“In September of 1998 [Harrison Johnson] was stung by over 430 yellow-jackets. His parents are Christians who believe in "faith-healing" so they prayed for him for seven hours before calling for medical help. Harrison died. His parent's actions are perfectly legal in the state of Florida where this tragedy took place. This murderous behavior is also legal in 45 other states in the 50 United States. The only states that are progressive enough to not permit the killing of innocent children for religious "reasons" are Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts and South Dakota.
The second child pictured above is Amy Hermanson from Sarasota, Florida. She had diabetes. She also had Christian Science parents. The two don't mix and Amy lost. Amy was visibly sick for a period of four weeks. As many people do who believe in the hocus pocus of faith-healing, Amy's mother was pretending everything was alright. She took Amy to visit a neighbor who encouraged her to take Amy to a doctor. She refused. A few minutes later Amy crawled into the room begging her mother to take her home. Amy died a few days later.
The third picture is of Ian Lundman from Minnesota. He also suffered from both diabetes and Christian Science parents. [...] Ian exhibited all the signs and warnings of diabetes [but] his custodial mother did nothing but hire a Christian Science practitioner and Christian Science nurse. Since they believe in the deadly superstition of faith-healing they offered no medical help. Ian became yet another victim of "revealed" religion.
The fourth child pictured in his casket is Caleb Tribble who was [...] only four months old when faith healing took his priceless life. [...] It's estimated that every month between 1 and 5 children die in the US alone due to the religious superstition of their parents or guardians.”
World Union of Deists article (~2001)27
Here are a few cases from Krause (2008)26:
It was not just conduct that was the problem, however, it was the underlying beliefs that caused their conduct. Their religious beliefs made these Christians unsuitable for parenthood. The loss of poor Clayton Nixon was not the end of their story:
A final example also from Krause (2008)26:
“Such incredible stubbornness, of course, could originate from only one source, beginning with the Old Testament. In Exodus 15:22-27, God purportedly advised the Israelites that it is 'the Lord who heals you.' 2 Chronicles 16 warned that Asa was gravely mistaken in seeking assistance from a physician instead of God. In the New Testament, the author(s) of both Mark and Luke characterized doctors as inept buffoons [... and] in the Epistle of James, Jesus was said to have prescribed prayer and anointment with oil as the ultimate remedy for all bodily afflictions.”
Krause in Skeptical Inquirer (2008)26
The belief in exorcism, and its description and practice in the Bible, has led to the suffering of countless children. Rather than seek medical or psychological help, parents in the modern world, because of their religion, severely risk their children's lives by trying to expel demons using potions, fasting and other forms of what-is-otherwise-torture.
Bizarre Magazine ran a feature on seven famous, lethal, exorcism attempts in 2004 Feb. I only present four here. These abusive and ignorant parents should never have been allowed kids and in most cases the abuse was fostered by the extended family, and sometimes endorsed by entire communities.
“The Devil goes round like a roaring lion looking for souls to devour", warns the Exorcisms, the Catholic Church's official doctrine on exorcisms. This year, the Vatican updated the document to warn that demonic signs might actually be signs of mental or physical illnesses, rather than an invasion by Old Nick.
In 1997, AMY Burney, a five-year-old girl from the Bronx, was fed a lethal poison by her mother and grandmother to rid her of demons. Angelic Burney (her real name, honest) forced her daughter to drink what she called "the blue bottle medicine" - a lethal mixture of ammonia, vinegar, pepper and olive oil. As Amy's grandmother, Rosa Wilerson, explained to the police, "After she took the medicine, she started to growl and fight with us. We tied her hands with tape behind her back and we tied her feet together. We put a pair of underpants in her mouth and we taped her mouth."
Amy stayed bound for several hours until calmed down. Her mother and grandmother cut the tape from her mouth, legs and hands. At first, she had no pulse, but they were able to revive her. They bathed Amy and then put her to bed in Angie's room. "For about five days, she stayed on the bed in Angie's room", said Wilkerson, "and then we decided to get plastic bags because she started to smell. Amy was wrapped up and dumped in a trash bin.
A police source described old Ma Wilkerson as possessing 'extreme religious fervor'. Prior to Amy's death, she had attempted to have her granddaughter baptised at the New Jerusalem Holy Church in Harlem, but the ministers had refused on the grounds that Amy was too young. "She was always saying her kids were possessed", Church minister Frances Lopez said, "but she had a personal thing against that little girl." When Amy appeared in church with scratches and bruises on her face, Wilkerson explained that she scratched herself because demons were inside her.
