Pharyngula

LisaJ here again.

Wow. Now here’s a story that just disturbed me to no end. Little Javon Thompson’s mother, 21 year old Ria Ramkissoon, became a Christian at a young age, but when her local pastor disappointed her by pleading guilty to molesting young boys, she left her church and was taken in instead by what is now being described as a dangerous religious cult (I’d like to make the point that even plain ‘ole regular Christianity is a dangerous cult, but that’s beside the point). This cult, called 1 Mind Ministries, is headed by a 40 year old, I’m assuming woman, who calls herself Queen Antoinette, and it appears that the relatively small group lives together and operates under the extremely god-driven Queen’s direction.

What happened to Javon, Ms. Ramkissoon’s little boy, in 2005 is what has me so disturbed. The ONE year old child was denied food and water for two days because he wouldn’t say “Amen” after finishing his meals. This outrageous punishment killed him, and none of his caretakers intervened to save him. Police say that the group viewed this child as a demon, and that they left his lifeless body in a backroom of their apartment for more than a week while they simply prayed to god to raise Javon from the dead. Instead, the boy’s body began to decompose and no resurrection occurred, obviously.

Reportedly, after the cult members accepted that Javon would not be resurrected they stuffed his body in a suitcase. His mother lovingly added mothballs and fabric softener to the contents of the suitcase, and occasionally sprayed some disinfectant inside. The case, with the child’s body still inside, was found earlier this year, after it had been stored behind a home in Philadelphia when the cult relocated to New York City, over a year earlier.

Javon’s mother Ria and four other cult members face first degree murder charges in this case. Ria’s mother, however, contests that her daughter was brainwashed by the cult. Her attorney has recently declared that “the members of this cult, who were more than twice her age, were calling the shots,” and that “she bought the program hook, line and sinker.” So because this young woman was reportedly brainwashed, does this then mean that she should not be prosecuted with her child’s murder? To put this into perspective for myself, I was raised catholic, and there are certainly many faulty decisions I made while growing up that I consider to largely be the fault of my indoctrinated mindset. But murder? I have a really hard time swallowing the brainwashing excuse as justifying your active involvement in your child’s murder. And besides, even if her supposed brainwashing is really at fault here, someone this stupid to allow someone to talk her into effectively killing her child, under the guise of god, should be put away where she is no longer a danger to herself or anyone else.

This disturbing story highlights perfectly the dangers that society faces for teaching people to believe in whatever god they’re confronted with, instead of thinking for themselves.

Comments

  1. #1 JoJo
    August 17, 2008

    There is definitely something unhealthy going on inside Ms. Ramkissoon’s mind. Who honestly expects a one year old to say anything more involved than “goo”? And then when the baby doesn’t say “amen”, does any reasonable adult punish the child by denying him food and water for two days? Lastly, does anyone, Christian or not, expect a dead child to be resurrected to life?

    I don’t know about brainwashing, but Ms. Ramkissoon was not acting like a reasonable, intelligent, mature person does. Nor were the rest of the cult members.

  2. #2 John McKay
    August 17, 2008

    I have no trouble believing the brainwashing justification, but my response is “so what?” Our judicial system incarcerates people for a variety of reasons. One is simple punishment. Another is to attempt to rehabilitate them (that’s the theory; we rarely make a true effort). A third reason is to quarantine people who are too dangerous to be allowed into the general population. Maybe it wasn’t exactly her fault, but the fact is that she has been turned into the sort of person who thinks it’s good and proper to punish a toddler to death. She no longer has the ability to make safe, adult judgments. The only real question is whether jail or a mental hospital is the correct place to incarcerate her.

  3. #3 mk
    August 17, 2008

    Isn’t all religion a sort of “brainwashing?” Aren’t we talking a matter of degrees here? So yes, this woman should be held responsible.

    My question is how do we hold society responsible? How do we fix a problem like this when you have Obama and McCain paying homage to that asshole Rick Warren and his minions? Drives me absolutely batshit crazy. They are not helping. I get that they think they need to do this to get elected, but still.

    I guess sites like this, books like the God Delusion and scientists in general are a salve of sorts, but stories like the one you posted and watching the candidates suck up to religious nutjobs does not inspire any sense of real hope or change. Ugh, now I’m really depressed!

    Think I’ll go watch “Myth Busters.”

  4. #4 Richard Harris
    August 17, 2008

    Yeah, these religious nuts are really crazy. In the car this morning, I tuned in to BBC Radio 4′s religious service, because I didn’t like the piece of music then playing on Radio 3.

    I was appalled at the puerile twaddle that the priest was spouting. It was internally inconsistent, totally illogical crap that was almost embarassing to listen to, it was so fecking stupid. What the feck is this idiotic nonsense doing on national radio of a modern country? It belongs to primitive Bronze Age pastoralists, not to modern people. It just seems impossible that anyone now can believe such crap. But they do.

  5. #5 Jason Failes
    August 17, 2008

    My question is how do we hold society responsible?

    By speaking out, by holding politicians responsible to 21st century concerns, by becoming political representatives ourselves, and by continuing to speak out against nonsense publicly once we have attained such position.s.

  6. #6 Stan
    August 17, 2008

    Agree with #1, JoJo. Can’t agree with the poster that this is due to the “dangers that society faces for teaching people to believe in whatever god they’re confronted with, instead of thinking for themselves.”

    Blanket accusation against “society” is pretty weak as an argument. The argument goes against itself: is the woman esceptionally stupid? Or are all people stupid and prone to the same deception? Or are all the cultists deranged to a degree? The problem is more complicated than a single brush stroke can cover.

  7. #7 thalarctos
    August 17, 2008

    Maybe it wasn’t exactly her fault, but the fact is that she has been turned into the sort of person who thinks it’s good and proper to punish a toddler to death. She no longer has the ability to make safe, adult judgments.

    I think John nailed it here–it’s a tragedy that she never had the chance to develop into a fully-mature adult, but the fact is that where she is now is a danger to herself, others, and society. The fact that she was never given a chance through no fault of her own at the time is not license for others to pretend now as though she can function safely and maturely.

  8. #8 Irene Delse
    August 17, 2008

    Awful, frightening story. Of all the stupid delusions, to make her own kid suffer and die like this… And expect a “resurrection” afterwards!

    Agh.

    (Psst, on a lighter note: the Canoe News page has a poll that just begs to be crashed: “Do you believe physicians should have the right to refuse medical treatment if it is against their beliefs?”)

