I have long objected to the idea of telling stories of religious leaders caught in moral transgressions as if this said something bad about religion.
Today, a post at Atheist Revolution defends the practice by saying,
We all know that believers are fond of claiming moral superiority over nonbelievers. And yet, their deeds often suggest otherwise. . . . I use it to point out the hypocrisy inherent in claiming that their religion makes them morally superior to the rest of us.
'It' in this context refers directly to the phrase, "Know them by their deeds," in the context of posts that tell the story of the moral trangressions of some religious figure.
Atheist Revolution is one of my regularly visited sites, because vjack does a good and thoughtful job. However, in this case, I think he is out of bounds.
In fact, those posts do not accomplish his stated ends.
If I were to say that American adults are, on average, taller than the Japanese adults, it would not refute my statement to post reports of American adults who were, say, 4ft 8in tall, or 3ft 4in tall under the headline, "Know them by their height." It is simply fallacious reasoning to imply that these examples say anything about the height of American males on average.
These examples will refute the claim that, "Being religious is a sufficient condition for being perfectly virtuous." However, I do not know anybody who is making such a claim that it needs refuting.
More importantly, there will come a day when some well-known atheist will be caught in some scandle. Right now, it does not happen merely because well-known atheists are rare. But it will happen. When it does, many Christians will use this to argue that this shows how atheism leads to immorality. Atheists will almost certainly want to counter with claims about how unfair and unjust it is to take the crimes of this one person and use it in a context that is meant to criticize all atheists.
They would be right to protest those who use a story in this way.
However, in making that protest, we will have to ask where the charge of hypocrisy truly deserves to be applied.