Posts Tagged “killing kids for jesus”

L. Leonard Ruben District CourthouseI can’t stress enough how counter-productive and even directly harmful metaphysics can be. Lots of people ask, “What’s the harm in metaphysical beliefs?” Most of the time the answer is, “Not much.” The problem is, that answer is, by itself, not enough. A proper answer would be, “Not much … except on occasions when it can injure or kill.” WJLA-TV in Washington DC reports on precisely one such occasion (WebCite cached article):

Police have now charged two women with murder in the deaths of two children in Germantown and say the defendants were attempting to perform an exorcism.

Saturday morning, the children’s mother, Zakieya Latrice Avery, 28, was charged then Saturday afternoon, Monifa Denise Sanford, age 21, was arrested and charged after she was released from the hospital.

On Friday, Montgomery County police officers responded to the 19000 block of Cherry Bend Drive where they discovered four children had been assaulted. Two of the children were pronounced dead on scene and the other two were transported to an area hospital.

Here’s video of the station’s report:

It’s a good thing this happened in Maryland and not Texas, because had this happened in the Lone Star State, these two women wouldn’t have been prosecuted; injuring, and presumably even killing, someone during an exorcism is perfectly legal there (cached).

If the defendants’ public defenders* are smart, they’ll reach out to the Rutherford Institute, Liberty Counsel, or the Thomas More Law Center to defend their religious-freedom rights to harm or kill in the name of their Jesus. Any or all of those groups could plug up this case in court for decades, if they work at it. And the state of Maryland will no doubt end up paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars this protracted legal process will cost.

Maybe it’s time for those who believe in various packages of metaphysics, to start reining in their co-believers. These sorts of excesses aren’t new; killing people, especially kids, for Jesus happens far more often than it ought to. How many more such cases are needed, before someone figures out there’s a problem here, that really needs to be fixed?

* I assume these women won’t be able to afford their own lawyers.

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Amish Family Goes FishingIn most cases I respect the Amish and many of the other Mennonite communities. Unlike the vast majority of Christians, they’re willing to put into actual practice many of the things Jesus taught, such as simple living, pacifism, etc.

But note, I said “in most cases.” Sometimes the counter-productive (and potentially dangerous) nature of their metaphysics rears its head, and that’s something I can’t respect. An example of this comes in this report from ABC News, about an Amish family that fled the country in order to prevent their leukemic daughter from getting chemotherapy (WebCite cached article):

A 10-year-old Amish girl with leukemia and her parents have left the country to seek alternatives to chemotherapy, according to the family’s attorney.

Sarah Hershberger and her parents oppose chemotherapy, and have been fighting the Akron Children’s Hospital in court after the family stopped Sarah’s treatment. Her parents said the treatments have caused their daughter a great deal of pain, and they’d rather focus on herbal and natural remedies.

Their initial stated objection to chemotherapy is the discomfort it causes:

Sarah had tumors on her neck, chest and kidneys when her parents initially agreed to chemotherapy at Akron Children’s Hospital earlier this year. Her parents said the side effects were terrible, and they wanted to treat Sarah’s leukemia with alternative treatments.

I concede that chemotherapy can have terrible effects … but it also can be a very effective treatment for an illness that, left untreated, is inevitably fatal. Lots of medical treatments, unfortunately, can cause pain and misery, such as setting a broken bone. But I don’t know anyone with a broken bone who wouldn’t want it set. But even after objecting on those grounds, the family’s metaphysical objections emerge:

“We’ve seen how sick it makes her,” Andy Hershberger, Sarah’s father, told ABC News in August. “Our belief is the natural stuff will do just as much as that stuff if it’s God’s will.”

The family’s religion tells them that the form of Sarah’s treatment doesn’t matter: If their God wants her to get better, she will, and that’s the end of it, for them. They may as well not even give her any of their herbal concoctions, since the whole matter is entirely up to God, who will be doing all the work.

Note, therefore, their disingenuousness: All that crap about the pain caused by chemotherapy is just a smokescreen they’ve thrown up in order to divert people’s attention from this detrimental metaphysics.

I’ll point out that whatever herbal concoctions the Hershbergers give Sarah, may not even be what’s on their labels. And they aren’t without potential side effects. Moreover, reliance on homeopathy vs. conventional medicine can, indeed, be deadly, as another family recently discovered.

Lastly, it doesn’t seem anyone is really doing much to protect Sarah from her family’s for-her-deadly religionism:

Law enforcement officials said at this point there was no formal search for the girl.

Granted, they may just be saying this in order to give the Hershbergers they idea that they’re home free, but until I see evidence of that, there’s no reason for me to assume this must be the case. If in fact authorities are not looking for this family, that’s one helluva way to serve and protect.

Photo credit: louisepalanker, via Flickr.

