DELIBERATELY lying for Jesus (or Mohammed) happens routinely. Here is the most recent example, which reveals that a Christian organisation called the Salt and Light Ministry fabricated a story about a transgender girl harassing female students in a Los Angeles public school toilet. It’s the SECOND time they’ve been caught out lying. Despicable!
We detest such tactics and would never knowingly make up a story or deliberately twist the truth to suit our own ends. But, hey, we’re only human, and now and again can be duped, as in the case of the suicide of Polish girl, Maria Kislo.
Last week we ran the story under the headline “Girl’s tragic suicide highlights the dangers of filling young heads with religious claptrap“, and relayed information from the Daily Mirror that claimed she had written a suicide note that said she wanted to be in heaven with her dead father. It has now emerged that the suicide note appears to have been a complete fabrication. The story was also published in the Daily Mail.
The Freethinker report, as well as that on The Friendly Atheist, went viral, and was reproduced on many Christian websites as an example of atheists making capital out of the girl’s tragic death.
I am as angry over being duped as Hermant Mehta, and, I would guess, many other secular bloggers who carried the report.
But – and the is a BIG BUT – the fact remains that religion DOES pose a very real threat to children in a great number of ways, one of the most dangerous being the belief that a child can be possessed by demons.
In Malaysia, for example, the family of toddler Chua Wan Xuen, aged almost three, thought she was possessed. Seven family members, plus a a maid, pinned her down and carried out a violent exorcism that was interrupted by the police. Too late, alas. She died of suffocation.
All of those involved went on trial earlier this year – and were let off with fines – none exceeding £2,000!
A “slap on the wrist that does not commensurate with the gravity of the offence” was how Penang Bar Committee criminal law chairman Ranjit Singh Dhillon described the Butterworth Sessions Court’s decision and he demanded that the prosecution should file an appeal against the sentence.
He said the family members charged with causing death by a negligent act not amounting to culpable homicide should have been sentenced to a jail term as well.
Public interest demands it. It cannot be just a fine.
He added that exorcism was not a valid defence under any criminal jurisdiction in the world and that the only legal defence for the accused in the case was insanity.
He also pointed out that the family pleaded guilty only after the prosecution had established a prima facie case against them.
Their plea is valueless as a mitigation factor. The odds are stacked against them. Everyone wants to plead for sympathy, but bleeding hearts can go only so far, considering what was done to the child, who was only two years and nine months old then.
The sentences were passed by judge Musyiri Peet after all seven pleaded guilty.
The pressure Ranjit Singh Dhillon put on the judiciary to review the sentences has paid off. Today the High Court began hearing the prosecution’s appeal against the fines imposed by the lower court on four of the defendants who were convicted of negligently causing the child’s death.
UPDATE (via BarrieJohn): Children with parents strongly committed to a faith are at greater risk of abuse than their peers, a victim support group has claimed.Religious groups are urged to update their safeguarding policies to help prevent child abuse.
The Churches Child Protection Advisory Service (CCPAS) has made the warning in response to a report by the National Crime Agency’s Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) that criticises the role of churches, schools, youth groups and care homes in protecting children from abuse.