An Unnecessary Death from an Unnecessary Ceremony

A six-week old baby has died in Moldova.

The culprit? Superstition mixed with a preacher blinded by religion.

Father Valentin dunked the baby in a tank of water three times, never covering its mouth. The father explains what he saw:

“He couldn’t inhale, his face turned blue and he was foaming at the mouth. He [the priest] said we should not interrupt this… ritual,” he said.

“We couldn’t believe it that he just put his hand over his belly and over the head and submerged him three times in the water.”

Yet another example of “harmless” religious nonsense causing real damage. And why did it happen?

Because everyone involved believed that a magic man dunking the baby in water would make God happy. Or send the baby to Heaven. Or prevent it from going into Purgatory. Or whatever the hell people think a Baptism does.

It doesn’t matter what they think a baptism does, though, because they’re wrong in every case.

There’s no reason babies should be baptized. If people want to dunk themselves in water, let them do it when they’re older and in control of their own bodies. It’s still pointless, but at least they won’t die from it.

If there’s any silver lining to this story — if convicted, the priest could face three years’ worth of prison time. (Update: A lot of commenters are saying this is hardly a “silver lining.” You’re right. Poor choice of words on my part. But the three years in prison doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to me. This was an “accidental homicide” and I don’t think the priest intended to kill the baby. I’m not sure what the right amount of jailtime would be, but three years didn’t seem too out of line.)

  • Trace

    That makes me sad.

  • http://littlelioness.net Fiona

    *sigh* :(

  • Josh BA

    There’s even more horribleness on top of it: at least some of the congregation will probably interpret this as “God’s Will” and just be glad that they baptized the baby in time,

  • ewan

    send the baby to Heaven

    So, mission accomplished; there was much rejoicing?

    No, thought not. If people really believed this stuff they should be OK with this – it’s not like anyone’s going to have a better chance of being free of sin than the instant they’ve been baptised.

  • http://roger.blogs.exetel.com.au/ Roger Powell

    Only three years for murdering an innocent baby?

  • Greg

    If there’s any silver lining to this story — if convicted, the priest could face three years’ worth of prison time.

    Wha-?! You think that’s a silver lining?

    Only three years for murdering a six week old child?

    Sorry, but for me, that makes it all even worse. Where is the justice in that?

  • jemand

    three years? is that normal for murder in Moldova?

  • http://Facebook.com/Trizzd0319 Robert

    Isn’t this a form of torture for the military…? Water boarding? Or am I way off base here? If I was to do this, I would go to jail a lot longer. I say water board this guy like he did the baby.

  • Dylan

    Three years?! I hate this world, just make it stop.

  • Tom H from Cleveland

    Do you think that when he gets out of prison he will continue to dunk babies into tubs of water?

  • http://primesequence.blogspot.com/ PrimeNumbers

    Pure evil.

    So unnecessary, and so wrong on so many levels, and then potential jail sentence that says “drowning babies is a minor offence”. I’m utterly sickened of the lengths that religion will go to.

  • http://pinkydead.blogspot.com David McNerney

    Whoa!!!

    I’m sorry but the parents are more responsible here (even if I do feel bad for them).

    It’s not like the priest was a doctor who had special knowledge that the parents didn’t have – they let him immerse their child in water (which for the most part might be stupid but safe) and watched it turn blue.

  • http://religiouscomics.net Jeff P

    It should be ordered that all baptismal basins contain a large sign that says

    – WARNING — the practice of baptism contains a real and finite possibility of death due to drowning!

    along with a picture of the baby that died.

    That might get people thinking.

  • Liokae

    Yeah, let me join in the chorus here- someone possibly getting three years prison for what is at a minimum negligent homicide is not a silver lining. It’s a horrific miscarriage of justice.

  • http://thenaturalbuddhist.blogspot.com JohnFrost

    Three years. Unfuckingbelievable.

  • keddaw

    I’m with David McNerney, get the parents in the dock too. Even if a jury wouldn’t convict grieving parents it is important to let them, and everyone else, know that their inaction when their child was being drowned by the magic man is unacceptable.

  • hippiefemme

    That breaks my heart. I guess I should be grateful that my infant baptism was more a sprinkling on my forehead while I was held over a small, empty tub. It’s all nonsense, but most Christians, in my experience, have enough sense to know that dunking an infant in water is a bad idea and believe that “God will understand” the intent of a Christening anyway, without the complete submersion. Some churches allow children to decide *gasp* if/when they feel “ready” to be a member of the church.