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Demon of CalicutMost believers think that adhering to their metaphysical notions — whatever they might be — is virtuous. It somehow makes them better people, superior to others, even. Or something. I’m still not clear as to how that works, exactly, but they’re convinced of it, and they just love telling everyone so. The problem is, their beliefs can and do have some terrible ramifications. Take, for example, this report from the Associated Press via the Washington Post, about a Virginia father who killed his little daughter because of his metaphysics (WebCite cached article):

A Virginia man who said his 2-year-old daughter was possessed by a demon has been sentence to more than 20 years in prison for her death.

Thirty-year-old Eder Guzman-Rodriguez was sentenced Monday in Floyd County after pleading no contest to first-degree murder. His daughter, Jocelyn, was found dead in November 2011.

Prosecutors say Guzman-Rodriguez told police that his daughter had a demon inside of her and that he had attempted to exorcise her of the demon.

But this conflicts with other information the father had provided:

According to Shortt’s summary of the evidence, Guzman-Rodriquez told police that a “bad spirit” had entered him. He said that he saw his daughter gesturing to him, as if she wanted to fight and that he punched her “over and over” with his bare hands, Shortt said.

So, was the baby possessed, or the father? In the end, no one can say. Until someone provides objective, verifiable evidence to the contrary, I must assume neither was possessed. Nevertheless, I guess it was necessary to kill the baby. Or something.

I note that, when police arrived, there were some other people there, holding Bibles. It’s not clear if they played any part in Guzman-Rodriguez’s exorcism attempt; the article doesn’t say — possibly because the police never were able to make any determination. They very well could have arrived after the deed. I certainly hope they weren’t involved in Jocelyn’s murder.

Hat tip: Doubtful News.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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'I am the Lord your God, and I need your kids to die for me!' / PsiCop original graphicNote: See below for some recent developments in this story.

A few years ago I blogged about Herbert & Catherine Schaible, who killed their son Kent by relying on prayer instead of medicine to save him from pneumonia. Well, it seems they managed to kill off another of their children. WCAU-TV in Philadelphia reports they killed an 8-month-old son for Jesus (WebCite cached article):

A couple that was sentenced to probation after their 2-year-old died in 2009 from pneumonia have had another child die.

Herbert and Catherine Schaible, fundamentalist Christians who believe in the power of prayer ahead of modern medicine, recently had their 8-month-old son die, according to Philadelphia Police spokeswoman Jillian Russell.

Honestly, I saw this coming a mile away. These people just don’t care about their own children’s lives. They demonstrated this conclusively, already, when they allowed Kent to die for no good reason. That they let another of their children die for Jesus was inevitable. The commonwealth of Pennsylvania also ought to have known this was coming. But they chose to do nothing. In fact, despite their conviction for Kent’s death, Pennsylvania courts and officials purposely and coldly allowed them to endanger more kids:

In 2010, a jury convicted the Schaibles, who have seven other children, of involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment in the death of their 2-year-old son Kent. The Schaibles were each sentenced to 10 years of probation — they could have faced prison time [cached].

Yes, folks, you read that correctly: For having been convicted of killing their own son Kent, the Schaibles were effectively unpunished, and didn’t even have their other children taken away from them so as to protect them. The commonwealth allowed them to go right back home, and just do whatever they wanted to their remaining kids. While the Schaibles are clearly deluded by their fierce, unrelenting, irrational and destructive religionism, the judge who sentenced them — and commonwealth officials who supposedly monitored them — have no viable excuse for their negligence. In a way, because of their comparatively-greater awareness of the problem, they’re actually more culpable for this second death than the Schaibles themselves!

Perhaps they, too, should now be hauled into court and tried for manslaughter. They cannot possibly have failed to know the danger. But we know they won’t be held accountable … because they, and the rest of Pennsylvania’s government, clearly just don’t fucking care about the Schaible kids. At least, they don’t care about them any more than the Schaibles themselves do — which quite obviously, is not at all.

Update: The Philadelphia Inquirer reports the death of Brandon Schaible has been ruled a homicide (cached).

Hat tip: Secular Web News Wire.

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Concerning the starved toddler case I referred to just a few days ago, and I’ve blogged about previously: Verdicts are in. The AP reports via MSNBC (WebCite cached article):

The leader of a household that authorities described as a religious cult was convicted Tuesday along with two other people of starving a 1-year-old boy to death because he did not say “Amen” during a mealtime prayer.

Jurors convicted the leader, Queen Antoinette, 41, of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in the death of Javon Thompson, who was 15 or 16 months old when he died in December 2006 or January 2007.

Antoinette’s daughter, Trevia Williams, 22, and another follower, Marcus A. Cobbs, 23, were also found guilty of second-degree murder and child abuse resulting in death. Cobbs was also convicted of accessory after the fact.

This result was not improbable, given the defendants represented themselves:

Antoinette, Williams and Cobbs represented themselves at trial. They did not testify or call any witnesses. Antoinette introduced a single piece of evidence: a copy of a handwritten application for nonprofit status for her organization, 1 Mind Ministries. In that document, she described herself “as a chosen daughter of the most high God and a queen of Jesus Christ.”

