When I learned that Merle had read the Bible in Woodbury, I recalled the movie "A Clockwork Orange". In that film, Alex is reading the Bible in the prison. To people who see him reading that book, they might think that he is taking the first steps towards imitating Christ. However, in an internal monologue and vision, the audience learns that Alex sees himself as a Roman soldier flogging Christ as he carries the cross.
I think that people who live in the apocalypse must have some degree of courage. I believe that Merle does have courage.
Here is the Wikipedia article on courage: