Monday, November 10, 2008

when your faith is tested

MOGADISHU, Somalia, Nov. 1 -- A 13-year-old girl who said she had been raped was stoned to death in Somalia after being accused of adultery, a human rights group said.

Dozens of men stoned Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow to death Monday in a stadium packed with 1,000 spectators in the southern port city of Kismaayo,
Amnesty International and Somali news media reported, citing witnesses. The Islamist militia in charge of Kismaayo had accused her of adultery after she reported that three men had raped her, the rights group said.
Initial local news reports said that Duhulow was 23, but her father told Amnesty International that she was 13. Some of the Somali journalists who first reported the killing later told the human rights group that they had reported she was 23 based on her physical appearance.
Calls to Somali government officials and the local administration in Kismaayo rang unanswered Saturday.
"This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups who currently control Kismaayo," David Copeman, Amnesty International's Somalia campaigner, said in a statement Friday.
The above article is directly cut from the Washington Post. It appeared Nov. 2nd. Since I first learned about this incident my mind has been in turmoil. I just cannot understand a world where we actually stone a child to death. Every time I think of what that girl suffered I want to cry. My youngest is 13 and I'd be lying to you if I didn't look at her and just tear up thinking of something like that happening to her. As a mother it sickens me. Any type of child abuse sickens me. I have a very hard time understanding or even forgiving someone who can do something to an innocent child. From the day I had my first baby I felt blessed. I looked at her and thought, 'what did I ever do to deserve such a gift from God?'. I know in my heart that it's my job to love, cherish and protect both of my kids. I feel God trusted me with that responsibility. But when I hear about a child being stoned to death, after having been raped, it makes me want to throw up, then it makes me feel such an overpowering hatred for the people (if you can call them people) for doing something so horrific to an innocent being.
My husband and I had a long discussion about this. And of course the topic turned to religion. My question was, 'how could God let this happen?' He feels the same way, but then he said, 'you should read the book The Shack. It might help you find peace. I haven't read the book yet, but he has and he shared some of what he learned with me and it did help. But truthfully, I always come back to one simple fact. Those who do harm to others deserve to be punished, if not in life then in death. I feel strongly about that. I don't personally believe that a person who could rape, kill, or torture a child deserves redemption. I can't help it. I know that may seem harsh or wrong, because we're supposed to see the good in everyone. We aren't supposed to judge others. We're supposed to leave that up to God to decide. But in my mind the decision was made the instant those people picked up their first stone.
Then there's the matter of the 1,000 spectators. What can I say about that? It makes my chest hurt thinking that this poor girl was killed in such a terrible way and in front of 1,000 people who, for whatever reason, chose What was this? Entertainment?!
I'm bringing this here because I truly need help understanding. I'm interested in your views on this. Also, I'm interested in your views on religion. I'm personally struggling right now and I would love to hear about your beliefs, whether you are an Atheist, Catholic, Muslim, Jewish, Mormon...whatever. I'm at a stage here where I'm truly just seeking answers.
I'd also like to express my thanks. Thank you to all those who stood up for others, even at the cost of their own lives. Martin Luther King, Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman and the thousands of others who have stood up for what was right, no matter the danger involved! Where would we be today without you? I shudder to think.


Regina Carlysle said...

Anne, I believe this is more a HUMAN issue than a religious one. We ARE our brothers/sisters keeper and these things will continue to happen as long as good people remain silent. Hunger, sickness, poverty breeds cruelty in many forms. Solving basic human needs, I believe, will go a long way toward changing the world. Food, shelter, and education are sorely lacking in these parts of the world. When basic services are absent, anarchy rules and these things happen. The people who live in these places are living in a 'war zone' and are numb to the things that happen in their homeland. They don't expect to be treated as anything but animals. It's a sad commentary that we enjoy such wealth when others suffer.

Maryannwrites said...

Anne, I agree that this was a terrible thing to happen and I wondered at the lack of outrage expressed in the media and elsewhere. It is so hard to wrap our minds around the fact that for some people that was "business as usual."

As to the big question as to why God allows something like that. Another good book to read would be "Why Bad Things Happen to Good People." It was written by a rabbi and basically explains that with free will came total freedom and God does not manipulate events or people. Stuff happens. Period. God's place in tragedy is to give us support -- the grace to withstand whatever difficulty faces us. That's sort of the condensed version of his theology.

As for hating the people who commit such horrific acts, that is okay. There is no morality when it comes to feelings. It is what you do with those feelings that has morality. If you hated those people then went out and killed them all, that would be wrong.

