That would never happen in the United States…

Yet it does.

Do you remember this story from November, in which a Pakistani couple murdered their daughter by dumping acid on her for looking at a boy on a motorcycle? In the United States, it’s easy for us to think that these horrific incidents are contained in the Middle East – those other countries that do things that we would never do. The truth, however, is that religious violence and fundamentalism can be found anywhere there is religion; even in the United States.

Roderick Arrington

This is who religion harms.
Image courtesy of Facebook.

I had the displeasure of reading two gruesome stories about cases of extreme violence and cruelty performed in the name of religion. The first comes from Las Vegas, where a couple beat a 7-year-old boy to death for failing “to read the Bible and do his homework.” Roderick Arrington was severely beaten by his mother and step-father when he “allegedly lied about reading a chapter in the Bible” and was later found asleep in his room without finishing his homework.

Of course, child abuse is far too common and is not always the result of religious fanaticism. But the motivation behind the actions of these despicable guardians is made all too clear with this part of the report:

Markiece Palmer found the breathing, but unresponsive, boy in his bed between 6 and 6:45 a.m. on Thursday, the report said. Dina Palmer called their pastor, who told them to call an ambulance.

The mother called 911 at about 8 a.m., a little more than an hour after the stepfather found the boy unresponsive in bed, the report said.

The first thing the mother did when she found her son dying in his bed was call her fucking pastor. She then waited more than an hour to seek actual medical attention. Was she having some moral dilemma at this point? And why didn’t the pastor call the cops immediately after hearing the news?

Christopher Hitchens’ revision of the Ten Commandments comes to mind in situations such as these. His Fourth Commandment says, “Hide your face and weep if you dare to harm a child.” Though in this situation I might favor the eye-for-an-eye philosophy.

The second story comes from Colorado Springs, Colo., where Periz Jackson and Elijah Black were found guilty of animal cruelty after chaining a lamb to a pair of dumbbells and locking it in a closet without food to defecate and urinate on itself. The devout couple belong to a religious sect known as the “Hebrew-Israelites” and were planning on sacrificing the animal to God. Fortunately, in this case, police were alerted in time and the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region was able to take care of the lamb.

The couple will instead be sacrificing up to $5,000 and up to 18 months in jail.

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