Thursday, December 30, 2010

Suffer the little children, courtesy of religion

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Christian rosary
Pictured: Not fucking medicine

Mindless belief in ridiculous superstitions and the well-being of the vulnerable seldom go hand-in-hand with positive results. And nowhere is this made more evident and poignant than when it comes to all the young ones who suffer and perish at the hands of the supposed grown-ups who are charged with their health and security, yet who end up sacrificing them on the altar of religion, whether intentionally or not.

Here’s yet another case where a presumably loving parent chose to help her ailing yet easily curable child, not with actual life-saving medicine, but through magical incantations and supplications to an imaginary sky-being:

A woman was charged with child neglect Tuesday in connection with the death of her 9-year-old son, for whom she had not sought medical attention because of her religious beliefs, court records state.

Susan M. Grady, 42, formerly of Broken Arrow, prayed with others over her son, Aaron Gregory Grady, when he became ill on June 2, 2009, according to an affidavit filed Tuesday in Tulsa County District Court. His condition worsened, and he died June 5, according to the affidavit.

The medical examiner listed complications of diabetes mellitus as Aaron’s cause of death, the affidavit states.

Susan Grady told Detective Mikka Mooney that she is a member of the Church of the First Born and “believes in faith-based healing through prayer,” according to the affidavit, which was written by Mooney.


Grady could face up to life in prison if convicted.

The article goes into some detail about the degenerative development of poor Aaron Grady’s illness and what his guardians did (or failed to do):

Witnesses told police that in the days before he died, Aaron had trouble breathing and he was vomiting, but that had stopped, which led Grady to believe that her son was getting better, according to the affidavit.

According to several witnesses who spoke with Broken Arrow police detectives, Aaron was able to eat pureed vegetables and drink chicken broth and orange juice, and he felt somewhat better but was still weak.

On June 4, Aaron looked very sick and “needed to be carried to the bathroom but was eating chicken broth,” a witness told police.

On June 5, his condition worsened, and he was not talking or responding, so his mother and others continued to pray, according to the affidavit.

Grady’s brother, Kevin Branham, told police that when he visited the Grady’s home that day, Aaron’s father, Aaron Grady Sr., spoke to Susan Grady about getting medical intervention for the child, the affidavit says. “However, the defendant chose to continue to pray and ‘leave this in the hands of the Lord,’ ” Branham told police.

The boy died that afternoon.

Susan Grady told detectives that she did not consider taking Aaron to the doctor. She told them that “I was trying to live by faith and I felt like God would heal him,” according to the affidavit. [emphasis added]

As in previous cases of the sort, I strongly support incarceration for the mother, along with anyone else directly involved in preventing the boy from partaking in actual medicine. His diabetes could have been treated very quickly and easily at any point in time, and his death was beyond preventable. The fact that the adults in his life were affected by religious mind-rot should be no excuse for their actions, which have directly caused the debilitating and undoubtedly painful death of a child. Religious belief should count for nothing here, least of all as a defense (or, God forbid, an excuse or rationalization) for what happened.

But, at the very least, the mother and others weren’t deliberately causing the child’s suffering and demise (even if they certainly did nothing useful to prevent it). Which is more than can be said about the horrible case of Latisha Lawson, who believed her young children were actually possessed by demons and acted accordingly, with tragic yet unsurprising consequences:

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) - According to court documents, Fort Wayne resident Latisha Lawson, 31, forced a mixture of oil and vinegar to her children because she believed they were both demon possessed.

Lawson’s daughter Kierra King, 10, vomited when given the mixture. Her son Jezaih King, 3, was given the oil and vinegar three times. On the third time, Lawson told detectives she held Jezaih’s mouth shut for about 10 minutes until he stopped breathing.


After Jezaih died, Kierra said Latisha Lawson placed him on a bed and had her view his body and pray over him.


The incident happened in November, 2009. Preliminary cause of death was listed as asphyxia due to compression of the neck.


Latisha Lawson told investigators she knowingly harmed her son, in 2009. She is charged with three counts of neglect of a dependent and two counts of battery.

As tragic and outrageous as this is (and if it isn’t already enough to be calling for a conviction for manslaughter, I don’t know what is), the affair only becomes more suspicious upon closer examination:

Lawson admitted she later wrapped the three-year-old in a blanket and put his body in a closet for almost a year.


Fort Wayne Police confirmed that Latisha Lawson’s mother had not seen her daughter or grandchildren in roughly two years.

The children’s father had no contact with them in nearly a year as well. FWPD Public Information Officer Raquel Foster said, “She made it difficult for anyone to obtain any information about her. And that is why I believe it took some time for grandma to track her down.”

Lawson’s mom contacted police on September 23 of this year, requesting that officers check on the welfare of her daughter and grandchildren.

According to police, Lawson’s mother had been searching for the family for months and had only recently obtained an address.


Police say Latisha Lawson’s family members had difficulty locating her because she was constantly isolating herself and her children—evading family and friends.

This seems to go beyond mere familiar awkwardness or evasiveness. Any parent engaged in this sort of deliberately obfuscatory behavior should immediately be investigated as a possible risk to their children. Normal people don’t feel the need to hide their family from the rest of the world, and in all too many cases, a phone call to the proper authorities could have saved an untold number of innocent young ones from neglect, suffering, and death. Child services exist for a reason. For Christ’s sake, use them when necessary.

These sorts of incessant stories only further strengthen the notion that parenthood cannot and should not be considered a right. Merely being physically able to have children should not be the sole prerequisite for being afforded such a responsibility. Those who are manifestly unable or unwilling to take proper care of those who depend on them with their lives should not be allowed to have an ultimate responsibility over them.

Science-fiction and alternate universe stories where societies have implemented concepts of licensed parenthood are becoming less absurd all the time, the more real-world kids undergo torment and death at the hands of guardians who should never have been responsible for them in the first place. Especially when their judgment is clouded or utterly destroyed by religion.

(via Religion News Blog and @religionnews)