  9. #9 Luke
    August 17, 2008

    “And besides, even if her supposed brainwashing is really at fault here, someone this stupid to allow someone to talk her into effectively killing her child, under the guise of god, should be put away where she is no longer a danger to herself or anyone else.”

    Well I’d guess that pleading guilty to murdering someone due to brainwashing is an insanity plea, in which case presumably she will be sectioned for treatment.

    Whether you diagnose this as ‘insane’ or just ‘too religious’, the woman clearly has severe mental health problems, and sending her to regular prison won’t do anything to help that (not that it seems to does much to help many people). A plea of insanity seems perfectly reasonable, especially as it will probably involve her being sent for ‘deprogramming’ (once again, you can classify this as ‘treating mental health problems imposed by a cult’ or ‘just plain tuning down the religious crazy’; either way it is what she needs).

  10. #10 LisaJ
    August 17, 2008

    Stan, I am blaming the woman and this cult for the child’s death, not society. I just mean that our society in general is so caught up in believing in a god, instead of using their own common sense, that dangerous things can happen when someone goes to extreme lengths to uphold their god’s beliefs. Obviously someone has to have serious mental problems to participate in someone’s death under the guise of religion. My final statement was aimed at society’s general love for religion for promoting these sorts of cults and their behaviours.

  11. #11 raven
    August 17, 2008

    Ria Ramkissoon is probably not all there upstairs.

    Most likely she is mentally ill or retarded. A lot of Child Protective Services case load comes from these segments of the population.

    Some people who join cults fit the profile as well. Cults prey on the weak minded.

  12. #12 Julian
    August 17, 2008

    Depraved Indifference. It’s debatable, but even if she did not actively murdered her child, was not responsible for the decision not to feed him, she still did nothing to save him. Seems from what I’ve read of it though that they all deserve prison time.

  13. #13 Julian
    August 17, 2008

    Luke: Her attorney isn’t arguing that she was guilty but brainwashed; he’s arguing that she isn’t guilty because she was brainwashed and, therefore, not responsible for her actions. He’s essentially arguing that she lacked intent, a big part of criminal law, as well as the authority to act in the situation. It doesn’t matter though because, as I posted above, Depraved Indifference is available to the prosecution and I seem to remember that intent doesn’t matter in DI cases. Even accepting her argument, she could still be brought up on charges of 1st degree manslaughter. 1st degree manslaughter is when one causes an unintentional death while committing a crime and this is clearly a case of Criminal Neglect.

    Having said that, the prosecutor has a pretty clear Depraved Indifference case here, so I doubt they’ll go for man 1.

  14. #14 JoJo
    August 17, 2008

    I agree with Julian. Depraved indifference.

    What mother denies her child food and water for two days when it’s readily available? “God told me to do it,” should be met with the contempt it deserves. In my state, death due to depraved indifference is a Class B felony punishable with up to 20 years imprisonment. That sounds about right.

  15. #15 dogheaven
    August 17, 2008

    Negligent Homicide for her and defiling a corpse,obstruction of justice and conspiracy to abuse a child for the others.

    By the way I think a 1 year old is an infant and not a toddler.

  16. #16 mayhempix
    August 17, 2008

    Speaking of brainwashing, this was just posted over at Bay of Fundie:

    http://www.bay-of-fundie.com/archives/473/american-vision-pwns-atheism

    After you watch the video you will understand why rationalism and atheists are responsible for everything evil in this world. I’ll bet they will somehow figure out a way to blame atheists for the death of Ramkissoon’s innocent child.

  17. #17 the strangest brew
    August 17, 2008

    The mother requires mental institution as she is obviously unfit mentally… the older cult members require substantial prison sentences because they should and probably do know a lot better but chose not to intervene… while queenie deserves life…simple like so…

    Until society in general faces up to these cults and religious indoctrination in general it will continue to happen.
    Because an eye is averted for fear of offending a religious belief the death of an innocent child should be as a sharp stick jammed into that eye to wake it up…
    Both the secular and the moderate religious community let that child down..and there will be other tragedies if no action is taken to eradicate these fools…

    What the authorities allow in these situations in trying not to offend the cretinists offends everyone else…it is way past time this nonsense was deep sixed along with the rest of so called Christian belief, it is an abomination and a vile festering cancer on the dignity of the human race…it has no place in this day and age…it never really had.

  18. #18 SEF
    August 17, 2008

    So because this young woman was reportedly brainwashed, does this then mean that she should not be prosecuted with her child’s murder?

    “Only following orders” stopped being a valid excuse quite a while back. Anyone claiming to be mentally incompetent to decide for themselves should merely be incarcerated in a different institution – possibly for a genuine life sentence since they evidently can’t be trusted in the outside world. Whereas a crime could have been a momentary aberration which need not be repeated – with prison hopefully being a chance to reform oneself to ensure that’s the case rather than an opportunity to become even worse (the latter being the cynical likelihood).

    Meanwhile, if Ria’s mother claims she raised a mental incompetent like that, has she still got any other children she’s raising similarly badly …

  19. #19 Marcus Ranum
    August 17, 2008

    Gotta respect a parents’ rights to kill their kids for their beliefs!

  20. #20 QrazyQat
    August 17, 2008

    And is not 1 Mind Ministries a Christian cult or sect? I see that this is (as we have seen in other horror stories like this) not mentioned in news stories, but I do see that the daughter at the time she got into the cult was “obsessed” with the Bible and was a Christian. She was recruited into 1 Mind Ministries after she’d become dissallusioned with her local church because the minister was discovered molesting young boys.

    Story
    Ramkissoon’s association with the group began shortly after Javon was born in September 2005, according to her mother, Seeta Khadan-Newton. She gave birth at 18, and was struggling to care for her baby while working and taking college classes, she said.

    Khadan-Newton, who moved with her daughter from their native Trinidad when the girl was 8, described Ramkissoon as sweet-natured and trusting. Khadan-Newton is Hindu, but her daughter became a Christian. Ramkissoon’s church betrayed her trust, her mother said, when its pastor pleaded guilty to molesting boys in the congregation.

    Ramkissoon was friends with Tiffany Smith, then a member of the group, and 1 Mind Ministries began recruiting her, Khadan-Newton said. After spending time with cult members, Ramkissoon started worrying she was going to hell.

    “My daughter was very religious. She was into the Bible – obsessed with it,” Khadan-Newton said. “They (were) going to show her the right way. She got sucked into it.”

