“Herod feared John,” knowing that he was a “just and holy man.” The wicked fear the good, because the good are a constant reproach to their consciences. The ungodly like religion in the same way that they like lions, either dead or behind bars: they fear religion when it breaks loose and begins to challenge their consciences.
Herod, hearing of Our Divine Lord sometime later, thought that He was John the Baptist, risen from the dead. Herod did not believe in a future life; no sensual man does. Belief in immortality dies easily in those who live in such a way that they cannot face the prospect of a judgment. A future life is denied not so much by the way one thinks as by the way one lives.
—from Life of Christ by Fulton Sheen, Ch. 13: The Man Who Lost His Head