The AP reported that the leader of a purported “religious sect” has been hospitalized for 72 hours amid concerns the group planned to commit mass suicide after a small group of her alleged followers disappeated briefly over the weekend.
Reyna Marisol Chicas is under mandatory detention for the next three days because family of the “cult” members produced letters left behind allegedly stating the group expected an apocalyptic event and planned to meet their dead relatives (and Jesus) soon.
What’s the big deal? So does this writer.
We’ve already had an apocalyptic event occur, depending on how one view the achievements of the Obama presidency.
As Bill Clinton taught us from his testimony during the Monica Lewinsky scandal, the meaning of every single word is important. When Clinton suggested he was only guilty of lying under oath depending on how one defined the word “is”, a Pandora’s Box full of confusion was opened for words to acquire new meaning.
Or, when he famously wagged his finger at America on national television and said, “I did not have sex with that woman”, did he really mean Hillary?
Soon we had Linda Tripp, a stained blue dress and revelations that “oral sex” was not a form of “sex” in the context Clinton meant when he went before media and proclaimed his virtue.
So how does one define the word “soon?”
In the context of 13.7 billion years the universe has allegedly existed, won’t even another half century pass by fairly soon?
In California, if one behaves too religiously or in too unorthodox a manner, apparently the government has decided they must restrain you by force and evaluate your behavior (unless your name is Jerry Brown, in which case you run for governor).
The governor’s office issued an emergency alert statewide to notify the public to be on the lookout for the small group of worshipers reported missing and allegedly in danger. The group was described as practicing an unorthodox breed of Christianity.
What constitutes an unorthodox brand of Christianity? The article at Yahoo! News reported:
“When deputies arrived at the park they found the children playing on swings and the adults on a blanket praying out loud in Spanish. The adults expressed shock at the notion that they might harm themselves, [sheriff’s Captain Mike] Parker said. A sheriff’s deputy had spoken to members of the group at 3 a.m. Saturday while they were praying in their parked vehicles outside of a Palmdale high school, Parker said. When the deputy made contact, adults in the group told him they were praying against violence in schools and against sexual immorality, specifically premarital sex. The 13 adults and children were in three vehicles outside Pete Knight High School, Parker said. The deputy reported everyone appeared safe and he went on his way.”
Well! How radical can you get? Obviously, they planned animal and human sacrifices using their pets and children but were foiled by the police at the last second.
Now after the Jonestown, Branch Davidian and Heaven’s Gate tragedies, one can understand why authorities would err on the side of caution in wanting to locate the group and confirm their safety.
But is three days of mandatory detention and a psychiatric evaluation for the group’s leader necessary when the most radical and controversial thing the group was actually observed by the police to be doing was praying against violence and sexual immorality in school?
“These letters read like a will and testament. They read like goodbye letters,” said [sheriff’s spokesman Steve] Whitmore. “Coupled with the two husbands that come in and tell us ‘Our wives are missing, we believe they are under the spell of this lady,'” deputies had no choice but to treat the matter seriously, he said.”
All well and good — but the forced detention smacks of punitive measures based on trumped up excuses. Whitmore is quick to judge their apparent intent based on reading a letter. Members of the group expressed shock at the idea of mass suicide with their young children and pets involved. So would any sane person.
Isn’t it reasonable that a devout Christian who believes the current state of world political/religious/social events and expects the rapture to occur soon would prepare themselves? As common courtesy for anyone “Left Behind”, wouldn’t you hope they understood the difference between a strong belief in God and insanity?
But after studying the NDE experience, this writer will be quick to say that suicidal NDEs are not typically pleasant experiences like those associated with natural death. Therefore deliberately harming myself to expedite entry into the afterlife is simply inconceivable.
This writer has said many times that each day is a precious gift to be cherished. Common sense should prevail in any argument that attempted to advocate that violence in school and teen pregnancy could be a good thing. If one has a religious faith consistent with the Bible as well as an appreciation for our place in the cosmic big-scheme-of-things, it stands to reason that one should be prepared (like any good Boy Scout) for the contingency that the gift of life might be replaced with the gift of natural, unpremeditated death and the beginning of a new adventure. But why on earth should we rush off this world and its exquisitely beautiful diversity of life with which we share it?
Do not confuse this embrace of life as condemnation of euthanasia when terminal suffering is obvious. We have some rather ridiculous laws that can be summed up in two words to invoke memories of unspeakable horror: Terri Schiavo.
But that’s a topic for another time. The question for today is this:
Is someone coming to lock me up for three days after I’ve suggested that death won’t be terrible when it comes naturally?
Where should the line be drawn regarding the interference of the state into personal freedom of religion? Do we still even have true freedom of religion, or have the demands of a few to be totally free from religion won the argument in court?