Denzel Washington Steps In It

From the Steve Harvey school of armchair anti-atheist philosophy, Denzel Washington discusses preparing for the new film Safe House with NBC’s Matt Lauer:

“I read this book called ‘The Sociopath Next Door,’ and that was like my Bible, that I related to,” he told TODAY’s Matt Lauer. “The traits of a sociopath: No conscience, no sense of remorse, usually atheist, just always want to win, dominate…. He’s about to get waterboarded and he’s telling the guy he brought the wrong towels. He’s still trying to win.”

Talk to us about atheist sociopathy Denzel: Endorsement of waterboarding as a no-torture zone: good Christian fascists George W. Bush , Dick Cheney

Extension of war, torture, slaughter of innocents through endless drone and troop deployment: “He will guide” us Christian soldier Barack Obama



Denzel Washington Steps In It
The Orbit is still fighting a SLAPP suit! Help defend freedom of speech, click here to find out more and donate!

45 thoughts on “Denzel Washington Steps In It

  1. 2

    Gee, Denzel, the Ku Klux Klowns are atheists? Aryan Nations? James Kopp? Eric Rudolph? Jerry and Joseph Kane? James Von Brunn?

    Even Denis Rader, the BTK serial killer? He was using his position as congregation council president at Christ Lutheran Church to cover his tracks? I never would have guessed.


  2. 4

    This is rather disappointing, since I really like Denzel as an actor. After his mediocre performance in that stupid movie “The Book of Eli,” I kinda suspected he was a bit of a doctrinaire Christian; and this quote kinda cements it.

    And yeah, calling his character a sociopath, when he’s the one BEING waterboarded, does sound kinda silly.

    1. 4.1

      And yeah, calling his character a sociopath, when he’s the one BEING waterboarded, does sound kinda silly.

      From what I recall from one of Robert D. Hare’s books, psychopaths really dislike pain and suffering if it’s their own.

    2. 4.2

      Really? First of all, what’s wrong with him being a Christian? Are you discriminating against them? Seems a little double-standard-like for this country to expect tolerance but hate Christians.

      Also….he IS a sociopath. That is his personality in the movie. It has nothing to do with what is HAPPENING to him in the movie. It has to do with his background. I swear, the ignorance of people is astounding.

      1. What’s wrong with him being a Christian is the same thing as what’s wrong with thinking 2×2=9. It’s wrong, as in incorrect.

        He can be incorrect all he wants to, but it’s still incorrect.

        As far as what’s wrong with his statement, firstly it’s demonstrably incorrect – WRONG. Secondly, it’s morally offensive – wrong.

        At any rate, even if atheists were sociopaths, you’d never know it because as sociopaths they would find that their ability to get what they want would be best ensured by feigning devout religiosity.

        Hard to get a flock of millions of atheists to hand you money to get them into a heaven they don’t believe in.

  3. 5

    ‘The Sociopath Next Door,’ is written by Martha Stout. There are plenty of reviews of it online, many of them written by atheist bloggers. You can even get a pdf of a condensed version of the book with the index fro the full version. The index doesn’t mention atheism at all. None of the reviews I’ve found mention atheism.
    I guess this is something that Denzil added himself.
    To put it in perspective, how about we try switching the word atheist to some other religion.
    ““The traits of a sociopath: No conscience, no sense of remorse, usually Jewish, just always want to win, dominate….
    “The traits of a sociopath: No conscience, no sense of remorse, usually Muslim, just always want to win, dominate….
    I’m very disappointed in him.

      1. It’s still a word that describes a whole lot of people. Would it have been any better if he’d used the term ‘usually redheads’ or ‘usually Chinese’ or ‘usually basketball players’? It’s prejudice pure and simple.

    1. 5.2

      I’ve read the book, and it’s pretty fascinating, but I don’t remember any real discussion of religion. I think Denzel just through that in himself.

