Thursday, October 15, 2015

Abuse and Murders at a "Christian" Church

Victims' parents charged in their beatings
The fundamentalist Christians and their political whores in the Republican Party blather about the threat of Islam and Sharia law yet some of the far right Christian sects are just as frightening and insane as their Muslim counterparts.  Bring much needed focus on this reality is the murder of a 19 year old in Central New York who was savagely beaten during a "counseling session" to force him to confess his sins (the exact sins as yet are unidentified).  The victims younger brother remains hospitalized from his injuries.  I have long maintained that forcing children and youths - but especially LGBT youth is a form of criminal child abuse.  This sad case underscores that reality.  Fundamentalist Christianity id an evil, plain and simple. The New York Times has details on the sick and disturbing murder at Word of Life Christian Church.  Here are highlights:
To its neighbors in this upstate town, Word of Life Christian Church presented itself as a constant curiosity: an imposing but tidy former schoolhouse whose occupants kept to themselves, almost never opening their doors or their mouths, secluded behind a closed entrance.
Over the last three days, however, the inner life of that secretive sect suddenly spilled into the outside world. On Sunday evening, the authorities said, two teenagers — brothers and the sons of two members of Word of Life — were called into a sanctuary and savagely beaten by at least a half-dozen people, including their parents and older half sister.

“Both brothers were continually subjected to physical punishment over the course of several hours, in hopes that each would confess to prior sins and ask for forgiveness,” Chief Michael S. Inserra of the New Hartford Police Department said at a news conference on Wednesday.

It is not clear what those sins were, but for several hours, into Monday morning, punches and kicks landed on the brothers’ stomachs, genitals, backs and thighs, as the so-called counseling session turned into a case of manslaughter and assault.

On Monday afternoon, Lucas Leonard, 19, was pronounced dead at a hospital, after being found unresponsive and not breathing by other church members, Chief Inserra said. Hours later, his brother, Christopher, 17, was found to be on the second floor of the church, suffering from serious injuries. He remains hospitalized.

The teenagers’ parents, Bruce T. Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, who live in nearby Clayville, have been arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter in their son’s death. Four other church members, including the teenagers’ half sister, Sarah Ferguson, 33, were also arrested and face felony assault charges.

At least seven children, from about 2 to 15 years old, had also been taken from the church site, the police said, including four of Ms. Ferguson’s children, and placed in foster care.

The Leonards were apparently longtime members of the church, part of what Lieutenant O’Neill called an immersive religious environment. “This was a way of life,” he said. “Their church life, if you can call it that, was the center of their world.” Lucas and Christopher were home-schooled, said Ron Wheelock, the superintendent of the Sauquoit Valley Central School District.
Given the history of torment and torture of gays by the "godly folk" part of me wonders if the boys were suspected of being gay given the severity of their beatings.  Adding to the sick story is the fact that this "church" enjoyed tax-exempt status and thus was being indirectly subsidized by the other residents of the community.  To me, adherence to fundamentalist religious beliefs suggests a serious form of mental illness.

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