Wednesday, June 29, 2005

The Secret Sin

Via Echidne there's an update on religion and crimes at Bobo's World.

It seems that murder, being a secret sin, is preferable to being discovered a less-than-perfect Christian. (Murder is a secret sin because it can expunge evidence of your other sins — dead women tell no tales of adultery.)

Back in my old hometown, I've had a couple of semi-brushes with these types. Grand Junction, Colorado, is remarkable for being a community that is not dominated by any particular religious group. I remember sitting in a college religion course and viewing a map of the U.S. that color-coded areas by sectarian predominance. Only a few areas were white — indicating there was no denomination with more than 10 percent of the population — and one traced the outlines of Mesa County.

The map was accurate, I suppose, as long as you counted the Church of the Nazarene, Church of the Brethren, Mormons, Assembly of God, Christian Scientists and Jehovah's Witnesses as distinct groups, like Catholics and the traditional Protestant denominations. But if you lumped all the pentecostal groups together, I imagine the county would change color, because even back in the late '60s, the fringe was ascendant there.

For example, Assembly of God, John Ashcroft's chuch, was big there. They put on frequent religious pageants and always featured good music of its kind. Life revolved around the church. Two years running, I started the football season behind an Assembly of Godder I'd played ahead of the year before, and sophomore AGs who went to the coach's church routinely played ahead of less godly seniors. My best friend went to another church where they spoke in tongues.

Ken Botham belonged to one of these many pentecostal groups. Ken would have been a total geek — with his black Buddy Holly specs, tall, gangly frame, too-long flat top, go-to-meetin' white shirts and utter lack of cool — except that he had a tremendous bass singing voice. (Music was one of the few legitimate ways to stand out in these churches.) I sang with him in several high school groups, and his high school girlfriend was best friends with my girlfriend. Fortunately for her, Botham married another, whom he murdered, along with a neighbor and her kids. It's not beyond the pale to suppose there were other victims, though his son Thayer seems to hold out hope some else killed his mother.

If you had to pick a murderer from our class, you would never name Botham. But once his name came up, you would say, yeah, I can see that.

Michael Blagg is a more recent killer. One of my good friends, and the only Jew in my school, served as Blagg's public defender. Blagg killed his wife and daughter because his obsessions with online porn and trailer park hookers were incompatible with his self-image as an upstanding Christian.

Of course, they have their defenders. Killers often do.


Blogger bob said...

Wow. Very disturbing. You were lucky to get out of those double dates alive. The Botham article contends he was unjustly accused, do you think that's possible?

5:56 AM  
Anonymous charlieq said...


9:50 AM  

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