Never let the facts get in the way of a good narrative. At least as far as activists go, that is. A nice example of this is atheist activist Hemant Mehta. He recently posted a blog entry entitled, A Pennsylvania Mother Assaulted Her Daughter For Not Regurgitating Bible Verses Correctly. Mehta informs us, “This is your daily reminder that holy books can be a cause for abuse just as much as it can bring people comfort.” In other words, the activists daily dose of confirmation bias and sloppy thinking.
He then quotes an excerpt from this disturbing story:
Shoffner became enraged and yelled at the victim, telling her “to get on her (expletive) knees,” police said.
The girl complied, and Shoffner began quoting Bible verses, expecting the victim to repeat the lines verbatim, according to police.
Shoffner asked her daughter, “What did God tell the man to do with his son?”
When the girl said she did not know, her mother said, “God told the man to kill his son.”
Instead, the victim said, “God said to forgive his son,” and Shoffner grabbed her by the hair and slammed her head into the wall, police said.
Each time the girl incorrectly recited a verse or gave her mother a wrong answer, Shoffner slammed her head into the wall, police said. Shoffner slammed her daughter’s head into the bathroom drywall at least five times, according to police. [emphasis added by Mehta so you don’t miss the narrative]
While you are supposed to get the impression that this is some hyper-fundamentalist Christian going way overboard on their religiosity training with this selective quote, check out what Mehta carefully omitted from the story:
Shoffner, who the victim said had been drunk for three days straight, told her daughter to call multiple family members, police said. When they didn’t answer the calls, police said, Shoffner ordered her daughter to get on her knees in the bathroom.
This wasn’t Shoffner’s first brush with the law this year.
Police responded to an active domestic dispute at Shoffner’s home after neighbors reported hearing arguing and banging there on Feb. 10.
No one answered the door when they knocked, according to charging documents, but after an officer began pounding on the door, announcing “Middletown police, open the door,” officers heard a second-floor window open above.
Shoffner, who was half-naked, leaned out the window and screamed obscenities at the responding officers as she told them to get off of her property, police said.
She then gave the officers the middle finger and told them that if they came through her front door, she “got something for us,” police said.
I would think it obvious this woman is mentally ill and an alcoholic. Not surprising given that many studies have shown alcohol consumption is linked to child abuse.
So I’m trying to figure out how the Bible caused the abuse. The mother was drunk for 3 days and wants her child to call family members. No family member returns the call, probably because no one felt like getting her another bottle. So the angry drunk takes it out on the child. It looks to me like the role the Bible played was simply as a task to make the child fail and thus give the drunken monster an excuse to lash out. It’s called displaced aggression and guess what? Studies show that alcohol increases triggered displaced aggression. It would seem to me that if the Bible was not around, something else would have been used as an excuse for this alcoholic, mentally ill woman to abuse and attack her child. What if she had instead picked up a dictionary and demanded the child to spell obscure words her intoxicated mouth could barely pronounce? Would we then blame the dictionary as the cause of this abuse?
If you are looking for a cause other than the mother, alcohol is a much stronger candidate than the Bible.