August 02, 2008

Faith, Morality and the Body in the Icebox: Alabama Evangelical Preacher Anthony Hopkins

Another story for the ever-increasing mountain of "religion does not make people moral" evidence comes slithering up from Alabama. Evangelical preacher Anthony Hopkins, described by Pastor Jerry Porter of the Williams Street Holiness Church as being "a bulls-eye prophet. If he told you something, you could pretty much bank on it," raped his children, murdered his wife when she caught him in the act, stuffed her body in a freezer, and then lied about it and continued his career as a preacher for years, right up to the moment he was finally arrested — after police let him finish his last sermon. Predictably, that sermon was about the importance of forgiveness. Who better to stress the import of letting bygones be bygones than a man who now faces criminal charges including rape, incest and murder?

Preacher killed wife, stuffed body in freezer, police say
by CNN

An evangelical preacher killed his wife several years ago and stuffed her body in a freezer after she caught him abusing their daughter, according to police and court documents.

Anthony Hopkins, 37, was arrested Monday night at the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ in Jackson, Alabama, just after he had delivered a sermon to a congregation that included his seven other children, officials said.

He faces charges including murder, rape, sodomy, sexual abuse and incest.

Hopkins was denied bail Thursday when he appeared before Mobile County District Judge George Hardesty. The case is set for arraignment next week, Hardesty's clerk said.

The case began Monday, when the daughter, now 19, went to the Mobile Police Department's Child Advocacy Center and reported that she had been sexually abused by Hopkins since she was 11 years old, according to an affidavit filed in support of a search warrant of the preacher's home in Mobile.

The affidavit related the daughter's story as follows:

Her mother, Arletha Hopkins, 36, caught her father abusing her in a bathroom in November 2004. Afterward, her parents argued, and her mother locked her father out of the house. The father came to the daughter's window and asked her to let him in, and she did so.

The next morning, her father asked her to help him hide her mother's body in the freezer in the laundry room of the home.

The girl said she moved out of the home about two weeks ago and was living with a neighbor. She told police that her mother's body was still in the freezer.

When authorities went to the home, no one was there, as Hopkins and the other children were at the church. A body was found in the freezer, the affidavit says...

At the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ, Hopkins was preaching at a revival, pastor Beverly Jackson told CNN affiliate WKRG. His message, she said, was about forgiveness and not passing judgment -- and at one point, he turned to his seven children and asked them to forgive him his past, present and future.

Police allowed Hopkins to finish his sermon before arresting him, Jackson said. She said she asked police why they were arresting him and was told, "he murdered his wife..."

An investigation has not found any record of Arletha Hopkins' existence since 2004, according to the affidavit. Asked how long police think the body had been in the freezer, Garrett said, "I'm thinking that she's probably been there for a number of years."

He said Anthony Hopkins did not have a regular church but apparently preached in various areas around the South.

"Part of the mystery here is that, apparently, none of these children were in school" but were being home-schooled, Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson said...

Anthony Hopkins, he said, made statements that led him to believe all was not well at home. "He always used to tell me ... 'You're blessed in the fact that you have a wife that supports you and what you're trying to do for God,' " Porter said.

He said Arletha Hopkins disappeared shortly after the couple's youngest child was born. As rumors swirled, Porter said, he confronted Hopkins and asked whether his wife was dead. Hopkins "wouldn't give me an answer," he said.

After that, Porter said, he banned him from the church but remained on good terms with him.

He said he visited the family a few years ago, and their home was clean and well-kept.

"It was the ideal family. I mean, the children were so respectful, just so easygoing," Porter said. "Didn't seem to be no stress at all. Never got that impression, never."

The children, he said, "loved their dad. They were very close to him..."
Porter knew enough to ban Hopkins from his church but didn't notify the authorities that he believed that Hopkins' wife, Arletha might be dead. It took the daughter that Hopkins was molesting to come forward years after the fact to start the investigation. For Porter to say that this was an "ideal family" and praise the "respectful" (perhaps terrified?) children who "loved ther dad" speaks to the fact that there are still some very twisted individuals lurking about in the churches of Jackson, AL. Maybe someone ought to have a look into what this Porter fellow has been up to as well. Was he just practicing the forgiveness and absence of judgment for which Hopkins was such a forceful advocate, or does he have a few skeletons in his closet — or freezer, in this case?

In the case of Anthony Hopkins, we have a man who, when not busy sodomizing his children or stuffing corpses into refrigerators, dedicated himself to preaching the gospel. His life apparently revolved around evangelical Christianity, and these did not make him into a moral person. For the hard-of-reading, let me note before I am accused of saying something that I am not saying here that I do not assert that his religious beliefs turned him into a monster. What I'm saying is that being religious didn't prevent him from becoming one, nor did they make him any more moral than he would have been without them. Hopkins clearly felt no compunction in telling others how they should conduct their lives after he had conducted his by indulging in his incestuous and murderous desires.

Nonetheless, he's still a "man of God." He is due a certain amount of respect by the faithful, as evidenced by his being allowed to conclude his speech to the Inspirational Tabernacle Church of God in Christ on how others should be forgiving and non-judgmental. He gave this speech while the police were discovering the body of his wife in the freezer where he'd hidden it four years ago, enlisting the aid of the child he was raping in the endeavor.

Is it anymore unusual that ultra-religious people do these things than non-religious people? The list of names of religious monsters grows a bit longer every day. Hopkins joins a stellar roll that includes BTK Killer Dennis Rader, John List, Jim Jones...

Sadly, true believers will still go about truly believing that people who have memorized the bible and deliver convincing rhetoric based upon it are somehow more trustworthy than those of us who think the whole thing nonsense. Atheists, you see, have no reason to be moral, since we're not afraid of divine retribution... unlike Anthony Hopkins.

Sphere: Related Content