    I’ve noticed before stories of mass killers etc. where the US story doesn’t mention their rightwing Christian views but foreign papers (like Australian) do. So the info is there but just deleted for domestic consumption. And of course they’re all “isolated cases”.

  21. #21 QrazyQat
    August 17, 2008

    Darn. Should’ve done more italics coding there. After the first italics the rest is the news story except for the last paragraph.

  22. #22 Jams
    August 17, 2008

    “So because this young woman was reportedly brainwashed, does this then mean that she should not be prosecuted with her child’s murder?” – LisaJ

    If the mother can’t reasonably be expected to have understood that what she was doing was wrong, a defense of insanity is available. If the mother was coerced into doing what she did, that’s also a defense.

    The former would result in her being indefinitely committed to a psychiatric institution, the later would be very hard to prove (convincing someone that something is a good idea isn’t coercion), and brainwashing is a non-sense word that belongs in stories.

  23. #23 Mike
    August 17, 2008

    Judge Mike’s ruling, execution for all of them, and not that pansy lethal injection crap.

  24. #24 Rose Colored Glasses
    August 17, 2008

    Dateline Barstow, California, 1973:

    Larry and Lucky Parker shopped around for an alternative religion and found the First Assembly of God Church, which would teach them that prayer alone would cure the diabetes of their son, Wesley. They took their son off insulin without alerting his doctor or anyone else and prevented the boy from getting medical attention, or any help at all, until he was in a coma. Rather than call an ambulance, they called their pastor, who called an ambulance.

    The Parkers were charged with manslaughter but ended up getting a light sentence for what was, frankly, torture-murder.

    My question is, did Ria Ramkissoon seek out nutjobs because she wanted rid of the kid, seriously rid of the kid, without getting into trouble like Susan Smith or Andrea Yates?

  25. #25 Robert Madewell
    August 17, 2008

    I think the cult should share some responsibility in this. Ria’s mother is partly right, IMO. The cult probably had Ria believing that Javon was demon. Ria does have some responsibility, but some is mitigated by the extreme situation she was in. That’s where the cult needs to be prosecuted. They created the situation where they’d starve a little boy to death, then hide his body.

    A one year old probably didn’t know yet how to say “amen”.

  26. #26 John C. Randolph
    August 17, 2008

    What mother denies her child food and water for two days when it’s readily available?

    One who’s insane, obviously. Just like one who let their child die instead of allowing a blood transfusion or administering antibiotics, or one who murders their child for failing to conform to standards of dress or marrying outside of their group.

    -jcr

  27. #27 Aquaria
    August 17, 2008

    At least someone is looking into this one.

    My ex-husband’s niece was beaten to death by her religious nutcase father for being a demon child. Her father and his equally religious nutcase family thought that they could literally beat the devil out of a normal, outgoing five-year-old child. No charges were brought against him. Of course, this was the early 80s, when child abuse wasn’t quite as acknowledged as it is now, especially not in some backwater hole like Idaho.

    The father had won custody for reasons I don’t remember now. I do remember that one of the deciding factors was that he was “religious,” and therefore deemed a parent more deserving of custody for it (the divorce took place in California’s Central Valley). Whatever the mother’s flaws at the time of the divorce, I’m reasonably sure that her first daughter would be alive today if Mom had gotten custody. That’s right, first daughter. She’s since had two other daughters, and they’re your typical children. They weren’t beaten or murdered, and certainly never even chastised to drive Satan from their souls.

    The effect of something like this on a family cannot be imagined.

    There was no reason for little Nicole to be murdered the way she was. It’s too bad the judge who made the original custody decision can’t be sued for incompetence.

  28. #28 Orion77
    August 17, 2008

    The Christian Cult in the USA has failed in building its fantasy world, of Jesus loving do-gooders. The evidence suggests the opposite, a nation of sinners, unlike anywhere else.

    Americans make up 5% of the worlds population & 25% of the worlds prison population.

    Prisoners per 100,000 of population – USA 756, United Kingdom 148, Australia 126, Canada 107, Germany 95, France 85, Sweden 82, Denmark 77, Japan 62.

    Are Canadians 85% less evil than Americans? God forbid!

  29. #29 Azdak
    August 17, 2008

    Didn’t Edward Gorey compose a limerick that foretold of this?

  30. #30 Jparenti
    August 17, 2008

    Religion does more harm than good. Period. If everyone in the world could have an opinion without basing it on a holy text, if they could make a legal decision based on nothing more than the law, if they could care for their child without being convinced that they need to be indoctrinated… it goes on and on. This woman is not innocent for being weak minded. A weak minded person can harm or kill just the same as a strong minded one. Send her and the cult away forever. I hate that only a life sentence would be allowed, because this is murder by neglect, plain and simple.

  31. #31 Mooser
    August 17, 2008

    And besides, even if her supposed brainwashing is really at fault here, someone this stupid to allow someone to talk her into effectively killing her child, under the guise of god, should be put away where she is no longer a danger to herself or anyone else.

    Oh but people who are brainwashed by the state into killing people they have no actual greivance against are just great, and should be supported to the end of their lives? It works both ways, Lisa.

  32. #32 Arnaud
    August 17, 2008

    Oh, for fuck’s sake, Mooser. Give up already! Anyway there is a thread for that discussion!

  33. #33 El Herring
    August 17, 2008

    To my mind, trying to ascertain culpability and apportioning blame here is pointless. The damage has been done, and the courts will decide what justice will be handed out. It’s not up to us. My concern is more for the prevention of future incidents of this nature. It seems to me that the whole of the U.S. is well overdue for some de-programming (and not just the U.S. of course, but that would be a good place to start as the States are keen to set an example to the rest of the world.) I’ve heard too many of these horrifying cases in the last few years, and there’ll probably be another one in the news before the year is out. Honestly, it’s the sort of thing I’d expect to hear going on amongst some primitive African tribal villages, not in what’s supposed to be the beacon of Western civilisation?

    Apologies if I sound like I’m rambling, it’s late and I’m tired. Stories like this just annoy the hell out of me, that’s all. There should be some sort of government organisation set up to reign in these mad cults that seem to be popping up all over the U.S. like a bad skin disease. Actually, it is a disease – of the mind. Dawkins was spot on with that one.

  34. #34 Azkyroth
    August 17, 2008

    No, the mother should not be let off the hook on this basis.

