Religion Gone Wrong (Again)

Child. Mother. Grandfather. One big happy family. Until religion got in the way.

The 49-year-old grandfather, Ronald Marquez, tried to perform an exorcism on the 3-year-old child. The exorcism involved choking the little girl. She was bloody, crying, and gasping for air.

The man held the girl in a headlock with one arm as he squeezing her torso with his other arm, causing her to gasp and scream, police said.

In the meantime, the 19-year-old mother was in the same room. She was just standing there, naked, holding a religious icon and chanting “something that was religious in nature.”

I’m not sure if she was on the daughter’s side or the grandfather’s side. Sky News says she was “struggling with” the grandfather. Though chanting something religious isn’t exactly helping your child. This article quotes police as saying “[the mother] was partaking in whatever ritual event they were trying to perform.”

A relative called the police. (Where the relative was, I don’t know.)

[The] relative reported she thought an exorcism was going on at the family home after one was performed two days earlier, police said.

There was a bed pushed up against the door. The police eventually got through that obstacle and Tasered the grandfather. It had no effect. Another officer used a stun gun and this time it worked. He lost his grasp on the child, and she ran away from him.

Marquez was placed in handcuffs after a struggle with officers and initially appeared normal, but then stopped breathing, [Sgt. Joel] Tranter said. He could not be revived and was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Good.

Police are considering filing charges against the mother.

Also good.

There’s probably a church and a pastor involved in this story at some level. And no charges will be filed against them, I presume. So it won’t be long until we hear a similar story.

Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the theistic crowd to chalk this up to insanity or superstition. Anything but religion.

(via Globalizati and Amused Muse)


[tags]atheist, atheism, religion, God, Ronald Marquez, Sky News, exorcism, Taser, Joel Tranter, church, pastor[/tags]

  • Maria

    I’ve noticed some of the people who convert to some of these really militant religious factions aren’t that stable to begin with, so I’m wondering if they could have been off the deep end before they became uber religious and that’s WHY they became ubereligious.. the religion just makes it worse. there’s looneys of all backgrounds and plenty of sane people of all backgrounds as well. does anyone know why the grandfather was performing an “exorcism”?

  • Jen

    Who ever wants to be naked in front of their father? Something fucked up is going on in that family.

  • anti-nonsense

    at least the child survived, too often the child dies in these cases.

  • Aimee

    I agree, Good that the grandfather died. Good that the mother will most likely be brought up on charges. When I heard this I was disgusted. This poor little girl was probably just hyper or something. Funny how Atheists never get possesed by anything or are haunted.

  • Darryl

    Fundamentalism attracts weirdos like sh** draws flies. The Pentecostals are the worst for this kind of thing. It may seem cruel to say it, but this kind of thing only helps the atheist cause. If we’re lucky, the girl will become an atheist.

  • Carlos

    Wow! That’s really sad. I get this feeling like I’m going to hurl anytime I read some mess like that.

  • http://www.myspace.com/leecookebarbo Lee

    I wonder if this family was Evangelical Pentecostals or Catholic? Both groups participate in and perform exorcisms. I’ve only actually witnessed one so-called exorcism when I was a member of the Assemblies of God. I was about 15, and I was attending some type of youth rally around 1980 – Marvin Gorman was the speaker.

    The exorcism occurred during an altar-call session in which people were going to the stage for prayer concerning various problems or desires. During one prayer for a young woman (for some reason, females seem to be more prone to demon possession than males), who looked to be in her late teens, Gorman began to put on a very dramatic display of loud prayer in tongues. Suddenly he stopped, stepped back, and began praying softly in tongues. He then ‘revealed’ that the young woman that was being prayed for was possessed. He warned that if any of us in the audience were unsure of our standing with God, then we needed to very quickly notify another believer and have them lay hands on those of us who doubted their standing for protective prayer (I assume to keep the demon or demons from entering the spiritually weaker persons). He then performed the ‘exorcism’ by commanding loudly and with plenty of dramatic flair that the spirit come out the woman’s body in Jesus’ name. He instructed the audience to plead the blood of Jesus over and over. There was a lot of yelling, loud prayers, screaming, and thrashing about (funny how the woman was not thrasing before MG revealed she was possessed). Gorman and his men (I don’t recall any women being a part of the authoritative prayer group) had their hands on the girl and were, at times, restraining her movements.

