When you hear about “militant atheists,” it’s usually in reference to people who argue online about how gods aren’t real. “Militant Christians,” on the other hand, are a different story.
In this case, Deborah Green, the leader of a “paramilitary religious sect” in New Mexico — Aggressive Christianity Missions Training Corps — was sentenced to 72 years in prison after being convicted in a child sex abuse case. Green dresses like a military officer and is called “the General” by her followers.
The case involved a victim who was reportedly kidnapped from Uganda as a baby, then abused and mistreated for years. The victim gave an emotional testimony at the hearing for Green’s sentencing, asking the judge to give her the maximum sentence.
“Emotionally, she broke me as a child to the point where I still today struggle with my own self-confidence, my self-esteem, my sense of worth,” the victim said.
The victim further spoke about what she described as years of torture by Green that she continues to struggle recovering from physically and emotionally, adding she’s had 11 surgeries to help fix broken bones.
“I’m reminded of how much I have to fight myself every day to not be sunken down into that low place again,” the victim said.
The victim asked District Court Judge James Sanchez to give 71-year-old Green the maximum sentence of 108 years.
Instead, he gave Green 72 years for three counts of child rape, two counts of kidnapping and one count of child abuse.
Of course the maximum sentence of 108 years would have been ideal symbolically, but there’s no real difference between that and the 72 years Green actually got. Not when she’s already 71. It’s a life sentence either way.
The judge actually seemed to show a lot of compassion for the survivor, who was brought to the cult’s compound to be physically and sexually abused throughout her entire life.
The judge had words of encouragement for the victim.
“A weaker person would not have survived. That means you can continue on being strong,” Judge Sanchez said.
But this girl from Uganda wasn’t the only victim of this religious cult. When authorities raided the compounded, they found 11 children, including some as young as four, who were being held against their will by the group.
The investigation and the trials that came later heavily relied upon testimony from former members, who described the ways in which Green used religion to control other people.
At the sect’s compound, some members called Green “mom” or “general,” according to authorities. She also was known among followers as the “Oracle of God.”
When members complained, Green would hold “trials” against them for questioning her authority, which Green asserted came directly from God, said Julie Gudino, who joined the organization in 1984 in Sacramento, California. She was a member for 20 years, and was among those who testified this week.
As hard as this is to say, it’s not very surprising that things like this still happen. We give religious groups a lot of freedom without always pairing it with the scrutiny or regulations they need. But it’s a relief that, in this case, a cult leader was punished fairly for her crimes. It’s a silver lining in an otherwise dark cloud.
(Screenshot via YouTube)