When it comes to redemption, however, anyone can be worthy of it if he or she truly repents. Those of us who are Christian know that Jesus forgave all sinners, and I believe in a benevolent God. He does not hate the sinner, but hates the sin.

Hope that helps. I will try to come back and see what others have to say. Most people think we should never discuss religion or politics, but sometimes we can do that and not get ugly with each other. :-)

Lynn Lorenz said...

Okay, Anne, you're taking a big chance trying to talk religion and getting others to chat about may wind up being a scream fest.
However, that being said, you bring up a point Christians have debated for a long time.
Here's my take on it...
There are two Christian Gods, the Old Testament God, (Hebrew) patterned very much like the old Greek/Roman gods... He punished the wicked, tested His faithful, and rewarded the good. He had arguements and challenges with the devil and spoke to his followers through burning bushes and pillars of fire and took a very active role in what befell you, good or wicked.
In the New Testament, a new, kinder, gentler God arose - Jesus Christ, who taught love, acceptance and forgiveness, not popular concepts for those raised with the Old Testament God.
With this new God also came the concept of Free Will. That God doesn't impose His Will on anyone, that you are free to chose to follow Him, to do good deeds or to do evil. Your choice. But you answer to Him in the end where he either forgives your sins or damns you for them.
And having your sins forgiven is available to all sinners, regardless of the acrocity, if they merely accept Him as their Lord and Savior and ask His forgiveness.
So, if it you don't see the Old Testament God smitting and smoking the worst of evil-doers, you can be sure, if you believe in Jesus, that in the end, at the day of individual judgement, those who have done evil and remained unrepentant, will get their come-uppance.
Justice often comes when we don't see it, but it does come.
If you keep that thought in mind, it makes events like what you wrote about, if not easier, at least liveable.

Anne Sorgeson said...

I see both sides. It is horrible in a country full of religion that they can condone this to a 13 yr old. You would think they would ask her age first.

It saddens me to think that someone who would do this to a young girl. She was raped, she didn't commit adultery. It sounds like someone spoke up but it was too late.

Anne Rainey said...

Regina--I'm not saying this particular incident is a 'religious issue'. I'm saying that this incident brought about a certain thought process for me and I in turn started to question my own faith.

I see what you're saying about them being numb. Yes, that makes sense. It's sad, either way you cut it, it's sad.

Anne Rainey said...

Maryann--THANK YOU for that title. I'll look it up. Your words here mirror my husband's. (and that's a good thing, lol) We are Christians too, but where he grew up going to church every Sunday and hearing about the bible from his mom, I didn't. So sometimes I question things, which of course makes me worry that I'm not being faithful. If I don't trust in God, then where does that leave me?

I'll look for that book. It sounds like something my hubby and I both would like to read.

As to discussing religion, I admit, I trust the readers of this blog. You're all wonderful people and I know we can 'live and let live'! :)

Anne Rainey said...

Lynn--Thanks for the information. I guess in my heart I do believe that everything in life has to be balanced. Wet and dry. Tall and short. Night and day. Wrong and right. Good and evil. So in that way of thinking I do believe those who commit evil acts will be punished. I guess it just bothers me to think that this could even happen at all, ya know?

Yeah, I guess I'm taking a chance discussing religion, but this is only about me seeking answers, not judging others for what they believe. Does that make sense?

Lynn Lorenz said...

Anne, that's where faith comes in. If you believe in Christ you must believe in His grace and mercy and also in His punishment of those deserving, whether you see it or not.
Keep that in your heart and let it comfort you.
Also, that those who die unjustly reap the rewards of heaven, where there is no pain, only love and beauty.

Anne Rainey said...

Lynn--Thank you! That's exactly what I'm clinging to right now. I'm struggling. Is that normal? I worry that God is frowning right now. My husband says not, that it just doesn't work that way. He says everyone struggles with their faith, but that taking it one day at a time helps.

Anonymous said...

Okay, tough subject.


Yes, this was a religion motivated event. It is unfortunate that once again we see religion used as an excuse to commit an atrocity against another human being. The extreme Muslim factions have taken over that area and are installing their version of the Taliban in the region.

Religion, throughout human history, and I don't care which religion you look at, has been used as an excuse and tool of hate and corruption. There is not a single religion in history that does NOT have blood on its hands. It is the saddest footnote on our history that this is a fact.