    On the contrary, I suggest we try and get a law passed requiring that anyone who attempts to use the “idiot defense” must from then on be treated exactly as a person matching the technical definition of “idiot” would be.

    Stupidity is a premeditated crime.

  35. #35 Ames
    August 17, 2008

    This is a similar case to one that occurred recently in Texas, where the Supreme Court there ruled that the religious motivations of the assault left the victim of a physically abusive exorcism without recourse against her abusers. Justice Medina, for the Court, admitted that the extremes, there may be a different result… this is obviously one of the extremes. But if you want a similar case w/ analysis, click “Texas” above.

  36. #36 David Marjanovi?, OM
    August 17, 2008

    Put the whole cult into an “institution for mentally abnormal lawbreakers”, as we call it in Austria. In other words, both jail and mental hospital. And yes, I mean the whole cult: everyone who knew or suspected what was going on and yet did nothing to stop it is guilty, or insane, or both.

    Do you have such institutions in the USA?

  37. #37 Tony Sidaway
    August 17, 2008

    There was a case in the UK a few years ago, a child called Victoria ClimbiÚ who was sent to live with her great-aunt in Paris from the Ivory Coast by her parents who knew that she’d have a chance of a good education in France.

    It’s a very harrowing tale. The child was comprehensively abused over a period of some years, moving with her great-aunt to London when she fled because the authorities were concerned. The great-aunt and her English boyfriend both believed that Victoria was possessed by demons. The social services and doctors bungled terribly, not acting as they should have, and the child died in a hospital intensive care unit on the day she was due to attend a service of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to cast out her demons.

    Her great-aunt was convicted or murder and child cruelty, and the boyfriend of manslaughter and child cruelty.

  38. #38 Tony Sidaway
    August 17, 2008

    Tangentially, in “An Anthropologist on Mars” by British neurosurgeon Oliver Sacks, he describes a case (“The Last Hippie”) of an adult whose massive brain tumor went untreated for years because the Hare Krishnas he lived with mistook his symptoms for signs of a special state of religious ecstasy.

  39. #39 Azkyroth
    August 17, 2008

    Put the whole cult into an “institution for mentally abnormal lawbreakers”, as we call it in Austria. In other words, both jail and mental hospital. And yes, I mean the whole cult: everyone who knew or suspected what was going on and yet did nothing to stop it is guilty, or insane, or both.

    Do you have such institutions in the USA?

    Yeah; we call them “local government.”

  40. #40 Mikel
    August 17, 2008

    Absolutly insane! I wonder what the Texas Supreme court would have to say about it, if religious groups can do whatever they wish to their members…(maybe not in the case of a one-year-old child, but I’d still like to know.)

  41. #41 LisaJ
    August 17, 2008

    Thank you Arnaud (@ #32). I couldn’t have said it better myself.

  42. #42 molbiogirl
    August 17, 2008

    I’d like to point out that although some xian child murderers are prosecuted, most are not. Xian Scientists, JWs and other xian wingnuts regularly kill their children by denying them medical care. Very few are prosecuted.

  43. #43 LisaJ
    August 17, 2008

    QrazyQat at #20. You bring up a good point. When writing this, I also noticed that they were careful to not associate the cult with any type of organized religious group. I would also guess that it’s probably associated with Xianity, due to the woman’s previous religious background. And yes, they most likely don’t leave these little details out by mistake.

  44. #44 S.Scott
    August 17, 2008

    I’m sick to my stomach .. what a fu**ing bi**h.

  45. #45 El Herring
    August 17, 2008

    I wrote this based on the ClimbiÚ case and other atrocities concerning children in the news at the time.

    Not all poetry is funny.

  46. #46 Jams
    August 17, 2008

    Maybe considering a similar case might help:

    I stumbled on a group of protesters a couple months ago, and being the nosy guy I am, I stopped to ask what was going on. As it turns out, the local government took a child away from an aboriginal family because the family chose to forgo treatment for the child (the child had cancer), preferring instead to turn to traditional medicine. The family took the government to court and lost. The ruling cited testimony by doctors that the child stood a very good chance of surviving treatment, but zero chance of surviving without it. The protesters were accusing the government of racism, of course, with absolutely zero evidence that there was any such thing.

    Should this family be charged with attempted murder? Neglect? Not charged at all? Should their child be returned without treatment, after treatment, at all?

  47. #47 Pareto
    August 17, 2008

    1 Mind Ministries, eh? I guess they share it between them all.

  48. #48 Clemens
    August 17, 2008

    I remember a quote I read about in Dawkin’s “The God Delusion”, just forgot the original author:

    “Religion is the only thing that makes good people do evil things”.

  49. #49 shonny
    August 17, 2008

    Posted by: raven | August 17, 2008 5:17 PM

    Ria Ramkissoon is probably not all there upstairs.

    Most likely she is mentally ill or retarded. A lot of Child Protective Services case load comes from these segments of the population.

    Some people who join cults fit the profile as well. Cults prey on the weak minded.

    Could go one better: Religious leaders prey on the mentally feeble. Praying and listening to nonsensical rubbish is the best way to block the mind from anything useful, such as thinking.
    But why are the religious ‘leaders’ not subjected to same scrutiny as say, teachers?
    In European countries improved communications and thereby information seemed to strongly reduce the nutty religious sects. In the US they seem to thrive even more than earlier. How come?
    Should the rest of the world respect a nation where a bloody high percentage of the population take advice from a nasty, feeble little book full of drivel, written (with innumerable revisions) very long ago by people with a very limited scope when it came to worldliness and profound knowledge?

    Think if the nutjobs traded their boring little navel-gazing piece of filth in with something well written and thought-provoking, – like Also sprach Zarathustra??
    (English translations are generally piss-poor, so read it in German, or in the outstanding Norwegian translation. Ah, the beauty of the old well-rounded general education in small countries!!).

  50. #50 Robert Davidson
    August 17, 2008

    “someone this stupid to allow someone to talk her into effectively killing her child”

    Actually, there’s no evidence that intelligence is a barrier to cult involvement. There are many highly intelligent people who have been sucked into cults and produced abominable behaviour as a result.

  51. #51 Tim
    August 17, 2008

    Remember reading about a case in western Missouri several years ago, a woman was convinced by her “Preacher” that her 4 year old son was possessed by the devil. She put her child in an oven to bake the devil out of him. BTW, googling “Atrocities for Jesus” gets 1.3 million possibilities.

