Horror Show Sunday: Burn the Anti-Christ!

Large_bonfireI’ve written before that there seems to be an awful lot of fire involved in religious horrors, people light themselves on fire, they light heretics on fire, they light people’s houses on fire, it seems to be a very common theme.  Hold on to your lunch, here’s yet another case.

In Santiago, Chile, police have arrested four people accused of burning a 3-year old baby alive because they believed the world was going to end and the little girl was the anti-Christ.  According to police, the baby was taken to a hill in the town of Colliguay near the Chilean port of Valparaiso, tied up with tape, gagged so she couldn’t scream, tied to a board, splashed with alcohol and thrown into a bonfire.  The murderers were part of a 12-member cult, led by Ramon Gustavo Castillo Gaete, 36, who has so far avoided capture.  Perhaps worst of all, the baby’s mother, 25-year-old Natalia Guerra, was part of the cult and approved of the sacrifice.  She was among those charged with murder.

This creates many reactions for me, not the least among them being nausea.  I’m confused how these 12 people, all of them who are described as professionals with college degrees, could be taken in by a cult leader and follow with such fanaticism that they’d actually throw an innocent baby into a raging fire.  I suppose it’s nothing we should be that surprised at, it’s hardly the first time that a parent has been willing to murder their own children in cold blood for religious reasons.  Remember Andrea Yates?  The crazy bitch who drowned her five children in the bathtub because she heard God tell her to?  How about Deanna Laney, who stoned her own sons?  How about Dena Schlosser, who decided to give her children to God, right before she amputated the arms of her 11-month old daughter?  Why do we see this pattern over and over?

Well, according to Lisa Falkenberg, a columnist for the Houston Chronicle, “Women who kill their children commonly cite God, the devil and other religious influences for their actions. Although the mothers are also often found to be severely mentally ill or psychotic, the recurring theme of religiosity begs the question: Is religion to blame?”  So is it religion that causes their psychosis, or their psychosis that causes them to seek out religion?

However, far too many people simply give religion a pass and find another cause to point to.  Mental illness in America often takes on theological imagery and the people who are profoundly religious, but take that religion out on their offspring, the religious in our society will often make excuses for the behavior.  “They’re not seeing this as a mental illness. They’re seeing it as the person having demons, perhaps, or a sin problem or not being spiritually fulfilled,” said Roger Olson, a theology professor at Baylor’s Truett Seminary.  Experts have long realized that it’s much harder to identify mental instability in people who hold strong faith in religions that view strange behavior as possession or other Satanic activity, and who embrace prayer and faith over medical treatment and psychotherapy.  Certainly this is a characteristic we see over and over, even among those parents who just let their children die of easily curable diseases while praying over them.

I cannot understand how people refuse to acknowledge that religious belief, especially fanatical fundamentalist belief, is a sign of something wrong going on in the individual’s head.  There has to be something profoundly mis-wired to buy into some of the bizarre beliefs and absurd ideas that we see in hyper-religious individuals.  Yes, I know lots of theists will disagree, they can’t accept the possibility that religion, at least strong religion, is a mental aberration and a clear sign of potential problems down the road.  So long as they refuse to deal with the reality of the situation, we’ll have to keep burying innocent children, murdered by the religious.


5 thoughts on “Horror Show Sunday: Burn the Anti-Christ!”

  1. I have to agree with your analysis on fundamentalism. I think the label Islamic Extremist for example is good, but we might as well also just say terrorist. Either one refers to a mental problem, but more so in the case of the terrorist. Keep up the good work.
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  2. They found the perp dead a few days ago. He hung himself. The baby was 3 months old, I believe, not 3 years. I look at pics of my kids when they were 3 months old and I can't fathom how anyone could do such an evil thing to a child.
    Still, if we look at the total numbers of instances like this compared to the total number of religious folks, the numbers are so small as to be basically meaningless.
    Gun control advocates love to glom on to the relatively rare instances of spectacular carnage here and there and try to paint all gun owners as blood-crazed maniacs and guns as something inherently evil. It's not fair. Is religion responsible for the deaths of people today? I'd say that it's people that kill in the name of religion that are the problem. We can blame religion, but I see it as nothing more than a blank check for those already predisposed to commit acts of mayhem and murder. We blame religion, gun grabbers blame guns. I just came to this realization recently and am now coming to grips with my own inconsistency in this regards. If I'm going to defend gun ownership with the "people kill people" mantra, then I suppose I had better apply that same line of thinking to other areas, don't you agree?

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    1. That's the problem with writing so far ahead like I do, some stories have changed dramatically by the time they get published. I think I wrote that article back when the first stories were coming out.

      Yes, you are right, all evils are done by humans, but there are various ideas which drive people to perform these evil acts. The problem with religion is that it's not open to rational evaluation. With gun control, people can sit down and discuss the issues and there is evidence and data that can be examined to come to a reasonable conclusion. Sure, there are some fanatics who cannot be convinced no matter what you do, but getting to religion, there is nothing but fanatics, there are no reasonable people willing to examine evidence and data rationally. Reasonable, rational people wouldn't fall for religion in the first place.

      1. "Reasonable, rational people wouldn't fall for religion in the first place."

        If they believe their faith is based on evidence, then yes, it's possible. I did, and folks that know me personally and professionally see me as a reasonable and rational person. Still, back in the mid-late 1980's I fell for the bullshit passed as evidence by an elder from the Church of Christ. No internet back then, but I did what I could (it wasn't much) to verify the historicity of "Jesus and friends" on my own. I was gullible, perhaps, but certainly not nuts.
        A few years later, when I understood this denomination's stance on evolution, I started to backtrack and double check everything I had been told in the past. It took some time, but I eventually deconverted when I was in my early 40's. I left Islam and Catholicism when I was 18, so I guess you can call me a triple deconvert.
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        1. Once you have faith at all, reason and rationality go entirely out the window. Faith is not necessary for any belief based on evidence, if someone has to describe their beliefs in terms of faith, they're doing it wrong. I admit that while I was a theist, I was irrational, I believed because I had an emotional attachment to my religion, because I wanted it to be true, not because I had any good reason to think it actually was. That seems to be the primary motivator of pretty much all bad belief systems among humans. A thing is true because it is true, not because someone wants it to be true.

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