    1. 6.1

      I’m white and I feel insulted, but not because I’m white.
      In fact the first time I read it I thought he referred to the OT god, who appears to have no conscience, no sense of remorse and just always want to win and dominate.
      Maybe Washington should read the storis of how the Hebrews are supposed to conquer Israel before he repeats his nonsense. It includes complete genocide, ordered by that god.

      1. I’m white, and I’m not insulted because religion-based misapprehensions, lies and delusions are a part of daily life around here – it would take too much time out of my day to be offended by virtually everyone I meet.

        I am surprised, though. I’d never thought of him as an idiot.

  4. 7

    Who’s the author of The Sociopath Next Door?

    I read The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson, which, oddly enough, doesn’t say anything about prevalence of religious belief or non-belief in its subjects.

    Trying to win against someone who’s about to waterboard you hardly seems like the mark of a sociopath. If anything it’s a mark of a fierce sense of self-preservation.

    What a nonsensical load of word salad.

  5. F

    I’ve never seen anywhere that atheism is in any way particularly associated with sociopathy, psychopathy, antisocial personality disorder, &c., for any definition of these terms.

    Oh, wait, if you have no empathy or conscience, any we assume that this means no ethics/morals, then a sociopath must be an atheist because only they have no morals, which all come from Gawd.

    Pfft. Of course we’ll assume the sociopath is a murderous bad guy (your average conscience-lacking person wouldn’t be interesting enough for Hollyweird) but bad or not, plenty sociopaths have religion. I’m more inclined to think that religion causes a sort of secondary sociopathy in some people – like televangelists.

  6. 12

    Of course sociopaths aren’t usually atheist.

    They’re usually charming, and of course we atheists aren’t charming, what with our militancy and our ruining of western civilisation.

  7. 13

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most sociopaths/psychopaths are atheists in the dictionary sense that they don’t genuinely believe in any sort of deity. Internally they’re nihilists who view something like religion as just another tool to manipulate fools into doing what you want them to do.

  8. 14

    Denzel was my favourite actor for decades until his role in the Book of Eli. I was surprised someone seemingly intelligent would chose that role and then discovered he is quite the God Botherer. Not the end of the world but always a wee bit sad when ones idols turn out to have feet of clay.

  9. 16

    I guess that it’s ok from Mr. Christian to lie on national TV. Check out Denzel’s interview today on The Ellen Show. He said he will be making his first comedy soon. Well Mr. Washington just always wants to win, What was Carbon Copy (1981)?

  10. jm

    Using Amazon’s search inside shows that “atheist” only shows up once in that book, describing Freud. Other passages found using “belief” or “god” don’t show anything like what Denzel said. Looks like he needs to reread his new “bible”. And pay attention this time.

  11. 18

    When I look at the history of sociopathy, Atheism usually isn’t a word I see associated with it (aside from “experts” like Denzel here).
    Let’s take Norwegian sociopath Anders Behring Breivik. He is a self-proclaimed Christian (in contrast, I suppose, to a postmortem baptism into the Mormon faith). Not a lot of atheism there.
    Then there’s Howard Barton Unruh. In the three years preceding his Walk of Death, where he killed 13 and injured 3, he hung around the house and attended daily church services.
    But most of the examples of sociopathy seem to have no connection to religion. They’re more tightly tied to mental illness.
    Mind you, I have difficulty in believing in the sanity of any adult who believes that sending psychic messages to a dead Jewish zombie will lift a curse caused when said zombie’s umpty-great grandmother, a rib woman, listened to a talking snake and ate the fruit of a magical tree.

  12. 20

    I have never read the book, however I did google it.
    (google “book” is awsome) and from what I read it is a book full of woo and gawd blather.
    The Book talks about the (atheist) Sigmund Freud.
    It mentions how religion is mostly live and let live and cause no harm……LOL

  13. 22

    The only way this is valid is because allegedly socio/psychopaths lie often and unashamedly and thus can’t be truest with what their alleged true beliefs are because they might be saying whatever is the majority accepted belief to increase people’s deposition to them.

