Another atheist activist has committed murder. This time it’s Scott Smith, an activist who seemed to play a significant role in the atheist activist community: he co-hosted the “Recovering from Religion” podcast and was active with the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers.
I wasn’t going to comment on this because anti-religious bigotry didn’t play a role in the murder. Smith murdered his own wife. Also, I did not want to stoop as low as The Friendly Atheist blog. If Smith had been a Christian pastor who murdered his wife for wanting to divorce him, we can be sure The Friendly Atheist blog would be using it as a lesson about religion. And I surely don’t want to give the impression that I somehow think Smith’s atheism was behind the murder.
What changed my mind was the early reaction of the internet atheist community. For the most part, they behaved as if some type of unfortunate accident killed Smith along his wife and were actually mourning his death.
Before looking at their reaction, let’s be clear (as we can) about what happened. Smith’s wife, Jennifer, wanted to divorce him. So he murdered her. He did this cowardly act when his children were not home. So not only did he murder his wife, he took his son and daughters’ mother away and has thus undoubtedly poisoned their lives with deep depression and anxiety from now on.
Yet many in the internet atheist community seem oblivious to the horrific nature of this senseless murder.
Over at the Friendly Atheist blog, David Mcafee postsed a blog entry that came across as some type of memorial:
Smith was many things: a husband, a father, the co-host of the “Recovering from Religion” podcast (on which I have been a guest multiple times), and an active member of the Military Association of Atheists & Freethinkers (MAAF). Of those who knew him well, everyone I’ve spoken to has said they are confused and unsure of how Smith could do this.
I met Smith in 2015 when I gave a talk for San Antonio Air Force recruits about atheism and skepticism, and nothing about him struck me as out of the ordinary. He seemed like a perfectly decent guy.
He also quoted Jason Torpy of MAAF:
This is the perfect time to talk about gun violence and violence against women because both apply here. There’s no reason to vilify an individual, but this is an otherwise good person by all accounts who did wrong… The facts are he was very active in the atheist community and other events outside his local area. He did charity events as well… I can’t say anything bad about him except that he killed his wife, which is pretty bad. But prior to that, he seemed like a model member of the community.
Okay, it was “pretty bad” for him to kill his wife, but other than that, he was a “good person” who did charity work. So let’s not “vilify” him, okay?
Maybe that’s why the murderer’s FB page has been memorialized:
We hope people who love Scott will find comfort in visiting his profile to remember and celebrate his life.
We see more mourning from his atheist FB friends:
It is with an extremely heavy heart to hear that Scott Smith passed away today.
He took his own life after a tragic event today. And as angry as I know many are and will be, I can’t help but to be saddened to lose a friend, whom I still consider a friend who had a big heart!
I don’t condone his actions one bit!! But i mourn deeply for him!! And I will miss him! And I truly hope that this event will not overshadow the man Scott was in his life. The contributions to his country, community and his Atheist friends.
I want his children to one day read about their Father and know that their Daddy had good in him!
They will probably hear negativity about their Dad from this day forth. I think it is important for them to know that he wasn’t always the man he was today. He had a good heart! He was a good man in his life and this event shouldn’t be the only thing remembered about him.
I want you to know that your humor got me through some rough times!! Your random messages to just say how much my humor inspired you meant a lot. I will miss you!!
It appears that a friend and fellow activist Scott Smith killed his wife and then himself today. I am very sad about this loss of two beautiful people. I will let you know if an account is set up to raise money for their kids (They were safely is school when it happened.)
His own activist group, the MAAF, decided to put up a page entitled, Remembering Scott Smith and a Tragic End
I’m sorry, but when a man kills his wife for wanting to divorce him, that act defines the man and the rest of his life becomes background noise. Smith was not a “good man.” He was someone so deeply selfish and self-obsessed that he would rather see his wife die and his children become orphans than simply let her go. He was so cowardly that he would rather kill her than try to live without her. He cared only about himself. It doesn’t matter if he did charity work and was kind with his friends. Evil people can do quite well at hiding their dark side.
It is interesting to note that Vicki Gettman, one of Jennifer’s friends, did not remember Scott as a “good man”:
JENNIFER and I hadn’t talked in over a year. I had disagreements with her husband and was concerned with the level of control he had over her. (emphasis added)
JENNIFER’s MURDER was planned and carried out because she was leaving him. He chose to leave their children as orphans. He chose to forever change the lives of their children and take away their childhood. They can never go home again. He has ruined the holidays for the girls for the rest of their lives. They will never be able to have a Thanksgiving and not think of the last one they had before their mother was murdered. This MURDERER thought so little about his children that he not only took their mother away from them forever, he did it a few weeks before Christmas. The ONLY thing he did not take from them was their very lives.He did not flip out. It was not an emotionally charged fight that escalated.
JENNIFER’s MURDER was meticulously planned.
Good men do not murder their wives.