It boils down to the power of control. I'm sorry if it bursts anyone's bubble, but religion is a tool, used to control people and people allow themselves to be controlled by it. As long as there have been human beings, there have been those corrupted by the power of control over others. Scaring the daylights out of the masses, by telling them you have a direct pipeline to the gods, is a good way to control people.

Anne, take comfort in the fact that human beings on the whole are good. This outrage that happened in Somalia has sparked international condemnation. People around the world are rightly pissed off, that a young girl, a child, was murdered and no one lifted a finger to stop it. Your heart ache, your emotional release at this story proves that you too, are a good person.

Evolution is a slow, messy process. Someday, the human race will grow up enough, that stories like this, are black marks in history. I don't believe in gods, I'm an atheist Anne. I see humanity as a growing species. One that still needs a lot of time to reach maturity. Time to learn that we are all human beings, none better, none worse, just human.

It may not help today Anne, but look at what we have done as a species. We are growing up and someday, the tools used to control others will fade away. Even if we don't want to face up to it someday religion, like the one that demanded the death of this girl, will fade and end. And maybe, then, we can start to understand our true place in this universe, and realize that mutual respect is what we will need in order to continue on this rock.

Lynn Lorenz said...

Sometimes it takes things like this to solidify what we truly believe in - what gives us comfort and helps us to go on.
Everyone faces doubts- its not unusual, it just means you're thinking and that the world around you affects you.
It's how you go on that's the story.
Be glad that you still have the ability to be so affected by such a tragedy. There are many, outside those 1,000 that stood by and let it happen, who will never waste a single moment worrying about it.

BrennaLyons said...

Good subject.

First of all, just playing Devil's Advocate... Who says everyone who watched chose to do so? I'm sure some did, because there are always some sick people in the world, but...

In situations like this, sometimes people end up there, because to show opposition by NOT attending would bring down some retaliation on their own families. Is it RIGHT? No, but they feel watching the crime is the lesser of two evils, the larger being their own families being subjected to the same or similar.

I'm with you that the men who raped her are guilty. They should have been stoned, not her. But, these cultures place all the blame on the women, despite the fact that the men are committing these atrocities and hiding behind a male-centric law. A friend who was expat in Quatar for a year told me HORROR stories about this sort of thing.

If you want my opinion of why God or the gods allow this sort of thing, it will come back to one idea... Free will. The gods set down expectations, and many people believe they punish people later for breaking them (in the form of Karma, reincarnation as something lowly or even hell), but the gods rarely stop things from happening. Why? Because, doing so would negate free will. Without free will, we would be nothing but mindless puppets of the gods.

If you're interested, I could send you a PDF copy of my first book, PROPHECY (needs a cleaning edit, but it's in decent shape for a first book...grinning). I go into great detail on the subject of free will vs. predetermination and how the personal baggage of the individual destroys a good religious idea.


Jeanne said...

I'm taking a big jump here, but I am tired of the misconceptions that abound regarding the Jewish concept of G-d.
Judaism has always maintained that G-d's justice is tempered by mercy, the two qualities perfectly balanced. Of the two Names of G-d most commonly used in scripture, one refers to his quality of justice and the other to his quality of mercy. The two names were used together in the story of Creation, showing that the world was created with both justice and mercy.
To say that the concept of "love, acceptance and forgiveness," were "not popular concepts for those raised with the Old Testament God." shows a lack of knowledge that is unfortunately prevelant with many people not raised in Judaism.
G-d always seeks to forgive us, even on our deathbeds, G-d will accept our request for forgiveness.

Justice? No man or woman can be accused of a crime unless there are at least two *eye* witnesses. Hearsay is not an adequate reason for accusing a person of a crime.

And can we forget the Inquisition, that gentle means of torturing non-believers into accepting Jesus?
There's a line in an old Bob Dylan song called "Masters of War": Even Jesus would never forgive what you do.

Many of the quotes attributed to Jesus are usually qualified by him as ideas he was transmitting that had already been said. His ideas were not new but presented in a new situation.
The golden rule, for instance came from the teachings of Rabbi Hillel.
Chrisitians do not hold a monopoly on charity, forgiveness, love and acceptance.
To state otherwise diminishes the very words that Jesus said: In my father's house there are many mansions.
I for one, believe in the plurality of faiths. The main thing is that you do no harm in the name of your religion.
What does this mean?
Follow the good, ignore the bad, strive to understand, strive to learn more about one another.
Do not condemn in ignorance.
Do not make sweeping generalities.

