A woman who drowned her own four-year-old daughter then set her on fire in order to please God, basically reenacting a more violent version of the Biblical myth of Abraham and Isaac, has been cleared of all murder charges.
Carly Ann Harris, a mother from Wales, was on trial for the murder of her daughter Amelia. Harris apparently believed sacrificing her daughter would save mankind, and a jury was convinced she was legally insane, which means she won’t receive jail time.
A mother who killed her daughter, believing sacrificing her would save mankind, will be detained indefinitely under the Mental Health Act.
Carly Ann Harris, 38, was suffering from psychosis when she drowned four-year-old Amelia before burning her body on 8 June.
After being cleared of murder on the grounds of insanity, Ms Harris was made the subject of a hospital order.
Her mother said Ms Harris was “not a monster” and the family was devastated.
So, what happened here, exactly?
The jury heard Ms Harris developed psychotic symptoms towards the end of 2017 which developed into an acute psychotic illness by Easter.
After drowning Amelia in cold water, she took her body outside before setting it on fire.
The court heard these two acts reflected Old Testament beliefs that they assisted in the process of going to heaven.
Neighbours were alerted by children’s screams and called 999 after finding Amelia’s burned body.
If Harris is truly mentally ill, then this was the right decision, but the story still raises a question about what role religion should play in these situations. Suppose she wasn’t mentally ill, but still believed killing her child would make God happy, would that be considered a worthwhile excuse? I would hope not. But then why are we told to admire Abraham for his willingness to do the exact same thing to his son in the Bible? That’s meant to be a story of sacrifice and devotion, not a story about a cruel God making a troubling demand of a follower.
What Harris did wasn’t okay. Regardless of insanity, her motives should be disturbing to everybody. And if Christians agree on that front, perhaps they should stop teaching the biblical story in a positive way. They should also add that if God tells you to do something, you shouldn’t automatically obey. Use your mind, if you’re able to, to differentiate between the good commands and the bad ones. In other words, feel free to override God’s wishes.
(Thanks to James for the link)