    It’s still nonsense, but at least that’s far less reprehensible than this.

    It’s upsetting that the article says “If found guilty of accidental homicide, Father Valentin could spend three years in jail.” 90% of Moldova’s population is Eastern Orthodox. I know people like to think they’d do the right thing, but how difficult will it be for them to convict a priest for performing a deadly ritual that the parents and congregation witnessed without stopping him? I wonder if he’ll even be found guilty.

  • http://www.ahogethoughts.wordpress.com BuncyTheFrog

    I’ve got to join the chorus shouting about the three year sentence. I can only assume that if the priest had killed a man or woman by drowning them, as he did with this baby, he’d be getting far more than three years.

    Don’t let the parents keep any children they have from now on too; they’ve proven they’re irresponsible parents.

  • http://secularshawshank.wordpress.com Andy

    It seems like the priest persisted in the dunking even while onlookers expressed concern for the child’s safety:

    He couldn’t inhale, his face turned blue and he was foaming at the mouth. He [the priest] said we should not interrupt this their ritual.

    [...]When the baby’s angry relatives confronted the priest, he told them he knew what he was doing and was experienced at baptisms, Ms Vacarciuc said.”

    Another silver lining would be if fewer people in Moldova allowed credulous old fools to dunk their babies under water.

  • Hybrid

    I don’t see why any Christian should be upset about this at all. After all, the baby died in a state of grace, and is now in eternal paradise with God himself, free of the evil and corruption of this terrible, rotten, good for nothing life. Hell, I say give the guy sainthood and promote him to full-time baptizer for the entire church. If it’s good enough for God to have drown to all of the little babies and toddlers in his “great flood”, why should we do differently? This guy’s got it figured out, I say.

  • http://thegodlessmonster.com/ The Godless Monster

    I’m assuming this was an Orthodox ceremony. I’m not overly familiar with the socio-political climate there, but I can assure you that if this was to happen in Russia, there is a high probability that it would have been quickly and quietly swept under the rug.
    Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the Orthodox Church has regained a lot of power and influence in Russia, just as the Catholic Church has regained its power in Poland. BTW…when people go on and on about how great the Catholic Church was in fighting communism in Poland, it should be noted that it wasn’t about fighting for freedom but for control.

  • pmsrhino

    Uuuuuuuugh.

    WHY are these people against abortion again? They seem to be totally cool with letting fully grown, breathing, moving ALIVE babies die for stupid unnecessary reasons. Which makes sense, after all, since their God is totally pro-baby killing.

    So if they’re cool with killing babies that can feel and have thoughts and emotions when they are being murdered why do Fundie Christians make such a fuss over fetuses/small clusters of cells that can’t feel anything?!

    I seriously just want to quit the world this week. With this and then that baby post earlier. I don’t even LIKE babies and I seem to care more about their well being than these supposed Christians do. >

    Edit: And THREE YEARS?!?! WTF is that?!?!

  • muggle

    Three years is outrageous! And wtf is wrong with the parents!! If you’re freaking baby is turning blue and you’re still too docile to interfere with the religious freak whose ass you kiss, you shouldn’t be a parent. Charge them too. The preist homicide, the parents accessory to manslaughter. Something that says this is not okay.

    State of grace my ass. The only mercy these babies that die at the hands of fuckwads that bred them is that they won’t be raised by them. If you’ll stand by and watch your baby die for god’s will, I’m sorry but I’m not buying that you’ll spare the rod and spoil the child either. I was beat soundly in the name of god far too many times as a child to buy into that happy horseshit.

    Any parent who let’s religion (or anything else) interfere with reasonable loving care of their child should have their child(ren) removed from their custody and not allowed to parent any more.

  • http://skepticsplay.blogspot.com miller

    Does drowning cause foaming at the mouth? I’ve never heard of that.

  • Eric Lawrence

    Three years for the faith-based murder of a six-week-old baby. Sometimes I think it’s a shame there’s no hell for these people to go to. :(

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Hemant Mehta

    A lot of commenters are saying this is hardly a “silver lining.” You’re right. Poor choice of words on my part. But the three years in prison doesn’t seem like much of a stretch to me. This was an “accidental homicide” and I don’t think the priest intended to kill the baby. I’m not sure what the right amount of jailtime would be, but three years didn’t seem too out of line.

