A seven-year old girl, living on Netanya, a city in the northern central district of Israel was stabbed in the neck by her 38-year old uncle who claimed to have heard voices telling him that she must be killed to bring about the return of the Messiah. The man took his niece on a walk, during which he stabbed her, but he felt sorry for her and called the police. The girl was taken to Laniado Medical Center in serious, but stable condition. The man was arrested and charged with aggravated assault and hopefully turned over to mental health professionals to evaluate his mental state.
It’s an unfortunate reality that many people with mental problems turn to religion, or who simply identify religious causes for their delusions. If they hear voices, quite often they will identify religious sources for those voices. When the voices exhort them to violence, they will often claim religious justification for acting on their delusions. This is not a Christian problem, this is not a Jewish problem, it’s not even a Buddhist problem, it’s a human problem, but the acceptability of religion on human society allows these people to fester undetected for years without the treatment they need, in the guise that they’re no more crazy than any of the other religious members of society.
Take another case. Aaron Alexis, who shot up the Navy yard, killing 13 people, was extremely interested in Buddhism. Even though he did things which Buddhist thought frowns upon, such as carrying a gun and drinking heavily, many people think that Buddhism is attractive to the mentally deranged because it promises help people “seeking to right the ship of their lives, to self-medicate, to curb their impulses.” Now while we have no way of knowing if Alexis’ Buddhist beliefs caused his hallucinations or if they just focused his delusions, I think it’s clear that had religion not been a part of his life at all, it would have been easier to identify his problems and recognize that he needed help, hopefully before he went crazy and killed a bunch of people.
Religion is an enabling mechanism for insanity. It allows people who really do have problems to hide among all of the other theists who simply pretend to have problems. That’s why this story winds up on Horror Show Sunday and yet another reason religion needs to be gone from this planet.