  52. #52 raven
    August 17, 2008

    I’d like to point out that although some xian child murderers are prosecuted, most are not. Xian Scientists, JWs and other xian wingnuts…

    That is true. The cult in Oregon, Followers of Christ, who let a case of bronchitis turn into a coffin for a toddler is believed to have killed around 30 other of their own kids in the last few decades.

    It is also slowly changing. The DAs are starting to prosecute these parents on a variety of charges.

  53. #53 tim Rowledge
    August 17, 2008

    Slightly to the edge of the topic, my wife had Alan Titchmarsh on the BBC iPlayer over lunch (she likes his voice, don’t blame me) and after it ended the stream continued for a few minutes (the BBC seems to have Issues With Precise Timing) and lead into some religious program. It started with the rather smarmy toned presenter saying “it is important that our faith is built upon a foundation of truth”. Wha? Can anyone name a religion that takes any interest in actual demonstrable truth? I was utterly gobsmacked.

  54. #54 Phineas
    August 17, 2008

    While this story is very disturbing, I don’t know that describing Ria Ramkissoon as “stupid” is very useful. While in no way condoning what she and the other cult members did, I think you only need to look at the prominent cults of the last 30 or so years to see how people can get sucked in by charismatic leaders exploiting their fears and vulnerabilities. The Branch Davidians, the FLDS in Utah/Texas, Scientology, etc. Labeling cult followers with blanket terms like “stupid” or something similar I think keeps us from fully understanding how such cults form, operate and affect their members.

    @ Julian, #13: Hopefully neglect or depraved indifference is enough to counter any “brainwashing” or insanity defenses, especially for the cult’s leader. I would like to see a law in the USA making it a crime to deny children medical care, in the hopes of catching at least some similar cases before it’s too late for the child. Even if religious reasons weren’t hurting the child, I gather there’s been some evidence recently that parents not vaccinating their children also presents a public health risk.

  55. #55 Patricia
    August 17, 2008

    For crying out loud Mooser – get a grip. :(

    I’m with JoJo on this one, 20 years in prison sounds like a good start.
    My state of Oregon has kinder laws for the treatment of animals than it does for the treatment of children by their religious fanatic parents. Throwing children off bridges or letting them die of treatable diseases happens here time after time.
    Yep, Gawd is love.

  56. #56 DLC
    August 17, 2008

    Depressing.
    “Demonic possession”. how quaint. As if a 1 year old can speak in anything but a babble, with the occasional word ?
    I suppose if the child had managed to babble “amen” or something like it they would have exalted the baby, claiming it was a conduit to the almighty ?

    Raven @#11: Unfortunately most cult members are of average intelligence and tend to be younger, more idealistic and somewhat disaffected.

  57. #57 MPhil
    August 17, 2008

    But murder? I have a really hard time swallowing the brainwashing excuse as justifying your active involvement in your child’s murder.

    It all depends -literally- on the brain being washed, and the intensity, duration, technique and surrounding of the washing, doesn’t it? A perhaps subnormal ventromedial prefrontal cortex, higher-than-usual temporal-lobe activity, increased neurotransmitters plus a few other things – add a desperate situation, and a group of (to this person) charismatic people who are extremely apt at washing this particular brain… I don’t know if it’s an excuse (don’t want this to develope into a discussion on free-will and responsibility), but it’s an explanation for sure, though I have of course no idea if this was the case here.

    someone this stupid to allow someone to talk her into effectively killing her child, under the guise of god, should be put away where she is no longer a danger to herself or anyone else.

    Absolutely – no objection.

    But, back to the “brainwashed into killing”-thing… of course it’s not one’s own child, and the situation is different – but what about soldiers who kill others in the name of patriotism or whatever? What about the Milgram-experiment? We know it doesn’t take that much to get ordinary people to do despicable things.

    “For good people to do evil things, it takes [brainwashing and dogmatism]” (don’t want to limit this to religion alone…)

  58. #58 Wowbagger
    August 18, 2008

    Another sad case of how religion kills the innocent – a child who had no choice but to accept the consequences of a belief system he had no say in adhering to. It’s the sort of thing that, as tragic as it is, reminds me of the weakness of the ‘free will’ argument to counter the fact that in the unlikely event that god exists he’s an uncaring shit. How much ‘free will’ did little Javon have exactly?

    No doubt other, ‘mainstream’ christian groups will argue that this cannot possibly reflect badly on their own, moderate brand of ooga-booga – because it obviously wasn’t True Christianty?.

    I do echo the earlier poster who mused about what we can do to help rid society of the sort of thinking that leads to tragedies like this. Problem is, I can’t think of anything – we live in a society where people should, by rights, have access to everything they need to clear their heads of thought processes that allow them to believe the lie that there’s a god who demands obediance and threatens eternal suffering – yet supposedly loves them.

    Mindboggling isn’t a strong enough word.

  59. #59 Bob
    August 18, 2008

    Vile cretins.

    Here’s the acid test: if someone had behaved this way without the influence or justification of religion, would the legal system prosecute any differently? Get the mother some therapy and prosecute the remainder for murder.

    If an atheist had done this, the authorities would’ve found some rope and a tall tree in short order. Why we tolerate this sort of insane murder is a testament to the political impotence of religious moderates, agnostics, and atheists. Fix that and you’ll fix a lot.

  60. #60 molbiogirl
    August 18, 2008

    Raven @ #52:

    Unfortunately, most states (44/50?) have religious exemptions on the books.

    Were Ria an evangelical, she wouldn’t be sitting in jail right now.

  61. #61 Dreadneck
    August 18, 2008

    I say lock her up in a prison hospital. That should make everyone happy. She can have all the psychological help she wants – behind bars.

  62. #62 clinteas
    August 18, 2008

    These issues are really complicated,and there is no black-or-white answer.
    The one common denominator in all these cases is the victim however,innocent children get harmed or killed because their legal guardians,for various reasons,are not able to fulfil their parenting role.

    Whether it is kids found in fridges in Germany,buried in backyards in Australia,or decomposing in back rooms in the U.S.,the reasons why parents fail in their duties towards their kids are manyfold,and not always just attributable to brainwashing.

    There are a lot of unwanted or unloved kids out there,where society,GPs,relatives,peers failed to see the signs that someone is mentally unfit to look after children,but abortion or contraception for various reasons wasnt an option.

