“Jesus made me do it!”
In my experience, when true believers are disparaged by nonreligious people, they often complain, in effect, “What business is it of yours what we believe? It has nothing to do with you.”
Oh, but it does.
A recent article in the St. Paul (Minnesota) Pioneer Press — “Charges: Suspect in St. Paul triple homicide told police he killed mother, two children” — provides a chilling explanation of how supernatural faith can endanger everyone.
The news article’s headline begs the question: What drove the killer to act?
The 26-year-old suspect, TeKeith Svyonne Jones, who has a Christian cross tattooed between his eyes, said he shot to death his pregnant former girlfriend D’Zondria D. Wallace, 30, and her two children, Ja’Corbie, 11, and La’Porsha, 14, so they could “go up [to heaven] and be holy,” he told investigators. He explained to investigators that Wallace was “corrupting the kids” and that he was “trying to break the cycle.”
The only thing he broke was three life cycles, four if you include the fetus in Wallace’s womb when she was killed.
Despite the depravity and cruelty of the murders, Wallace assured investigators that after he killed the victims, he “kissed” each one. He told investigators that this proved he has was “not a monster.” As if.
Instinctively, most people probably assume that Jones is simply crazy. But it’s not that simple. He’s hardly the first person to claim holy dispensation for murder, many of whom are arguably completely sane.
In fact, Jesus and other supposedly God-sent messengers have been a chronic go-to excuse for murder and mayhem for millennia, including the orchestration of the Christ’s own crucifixion by Jewish pharisees via Roman authorities in Judea. The Jewish religious grandees, who carried a sense of superior sanctity, felt divinely entitled to punish transgressors of Jewish law. This self-applied sense of faux authority is still common in the modern world, including within this truly monstrous fellow in Minnesota.
Disturbing examples of this brutal tendency were presented in a 2013 article in the online news site Globalgrind, titled “‘Jesus Told Me To Do It!’ 6 Crazy Crimes Committed In The Name Of Religion.”
These creepy stories illustrate why irreligious people are deeply wary of believers in supernatural things that don’t objectively exist. Here’s just one passage in the Globalgrind piece, about a 2008 incident in Greenville, South Carolina:
“Donna Marie Redding told authorities her [live-in boyfriend] used the Lord’s name in vein [sic] too often so she shot him. Redding said, ‘Jesus told me to do it’ and that her [boyfriend] was ‘the devil.’ She shot and killed her [boyfriend] with a shotgun … Without warning, Jesus whispered in Redding’s ear and she ended an innocent man’s life.”
Redding was later convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to 18 years in prison.
Globalgrind also noted two far-better-known murderous incidents linked by their murderers to the divine: cultists Charles Manson and Jim Jones. (Watch the documentary about Manson below and one about Jim Jones at the top of the post.)
Manson ordered his drug-fueled “family” members to go on a killing spree in the 1960s in California because his interpretation of the biblical book of Revelations directed him to restore civil order in America by igniting “Helter Skelter,” a race war between Whites and Blacks. He believed a third of the population would perish in the conflict.
Jones, who founded the quasi-Christian People’s Temple in San Francisco, California, orchestrated the ritual suicide (and murders, when anyone objected) with cyanide-laced Kool Aid of more than 900 of his followers, including 330 children, at the Temple’s camp in a jungle encampment in Guyana, South America. Jones made a recording during the “suicide,” enforced by armed aides, in which he said at the end:
“We didn’t commit suicide, we committed an act of revolutionary suicide protesting the conditions of an inhumane world.”
He assured them they would go directly to God.
The terrible atrocity remains one of the largest massacres in history. Ironically, cult members who survived the killings said that no overtly religious services were ever held at the Guyana camp, only political indoctrinations with religious overtones.
And, of course, there were also the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Holocaust, 9/11, etc.
In this vein, TeKeith Svyonne Jones in February this year murdered three people, including two children he shot to “save them,” as he told authorities.
Zealous believers often actually also believe that American freedom of religion guarantees their right to kill in the name of God — and likewise ignore all manner of other laws — without accountability to Earthly authority.
That’s why when people believe in objective nonsense, removing all substantive guard rails of the real world, it matters existentially to everyone.