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?



  1. That is crazy…. I was at my community pool the other day and this mother was yelling at her child and was like Obey! in the name of Jesus! Obey…. It kind of freaked me out….

  2. Those people belong in hell. Not the “fire and brimstone” hell, but the Satanist’s version of hell. As it’s been explained to me:

    “The vision of hell from Luciferian Satanism is that the truly irredemable are made to experience the life of all those they have affected. In other words, if you’re a homophobic bigot, you get to experiance life as a gay person… everything that ever happened to them… over and over and over…”

    IMO that’s much better justice for truly evil people than merely torturing them for eternity. In this form of hell they actually *learn* something.

  3. Fkdupdad: They behaviour you describe is, to a large number of Americans, completely normal. The only thing done in this case which is not considered normal is that they killed the kid. Anything else, as long as it is ‘Christian,’ is just dandy.

    Buffy: If hell existed (and I see no reason to believe in that myth, either), by our standards, you’d be correct. By the standards of true believers? Who knows. Given the psychopathic behaviour of the various gods of the Old Testament, killing a child for not saying a magic word is certainly not beyond the pale.

    And hell isn’t about learning, any more than heaven and Christianity are about learning. They are about saying the right magic words in the right order and believing the right thing. Or else.

  4. These people simply had it wrong. Disobedient children are not to be starved to death, they are to be stoned to death in accordance with The Holy Bible. Really.

  5. This would defiantly fall under the definition of Christcosis!

    Christcosis – a symptom or feature of mental illness typically characterized by radical changes in personality, impaired functioning, and a distorted or nonexistent sense of objective reality that is directly or indirectly based upon the mythological powers of a invisible deity commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or any related deity within the Christian, Jewish, or Muslim religion.

  6. I read this story several months ago. It’s yet another tragedy in which religion played a major role.

  7. Guys! Guys! C’mon, now! Haven’t ya heard? Those folks aren’t REEEEEEEL christians…

  8. With respect, you don’t have a clear understanding of the United Church of Christ. In our tradition the UCC “receives the historic creeds and confessions of our ancestors as testimonies, but not tests of the faith.”

    Learn more about the UCC at http://www.ucc.org.

  9. Well, not understanding what’s normal behavior for a child isn’t limited to religious nutcases, but the waiting for a resurrection would be. I’ve heard of other cases where people kept dead relatives around for weeks waiting for the Lord to resurrect the loved ones. You’d think that once the cloud of flies got thick enough they’d figure out that Granny was gone for good, but apparently not.

  10. I play at our local library on the third Thursday of every month, and I had to deflect a bit of anger from a seven year old boy.

    He and his siblings were watching me play, and I would play a piece and then tell them what the name was.

    This young fellow said he really enjoyed the music and asked if I’d re-play one of the pieces.

    Which one?

    Oh, the one about “The Doggie Doo”.

    I had an idea which he meant, played a couple measures and asked if this was the one, he said it was and I corrected him, told him that the name was “The Foggy Dew”, not the other.

    His mother was enraged. My wife and I thought it was a hoot (we raised a couple of charactors), but his mother was actually enraged.

    We managed to keep them near us until the mother cooled down, I have no doubt that the poor kid probably would’ve gotten a good dusting if we hadn’t.

  11. Sorry, meant to add, this menatality, the rigidity, lack of humor, and insistance on continual correctness is the hallmark of that sort of thing. Yes, the kids are “home schooled”.

  12. John: Damn. Missed that. Welcome to my blog anyway.

    TKnight: Glad you could stop by. I’ve heard of religious mania or religious psychosis, but I’d never heard of Christcosis before.

    Chappie: I was halfway through writing it when I realized that it was from a while ago. I figured I was enough of a role to not worry about it.

    Sarge: It’s the same insanity, just taken further.

    Rev. Curry: Thank you very much for stopping by. I checked your blog and was impressed. (((Wife))) grew up in the UCC (I didn’t) and I checked it through her so it was a remembered teenager account. The UCC does still claim that the ressurection happened, though, right? It may not be an absolute tenet of faith (required faith?) but it is still part of what is taught.

    Nan: You are correct. However, here in the US, I can’t remember the last time that a story like this came along which did not feature some form of fundamentalist religion or politics.

    Sarge: Shit, the parents were furious about doggie doo? What the fuck? Rigidity is definatelly a hallmark of authoritarianism, whether religious or political. Damn, lady. Just laugh about it. The kid could be eating a firefly, right?

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