31 March 2009

The overlapping borders of religion and delusion

From WaPo this weekend, an unutterably sad story of the death of an infant as a result of misplaced religious zeal. Such events have happened throughout recorded history and for millennia before that, but it's always a shock to see them in a modern context.
Members of One Mind Ministries drew little notice in the working-class Baltimore neighborhood where they lived in a nondescript brick rowhouse.

But inside, prosecutors say, horrors were unfolding: Answering to a leader called Queen Antoinette, they denied a 16-month-old boy food and water because he did not say "Amen" at mealtimes. After he died, they prayed over his body for days, expecting a resurrection, then packed it into a suitcase with mothballs. They left it in a shed in Philadelphia, where it remained for a year before detectives found it last spring.
Tomorrow, five of the group's alleged members -- including the boy's mother, Ria Ramkissoon -- are scheduled to be tried in Baltimore on murder charges. Sources and Ramkissoon's mother said Ramkissoon, 22, has agreed to plead guilty to a lesser charge on one condition: The charges against her must be dropped if her son, Javon Thompson, is resurrected.
Psychiatrists who evaluated Ramkissoon at the request of a judge concluded that she was not criminally insane. Her attorney, Steven Silverman, said the doctors found that her beliefs were indistinguishable from religious beliefs, in part because they were shared by those around her...
According to charging documents, in December 2006, Javon stopped saying "Amen" at mealtimes. Queen Antoinette told members the boy had developed a demonic spirit and needed to be cleansed through fasting and by being denied water, law enforcement officials said...
Ramkissoon found it "unbearable" to watch but followed the instructions, the officials said. "In her mind, an apostle of God had ordered this," Silverman said.
The group came to believe there had been no resurrection because someone among them was not a true believer, according to an attorney for one of the other defendants, Marcus Cobbs. With that person no longer part of the group, they headed north out of Baltimore with the suitcase, believing Javon could be raised at a future date...


  1. Religion--worse than the opiate of the masses. Opiates calm things down. Much religion these days seems to involve violence of one kind or another.

  2. Poor boy, killed by his own mother 8(

    I truly believe this isn't just about religion (if we consider religion the belief in God/Gods). I find most people are hypocrites no matter what religion they practice, since most religions preach love and well... you probably get where I'm going...

    But to get to this point, to be capable of killing your own child (and a woman that doesn't live in a lost tiny town in the end of the world, but in a developed country, with alternatives and information all around her) because he doesn't pronounce the words you expect him to pronounce, puts these people in another category... they do it in the name of their believes, but they could as well be atheists.

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