In one of my very first postings almost a year ago called AShort Step from Madness I suggested some people who are prepared to believe in a paranormal deity and supernatural evil are a short step from carrying out terrible and irrational actions because of those beliefs. The example I used was a news story about several people including a Christian pastor burning a 72 year old as a witch in Ghania
Such a post incited an obviously religious reader to call such thinking a fallacy because the Milgram Experiment showed that people can believe they will not be held accountable for their actions so long as they are instructed to do them by an "authority figure". Unfortunately I saw this as further evidence to my case because a god is the ultimate authority figure and the ring leader is as likely to believe they are following gods wishes as those following.
All this was brought back to me when reading a copy of the free newspaper the Metro when two stories appeared on opposite sides of the paper which I have now tracked down on line. The first shows the kind of fervent religious belief that I consider a short irrational step from madness and the second story is about an unfortunate man who takes that step and commits a shocking act of self mutilation.
In Poland Catholics held a special mass for a miracle communion wafer that fell on the floor in 2008 and has since developed a brown spot after being in water.
So far so un-miraculous but two doctors have since claimed that this brown spot is heart muscle, all done without any scientificanalysis or testing apparently, so with such strong evidence the people of Poland are holding religious services for the heart of Jesus! But then as the Archbishop there said; "For God, nothing is impossible."
I would normally have dismissed such nonsense with a roll of the eyes and shake of the head but on the opposite page was a much more disturbing report.
In Italy at a Catholic Mass a man calmly stood up and tore out both his eyeballs in the middle of the priest's sermon. Clearly this individual was disturbed and almost certainly mentally ill. The point to make is that his actions appear to have been triggered by a passage from the Bible, though it is unclear from the news reports if it was actually used during this sermon.
'If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away.
'It is better for you to lose one part of your body than for your whole body to be thrown into hell.'
Though to be honest a verse from Mark 9:47 also came to mind;
And if your eye causes you to stumble, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell,
With a book of mythology containing such passages and taught to people as an early age as ‘gospel’ to base and live their whole lives on, how can anyone expect such terrible incidents not to occur? How can the organisations and people promoting such beliefs not have some responsibility when this sort of incident happens?