    The so-called exorcism lasted about 10 – 15 minutes and was followed by a dramatic praise and worship service. No blood, strangling, or naked people, though. Wish I knew then what I know now… I could’ve had all kinds of fun with that scene. Ah, the smoke and mirrors that these performers love to utilize… they really should open their shows in Vegas and, following Joyce Meyers example, add more sequins to their wardrobes.

    I don’t know how many of you remember Marvin Gorman from the Jimmy Swaggart, Marvin Gorman, Jim Bakker sex scandals, but MG was the guy who outed Jimmy Swaggart’s sexual trysts in retaliation for Swaggart’s outing of himself and Jim Bakker.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    This is a case of the absence of any real mental health services in the United States. Children are attacked and murdered by close relatives who are mentally ill without any associated religious clap trap. Using this bizarre example of clearly ill people as propaganda against all religion is no different from the historical use of a crime committed by a person identified as a member of an ethnic or other group and using it to stereotype all or most members of the group who have never done anything like that. Certainly, you’ve seen that done before. If you don’t recall it, look down below for those teen atheists who were accused of vandalism, or wait for a case of an atheist with mental health problems who attacks or kills a child. You’ll find you are going to be associated with them, like it or not.

    I don’t believe in a devil, I think people who believe they are possessed are mentally ill. In cases when people who aren’t ill themselves believe someone else is possessed it’s more likely that they are at the end of their rope having to deal with someone who is extremely mentally ill and needs extensive hospitalization which is now virtually non-existent in the United States due to states dumping an expensive and vitally needed public service onto the families, local communities, the streets and so to the prisons. Using this kind of story as propaganda isn’t going to help turn that situation around.

  • Taisen

    Some time ago, in South Africa, my old Zen teacher was being visited by an American who was a teacher of Shingon Buddhism (a sort of Japanese mystic/magic Buddhism). We – the Zen students – were asked if we’d like to take part in the exorcism of a dead Tibetan Buddhist teacher. We said yes, out of curiosity (I think I’m safe to say that all ten or so of us were avowed atheists – you’ll find plenty atheists in western Buddhist groups).

    This dead chap apparently had the unnerving habit of possessing people while they slept and getting them to write down instructions for the running of the Buddhist group, which they’d awake to find next to their beds in the morning. While everyone thought the dead man’s heart was in the right place (what an odd expression in this context, given he’d been cremated a month or so before), being dead was clearly a hint from the universe that you should be moving on and letting the living sort themselves out.

    The ritual itself was about an hour long and involved invoking various celestial Buddhas to act as protectors. The invocations were supposedly achieved by the use of various mantras and mudras (mystical hand gestures). Once we were all safely protected (I didn’t really want to know what precisely we were being protected from), we performed the actual exorcism.

    Well, I must say it was a bit of a let-down. We were all seated in meditation posture for the whole proceedings, arranged around our usual meditation room. We were then asked to envision the dead fellow (we’d been shown a photo of him) standing on a disc of light, then being propelled on this disc up into the sky, further and further away. And that was about it. Then a couple of closing chants, and we were done. Time for tea!

    It was at least fascinating – and no, I don’t believe we were having any effect on the real world. Comparatively, though, I must say that the Buddhist exorcism sounds really rather dull. Not a single participant was tasered.

  • http://www.skepchick.org writerdd

    Meanwhile, I’m waiting for the theistic crowd to chalk this up to insanity or superstition. Anything but religion.

    Religion IS superstition.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Religion IS superstition.

    It is possible to be superstitious about some aspects of some religions. Belief in the literal truth of the explanatory myths of the creation of the universe in Genesis is directly and effectively refuted by physical science and the broad outlines of the developing science of evolution and genetics, to believe in the literal truth of the creation myths is superstitious.

    Belief in the existence of gods, the supernatural in general and other aspects of religion that can’t be addressed by real science, as opposed to the pseudo-scientific assertions of Dawkins in The God Delusion, so belief in those can’t be superstition. Real science can’t address anything except the physical universe.