    And then there are the women that become mentally incapable to look after their children,be it through relationship issues,social/financial pressure,or mental illness(and I count religious indoctrination or brainwashing as a form of mental illness),and again,there are a lot of peers,doctors,relatives involved that can be just as guilty for failing to notice,or for failing to give notice,of children in danger.

    To me the mother in this case is mentally ill and belongs in a Hospital rather than a prison.
    As to those cultists,yes they fucked this woman up,but they were fucked up in return by someone else,where does it end…
    Go after them,if you can prove they manipulated a mentally unstable person,sure.

  63. #63 YetAnotherKevin
    August 18, 2008

    Trying to remember which Gorey limerick might apply:

    There was a young woman from Reeling
    Who threw her young child at the ceiling
    When asked why she did
    She said, “To be rid
    of a strange, unaccountable feeling”

    There were a lot of horrible limericks, though, so there’s probably one that’s more appropriate.

  64. #64 Briar
    August 18, 2008

    Don’t underestimate the extent to which brainwashing, on both a societal level and in small, intensely focused and isolated groups, can totally influence a person’s behaviour. Witness the armed forces, which have specialised in turning normal people with natural aversions to violence into cold blooded killers ready to act on order without reflection or moral consideration of their acts. I am open to the possibility that this unfortunate woman was indeed indoctrinated in a perverse, paranoid mindset and acted under its influence. Doesn’t the fact that uniformed rapists and killers, like the ones at Haditha, routinely get let off appropriate punishment for their atrocities on very similar grounds (it was the circumstances etc) suggest that when they choose, judicial authorities are quite ready to accept such pleas. And indeed, the balance of their mind is disturbed. Being ordered to kill for one’s god and one’s country, like being ordered to say amen after your meals, on pain of death, disturbs the balance of the mind. Sane people don’t do it.

  65. #65 Biggles_i208
    August 18, 2008

    There has been a lot of discussion in the comments about whether the mom should be sentenced with murder or manslaughter. I’m surprised it hasn’t been more discussion on how the jurisdictional system should act on the other cult members. Obviously there must be some degree of responsibility and guilt on their side.

  66. #66 SEF
    August 18, 2008

    As if a 1 year old can speak in anything but a babble, with the occasional word ?

    I could read at 1 – but then I’m not normal. Given that demonic possession is an imaginary condition anyway, there’s no particularly good reason to suppose the religiots have set much of a minimum age limit on it. You could probably find some nutters claiming that their unborn foetus was a devil/demon baby.

  67. #67 Frank Oswalt
    August 18, 2008

    Only an insane person would do something as terrible as this, therefore all people who do something as terrible as this are insane…

  68. #68 DiscoveredJoys
    August 18, 2008

    I now use the ‘religion is a hobby’ test. I substitute a hobby club name for the cult/religion name and see how that fits.

    So if the (fictional, I hope) East Groby Pigeon Fanciers Club had denied a child food and water for two days, let it die, and then hid the body, would we take a forgiving view of their actions just because they were Pigeon Fanciers?

    Similarly I hope that any Humanist or Atheist group would receive no special treatment in similar circumstances.

  69. #69 Emmet Caulfield
    August 18, 2008

    …and there will be other tragedies if no action is taken to eradicate these fools foolish ideas …

    There. Fixed.

  70. #70 Carlie
    August 18, 2008

    Far upthread, someone tried to lump in Andrea Yates as someone who “wanted to get rid of her kids”. What an awful mischaracterization. She was clearly diagnosed as suffering from severe post-natal depression after the fact, and had tried desperately to get help but was prevented from doing so by her family and “pastor”. It just wasn’t taken into account much, because hey, it’s just a woman thing.

  71. #71 Britomart
    August 18, 2008

    Massachusetts had a cult in Attleboro headed by a nut named Robidoux a few years back. Two babies died. The father was convicted of murder, the mother was found not guilty. All cult members lost parental rights.

    There is a lot on the web about the case.

    I hope in this case they also charge other cult members.

  72. #72 LisaJ
    August 18, 2008

    I see a few comments wondering if other people will be charged in this case besides the mother. The story does state, and I included it in the post, that 4 others are being charged. Hopefully this is enough to bring down the cult, as Ms. Queenie is one of them.

  73. #73 bullfighter
    August 18, 2008

    The mother certainly appears insane and I don’t see how a civilized society could hold her criminally responsible. (That said, the US criminal justice system is not civilized, but that’s another issue.) Whether she can be treated and rehabilitated to re-enter society or not is not possible to even guess from something as superficial as news reports. A lot of people, especially young people, are quite susceptible to brainwashing, and it is entirely plausible that she could have been made insane by the cult. OTOH, her propensity to join such cult raises some red flags that she could have been psychotic in the first place. This is something that experts without personal interest in the outcome should evaluate – but the US justice system, by design, places all kinds of obstacles to prevent that from happening.

    The cult leader and members should be presumed responsible, probably more so than the mother, but chances are they are just as insane. So I would ultimately put the most blame on the society, which lets cults like that operate freely until they kill someone (and often even that isn’t enough). I don’t believe that the insanity and dangers of the cult were not detectable beforehand.

    As a society, we need to act more proactively in such cases. At the very least, parents and other family members of teenagers (and even adults) who join cults should have the right to file criminal complaints against those cults and – more importantly (as they may formally already have some rights) – to have those complaints taken seriously by the authorities and duly investigated.

  74. #74 Quiet Desperation
    August 18, 2008

    Where’s all the cool cults that get closer to God by having lots of sex, eating pizza and playing video games, and maintain their collective financial account though careful real estate investment?

    I never understood going to all the effort to form a cult to live in ascetic denial of pleasure and good time.

  75. #75 Lowell
    August 18, 2008

    Hey, LisaJ:

    His mother lovingly added mothballs and fabric softener to the contents of the suitcase, and occasionally sprayed some disinfectant inside.

    It probably makes no difference, but just to have the facts straight, it appears from the article you linked to that it was the cult leader, Antoinette, who “disposed” of the body. Not the mother.

  76. #76 JStein
    August 18, 2008

    I honestly don’t care who disposed of the body. What matters is that a little boy died because religious people who’s beliefs were so out of sync with reality that they were incapable of raising this child.

    Child services should have never let this woman keep her kid, since she was clearly an irresponsible human being and this organization is clearly not a safe place for children.

    I would, personally, like to encourage the federal government (not my favorite group in the world, but one with authority to handle this matter) to investigate this organization and take a look at whether this is something they do regularly.

