There’s a great deal of wickedness that’s attributable purely to religious belief. Morally normal people wouldn’t do these things if they didn’t think God was desiring them to do so.
Attending the mega church at Pinnacle Hills, in Rogers, AR, does not appear to shield one from immoral behavior; I wonder if it might make one more prone to it. With all of its 16,000 members, laws of probability suggest that someone, anyone, might be able to provide a voice of reason in a pinch, but alas, it does not appear so, at least in the case of Justin Harris’ adopted children.
Justin Harris, the representative from the 81st district in Arkansas, has been in the news lately because he adopted, then later rehomed, 2 girls to the home of Eric Francis, where one of the girls was sexually molested.
During this time, Harris continued to receive adoption subsidies from the state of Arkansas.
As if this wasn’t a dubious enough distinction, the underlying motivation for the girls’ rehoming was Harriss belief that one of the girls was possessed by the devil. His fantasies finally manifested with a last-ditch exorcism, with the intent to cast out the girl’s telepathic inclinations and rid her of her very non-Baptist-like appetite to carry out the devil’s will.
There are a lot of words the layman psychologist might use to characterize Justin Harris: sociopathic, schizophrenic, sadistic, etc.
Regardless of the specific psychological diagnosis Justin Harris might have received with proper clinical intervention, it is clear the facilitator of this behavior is religion itself.
One of the reasons religions continue to enjoy such institutionalization is because they provide social benefit. They provide a framework from which people can contribute to their communities, as well as social benefits, including friendship, romantic match-making, and business networking opportunities.
But the cult-like activity that often accompanies religion is a problem, and it manifests itself by allowing morally incomprehensible outcomes, as is the case with Justin Harris. These outcomes are derived from ridiculous foundational claims, such as the notion that demons exist.
But demons don’t exist. It’s 2015, and people afflicted with logic still bear the burden to repeat this mantra. Demons don’t exist. Demons don’t exist.
Were Harris free from the shackles of his tyrannical religion, he might have come to this conclusion by himself; at the very least, he might have had enough ideological diversity in his life that he might have met someone who could provide logical premises to debunk the notion of demons. After all, we’re hundreds of years removed from the notion that witches are among us and deserve to be burned to death.
But as this tragic story suggests, it is not isolated. These sorts of childish fantasies are alive and well in many Christian (and non-Christian) sects. It is quite difficult to unwind the tangled web religious institutions create, and it is heretical for religious constituents to deny it in the presence of staunch believers. After all, their whole ideology is predicated on the notion that ghosts exist, and that supernatural phenomena should be feared, celebrated, and taken seriously.
And herein lies the problem with religion: it fails to provide a logical compass for people to honestly assess what’s wrong with notions like this. Because, if we manage to practice honest skepticism, free from the mental prison religion creates, it makes it much easier to toss religion into the heap of other fairy tales man has concocted over the centuries; that, for churches, particularly Baptist mega-churches, simply won’t do.