It is the last paragraph of that story that struck me. The horror of the story is bad enough, but one cannot blame religion for the crazy behaviour of this family, can we?
As with all these stories, it wasn't just one mad person, but (in this case) two, both of whom apparently thought she was possessed. You could say that one of them crazy, but two? Crazy religious teachings infiltrate some sects of society so deeply that this type of behaviour is encouraged, increasing the chances of any less-than-sane believer from acting out their fantasies.
Where is the loving, Christian community that they constantly say they uphold?
But no-one called social security, etc, no-one seemed shocked or scared beforehand. In a secular community, if a mother associates "evil" with their child then people know something is wrong. It seems that where religious sentiment is strong (be it an individual, family or society), we see increasingly dramatic bad psychology.
There are too many people who find religion as a source for craziness and justification for all kinds of horrendous acts. Personal beliefs are fine, but no-one should ever assume their theology is correct to the extent that it justifies antihuman action.
Cheerleader Charity Miranda cried out in pain as her family engaged in her two-hour exorcism. Her sisters, 15-year-old Elizabeth and 20-year-old Serena, assisted their mother Vivian in holding the 17-year-old Long Islander down. The mother, who had recently embraced the Santeria religion, believed that her daughter had become possessed by demons.
In a four-page handwritten statement, Elizabeth wrote, "Charity knew the demon was consuming her and that it had to leave her body." Elizabeth claimed that the demon screamed and fought them. Once Charity stopped screaming, they let her go. Elizabeth described the exorcism: "My mom asked her if the demon was gone and if it was her in there, meaning Charity. Charity shook her head no and very faintly said 'no' ... Mom put her mouth to Charity's mouth and told her to blow the demon into her and she would try to kill it" When this failed, Vivian tried to smother her daughter with couch pillows. When that didn't work, she placed a plastic bag over Charity's head.
After the 'ceremony', Vivian and Serena periodically chanted, napped and read aloud passages from the Bible. They were listening to Frank Sinatra when the police entered the home. Attempting to make the death appear accidental, mother and daughter had removed the plastic bag and placed Charity's body at the bottom of the stairs. Detectives surmised that tensions had been created when Charity did not fully embrace her mother's new found religion, and this ultimately led her mother to perform the fatal 'exorcism'.
“ON 31 MARCH 1996, Mario Garcia from Pawtucket, Rhode Island, gathered his family to perform an exorcism on his brother-in-law, who was depressed because his mother was acting strangely. Garcia burned leaves and spoke to demons only he could see while his wife, father-in-law, brother-in-law and three small children all prayed. Garcia claimed that the devil flew out of his brother-in-law and into his mother-in-law. He then jammed two 8" steel crucifixes down his mother-in-law's throat, puncturing her oesophagus. When police arrived they found the women on the front porch with blood pouring from her mouth, and Garcia screaming, "The devil is inside her!"”
“TWENTY FIVE YEAR-old Kyong A Ha travelled with her family from South Korea to the San Francisco Bay Area, where they were taken in by Jean Park, a self-proclaimed Reverend of the 15-member-strong Jesus-Amen Ministries. After a few days, members of Park's flock began to suspect that Ha was possessed by demons, an opinion shared by her mother. Aware that something bad was going down, the frightened Ha made a desperate call to relatives saying: "get me away from these people". Her plea was in vain. A few days later she found herself the focus of a bizarre pre-dawn ritual.
The group fasted for two days before then grabbed Ha and wrapped her in an electric blanket and comforter. Park and Ha's mother hit her over 100 times while three other women held her down. A towel was stuffed in Ha's mouth to prevent her from swallowing her tongue and to muffle her screams. She suffered ten broken ribs and defecated on herself before dying. After she was dead, the group continued to hold prayer meetings over her body. Park eventually phoned Ha's relatives and informed them that Ha 'was in a deep sleep' and should be seen immediately. The family phoned the police. Park's defence? "The damage to Ha was done by demons."”
“An autistic eight-year-old boy has died during a prayer service held to supposedly cure him of the evil spirits blamed for causing his condition. Torrance Cantrell was wrapped in sheets and held by his hands and feet while members of the Faith Temple Church of the Apostolic Faith in the city of Milwaukee prayed over him.
This procedure had been taking place three times a week. However, on Friday those involved in the ceremony - including his mother - noticed the boy had stopped breathing.
