any sort of choice for cell mate. I’m sure that prison is packed full of all kinds of unpleasant people. That’s what you get for being a criminal. If I had any say in it I would be concerned only that his cell mate represented a risk either to himself or others, or that his cell mate could interfere with his rehabilitation. Otherwise he can just lump it.

  • DPSisler

    Wouldn’t that fall under “Cruel and Unusual” punishment in the U.S.? Just asking….

  • I monitor the term ‘atheist’ on my twitter client and for like an hour all of the conservative people were re-tweeting this article.

  • Greg

    Hoverfrog – I have to disagree with you, the Daily Mail eclipses the Sun with its unbiased quest to find the truth rather than just eyecatching trash. (For clarity’s sake, and the sake of non-UK folk, the Daily Mail is also a piece of garbage.) Granted, I actually boycott anything to do with it, so I haven’t seen anything they’ve written for years, but I find it hard to believe they’ve changed by what snippets I’ve read on sites which they don’t get advertising revenue if you view. (shudders at the last run-on sentence – but is too lazy to alter it…)

    The Sun is the worst of the worst when it comes to reporting – it wouldn’t surprise me if the actual story was a sweet little old lady giving alms to the poor.

    I have to say though, this could really open avenues for new prison measures – lock up all inmates with people of completely contrary religious views. What a deterrant that could be!

  • Deiloh

    While serving them? Wonder what a gal orders under such an ordeal.

    It is Fox. nuff said

  • muggle

    Oh, boo hoo. Freedom of speech. He’s in prision. He doesn’t get to select his roommate. No sympathy.

    I doubt he’s Atheist. If he were, he’d probably be getting into debates about the merits of reason versus faith instead of saying get me out of here! (Just kidding. Sort of.)

    Seriously though, this sounds more like a Christian afraid he’s going to burn in hell to me than a nonbeliever. He’s stuck. In the US, the Bible thumper would surely get into one of Chuck Coleson’s programs and get preferential treatment and moved to better conditions that the complainer would have to stay with.

  • I would like to know what the christian did to get locked up.

  • GribbletheMunchkin

    Since this is in the UK (in my current city of residence no less) i’m quite convinced he could be an atheist. The UK is FAR less religious than the US. Even many of those who believe in god do so only in a vague uninformed way because they’ve not given it much thought.

    As for sharing a cell with a bible thumper. Poor chap. Still serves him right, if you can’t do the time, don’t do the time.

    On the other hand, proselytization should be cracked down on in prison. It has no place there.

  • If I had raped and murdered people I would still prefer to be in a cell without a Bible beater. It’s an honest human thing to want. It doesn’t wash his crimes away though, atheists don’t have any of that guilt-neg magic.

  • En Passant

    (First comment, woot!)
    IMHO, this guy deserves to be locked up with a Bible-thumper. I hope his new cellmate is just as nuts. In fact, I’d go so far as to say it would be just punishment for him to actually BE converted, spending the rest of his life in constant, agonizing fear of hell.

    Of course, these thoughts are based on an article of dubious credibility at best, for reasons aforementioned.

  • Sue

    @En Passant: It depends on what type of Christianity he’d be converting to. In some cases, all he’d have to do is repent of his sins and he’s totally off the hook.

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that the rapist is at least nominally a Christian though. They’re a large majority in Britain, and most of them can’t stand Bible bashers any more than non-Christians.

    Whenever I read an article from the Sun, I always assume there’s more to it than what the article says. And I’d very much like to know what the Christian convict was in prison for.

  • Sue

    My mistake – he is an atheist. I found his actual letter.

    No mention of him wanting his cellmate evicted in that though – I wonder what their ‘source’ was.

  • JustinTempler

    I found a letter to the editor written by the rapist. He is indeed an atheist. It does not address his complaint about his cellmate. It is a well written letter, despite his heinous acts.

    His letter is on page 3.

  • I’m impressed by Relf’s letter. It is easy to forget that a prisoner is more than his crimes. I hope that his time in prison actually helps to reform him so that no more women are harmed by his actions. Maybe writing about fresh starts is an indication of this. There isn’t enough to tell.

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