  77. #77 David Marjanovi?, OM
    August 18, 2008

    Should this family be charged with attempted murder? Neglect? Not charged at all? Should their child be returned without treatment, after treatment, at all?

    This case is very simple. We are looking at ignorance, nothing more, nothing less. The child should be returned after treatment. The family should not be charged, but taught a few things… somehow… left as an exercise to the reader. :-|

  78. #78 gex
    August 18, 2008

    This post reminds me of the book “Helter Skelter”. In it, the prosecutor describes the fine line he had to walk when he 1) wanted to hold the actual killers responsible for their killings and 2) hold Charlie responsible for his role in inducing the killings.

    This case seems similar to me. The mother should be held accountable for her actions, regardless of what her “church” was telling her. Meanwhile, the people who advocated such horrible behavior and encouraged the endangering and killing of this child should be held accountable too.

    It’s funny, but I’m beginning to see why the religious believe that they need religion for their source of morality. While we atheists here can try out an idea (“should I starve my child to death for not saying amen”) and decide whether the idea is good or bad, clearly the religious cannot. The sad part is that it just leaves them completely gullible to the twisted morality that religion has to offer.

  79. #79 gex
    August 18, 2008

    @53 The problem is that the religious define truth differently than we do. I am a recent graduate of Augsburg College here in Minneapolis. It is a Lutheran school that I chose because I could go on weekends. They are a very liberal and progressive version of Lutheran, which I liked, but doesn’t make it any less insane.

    In any event, I was required to take two religion classes. And the professors quite frankly discussed different kinds of truths. The kind that are facts, demonstrable, repeatable, testable, etc. and the kind that we just know are truths. “Truthiness” if you will. The thing is, that if a religious person believes something with no outside evidence, but just BELIEVES with all their heart, it is still the TRUTH.

    We very literally cannot communicate with believers because we just do not think the same way or use words the same way.

  80. #80 Alverant
    August 18, 2008

    Quiet Desperation #74
    I’m going to start my own cult/religion someday. The premise will be that in the afterlife all you have is your imagination until you’re ready to go to the next world. Your imagination is enhanced by your experiences and exercising your mind. So your main purpose in this life is to experience things whether by actually doing things or by proxy (ie playing games) to prepare you for the next phase of existence. I still have to work some kind of morality into it, but it’s not going to be heavy judgemental morality. More like “treat others how you want to be treated”. I figure a simple morality can get screwed up less. Look at how a complex moral system like xity fucked things up.

  81. #81 Lowell
    August 18, 2008

    @JStein #76:

    I hear you. I was just clarifying the facts reported in the article.

    Also, facts that might be morally irrelevant to us, such as whether the mother disposed of the body or simply let Antoinette do it, can have legal significance. For example, it could bear on whether she is charged with abuse of a corpse or aiding and abetting that crime. It could also be an aggravating factor in her murder or manslaughter sentencing.

    Out of curiousity, why do you say that the federal government would have authority to investigate this cult? It sounds like they’re being prosecuted by the Pennsylvania authorities, which seems to make sense based on the limited facts we know.

  82. #82 Boris
    August 18, 2008

    Bottom line is she is the mother, she failed in her responsibility to protect her child.

    Blame the cult, blame society, blame her own parents, but as a mother she has the ultimate responsibility of protecting her child.

    Obviously she’s mental. That happens when you take religion seriously. If everyone took christianity seriously they’d be mental too. And I’m not making a funny, I’m making an observation. Those who take religion seriously typically end up in mental institutions. I’ve worked in those institutions, I’ve met with the people who took it seriously.

    There’s like an unwritten law when it comes to religion “take it seriously, but not really”

  83. #83 Numenaster
    August 18, 2008

    I offer a simple precept
    (you all may use it too):
    “Do nothing unto others
    That you’d not have done to you.”

  84. #84 Die Anyway
    August 18, 2008

    I’m obviously less of a bleeding-heart than most of you. I expect the government to protect me from religious nutjobs but I don’t give a damn what those nutjobs do to themselves. If they want to kill their own offspring, well that’s one less wackaloon the world has to support. I’m sure most of us would not have cared if the young woman had gotten an abortion. Why do we (you) care that she waited a year to allow her offspring to perish? As much as I hate religion, I think we should allow the religious to do what they want within their own religion. As the saying goes – Too many cults, not enough comets.

  85. #85 karan
    August 18, 2008

    Since when would only 2 days without water and food kill a 1 year old? The story must be more terrible. I’m thinking that this is the best the prosecutor could get out of the cult members/mother. This is a terrible world where people do horrible things in the name of their god.

  86. #86 Ichthyic
    August 18, 2008

    Where’s all the cool cults that get closer to God by having lots of sex, eating pizza and playing video games, and maintain their collective financial account though careful real estate investment?

    they’re out there, you just never hear about them because they’re, you know…

    happy

    It’s the ones that drink the koolaid that make the news, of course.

  87. #87 Mike G
    August 18, 2008

    Has anyone even considered the probable likelihood that both mother and child are in fact victims of circumstance?

    If the facts gleaned from just that one article are to be believed, then it would appear that the death of the one year old child was a result of unfortunate circumstances which extend beyond what happened within this cult. The mother was suffering from the pressure of caring for a child, holding down a job, and attending classes at a community college. On top of that the abuses committed by a single pastor at her church appears to have shattered her trust in pretty much anyone. Add that all together and throw in the fact that at the time the mother was a teenager, and you can begin to understand what led to this child’s death. What is truly unfortunate is that the cult so blatantly manipulated the suffering that was put on the young mother by the trials and tribulations she was going through.

    You can’t really put any blame on religion for what happened. It is terribly unfortunate that the child died, and that it occurred under such circumstances, but it should be the actions of the cult, in particular the cult leader that should truly be regarded as the cause of the toddler’s death. As it is with so many cases throughout history, religious beliefs here have simply been used to justify a terribly heinous crime. But as other people have rightly pointed out on the past, religion can be used to justify ANYTHING, including peace and tolerance.

    Whenever someone tries blaming religion for any bad thing, I see the exact same logic as that which Ben Stein and the producers of Expelled used in blaming Darwin for the Nazi Holocaust.

  88. #88 John Marley
    August 18, 2008

    Whenever someone tries blaming religion for any bad thing, I see the exact same logic as that which Ben Stein and the producers of Expelled used in blaming Darwin for the Nazi Holocaust.