I really dislike the secularization of holidays.
Christmas to me has become the Santa Holiday.
Macys is promoting letters to Santa for the Make A Wish Foundation.
So, our poor Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jewish, etc. children should not participate.
Because Santa is a Christian. Yes, boys and girls, Since Santa is associated with Christmas and since Christmas is a Christian holiday celebrating the birth of Christ, this is a Christian campaign.
Please do not say that Santa is not *only* for Christians.
Please do not denigrate your faith by turning it into bunny rabbits and jolly old elfs.
Please realize that all faiths are interpreted by man.
You can show mercy, love, and forgiveness in ANY religion.

Peace out.

Anne Rainey said...

Dr. Karl--much of what you're saying has been said by my dad as well, he's an Atheist. His views don't mirror my husband's and so sometimes I struggle and feel tugged back and forth, though they do NOT do that on purpose. Both of the men in my life are very good about giving me information, then letting me figure things out for myself.

Thanks for your views. I'll think on them. :)

Anne Rainey said...

Lynn, I think that's the most tragic part, too many people won't waste a single thought about this horrific episode.

BrennaLyons said...


On the whole, I agree with your dissection of religion. It's been my experience that belief in a higher power or the power of the universe is a good thing, but the organization of said beliefs into a dogma is a bad thing. Any time you take belief out of the hands of the individual and institutionalize it, it tends to go downhill from there.

That said, there are unexplainable things (at this level of science) that should be acknowledged as "as yet unexplainable but able to be experienced and sometimes measured."

Perhaps the gods are nothing but aliens who genetically-engineered this world, including the scientific progression of evolution. Perhaps they are simply a higher-evolved species experimenting or recreating their own growth. Who can say?

I'm personally not against the idea that there's something more than we can see. Nor am I against the idea that there are ways to harness and control energies we haven't found the mechanics to control through science.

As long as no one is telling me what I HAVE to believe, I'm fairly happy. Unfortunately, there are a LOT of organized religions that attempt to do precisely that.


Anne Rainey said...

Brenna wrote: If you want my opinion of why God or the gods allow this sort of thing, it will come back to one idea... Free will. The gods set down expectations, and many people believe they punish people later for breaking them (in the form of Karma, reincarnation as something lowly or even hell), but the gods rarely stop things from happening. Why? Because, doing so would negate free will. Without free will, we would be nothing but mindless puppets of the gods.

This is MUCH of what I've been learning about as I read passages from "The Shack". Thanks for the input Brenna. :)

Anne Rainey said...

Brenna wrote: As long as no one is telling me what I HAVE to believe, I'm fairly happy.

Yes! I agree!

Genella deGrey said...

I will not involve God in my reply because we as humans have been granted free will to choose between right and wrong.

It is unfathomable to me that a society could be so archaic that it allows things like this to happen to each other.

One would think that being in the twenty-first century, the human race would have evolved away from violence and cruelty toward its own.

Souls who refuse to evolve are terribly tedious.


Liana Laverentz said...

God did not allow that to happen. God gave us free will, and with that free will, people allowed that to happen. You can't wait for other people to change and make the world a better place. You have to become the change you wish to day a time...sometimes one minute at a time...and questioning your faith is always a good thing--or, like Dr. Karl says, your faith is in jeopardy of being be used as a tool against you, to control you. God was not frowning, but God's heart does hurt when we use our free will to harm others. Any of us,

Anne Rainey said...

Genella and Liana--Thanks for your input! You wouldn't believe how helpful this has been for me. I really struggled over this for the past few days. It's bothered me something awful.

I think what happened to Aisha is a horrific example of human cruelty. I can only hope justice comes to the ones who raped her as well as the the ones who killed her.

Anonymous said...

Those thousand witnesses and the people he did this terrible thing were following what their religion taught them. For all the prattling of religious leaders about "love and kindness" it is my experience that most of them teach nothing but hate. They tell people that they have no right to marry who they will, they teach that anyone who believes differently then them are blasphemers and devils and that is right to bomb innocent people that are not so-called "enemies." The history of the middle ages is one of cruelity and genocide towards people of a different religion. Most religion is a hateful fraud. My experience is that many people do not read their own holy books and determine the truth themselves, but listen to what their preachers tell them.

Anne Rainey said...

Hi Joe, thanks for posting. I will admit that what you say here is exactly how my first taste of religion went. I was very turned off, to say the least. However, after I discovered my husband's church I found that not all are the same. Thank goodness! They're very open and non-judgmental. :)