Police in Fairfax county, Virginia are asking this very question: Did shamansim kill Rayoung Kim last year? This report comes from the Washington Post:

Someone pummeled and smothered 18-year-old Rayoung Kim in a bedroom of her home in a new suburban subdivision in Fairfax County. She fell unconscious and later died.

Fairfax police think the fatal injuries occurred in July 2008 during a Korean exorcism, in which a spiritual shaman and family members try to force evil spirits to leave a possessed person. …

After investigating the case for more than a year, Fairfax homicide detectives recently obtained search warrants to take DNA samples from Kim’s mother and brother, whom they suspect might have participated in the ancient Korean rite of kut, in which a shaman communicates with spirits.

This case resembles the death of Madeline Kara Neumann, who died of a treatable illness because her parents preferred to pray rather than allow her to get medical care. (They were recently convicted in separate trials, though their sentence is a laughable arrangement that does nothing to punish them.)

In the occidental world we often think only of the organized, Abrahamic faiths — particularly Christianity and Islam — as causing people harm. But the truth is that religious harm is not limited only to the occidental world or the Abrahamic faiths; it can and does happen even in oriental religions. This is something I’ve blogged about before but find that it bears repeating, since most people have the (erroneous) belief that oriental religions are incapable of causing anyone harm. If in fact Ms Kim turns out to have been killed by a shamanistic exorcism, it will only provide more evidence that the harm that can be caused by religious belief is ubiquitous in human societies.

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