February 28, 2007

Know Them By Their Deeds: Christian Parents Beat Son to Death

Remember all those knock offs of America's Funniest Videos? One was called Kids Say the Darndest Things and featured, as you'd expect, humorous clips of kids. Kids do say the "darndest things," and most of us delight in it because it reveals their innocence and reminds us what it is like to view the world through the eyes of a child. Unfortunately, not all parents find what their children say to be cute or endearing. This is the disturbing tale of a Georgia couple who killed their 8 year-old after the child claimed to be a "soldier of the devil."

Before you protest that these were obviously crazy parents and that their motivation had nothing to do with religion, there are some facts of which you should be aware. First, the father claims that he regularly beat his son "because the child carved death threats on the walls and claimed to be a 'soldier of the devil.'" Second, the parents told police that their son died after an internet-linked prayer session with their church. Third, authorities actually raided the parents' church in this case because of its support for corporal punishment.

There is a fine line between religious faith and mental illness, and it seems particularly blurry in this case. Our culture is quick to defend religious beliefs but less so to defend the sort of atrocities committed in the name of religion. This is a good thing, however, I cannot resist commenting how unfortunate it is that even cases like this rarely lead to any probing discussion of what people are taught at their churches and in their bibles.

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