    No. Wrong. And if you can’t see why, you’re not really looking.

  89. #89 Stefan
    August 19, 2008

    The big scandal is that not only some strange cults and few sects preach the belief in demons and bedevilment – no, also the well-established churches and religions (which seem to be more reliable to millions of people) still boost it. Sometimes I think we still live in medieval times and not in the 21st century … So, dear friends of enlightenment, the fight is not over yet! In a Polish village for example the Catholic Church plans to build a “center for exorcism” to heal demoniacs, says the media … if it’s true, it’s a scandal! If you are interested in the whole story and want to find more links, please read the German Skeptics’ weblog (mostly written in German). – Regards: Stefan from gwup | die skeptiker

  90. #90 SEF
    August 19, 2008

    the Catholic Church plans to build a “center for exorcism” to heal demoniacs

    They (ie any and all of the religious cults!) shouldn’t be allowed to “exorcise” people, since it’s only ever an excuse for brutalising and killing those people – typically the ones they find inconvenient. Eg: this instance. No genuine healing is involved. That’s just a religious lie to make themselves feel good about being evil.

  91. #91 JoJo
    August 20, 2008

    Since when would only 2 days without water and food kill a 1 year old?

    A small one year old would be quite susceptible to dehydration. Two days without anything to drink could easily be fatal.

  92. #92 Veridicus
    August 20, 2008

    Free Will is Supernaturalism.

    PZ,

    > To put this into perspective for myself, I was raised catholic, and there are certainly many faulty decisions I made while growing up that I consider to largely be the fault of my indoctrinated mindset. But murder? I have a really hard time swallowing the brainwashing excuse as justifying your active involvement in your child’s murder.

    Wake up! You’re a biologist! Do you think we operate by magic?
    What do *you* think the motivation was?

    And the same questions to all of you who have indulged in blaming behaviour here. WAKE UP SHEEPLE!

    No-one operates or can operate independently of their genetic programming. Stupidity has nothing to do with it. You need to rid yourselves of what seems to be a combination of supernaturalism and ignorance.
    Minds are what *brains* do. There are no supernatural souls that can make “free will” choices. We all share the same neurology. Unless someone is neurologically damaged, (and even then), they are not “stupid”. Straight thinking is a learned behaviour.

    BELIEFS DETERMINE CHOICES. BELIEFS DETERMINE BEHAVIOURS.

    Garbage in, garbage out.

    http://www.naturalism.org/freewill.htm

  93. #93 Mike G
    August 20, 2008

    Sorry for the late reply.

    No. Wrong. And if you can’t see why, you’re not really looking.

    Actually if you guys looked a little closer at what you were saying, you would realize that you have been using the association fallacy. You’re trying to draw up a causal link that starts with religion and ends with suffering, but that link is untenable as it is not supported by the evidence.

    Certainly, people have committed bad things under the guise of their religion, but it does not logically follow that it was their religion that made them do it. Subscribing to religion doesn’t increase a person’s propensity to doing bad things. It’s like trying to argue that guns kill. But without a person pulling the trigger the gun is not going to fire.

    It’s not religion that does bad things; it is people. Religion simply provides a powerful voice that one can use to legitimize doing bad things. But that voice is of such a nature that also allows it to be used to legitimize good; William Wilberforce and Martin Luther King Jr. are classic examples of that.

    It is far more likely that religion is a response to suffering (Buddhism certainly is) rather than it being a cause of it.

  94. #94 Beth
    August 20, 2008

    The scary thing is that laws in most U.S. states consider religion to be an affirmative defense to child abuse and neglect crimes. The organization Children’s Healthcare Is A Legal Duty has list of exemptions based on religion on the basis of religion; laws riddled with these exemptions range from murder or manslaughter (Arkansas, Iowa, Ohio, West Va, Oregon) to newborn medical screenings (most states) to mandatory bicycle helmets (Oregon & Pennsylvania). The complete list is way too long and far-reaching to post here.

    Sadly, these laws often make it impossible to prosecute offenders even when the state wants to do so. But few legislators have what it takes to stand up to the religion lobby and pass new laws. Shawn Peters, who blogs about this just wrote a book on the subject (tho he concludes better laws would yield little benefit to children–I disagree). One good book about how these laws came to be is God’s Perfect Child by Caroline Fraser.

  95. #95 Wowbagger
    August 21, 2008

    Mike G, #93, wrote:

    Subscribing to religion doesn’t increase a person’s propensity to doing bad things.

    You’re kidding, right? You have to be; otherwise that’s a profoundly stupid thing to say.

    This woman believed god would save her child if he saw fit – if she didn’t believe in god then she couldn’t have taken that option. The other examples we’ve read recently of people ‘putting their faith in god rather than trust medicine’ are exactly the same. No belief in god = no god to trust to save you when things go wrong.

    Then there’s martyrdom. Those guys who flew the aeroplanes into the two towers did it because they believed that they would be rewarded in heaven for their actions.

    If they didn’t subsribe to a religion then they wouldn’t have believed that, they’d have known that this life was the only life they had, and that ending it would be a stupid thing to do.

  96. #96 Veridicus
    August 21, 2008

    #92

    Whoops! Article was posted by *PZMinion*, LisaJ not PZ.

  97. #97 David
    March 31, 2009

    What this woman has done is wrong. But if there is no god, then there is no rational basis for right and wrong, other than public opinion…and you know how reliable that is. So, how does one judge her? If we are animals, some animals kill their young and her actions are to be expected. Perhaps she is infected with that god delusion. Erase all the infected. Perhaps it will lead to a brave new world. But if there is a god…..

  98. #98 aratina
    March 31, 2009

    David, by the power of Brownian’s Corollary, shaddup.

  99. #99 John Morales
    March 31, 2009

    David,

    [1] What this woman has done is wrong. [2] But if there is no god, then there is no rational basis for right and wrong, other than public opinion…[3] and you know how reliable that is. [4]So, how does one judge her?

    1. You agree with the godless here.
    2. There’s ethics. There’s no dichotomy there.
    3. Well, it’s reasoned. Ethics, that is, not necessarily public opinion.
    4. Ethically.

  100. #100 Discombobulated
    March 31, 2009

    David wields the fearsome “Pascal’s Wager Thread Resurrection” spell.

    1 Learn to read thread dates.
    2 Pascal’s Wager is logically unsound. What if you’re wrong about which particular deity you’ve chosen?
    3 GOTO 1

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