    Dawkins is himself a creator of quasi, if not pseudo-scientific, dogmas and myths. I’ve too often addressed memes, assertions of social life and behavior in the Pleistocene, the application of probability math where it’s applicability can’t be known, etc, here and elsewhere to go into those again. Most if not all of these are widely believed by the atheists I’ve encountered on the blogs, all of them can be reasonably regarded as superstition. The wide acceptance in blog atheism of his assertions of the necessity of evolution in a god (bizarre in itself, has any other individual entity in the history of life ever “evolved” within itself) is accomplished by Dawkins redefining the monotheistic god under discussion, ignoring the previous definition of that creator god to create his own mythical, impotent, created god to suit his own purposes. It’s pretty much his MO all along his career. Yet how many of the atheists who read this accept his assertions as gospel truth, as it were? I’d bet many will accept the nonsense purely on the basis of Dawkins authority and their affection for him for spouting their anger at religion. Hitchens has pretty well put behind him his rabid enthusiasm for the insanity of the Iraq invasion by doing the same thing. Much of blog atheism is fundamentalist, ready to accept anyone or anything on the basis of its fulfilling its emotional need for venting against anything religious, especially against Christianity (itself hardly a single thing).

    I wouldn’t, even given the above, make the assertion that atheism IS superstition because there are atheists who are not bigoted buyers of the latest, new, real way to be an athiest, a follower of Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, or poor old fading from the pop-atheist memory, Dennett. Asserting such a thing would be bigoted, unjust and untrue.

  • Richard Wade

    olvlzl,
    You say that if an assertion in a religion can be refuted by proper science, such as young earth creationism, it is superstition, but an assertion such as the existence of god as defined by believers cannot be refuted by proper science, so it is not superstition. Is that correct?

    The existence of the devil and demons cannot be refuted by proper science either, so are you saying that the incident in Phoenix described above was not an example of superstition?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Richard Wade, I am saying that the incident in question, in so far as law enforcement and public policy are concerned, should be considered both as a crime and very probably an example of mental illness. Both should be pursued by the appropriate authorities but, unfortunately, in the United States of today such clearly disturbed people are more likely to end up inappropriately in prison than in a state mental hospital where they belong. The existence of the devil or any other supernatural entity has no place in either the law or public policy.

    Any assertion of the literal truth of an assertion about something in the physical universe made by religion, or on any other basis, including alleged science itself, and which is held in opposition to the discoveries of science is a superstition. Science is powerless to tell us anything about anything except the physical universe, and it’s even ineffective in much of that. Science depends entirely on observations and measurements that can be repeated. Where those don’t or can’t exist, science can tell us little or nothing. The social sciences, including those that pretend to not be social sciences, are prime offenders in presenting dogma and self-serving, often pretty flimsy, evidence as being rock-solid science. I’ve noticed that scientists who deal with the observable world directly are often more modest about their findings. Maybe it’s the belief of behavioral science that the strenuous assertions can make up for the weakness and incompleteness of their views.

  • http://www.lifewithoutfaith.com/ Richard

    Last week a study was released suggesting that marijuana use may increase the chance of becoming psychotic. I would love to see a study investigating religious beliefs and psychosis. I wonder how many people in psyche wards grew up believing in the supernatural versus naturalists. A study like this may save future children from abuse like this.

    Richard
    http://www.lifewithoutfaith.com/

  • Logos

    olvlzl, no ism, no ist Why must you beat up on Dawkins and Harris all the time?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Logos, oh, I don’t know. I’ve been an opponent of Dawkins since his “Selfish Genes”, through his “memes” and onward into today. Maybe it’s become a habit, maybe it’s because I don’t like to see someone who has built a career on story telling and invention out of thin air build a third career as a strict materialist. Maybe if he could come up with some material evidence to back up his alleged science I’d back off a bit. I think he gets by mostly on his writing and his dependence on the slippery standards of the behavioral sciences.

    Harris, he’s just your garden variety bigot. He goes on the same list as Father Charles Coughlin and Theodore Bilbo. No, wait, he reminds me even more of Orval Faubus. I’d go into detail but you might think I was being a meany.

  • Wraith

    Well shit happens. Who really cares what people do religiously. Hell, look at the religion of Bob and an their crazy antics. The only thing we need to worry about is people in general. Look at all the crazy shit that has happened throughout history because of what “people” believed in. Hitler for example, people thought that he was right while others thought that he was wrong. I say there is no such thing as good an evil, only power and what you do to sustain that power.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Wraith, you sound like a Death Eater.