  14. 23

    I wouldn’t be at all surprised if most sociopaths/psychopaths are atheists in the dictionary sense that they don’t genuinely believe in any sort of deity. Internally they’re nihilists who view something like religion as just another tool to manipulate fools into doing what you want them to do.

    Actually I can imagine sociopaths going about their lives entirely unaware of their aneurotypicalness (ala Seinfeld), that would mean most would be able to be indoctrinated in church and attend and not see a moral dissonance right? Especially if it’s a church that makes it all about the individual (prosperity gospel, born again etc)

    Furthermost, some have proposed that sociopathy is a learned condition from nurture, related to abusive or neglectful development (contrasted to the supposedly innate nature of psychopathy). If more conservative religions are correlated with more abuse/neglect (cough cough) then they should be correlated with higher sociopathy. Right?

  15. 24

    The question I have is: Is it true that sociopaths are usually atheists? If so, then no foul on Denzel’s part…if not, then he’s just a liar.
    Even if most sociopaths are atheist (I have no idea if that’s true) it really doesn’t mean anything other than a trite fact that theists will jump on in their quest to demonize us. In no way should correlation (if it exists) be considered causation. I could think of many plausible ways that being a sociopath would make if more probable to be an atheist but none that would logically lead an atheist to be a sociopath…so who cares if it is true?
    I’ve read (again, I can’t quote studies) that sociopaths are often above average in intelligence. Intelligence often correlates with atheism. So, it would make sense that sociopaths skew towards atheism more than the general population. Again, so what? Even if all sociopaths were atheist, that doesn’t mean all atheists are sociopaths.

    1. 24.1

      Even if all sociopaths were atheist, that doesn’t mean all atheists are sociopaths.

      Actually, yeah, it would. Atheists make up about 1.5 to 2 percent of the population of the US, and most estimates of the incidence of sociopathy in the US say it occurs in 1 to 2 percent of the population. Given this, if most sociopaths are atheists, it follows that most atheists are sociopaths.

      To put it another way, say we have 6 million atheists in the US, and 5 million sociopaths. If 4 million of those sociopaths are atheists, then we only have 2 million atheists remaining who are not sociopaths.

      This obviously isn’t true, but it illustrates that in effect, Denzel is implying that most atheists are sociopaths.

      1. Actually, yeah, it would. Atheists make up about 1.5 to 2 percent of the population of the US, and most estimates of the incidence of sociopathy in the US say it occurs in 1 to 2 percent of the population.

        …but 15% claim no religion, so it depends on how you define atheism. Many more people believe that the existence of a god is at best improbable than would describe themselves as atheist on a poll.

        I imagine it’s difficult to measure the rates of both sociopathy and atheism, and getting reliable measures of the private belief demographics of sociopaths must be extraordinarily difficult, which is why we find a lot of anecdotes and arguments from personal incredulity in this thread, and very little evidence bearing on the question of whether Denzel was actually right.

  16. 25

    I read The Sociopath Next Door, as I am lucky enough to actually have a sociopath next door. It’s always good to educate oneself in such circumstances. This book makes no particular references to religion as a factor, but focuses on the general characteristics for this mental illness. These people are characterized as having no conscience. They will attempt to manipulate anyone or anything to suit their purpose–which is “winning” in whatever way they define that. Obviously, the more sucessful sociopaths are very intelligent (witness our many utterly amoral politicians, wall street types, etc), but stupid people are just as likely to be sociopaths as well. They just don’t have the brains to fool people quite as brilliantly. Sociopaths don’t care one way or another about religion, except as a way to manipulate other people’s beliefs to gain advantage for themselves. They wouldn’t care about atheism either, unless they saw some advantage in it for themselves. Believing or not believing is not any part of their mental package–they honestly can’t imagine why anyone would even care about such things. Denzel just overlayed his own beliefs in that discussion, which is a shame. I would hope he would be more sensible than that, but I guess we all hope for a lot of things that just aren’t so.

    1. 25.1

      I also read the book and don’t recall any particular mention of religion.

