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Several years ago, Stephen Allwine, a church elder at the United Church of God, was charged with killing his wife… because divorce was discouraged in his church.

Prosecutors said Allwine had used the website Ashley Madison to cheat on his wife, researched ways to kill her, and hired a hitman on the dark web using cryptocurrency. But when that plan didn’t work, he took matters into his own hands and shot her himself. The death was initially ruled a suicide because Allwine called 9-1-1 and told them, “I think my wife shot herself. There’s blood all over.” But he soon became a suspect.

In 2018, Allwine was found guilty of first-degree premeditated murder and sentence to life in prison without the possibility of release.

His attorneys later filed an appeal with the Minnesota Supreme Court claiming in part that the evidence didn’t justify the verdict, there was prosecutorial misconduct, and that he had ineffective counsel.

This week, the Court upheld the ruling against him, saying the trial against him was fair (at least fair enough) and there was no reason to overturn the verdict.

While it’s the right decision, no guilty verdict will ever bring his wife back. And his church still hasn’t updated its strict policy against divorce.

(Thanks to Scott for the link. This post has been updated to correct the record; the church did not ban divorce but it was heavily discouraged.)

Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.