April 04, 2008

Religion Does Not Make People Moral: The Case of Tyrone Forbes

Theists often cite religion as the source of morality, but I've yet to see evidence that religious people behave more morally than irreligious people. A case in point comes from right here in Worcester; it's the not-so-heartwarming story of Tyrone Forbes, an elder at Mount Sinai Church of God in Christ and pastor at a sister church in Nashua, New Hampshire as well as a teacher at a public charter school. Forbes apparently used his position and influence at Mount Sinai to begin a sexual relationship with an underage boy that (hopefully) ended at 1:30 PM yesterday when he was arrested. He was picked up at 1:30 PM yesterday afternoon with the boy for whom he had been serving as a mentor through the church. The sexual part of the relationship apparently began last November and Forbes has admitted to the whole thing.

The full story is carried in this morning's Worcester Telegram and Gazette:

Sex with teen alleged
Teacher faces 7 counts

A Seven Hills Charter Public School music teacher and elder at a city church has admitted carrying on a five-month sexual relationship with a 15-year-old boy, according to authorities.

The boy is not a student at the school, which yesterday told the teacher he was barred from school grounds.

Tyrone D. Forbes, 49, of 84 Chatham St., Apt. 2, was arrested after he and the boy were found together about 1:30 a.m. yesterday in a pickup truck in the parking lot of Bennett Field on Main Street, police said...

Officers interviewed the 15-year-old after Mr. Forbes gave Officer Molinari conflicting reasons for being in the closed parking lot with the boy...

Mr. Forbes was arraigned yesterday on seven counts of statutory rape. The sexual assaults allegedly occurred on various dates from Nov. 2 to March 31 in Worcester.

Police said Mr. Forbes is an acquaintance of the teenager’s family.

At the request of Assistant District Attorney Joseph J. Reilly III, Judge Paul L. McGill set Mr. Forbes’ bail at $5,000 cash and made GPS monitoring a condition of release in the event bail was posted. The judge also ordered Mr. Forbes to have no contact with the alleged victim, identified by police as a friend of Mr. Forbes’ family.

Mr. Reilly said the 15-year-old had known Mr. Forbes for several years and that the suspect had acted as a “mentor” for the boy. The prosecutor said their relationship turned sexual in nature in November.

Mr. Reilly told the court that Mr. Forbes was involved with the Mount Sinai Church of God in Christ and that church members acquired information that led them to question Mr. Forbes’ relationship with the teenager. Police said Mr. Forbes is an elder at the Wellington Street church...

Mr. Reilly told Judge McGill Mr. Forbes admitted under questioning by police that he had been involved in a sexual relationship with the 15-year-old.

His lawyer, E. Jeffrey Newcombe, said Mr. Forbes was an active member of Mount Sinai Church of God in Christ who had been serving as pastor of a fledgling sister church in Nashua, N.H., at the request of his bishop.

A woman who answered the telephone at Mount Sinai Church of God in Christ yesterday said Mr. Forbes had been a member of the church, but that she did not know the name of the church in New Hampshire at which he was reportedly serving as pastor. Bishop Robert L. Webbs, pastor of Mount Sinai Church of God in Christ, was not available for comment...
So this elder and pastor is having sex with a minor who has known him for several years. He gets caught and tries to lie about it to the police. Then the bishop who recommended Forbes as pastor at an allied church isn't available for comment after the story comes out. Bail for Forbes is set on the premise that he's at high risk for flight.

Anyone care to point out the part where the perpetrator is doing the right thing, acting morally based on religious belief, or doing anything that demonstrates his ethical superiority to someone who isn't a True Believer?

I am not saying, of course, that his religious beliefs are the cause of his amoral behavior. Religious people can be ethical, too. I see no evidence that faith rendered Forbes moral, good and just, though. Clearly Forbes justified his behavior like any other criminal, and that's the thing about belief. It's a mental position alone with no connection to empirical reality. Anyone can make it into anything they desire and accommodate any sort of outrageous activity by simply figuring out some sort of loophole that, when you get right down to it, nobody else can prove doesn't exist.

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