      I would expect more sociopaths to identify as theist for the simple fact that most people do. I doubt they would be capable of very nuanced interpretations, though. And I doubt they would have any real emotional connection to their churches the way most believers do. It seems like it would be more like a tool for them.

      That’s not to say the belief can’t be sincere though. Just because they aren’t emotionally attached to it doesn’t mean they don’t think it’s ultimately true.

      That said, every time Bryan Fischer opens his mouth I think of this book. For him, religion is the perfect vehicle for his petty cruelties and the perfect cover. And not only can he legitimize his childish, self-serving “philosophies”, he can even gain some measure of status and respectability.

  17. 26

    I don’t know whether or not sociopaths are more likely then the overall population to be atheists, but I do know that this is a totally different claim from the claim that atheists are often sociopaths or that atheism leads to sociopathy. I also find it pretty obvious that Bush, Cheney, and Obama are not anywhere near being sociopaths, on any serious interpretation of that term. Do you really think that Dick Cheney could walk into an Afghan hospital, shoot a dozen children point blank, and enjoy the feeling of power as they bled to death? No way. Like the rest of us non-sociopaths, these men are capable of supporting atrocities to the extent that the mechanisms around them offer psychological distance, and closing that gap where the focus needs to be in dealing with warlike Americans. Throwing around a psychological term irresponsibly isn’t helping anyone.

  18. 27

    I can’t help but point out one true thing Denzel said:

    “I read this book called ‘The Sociopath Next Door,’ and that was like my Bible…”

    Which is true, since he apparently didn’t read it that closely, he superimposed his personal views on and then used the book as the authority by which those views are valid.

    Like the Bible all right!

  19. 28

    I suspect sociopaths would actually tend to be more religious, not less. This may be because religion is generally defended by sociopathic reasoning, and it is often utilised as a means of gaining power.

    EG: Heaven only works if you are a sociopath, and don’t particularly mind the suffering of hell so long as it is inflicted upon other people.

    In fact divine command theory in general is sociopathic – resting on a higher authority as a source of morality rather than compassion for the suffering of others.

    Consider the nice, fluffy liberal defense of religion as comfort – that is a sociopathic defense because for one thing, it ignores the discomfort religion may inflict on others and for another it is purely about religion’s personal benefit, not whether religion is true.

    While I haven’t seen any actual hard stats on the religious beliefs of sociopaths, what I have seen is what most fraud experts view as warning signs in employees.

    And that is a high degree of religiousity. Atheism isn’t associated in a lot of people’s minds with trustworthiness, and fraudsters want you to trust them.

    And so do sociopaths.

  20. 29

    I hope that one day there will be no need for the term atheist. It seems bizarre when I try to imagine the mindset of any grown-up alive in 2012 referring to atheism as some sort of anomaly.

  21. 30

    I just saw the movie “Safe House,” and while it was pretty good as such movies go, it really pissed me off when they said that KSM had lasted only 20 seconds under waterboarding. This is pure fucking bullshit: KSM was waterboarded 183 times, but the most valuable info he gave out was to the interrogators who were NOT torturing him. Whose idea was it to insert such known falsehoods into a fictional movie? Was it produced by Dick Cheney? Either way, inserting such a lie to justify an inhumane act and pretend it did any good seems kinda…oh I dunno…sociopathic?

    And no, I don’t think Denzel’s character was a sociopath; he was an agent who got disillusioned about the value of his work, and turned to trading secrets instead. At the very least, he admitted his actions were evil, and admitted that someone else could indeed be a better person than him.

  22. 32

    Washington was born in Mount Vernon, near New York City, New York, on December 28, 1954. His mother, Lennis “Lynne”, was a beauty parlor-owner and operator born in Georgia and partly raised in Harlem. His father, Reverend Denzel Hayes Washington, Sr., a native of Buckingham County, Virginia, served as an ordained Pentecostal minister, and also worked for the Water Department and at a local department store, S. Klein.::

    With best regards

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *