m a r k a n d e y a

Simply Disturbing…

Posted by Brian on June 26, 2007

While flipping through the channels last night, I came upon an episode of 20/20 with a very disturbing story on a poor, handicapped girl turned into a circus freakshow all in the name of religion.

Her name was (she died a few months ago) Audrey Santo. Long story short, a near-drowning accident in 1987 left her in a vegetative state with zero hope for improvement. Her mother, rather than let her daughter die a peaceful death decided to go all out trying to keep her daughter alive at home. Over time, her mother claims, Audrey was responsible for (suspicious) miracles around her house (stigmata signs, bleeding statues, etc.)  and eventually, their home became a pilgrimage sight for those who believed in the miracles. Her mother even had a new window put into her room so that people could line up outside for a view of the girl’s motionless body (not sure if they sold tickets or not). There’s also a website where people can order books and videos about the girls and other trinkets with her appearance on it. Personally, in find it all very sickening.

One of the questions Richard Dawkins asked in his book The God Delusion is why religious belief has such a privileged position among the infinite assortment of beliefs a person might have. Let’s say Joe Blow believes:

  • The earth is flat.
  • He is Napolean.
  • That roughly a 2,000 years ago a virgin gave birth to the son of god, who was later sacrificed by his own father on a cross, who now is part of a tri-partite God who is one yet three.

According to Dawkins, most people would ridicule the first belief, claim the man is crazy on account of the second one, but the third belief is considered by most to be somehow different and the usual codes of logical inquiry and criticism shouldn’t apply. Why?

Looking at the case above, rid it of the religious trappings (claims of miracles, catholic mumbo jumbo) and what you have is a woman treating her daughter like a circus sideshow and making money off of her. Would the police and child abuse authorities not be all over it in such a case? But if I do the same while claiming The Flying Spaghetti Monster is looking over my brain dead daughter and is using her as a vehicle for healing others (and improving all pasta dishes in a 20-mile radius), I have religion and that makes everything OK. That doesn’t make a lot of sense.

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