  • FresnoMikey

    Not excusing the superstition, but Catholic clergy, and I am sure many other western Christians, simply pour water from a small pitcher over the top of the baby’s head for may five seconds. I guess you have to go to the old country, Moldava, or Mississippi, to kill babies! When people live in constant emotional anxiety caused by poverty and/or hunger, they will resort prayer. When I wrestled in high school, I was so skinny and scared that I tried prayer. It didn’t work.

  • Jeremiah

    Eh, I don’t know about the ‘accidental homicide’ thing. I mean, of course it wasn’t intentional but you are doing something that anyone with a lick of sense would realize is dangerous. The only reason he engaged in the high risk behavior was due to religious stupidity. Last time I checked, stupidity wasn’t an excuse for criminal behavior.

    Usually people get in trouble if they engage in behavior that endangers someone elses life regardless of if they actually killed someone or not. But stuff like that if the baby didn’t die then nobody would have batted an eye at it. And that is a problem in my opinion.

    I don’t know, just seems to me that he is being cut too much of a break because it was ‘accidental’ while people ignore the larger issue of why would a society allow an infant to be waterboarded just to appease some silly unfounded superstition. I mean, we don’t allow female genital mutilation here so why should we allow these other dangerous practices just because of the shield of religion?

    (yes I realize the event happened in another country, but the same stuff happens here in the US too)

    Society shouldn’t be afraid to stand up a say, I don’t care about your religion, this shit is dangerous and unnecessary and I don’t care how much you whine you are going to cut it out. Change the rules that they have to wait until they are an adult to engage in something like.

  • JB Tait

    @miller : Yes.
    And it is evidence that the drowning is well advanced.

    http://lifeloom.com/III1Aggrawal.htm
    ” . . . [W]ater would enter the air passages along with the inspired air. Within the air passages, this water gets mixed with the various sticky secretions present there. As the air gets in and out of the windpipe along with the respiratory efforts, this water gets churned in the windpipe, along with the sticky secretions. These secretions decrease the surface tension of water, much like soap does, with the result that a lot of foam is generated. This foam is found at the mouth in almost all cases of true drowning.

  • Oana

    I feel so awful that this happened in my country (well, technically Romania =/= Moldova, but well…)

    I have little to say to defend my compatriots. Nor do i wish to, for what has happened is horrible.

    All that i CAN say is that this kind of thing will NOT be heard of again for a lot of time- as stupid as we are, we are not THAT retarded. And whilst the majority of the population is Orthodox Christian, we keep it to ourselves and do not push our beliefs on someone that happens to be a nonbeliever.

    Please, i ask of you but one thing. Do not brand us all as “idiots” or “religious loonies”. We do have our problems, stupidity and hipocrisy IS present, but most of us are decent people.

    Well, excluding the ^%$#%& from the “New Right”( Noua Dreapta ), whom are basically our very own religious fanatics( “think of the kids!”,” traditional family values”,etc)

    (the site: http://www.nouadreapta.org/)

    Did i also mention that most of us are decent? Sorry, i just cannot stress that enough.

    As for the baby… my opinion on that priest would best remain unposted, lest i earn me a IP ban from this blog.

    Anyways, i end my plea, and i DO hope I reached some of you.

    Thank you.

  • Betsy

    how long exactly was the child under water each time it was immersed?
    I recall having my children in swim classes at a very young age where the very first thing they taught us was to have the child used to being underwater – complete immersion. We would purposely dunk the baby. It was pretty quick, but nobody drowned, and we never covered mouth or noses when we did it. The kids obviously swallowed and probably inhaled some water too.
    Anyway, I’m just wondering how long the priest held the baby under the water and if it’s possible the child had some kind of condition. Not to defend the practice, but obviously they perform baptisms routinely without drowning children.

  • Hybrid

    Oana said:
    Please, i ask of you but one thing. Do not brand us all as “idiots” or “religious loonies”.

    Hello Oana. Welcome. I have to say that your post got a laugh out of me. We’re Americans, which means we have not only the looniest of all religous loonies, but also the loudest and proudest religous loonies… and they’re usually the only ones who manage to make it into our elected government, to boot!

    I don’t think you have much to worry about as far as us seeing your people as “idiots” because of such an event.

  • gwen

    Oana, we have too many of our own loonies here in the good old USA to pass judgment on YOUR country. I would hope it was an isolated incident. If it happened in Oregon, it would probably be more commonplace!!

  • Enrys

    I’m sure because the priest said not to intervene that the church members sat in their pews until the baby died. Idiots. Get up and help the child.

  • txindie

    once…twice…three times a christian. Why did the baby need to be dunked three times? I thought once was enough. I guess there are some half converted christians out there!!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X