Because the Bible Told Me So

The whole concept of the Bible as a source of moral authority is always thrown in question when abuse is justified by references to the ‘holy’ book. There have been instances of people found guilty of killing their children by refusing health care while they diligently prayed over their dying offspring. Biblical abusers come in two basic types: those who abuse by neglect and those who abuse by actions. Both types can justify their actions by using an interpretation of biblical verses.

Those who refuse medical care and ‘trust to God’ include Jehovah’s Witnesses who eschew blood transfusions and Christian Scientists who believe that prayer heals all. From the other camp comes the stories of physical abuse based on the “spare the rod spoil the child’ mentality.

Today’s tale falls into the latter category. It concerns the life of  a child in the US state of Georgia was was adopted by a religious couple with some extreme ideas of discipline.

A Georgia girl told investigators she spent days at a time locked inside a small outhouse and a chicken coop, and had to wear a shock collar because she didn’t do her school work.

Special Agent Wayne Smith of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the case.

The girl was adopted around 2007 and home-schooled in a house outside the small town of Butler, about 85 miles south of Atlanta, according to Smith. The Franklins live on a rural stretch of road sprinkled with a few homes and cow pastures.

The house is surrounded by a split-rail fence with prominent

Samuel and Diana Franklin

“no trespassing” signs at the entrance of the driveway.

The girl told investigators she spent up to six days at a time in the small buildings in the back of the property as punishment for such things as failing to complete her school assignments, Smith said. She said she had been put in the buildings for at least the past two years.

The outhouse was about 4 feet in length and width, and just a few feet high, Smith said.

“It was just big enough to sit in,” Smith said.

The red chicken coop was much larger than the outhouse and chickens were being kept there Thursday.

She was also kept in line by the use of an electric dog collar.

Diana Franklin was charged with four counts of false imprisonment and 12 counts of cruelty to children. Samuel Franklin also faces charges of 8 counts of false imprisonment and 8 counts of cruelty to children.

And then the punchline: Diana Franklin told one neighbor that she was “doing what the Bible says” by punishing the girl for not doing chores the “right way”

In my experience, this is where the Christians jump in and claim that the Franklins were misinterpreting the teachings in the Bible and their god would never command people to abuse their children in such a way. This just reinforces my point. If the Bible was dictated, or even influenced, by some supreme being, it seems to me that the ethical teachings would be a bit more clearcut. There wouldn’t be room for individuals or groups to justify just about any action as being sanctioned or commanded from on high. This is true of all acts–socially positive or socially negative.

Love thy neighbour as thyself; inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me; every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death; if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death; love your enemies; and on and on.

The Bible contains somewhere between 66 and 73 books depending upon which version you choose and all of those books contain commands and advice on many topics:  commands and advice that are sometimes totally at odds with each other. Christians can justify the most amazing acts of generosity and the most insane acts of depravity by finding verses and examples in their book.

At this point, the case against the Franklins has not been proven. The horrific events may not all have happened as described. Actually, I hope that this girl did not suffer as the news reports claim, but that doesn’t weaken my thesis that the Bible cannot be seriously considered to be a source of moral authority.



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