Paramedics were called to the scene but were unable to revive him.
The brother of the church's pastor, Ray Hemphill, who was also present at the ceremony, was arrested shortly after the incident on suspicion of physically abusing a child, local police said.
"[We] didn't do nothing wrong," the pastor, David Hemphill, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper.
"We did what the Book of Matthew said... all we did is ask God to deliver him." [...]
David Hemphill started the independent church in 1997. It has a small congregation of six families.”
"US boy dies during 'exorcism'" BBC News (2003 Aug)
It is the same story of religious literalism trumping all common sense; people pour scorn against perceived Islamic extremists saying that they proclaim the ways of violence, but, Christian doctrine is just as bad. It seems that entire communities are led astray; they need to be asked critical, serious questions - they need to be taught to question the wisdom of anyone who claims to be doing what God wants. And they need to learn that Bible is simply terrible and dangerous when it comes to medicine and psychology.
Child abuse and paedophilia has been a particular problem for Christian institutions. It seems that the Church's teachings on sexuality, and the general restrictions of the strict teachings of Christian churches, lead to a development of sexual dysfunction amongst its priests. Christian Churches, the biggest example being the Catholic Church, have fought to conceal paedophile priests and move them from place to place when allegations arise. They have tried to deal with paedophilia by sending priests on sick leave or to rehabilitation centres ran by other Christians, but, it appears that Christian hierarchies are the last places you should trust when it comes to dealing with sexual abnormality. The scale of the scandals has led to various Churches declaring themselves bankrupt as they attempt to pay some of the court costs and settlement fees demanded of them. No other industry - even those closely associated with children such as boarding schools - has a rate of abuse anywhere near the rate found amongst Christian clergy. Counting is difficult, but, around 3% of all priests appear to be prone to recurring sexual indecency with children. Catholic Archbishop Silvano Maria Tomasi represented the Vatican before the United Nations Human Rights Council, and stated that Jews and Protestants have worse rates of child abuse, but still admitted that in the last 50 years "somewhere between 1.5% and 5% of the catholic clergy has been involved in sexual abuse cases".
My main recommendations are:
That Christian institutions cease running organisations that deal with children such as schools and orphanages. Secular managers should be appointment to oversee any institutions that are mostly staffed by Christians.
That Christian teachings on sexuality are viewed as a historical form of idealism, like communism or fascism, which has unfortunately proven itself to have failed on moral and pragmatic grounds.
Failure to seek medical help for children should be illegal and religious exemptions from medical laws should be removed.
By Vexen Crabtree 2009 Sep 13
Originally published 1998.
Last Updated: 2011 Feb 23
Skeptical Inquirer. Pro-science magazine published bimonthly by the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, New York, USA.
The Bible (NIV). The NIV is the best translation for accuracy whilst maintaining readability. Multiple authors, a compendium of multiple previously published books. I prefer to take quotes from the NIV but where I quote the Bible en masse I must quote from the KJV because it is not copyrighted, whilst the NIV is. [Book Review]
Durant, Will (1885-1981)
"The Story of Civilization - Volume Six - The Reformation - A History of European Civilization from Wyclif to Calvin 1300-1564" (1957). Excerpt accessed on www.scribd.com 2009 Sep 14.
Gilmore, Peter. High Priest of the Church of Satan (as of 2001+).
The Satanic Scriptures (2007). Hardback. Compendium of texts. Published by Scapegoat Publishing, USA. Many essays are new editions of older texts by Gilmore.
Rubenstein, Richard E.
When Jesus Became God: The Struggle to Define Christianity During the Last Days of Rome (1999). First Harvest edition, 2000. Published by Harcourt, Inc. Orlando, USA.
Cults: Secret Sects and Radical Religions (2007). Hardback. Published by Carlton Books.
Sex, Priests and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis (1995). Hardback. Published by BunnerMazel Inc., New York, USA. A.W. Richard Sipe is a retired Roman Catholic Priest. Lecturer in the Department of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Chair of the Board of Directors of the Interfaith Sexual Trauma Institution, Minnesota, USA. (Biblio detail correct as of 1995). The Amazon link points to a modern book by Sipe on the same topic as the one referenced here.
Stenger, Prof. Victor J.
God, the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist (2007). Published by Prometheus Books. Stenger is a Nobel-prize winning physicist, and a skeptical philosopher whose research is strictly rational and evidence-based.
© 2013 Vexen Crabtree. All rights reserved.