Atheist Who Spent a Decade Behind Bars Talks About the Flourishing of Fringe Religions in Jail February 7, 2015

Atheist Who Spent a Decade Behind Bars Talks About the Flourishing of Fringe Religions in Jail

Last year, we learned that Daniel Genis, who had been sent to jail for committing a series of armed robberies, was bartering with his fellow prisoners. If they wanted money from him, all he asked for in return was… their souls.

It was all in good fun — until he was charged with “unauthorized exchange” and sentenced to 90 days in solitary confinement.

Now, in a piece for the Washington Post, Genis reflects on the flourishing of religion, especially fringe versions of it, in prison:

The incarcerated world is one where leaps of faith are taken with ease. The educational level is low (nationwide, 68 percent of state prisoners don’t have a high school diploma) and wishful thinking high. Jailhouse “common knowledge” holds that ghosts are real and the moon landing was not… In prison, where hope is limited, people are looking for answers, even wrong ones.

Genis adds that religious beliefs in jail were pretty shallow, and inmates switched faiths so often, “the state imposed a limit of one change per year.”

Ultimately, religion did nothing for him. He was an atheist from a young age, and while he flirted with faith at times, God never showed up. (Surprise.) Maybe that was for the best. Given what he witnessed with his colleagues, it looks like he dodged a bullet.

(Image via Shutterstock)


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