Saturday, April 03, 2004Crazy Fundies, Revisited
The case of the Texas woman I talked about a while back was decided today... her jury came to the conclusion that Deanna Lacey was not guilty by reason of insanity. Now she'll be committed to an institution for treatment, which will last as long as her doctors think is wise.
I'm a little torn by the acquittal, but not because I think Lacey was anything other than insane when she brutally murdered her two children and beat the third nearly to death with rocks because "God ordered her to." And given that Lacey is insane, a prison sentence would be inappropriate; indeed, the loss of her sons is likely a worse sentence than any a court could hand down.
But there's a lot of responsibility that inevitably goes untaken in a case like this. This woman and her family were members of a church, I'm certain... a bible-thumping, southern fundamentalist church. She was often described as a "devout Christian" throughout the trial; the fact that an insane woman, capable of slaughtering her own children, can pass for a "devout Christian" among purportedly sane people is, you have to admit, pretty disturbing.
Just as I have to wonder about a breed of Catholicism that views the brutal, grisly torture of their messiah as a desireable method of inspiring faith, I can't help but question a strain of fundamentalism that teaches a "Christianity" that's so devoid of love and mercy that a woman would be led to kill her own little boys by its teachings. Or, at least, if we accept the idea that this woman might've killed her kids regardless, and that because of her religion a command from God was the rationale she used for her actions, I'm stunned that a woman so deranged could be allowed to continue to raise and teach her children at home, presumably attending church and interacting to some degree in the community, and nobody ever noticed that she was becoming a mortal danger to her children.
But the thing that bothers me the most is that, having been exposed to this strain of fundamentalist Christianity before, I know that according to certain theologies, there's really nothing in the Bible that points to the inherent wrongness of these murders. Oh, sure, there's all that "Thou shalt not kill" stuff and that whole New Testament thing, but what's a little peace and love when you've got edicts from God coming in, just like the Patriarchs did? As long as one believes that God literally created the world in seven 24-hour days, that Satan interferes with our daily lives, and that an eternity of torment awaits those who don't follow exactly the same version of Christianity as oneself, why not obey celestial orders to break your kids' heads open? Fuck peace and love... we've got killing to do, God said so. Whether it's heathens or our own children we're slaughtering is beside the point; God's righteous love says we must kill, so kill we shall.
Crazy, crazy fundies.
In a bit of resonance for me personally, Lacey will most likely be sent to Rusk State Hospital, where my father worked as a lay chaplain for a couple of years when I was very young. I have some rather... formative memories of the place.
Update: See, this is the shit I'm talking about.
At the church where Deanna Laney once ministered to youth, sang in the choir and spoke in tongues, worshippers Sunday prayed for her and her family a day after she was acquitted by reason of insanity of bludgeoning two of her young sons to death.
Pastor Gary Bell preached about hope amid despair to his congregation of more than 100 people, and said he will continue to stand by Laney and her husband, Keith.
``You're going to make it. I said you're going to make it. By the grace of God, we're going to make it,'' he preached.
Where's the anger at the murder of two children? Where's the self-questioning that should be inherent to an event this kind? Where were these people before Lacey killed her children? Lacey may have been the only person culpable for this crime, but I hold this entire church -- everyone who knew them and should have seen what was developing, were it not for their blind insistence that God was behind their every thought and impulse -- responsible.
``Everyone in this situation is a victim, everyone,'' he said.
The question is, Rev. Bell, a victim of what?