Sunday, January 19, 2014

Child Exorcism in the U.S.

This has been a movie blog for a couple of years now, but I saw something in the news today that demanded a return to skeptic mode.  CNN is reporting that two children are dead and two others wounded in Maryland after being stabbed by their mother during an attempted exorcism.  The two children who were murdered, Norell and Zyana Harris, were 1 and 2 years old, respectively.  The two survivors were 5 and 8.  Their mother, Zakieya L. Avery, 28, is in custody, as is another woman yet to be publicly identified.

Exorcism in general and child exorcism in particular are topics about which I have no moderate position. The practice of exorcism is anachronistic charlatanry that inflicts nothing but trauma and harm wherever it rears its head.  I would venture that it's doubly harmful, as it not only inflicts injury in and of itself, but frequently is performed upon mentally ill or otherwise infirm individuals in lieu of actual psychiatric or medical help.  Children being injured and killed in exorcisms is something you read about happening in the Congo.  Human society should be working to stamp out this kind of pseudo-sorcerous nonsense, and yet this morning we see a report of it here in the U.S.

There's a caveat to this story, of course, and that is, frankly, that's it's being carried on CNN with its penchant for clickbait headlines.  In the next few days I'm sure we'll learn more about this tragedy and hopefully find out the truth of what happened.  In the meantime, to all appearances, two young lives have been snuffed out and two two more shaken forever by misbegotten iron-age witchery.

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