How some choose to please God
Some people love the Bible. They receive a form of comfort every time they read a passage they like, and for the most part, it’s a fairly innocuous habit. We should not forget, however, that the Bible, when taken as a whole, is an inadequate moral guide for modern society. Kenneth Cummings Jr. learned that lesson only too well, as he lay dying in his home in Pearland, Texas. His murderer, Mark Magnum, who hunted and killed Ken, did so out of piety and love for God. Having read the Bible for thousands and thousands of hours gave Magnum the confidence and resolve to end the life of a loving son and uncle, whose only ‘crime’ was that of homosexuality.
The tragedy, of course, is this sort of incident is not an isolated one. The percentage of hate crimes based on sexual orientation is increasing, and as fundamentalism continues to rise in America, no doubt tragic cases such as this will occur more frequently.
Although many people will simply dismiss Magnum as a mentally deranged individual, the truth is many of his delusions and hatred were fueled by his powerful religious convictions. Legislators in the US have talked for years about trying to reduce the level of violence in movies and videogames in order to curb violent crime, but have failed to realize their own religions contain passages so brutal and dehumanizing that any modern media pales in comparison. You would be hard pressed to find, of course, any of these same politicians willing to ban the distribution of their favorite holy book (nor should any ban on books ever be imposed).
The truth is that most moderate believers take the Bible with a grain of salt. They have no choice but to ignore many of the words of God, for the simple fact that the actions and behaviors of even the most revered Biblical characters are, at times, highly repugnant. Of course, if the characters were regarded as mythical rather than real, their ability to negatively influence others would become as limited as any other discarded mythologies. No one emulates the behaviors and actions of Hercules or Achilles, and nor should they. The stories obviously reflect a far simpler level of moral sophistication.
The real problem is that Mark Magnum’s delusion and violent fantasies may have been properly diagnosed had he not hidden them under the cloak of religious piety. It only goes to show insanity and mania can often be indistinguishable from religious fundamentalism. The protective blanket of religion, which shields itself from external criticism, is therefore a perfect refuge for psychotic murderers looking for any excuse to deprive other human beings of their right to live.
source: the houston chronicle http://www.chron.com