Religious abuse

Religious abuse

The term religious abuse may refer to
*harassment or humiliation on the basis of the victim's religion, see religious discrimination
*misuse of a religion for selfish, secular or ideological ends, see
**religion and politics
**abuse of a clerical position to perpetrate non-religiously motivated abuse, such as in the Catholic sex abuse cases. [Keith Wright, "Religious Abuse", Wood Lake Publishing Inc., 2001 ]
*any form of religious violence, including
**human sacrifice
**violent initiation rites
**arguably,Fact|date=August 2008 witch hunts
*arguably,Fact|date=August 2008 for the conspiracy theory involving vast networks of paedophiles abusing children see satanic ritual abuse

Religious violence

Human sacrifice

The most obvoius case of religiously motivated physical abuse is human sacrifice.

Archaeology has uncovered physical evidence of child sacrifice, the ritualistic killing of children in order to please supernatural beings, at several locations.cite book | last = Milner | first = Larry S. | title = Hardness of Heart / Hardness of Life: The Stain of Human Infanticide | publisher = University Press of America | year = 2000 ] Some of the best attested examples are the diverse rites which were part of the religious practices in Mesoamerica and the Inca Empire. [ cite journal | last = Reinhard | first = Johan | coauthors = Maria Stenzel
title = A 6,700 metros niños incas sacrificados quedaron congelados en el tiempo | journal = National Geographic | pages = 36–55 |date=November 1999
] [ [ Discovery Channel The mystery of Inca child sacrifice] ] [cite book
last = de Sahagún | first = Bernardino | authorlink = Bernardino de Sahagún | title = , 12 books and 2 introductory volumes | publisher = University of Utah Press, translated and edited by Arthur J.O. Anderson and Charles Dibble | date = 1950-1982 | location = Utah | pages = | url = | doi = | id =
] Alice Miller, Lloyd deMause, psychologist Robert Godwin and other advocates of children's rights have written about pre-Columbian sacrifice within the framework of child abuse.cite book | last = deMause | first = Lloyd | authorlink = Lloyd deMause | title = The Emotional Life of Nations
publisher = Karnak | year = 2002 | location = NY, London | pages =
] cite book | last = Godwin | first = Robert W. | title = One cosmos under God | publisher = Paragon House
year = 2004 | location = Minnesota | pages =
] [cite book
last = Miller
first = Alice
title = Breaking down the walls of silence
publisher = Dutton/Penguin Books
year = 1991
pages = 91
location = NY

Plutarch (ca. 46–120 AD) mentions the practice of the Carthaginian ritual burning of small children, as do Tertullian, Orosius, Diodorus Siculus and Philo. Livy and Polybius do not. The Hebrew Bible also mentions what appears to be child sacrifice practiced at a place called the Tophet ("roasting place") by the Canaanites, and by some Israelites. [cite book | last = Brown | first = Shelby | title = Late Carthaginian Child Sacrifice and Sacrificial Monuments in their Mediterranean Context
publisher = Sheffield Academic Press | year = 1991
location = Sheffield | pages = | url = | doi = | id =

Throwing children to the sharks was performed in ancient Hawaii. [cite book | last = Davies | first = Nigel | title = Human Sacrifice in History and Today | publisher = William Morrow & Co. | year = 1981 | location = NY | pages = 192]

Sacrificial victims were often infants. "The slaughtering of newborn babies may be considered a common event in many cultures" including "the Eskimos, the Polynesians, the Egyptians, the Chinese, the Scandinavians, the Africans, the American Indians" and up to recent times "the Australian aboriginals". [cite book | last = Grotstein | first = James S. | authorlink = | title = Who is the dreamer who dreams the dream?| publisher = The Analytic Press, Relational Perspectives Book Series Volume 19 edition | year = 2000 | location = NJ| pages = 247, 242 | ]

Initiation rites

Artificial deformation of the skull predates written history and dates back as far as 45,000 BCE, as evidenced by two Neanderthal skulls found in Shanidar Cave. [cite journal |last= Trinkaus |first= Erik |year= 1982|month= Apr|title= Artificial Cranial Deformation in the in Shanidar 1 and 5 Neandertals|journal= Current Anthropology |volume= 23|issue= 2|pages= 198-199|id= |url=|accessdate=2008-06-19 |quote= ] It usually began just after birth for the next couple of years until the desired shape had been reached. It may have played a key role in Egyptian and Mayan societies. [cite book | last = Rousselle | first = Aline | title = Porneia: On Desire and the Body in Antiquity | publisher = Basil Blackwell | year = 1983
location = Oxford | pages = 54

In China some boys were castrated. Both penis and scrotum were cut. [cite book | last = Tompkins| first = Peter| title = The Eunuch and the Virgin: A Study of Curious Customs | publisher = Bramhall House | year = 1963 | location = NY| pages = 12] Other ritual actions have been described by anthropologists. Géza Róheim wrote about initiation rituals performed by Australian natives in which adolescent initiates were forced to drink blood. [cite book | last = Róheim | first = Géza | authorlink = Géza Róheim | title = Psychoanalysis and Anthropology | publisher = International Universities Press| year = 1950| location = NY| pages = 76] Ritual rapes, in which young virgins are raped, have been part of shamanistic practices. [cite book | last = Nevill | first = Drury | authorlink = | title = The Elements of Shamanism | publisher = Element| year = 1989| location = Longmead| pages = 20| url = | doi = | id = ]

Persistence of the practices

In some tribes rituals of Papua New Guinea, an elder "picks out a sharp stick of cane and sticks it deep inside the boy's nostrils until he bleeds profusely into the stream of a pool, an act greeted by loud war cries." cite book | last = Herdt | first = Gilbert | authorlink = Gilbert Herdt| title = The Sambia: Ritual, Sexuality, and Change in Papua New Guinea (Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology) | publisher = Wadsworth Publishing; 2 edition | year = 2005| location = Longmead| pages = | url = | doi = | id = ] Afterwards, when boys are initiated into puberty and manhood, they are expected to perform fellatio to the elders. "Not all initiates will participate in this ceremonial homosexual activity, but in about five days later several will have to perform fellatio several times."

Female genital cutting has also been practiced in ritualized contexts in Sub-Saharan Africa; in some regions of the Middle East, and in Southeast Asia.Dubious|date=August 2008

Witch hunts

Ritualistic abuse may also involve children accused, and beaten, for being purported witches in some Central African areas, for example a young niece may be blamed for the illness of a relative. [cite press release | title = Vejan en África a 'niños brujos' | publisher = Reforma | date = 19 November 2007 | url = | accessdate = ] Dubious|date=August 2008

Psychological explanations

A minority of academics subscribe to a school of thought named psychohistory. They attribute the abusive rituals to the psychopathological projection of the perpetrators, especially of the parents.

This "psychohistorical" model makes several claims: that childrearing in tribal societies included child sacrifice or high infanticide rates, incest, body mutilation, child rape and tortures, and that such activities were culturally acceptable. [cite book |last=deMause |first=Lloyd |authorlink=Lloyd deMause|title=Foundations of Psychohistory |url= |format=|accessdate= |accessyear= |accessmonth= |edition= |series= |date= |year=1982 |month=January |publisher=Creative Roots Publishing |location= |language= |isbn=094050801X |oclc= |doi= |id= |pages=132-146|quote=] [cite book | last = Rascovsky | first = A. | title = Filicide: The Murder, Humiliation, Mutilation, Denigration and Abandonment of Children by Parents | publisher = Aronson | year = 1995 | location = NJ | pages = 107]

ee also

* Exorcism
* Infanticide
* Child sacrifice
* Satanic ritual abuse


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