  • Maria

    This is a case of the absence of any real mental health services in the United States. Children are attacked and murdered by close relatives who are mentally ill without any associated religious clap trap. Using this bizarre example of clearly ill people as propaganda against all religion is no different from the historical use of a crime committed by a person identified as a member of an ethnic or other group and using it to stereotype all or most members of the group who have never done anything like that. Certainly, you’ve seen that done before. If you don’t recall it, look down below for those teen atheists who were accused of vandalism, or wait for a case of an atheist with mental health problems who attacks or kills a child. You’ll find you are going to be associated with them, like it or not.

    I don’t believe in a devil, I think people who believe they are possessed are mentally ill. In cases when people who aren’t ill themselves believe someone else is possessed it’s more likely that they are at the end of their rope having to deal with someone who is extremely mentally ill and needs extensive hospitalization which is now virtually non-existent in the United States due to states dumping an expensive and vitally needed public service onto the families, local communities, the streets and so to the prisons. Using this kind of story as propaganda isn’t going to help turn that situation around.

    you make some good points. people are already using the teenager incident to stereotype atheists. there’s another teen who calls himself an atheist on youtube, who’s talking against religion but actually promoting pedophilia (sick hypocrite!). clearly the kid’s doing it either for shock value or he has issues, but either way it’s being touted as a stereotype of atheists (which of course is total bs). let’s not use outrageous incidents of any group to label an entire group. I think all these people are above all, mentally ill. As I said before, extreme religion seems to attract those who are already sick and just makes it even worse way too often.

    Just curious, is there any scientific explanation for people who really do think they are possessed? is it a mental illness?

  • http://mollishka.blogspot.com mollishka

    the 19-year-old mother

    Oy.

  • Richard Wade

    Olvlzl,
    As a provider of psychotherapy for many years (now retired), I am well aware of the weaknesses of the Behavioral Sciences. Psychology in particular is not a “hard” science, and the majority of its theorists and practitioners with whom I am familiar do not pretend that it is. There is nothing as difficult to reliably measure and meaningfully explain as human behavior. It’s easier to understand quarks than it is to understand quirks.

    It is however, possible to predict with accuracy a small but significant amount greater than chance the behavior of people, especially those who exhibit signs and symptoms of serious mental disorders. In other words it’s easier to predict what a really crazy person will do than a slightly crazy or basically sane person will do.
    So even though it is not a very exacting field, at least in the specialty of psychopathology, psychology has been able to retain some usefulness. The advent of better psychotropic drugs in the last twenty or thirty years has also been of benefit in real-world ways.

    As you point out, the providing of psychotherapeutic services for the general public is a very different story, and a very sad one. Nation wide, for the most part people with mental illnesses are far more often left to languish on their own compared to thirty or forty years ago. It’s ironic since we are now far better at helping them if only we could get public funding for them.

    But here’s what I’m getting at. I get confused when you sometimes follow two seemingly contradictory ideas, and please forgive me if I misunderstand you:

    You point out the looseness and lack of reliability of the behavioral sciences but you also invoke them and rely heavily on them when you characterize incidents such as the one in Phoenix as an example of mental illness. You basically say that mental health services are not based on good science but we really need to provide such services more generously to the public.

    Another confusing pairing of ideas that to me at least seem contradictory is when you remain stridently agnostic about the existence of God, stating (correctly, IMO) that science is of no use for a yes or a no to that question, yet you straight out say that you don’t believe in a devil, and that people who think they’re possessed are mentally ill. Mental illness is a term defined by the science of psychopathology. So are you saying that when it comes to the “good” god, we cannot know and science has no place to say yea or nay, but when it comes to the “bad” god we do know and we need the science of psychopathology to come to the rescue?

    Please do not take this as an attempt to “catch” you. Certainly not. I genuinely find your ideas interesting when you’re not on your well-worn soapbox about Dawkins, Harris, Hitchens, Randi and who cares who else, people who have some ideas I like and some I don’t like. Not every atheist on the internet is a “blog atheist” as you call them.

  • Logos

    Yeah Olvlzl, you need to just chill: you are harshing my mellow!

