Killing a Child for Acting Like A Child?17 July, 2009
I, with (((Wife))), have two children. Well, we actually have one young adult college student (now taking general studies courses with as many art credits as he can fit in) and one teenaged young lady. Both are in school, both have jobs, both have become remarkably productive human beings (or are, at least, showing signs of becoming productive human beings). Of course, (((Wife))) and I can smile no matter what happens. Why? We remember what they did as really little kids.
(((Girl))) once ate a firefly. She did it to see if she could make her butt glow. She also, during a party with some coworkers, had to be extracted from a bowl of potato salad. Dressed only in a diaper. (((Boy))) once came home from school, placed his books on the shelf, his jacket on the counter and his shoes in the sink. He also, once, told (((Wife))) that he had a haddock. (((Wife))) explained that it was a headache, as in “I have a headache.” (((Boy))) then answered, “Oh. So do I.” (((Wife))) once changed his diaper on I-95 in New York City. Without pulling over. In stop-and-go traffic. In a car with a manual transmission.
My point is, kids are, well, kids. They are human beings, but they are still incomplete. Their brains continue to change well into their 20s. Their corps of knowledge grows faster than they do, and as the knowledge base grows, they make more an more connections. But even a 19-year-old is, compared to a 30-year-old, incomplete. That’s what makes them kids, right?
So what happens if, because of religious beliefs, the parents expect a toddler, or an infant, to respond in an adult manner? This does (from TimesOnline (UK)):
A toddler in the US was starved to death by members of a religious cult, including his own mother, for not saying “amen” after meals.
Javon Thompson, who was 21 months old when he died, was deprived of food and water after members of the religious group, who called themselves Mind Ministries, objected to him not saying “amen” after he had eaten, according to police in Baltimore, Maryland.
They expected an infant/toddler to respond in a fully-sentient manner. They expected the denial of sustenance to evoke a specific and particular response. They expected the 21-month-old child to respond to a set of stimuli in the same manner an adult would. They were wrong.
How would the cult members have reacted if the boy had refused to use the potty? My guess would be that they would have just left him in diapers and waited another month or two. But let religion into the equation?
Obviously, the members of the group 1 Mind Ministries must be insane, right? After all, they killed a toddler to die because he acted like a toddler. He was acting like an almost-two-year-old and they starved him to death. So why would I blame this on religious belief? This (from the DailyMail (UK)):
After denying Javon Thompson food and water for two days because he wouldn’t say ‘Amen’ after meals, the 1-year-old’s caretakers waited for a divine sign that their message had been heard: a resurrection.
For more than a week, police say the child’s lifeless body lay in the back room of an apartment.
Queen Antoinette, the 40-year-old leader of a group that called itself 1 Mind Ministries, brought in her followers and told them to pray. God, she said, would raise Javon from the dead.
Praying for a resurrection sounds like religious belief to me. The entire history of medicine and scientific enquiry shows us that no human being has been revived after being ‘dead’ for more than 10 minutes (except the very unusual circumstances surrounding drownings in extremely low temperatures). Even a human with a stopped heart will, without immediate medical attention (from CPR to AED to ALS to ER), be permanently dead.
And members of this religious group prayed over his body and asked for a miracle from god(s). They kept his body in the back room for a week. A week! Then (from the Baltimore Sun),
Police say the cult members starved a 2-year-old boy because he refused to say amen after meals, then put his body in a suitcase and took it to Philadelphia. The defendants are rufusing[sic] to cooperate in attempts to get them evaluated for a possible insanity defense.
No. They are not insane. They are religious. Deeply religious. There is a continuum of religion running from, say, the UCC through the Methodists, Baptists, Pentacostals, to the outright bizarre (and sometimes criminal) antics of cults like this one. Members of the fairly liberal United Church of Christ accept as fact (or the doctrine says they are supposed to accept as fact) miracles up to, and including, the resurrection of a three-day-dead crucified rabble rousing rabbi. The Methodists and Baptists both accept the personal intercession of a supernatural sky-daddy. The Pentacostals believe that they can be possessed by the holy spirit of god, speak in tongues, handle poisonous snakes, and heal the sick through prayer. How is that any different, except in degree, from the murder of a child by 1 Mind Ministries?
(((Wife))) and I are adults. I have never been involved with organized religion. (((Wife))) belonged to a UCC church in junior high and high school. Since college, we have had, literally, nothing to do with organized religion. We did not starve our children to punish them.
We did punish them. From a time out to a light hand slap to, on a couple of occasions, a spanking. These punishments were always age appropriate. We did not punish our children (beyond a “No!”) unless they were mentally capable of understanding the punishment. We never withheld food as a punishment. I don’t pretend we were perfect, but we, at least, tried to treat our children as individuals. And as individuals with specific needs at different ages.
How many children have been killed, in the name of god(s), because they acted like children? How many more will die?