A woman prepares a lethal cocktail of pharmaceuticals. It’s for her partner’s two children. She had been listening to a sermon just the other day about Isaac, Abraham’s son. God tested Abraham and led him to offer Isaac as a sacrifice. But this time, God doesn’t call out to stop her as she tries to kill the children.
A two-year old girl is now dead and Kimberly Lucas is facing charges for her murder.
In Lucas’ alleged suicide note found by the police, she referenced the sermon she heard from Pastor Lea Brown, “Lea’s sermon really, really touched me yesterday, but God never told me to stop!”
A family friend described her note as “the writing of someone who is really disturbed.” Indeed, other people listened to Lea Brown’s sermon and did not spend the next day trying to reenact the sacrifice of Isaac. Millions of people have read the verses in the Bible without facing any criminal charges.
Clearly, what happened to the two-year-old girl is out of the ordinary. But, why is it?
The other child survived. When the ten-year-old boy woke up from his drug-induced loss of consciousness, he found a locked bathroom. He forced the door open with a knife and found his two year-old sister dead in the bathtub. He tried saving her with CPR.
Lucas’ attorney has suggested that previous traumatic injuries may have led to the mental state that allowed his client to allegedly poison two children and herself.
The prevailing narrative among those affected by this tragedy is that Lucas was not operating like a normal person. However, though what happened may be a rare occurrence, it is not so unthinkable. Parents all over the world have denied their children access to vaccines, operations, and life-saving chemotherapy, all for religious reasons. Lucas was on the extreme, but she at least claims that her reasons were also religious.
Why is it that people immediately conclude that any person who acts violently and attributes their actions to religion is somehow unstable? Yes, in many cases, it is a safe assumption. But it is so only because modern believers have decided that only disturbed people ought to behave with utmost faith.
The Bible clearly shows that God has tested the faith of people with violence. But, in our world, anybody who performs comparable acts of violence are crazy. If an “adulterous” woman is stoned in Pakistan, Muslims in other parts of the world can call it heinous. If an abortion care provider is shot dead in the American South, Christians can call the man a deranged murderer rather than a hero.
These shocking examples of religious adherence should not be shocking at all, if we are to take religious faith on face value. There is a bewildering doublespeak from religious people who condemn certain acts that their religious texts clearly represent, if not out-and-out endorse. What makes their version of their religion not crazy?
If a Christian refuses to stone men who have sex with men, why is he the standard for laudable Christian behavior, when the Bible explicitly commands him to be violent?
The world has civilized religion to a large extent, but it can never let go of their ancient baggage. It’s the Word of God, after all. And, to the degree that believers dwell within modern standards of human decency and deviate from their ancient barbarism, they are considered good human beings.
Rightly so, let us rehabilitate those among us who believe it is right to own other people as property, so long as they are not of our tribe. Rightly so, let us rehabilitate those among us who believe that a woman’s place is to be a baby factory and that they should be denied education, upon pain of death. But, these are views that would merit ostracism, if not execution, had the religions never adapted to modern ethical standards. We live in a world where, largely, it is not the violation of religion that is most considered, but the rights of other persons—rights that we, as a species, agreed upon with our common reason, and not our various faiths.
Of what value is religion, when even believers agree that it is those most faithful to its origins who ought to be ridiculed, condemned, and considered deviants from The Truth?
Image Credit: NBC News