In their closing arguments, Antoinette and Cobbs accused prosecutors and the media of conspiring to condemn them.

“We’ve been like pariahs,” Antoinette said. “These people want to blame someone for this child’s death, so they’ve chosen us.”

So little Javon Thompson dropped dead all by himself after wasting away for days … but not because you wanted him starved and because he was never fed? Got it. Makes no sense to me, but I got it.

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The phenomenon of killing one’s own kids for Jesus … or trying to … is, unfortunately, not new. It’s something I’ve blogged about on several occasions. It’s my sad duty to relate the latest case of it. Sacramento TV station KOVR (CBS13) reports (WebCite cached article):

DA: Parents Killed Daughter With ‘Religious Whips’

Prosecutors say that Butte County parents used quarter inch plastic tubing to beat their seven-year-old adopted daughter to death. Apparently, they got the idea from a fundamentalist based Christian group, which promotes using this as a way of training children to be obedient.

Three years ago, Kevin Schatz and his wife Elizabeth did something so noble, a Chico television station featured them; the pair decided to adopt three children from Liberia. Now, they’re accused of killing one of them because prosecutors say she mispronounced a word.

Butte County District Attorney, Mike Ramsey, says for several hours, the seven-year-old was held down by Elizabeth and beaten dozens of times by Kevin on the back of her body which caused massive tissue damage.

“It was torture,” says Ramsey.

Another 11-year-old adopted child was critically beaten for “being a liar and a bad influence on the seven-year-old.”

Note the similarity here to the recent case of Southern Baptist missionaries from Idaho who recently tried to steal some children from earthquake-ravaged Haiti in order to raise them to be good obedient Southern Baptist Christians. I love how these people can’t seem to find any kids from their own country to forcibly convert to their own version of Christianity.

At any rate, authorities have been able to show how the Schatzs’ brutal form of discipline was religiously derived:

The District Attorney points to a book written by a Tennessee Evangelist named Michael Pearl, who the Schatz’s have told police they were following.

Pearl’s website, www.nogreaterjoy.org, suggests “A swift whack with the plastic tubing would sting but not bruise. Give ten licks at a time, more if the child resists.”

The really tragic part about this is that there are probably tons of good Christian parents in the US who have no problem with this sort of thing. “Spare the rod and spoil the child” is a common expression in the English language, and owes its origins — ultimately, if one goes far enough back in time — to a number of Bible passages, especially these:

He who withholds his rod hates his son,
But he who loves him disciplines him diligently. (Prv 13:24)

You shall strike him with the rod
And rescue his soul from Sheol. (Prv 23:14)

Isn’t religion grand?

Hat tip: The Friendly Atheist blog, as well as the Life Without Deities and Anti-Bible Project, both on Delphi Forums.

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Sadly, it’s becoming common for families to kill their kids for Jesus. It happened in Wisconsin and in Maryland, and now, it’s happened in Philadelphia, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports:

On the last day of Kent Schaible’s life, his parents and pastor intensely prayed over his 32-pound body, which, unbeknown to them, was ravaged by bacterial pneumonia.

When the 2-year-old boy finally died at 9:30 p.m. Jan. 24 inside the family’s Northeast Philadelphia home, the pastor called a funeral director to take the boy’s remains to the Philadelphia Medical Examiner’s Office.

At no time that day, nor in the week-and-a-half prior, did Herbert and Catherine Schaible seek medical treatment for their son despite his sore throat, congestion, liquid bowel movements, sleeplessness and trouble swallowing, Assistant District Attorney Joanne Pescatore said in court yesterday.

Of course, it would have been relatively easy for the Schaibles to have saved their son:

“All it would have taken is a simple visit to a doctor for antibiotics or Tylenol, maybe, to keep this child alive,” [Pescatore] said during the couple’s preliminary hearing.

I’ve blogged before on this trend of families killing their kids for Jesus, and it’s not really new … but authorities appear to no longer tolerate it:

The Schaibles’ case is similar to a growing number around the country in which parents are slapped with criminal charges for turning to religion rather than medical care for sick children who later die.

The Schaibles claim to be a dutiful, God-fearing family who just did what God told them, as the Inquirer explains:

They are members of the First Century Gospel Church, in the Northeast, which believes that the sick can be healed through prayer rather than by medicine, according to statements that the couple gave homicide detectives two days after their son’s death.

” ‘We prayed to God for victory . . . We were praying that he would be raised up, ” Detective Stephen Buckley said yesterday, reading from Herbert Schaible’s statement.

Herbert Schaible is a teacher at First Century Gospel Church, said his attorney, Bobby Hoof.

It’s great that they have this much faith in their God. But is life — especially that of their own son — so cheap that they would dispose of it this easily and heartlessly? What is wrong with these people?

When, exactly, is this insanity going to end?

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