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Richard Wade, first, having direct experience of a very close family member who was severely mentally ill, she died as a direct result of it, sometimes it is perfectly obvious that someone is unable to think rationally for most of the time. The diagnoses that were given over the course of the sixteen years she was falling apart were varied and mostly skirted around the fact that she was slowly and clearly destroying herself. While I appreciate those who actually try to do something about the severely mentally ill, the deficiencies and criminal neglect of our medical system are in few areas more obvious and widespread. From that experience and others it became apparent to me that some people are so clearly ill that long term hospitalization is the only way they can survive. But thanks to Nelson Rockefeller’s cost savings dumping of the mentally ill onto the street being copied across the country, in many states it is impossible to get the most ill the care they need.
    The treatments of mental illness that are available today might be rudimentary, subjects of controversy and sometimes ineffective. Perhaps that’s a sign of how complex the mind really is and how subtle and varied. But the fact is there are mentally ill people now, the perfect solution to their problem isn’t available yet and probably won’t be for decades if not centuries. But they need some kind of treatment now just as people who had illnesses in the 18th century had illnesses that they often didn’t have effective treatments for. You have to try something.

    That is a different matter from the behavioral “sciences”. There are researchers in the behavioral sciences who do real science, they are generally the ones who are ignored by the media and whose books don’t get on the best seller lists. They don’t come out with entirely speculative grand-unified theories (that have risen and fallen over and over again). Perhaps if the social scientists stopped chasing that rainbow and concentrated on practical solutions instead of propping up their shaky schools more progress could be made. There is absolutely no reason to not point out the deficiencies of these activities. If people engaged in this kind of stuff want to claim that what they are doing is science, they open themselves up as legitimate targets of inquiry. The claims and status of science is based on its reliability in face of rigorous testing, it cheapens science to let junk use its name when its practices are little better than creationists.

    As to my personal beliefs. I make a clear distinction between those things which can be known and those which cannot. Those which can be known are often best treated by science, though I would also say that for many things, especially political questions, are better treated by history. The facts of history are usually more fact than the speculations of the behavioral scientists, certainly more than the stories about social life in the stone age.

    Where things can’t be known by science, personal experience and a person’s evaluation of that is as good a guide as is usually available. The pretense that some kind of pseudo-science can address these areas, when they really can’t, doesn’t change that. However, a personal experience is personal and the person who holds convictions based on that has no right to impose those on the unwilling. That’s the difference. Every one should be free to believe what they do unless they act to infringe on other peoples’ rights.

    Logos, you’re the one who asked the question. It’s not my fault if the answer requires more than will sustain your mellow. Some things in life are hard. Often those are important things. Dawkins and Harris make big claims about their publications, I’m not going to let up on them just because they are popular.

  • Logos

    Olvlzl you do know that one of the main words in the name of this site is Friendly, your fellow Christians who post here are by and large a very mild mannered bunch. Why don’t you learn from their example!

  • Lee

    In response to:Taisen said,

    July 30, 2007 at 6:52 am

    Man, that bites! At least the exorcism I went to had some dramatic flair. I’m afraid that the Buddhist version of an exorcism would put me to sleep…

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Logos, first, I am not a Christian, as I have said here before. If I was I would have no problem stating that I am. It’s interesting to me how frequently blog atheists assume that someone who calls them on stereotyping and bigotry against Christians is a Christian them self. I’ve never been accused of being a Jew when I’ve pointed out stereotyping and bigotry against Jews. And considering the tone of those mislabeling, accusation is the right word to use in that sentence.

    Second, if you find a problem with the reasoning of facts of something I’ve said, please feel free to correct me. I love to get the facts straight.

    Third, why don’t you require comparable gentleness and mellowness of the atheists and others who post here. The snark flows like acid from many who post here.

    Fourth, I’m going to stop posting here, my search for reasonable and bigotry free blog atheists is taking longer than I really want to devote to it.

    Five, I’m kind of an intense kind of guy. It’s just how I am.

  • Logos

    Olvlzl some Prozac might help you with your intensity issues.

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    Logos, my intensity doesn’t bother me one bit, in fact it’s a definite plus in my work and my family and friends don’t have a problem with it. Try some rigorous thinking. It’s lots of fun and it won’t hurt once you’ve gotten past the easy and superficial layer. It’s like exercise, you build up to it.

  • Logos

    I thought you were going to stop posting here?

  • http://olvlzl.blogspot.com/ olvlzl, no ism, no ist

    “I am going to stop posting here” does not carry a definite final time. I thought you would like an answer to your suggestion. If you would like to get the last word in, just wait.


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