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10 People Who Did Terrible Things Because God Told Them To
We all make choices—some good, some bad, and some really, really bad. In this case, here are 10 people who did terrible things because God told them to.
10 The Kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart
On June 5, 2002, Elizabeth Smart was kidnapped by Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Barzee from her home while she slept. Mitchell and Barzee believed that Mitchell was an angel sent to Earth to battle the antichrist. To do this properly, Mitchell needed virgin brides; Smart was to be the first of many.
While captive, Smart was repeatedly raped, shackled to a tree, starved, and given a new name—Esther—among other things. All of this was done in the name of God; Mitchell even renamed himself Immanuel and wore robes, growing a long beard to resemble Jesus Christ.
Thankfully, Smart was rescued on March 13, 2003. Once in custody, Mitchell was seen by doctors to determine his mental capacity to stand trial. While doctors believed he was ill fit, the courts overruled the doctor’s opinions and continued to trial. Mitchell was sentenced to two life sentences, and Barzee was sentenced to 15 years but only served nine years.
9 Bernard of Clairvaux
Saint Bernard (1090–1153) was no bigot, but in preaching the need for a Second Crusade, he helped unleash a wave of massacres.
The First Crusade (1096–1099) had established Christian states in the Holy Land. However, in the 1140s, Seljuk Turks were making inroads into Christian territory. In 1144, Pope Eugene III called for a Second Crusade and enlisted the help of Bernard of Clairvaux.
Bernard was a powerful preacher who embarked on a tour of France and Germany. As an inducement, the Pope promised that the Crusaders would attain grace and that God would forgive all their previous sins. So successful was Bernard’s message that men left entire villages empty. Both the high-born and the low-born signed up enthusiastically.
Some Crusaders started massacring European Jews to practice their martial arts. Bernard preached against this but with little effect. The Second Crusade achieved little except the death of innocent villagers in the Holy Land. Bernard was named Saint Bernard soon after his death.
8 Deanna LaJune Laney
Neighbors of the Laneys in New Chapel Hill, Texas, thought that the family of five was stable and loving. Deanna and her husband had three boys—Joshua, 8, Luke, 6, and an infant Aaron who was 14 months old in May 2003.
One night, while her husband was asleep, Deanna smashed the heads of the two oldest boys with a rock, killing them both. She then calmly rang 911 to tell the authorities what she had done. When police arrived, they found Aaron severely injured in his crib. Deanne was not in the house, but she was still talking on her phone. Police found her in some nearby woodlands, her clothes covered in blood.
Apparently, a year before, Deanna had told fellow members of her church that God had told her that the world was coming to an end and that she should set her house in order. Her defense for the killings was that God had told her what to do.
Mental health experts agreed that Deanna suffered from psychotic delusions and wouldn’t have known right from wrong when she killed her sons. The court found her not guilty by reason of insanity. The authorities ordered her to be committed to Kerrville State Hospital. Aaron, although critically injured, survived.
7 LeRoya Moore
There are similarities between Leroya’s case and Deanna’s above. Not the least of them being that two young children died. The major difference is that a court found LeRoy guilty of two murders and sentenced her to 60 years imprisonment for each of them. The sentences were to run consecutively.
Autopsies determined that LeRoya’s 6-year-old daughter, Aleisha, and her 7-year-old son, Daaron, had died from antihistamine intoxication. LeRoya told a different story. She said that God had told her that she must kill the children and that they had drowned while she was trying to baptize them. She stayed with the bodies for three days before the police arrived.
She told the police that she had “saved” the kids. Her attorneys tried to use an insanity defense, backed by a Yale University psychiatrist’s opinion that LeRoya suffered from schizoaffective disorder. The court rejected the plea.
6 Shia and Sunni
Roughly 85% of Muslims are Sunni; the remaining Muslims are Shia. The fundamental difference between the two is that the Sunni believe that the Prophet’s successor was his closest companion, Abu Bakr; the Shia support the claim of the Prophet’s cousin and son-in-law, Ali.
Iraq has a Shia majority but the Sunni organization, Daesh, operates there, often savagely. Writing in TRT WORLD, Talha Abdulrazaq reports on an incident in 2021:
“The attack began when Daesh militants took two Shia villagers from al Rashad hostages last Tuesday, demanding a ransom to release them. When their demands were not met, they murdered the hostages. They then called their families, informing them to collect their corpses from a nearby orchard. However, when the families came to collect the remains of their loved ones, they instead found themselves walking into an ambush which killed a further nine and wounded more than a dozen.”
A relatively minor incident in an everlasting sectarian conflict. Militants on both sides believe that they have the full backing of God.
5 Travis Reinking
In April 2015, when Travis Reinking walked into a Tennessee Waffle House, he was wearing nothing but a green jacket. However, he was carrying an AR-15 assault rifle. He killed four people with the gun before someone wrestled it from him. Reinking ran away and hid in the woods until authorities tracked him down two days later.
Reinking believed his four victims were government agents, and God had instructed him to kill them. Authorities initially decided that Travis was suffering from severe schizophrenia and couldn’t stand trial. They changed their minds and found Travis guilty of four counts of first-degree murder.
The story of Abraham and his son, Isaac, is one of the better-known biblical tales. One of the reasons it is so well-known is that it defies obvious interpretation. The book of Genesis tells us that God blessed Abraham and his wife, Sara, with a son, Isaac, when Abraham was 100 years old. Later—we are not told how much later–Isaac could speak; God commanded Abraham to go to the land of Moriah with Isaac. When the pair reached Moriah, they climbed a hill, built an altar, and Abraham was to sacrifice his son. Isaac had no idea that this was going to happen. Nobody asked for Sara’s opinion.
When the pair reached the designated spot, Abraham built an altar. At this point, Isaac asked his dad where the sacrificial animal was. He seems to have offered no resistance when his father tied him up and placed him onto a pile of sticks. Abraham was just about to plunge a knife into his son when the angel of the Lord told him to stop and provided a ram instead.
Christians, Jews, and Muslims are still discussing what the story means. Was it simply a test of obedience? If so, why? It’s a difficult episode to explain.
3 Nikko Jenkins
Jenkins had spent more than ten years in prison for carjacking when he finally gained his freedom. He was still only 26 and hadn’t been out for long when he shot and killed four people in Omaha, Nebraska, over ten days in August 2013.
At the end of the month, police picked him up on an unrelated charge of making terrorist threats. Once in custody, he freely confessed to the killings in a rambling, often incoherent, interview. What was clear was that the Egyptian serpent God Apophis was behind the slayings. Apophis had tormented Jenkins until he had done what Apophis wanted—kill.
According to Jenkins, Nebraska also shared some of the blame. He claimed that the state had let him out of prison too early, and the authorities had not done enough to treat his mental health issues. His wife agreed with him. She said that he was not ready to leave prison. In fact, Jenkins was so sure of his argument that he filed a lawsuit against the state of Nebraska, claiming $24.5 million. The claim didn’t get very far.
Jenkins pleaded no contest to charges of first-degree murder. In his cell, he mutilated himself in various ways. For instance, he carved the number 666 on his forehead. However, the numbers came out as upside-down nines because he was using a mirror.
Jenkins is awaiting execution.
2 Pastor Enoch Adeboye
In Nigeria, Pastor Adeboye is the well-respected General Overseer of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. People listen to what he has to say. The pastor, concerned about the impact of the coronavirus, had a conversation with God about its impact on Nigerians.
God told him that the virus would only kill those who would die anyway. Adeboye even pointed out that as many people in his country died of snake bites as they did of the virus.
While the pastor advised people to be careful and take precautions against the virus, his congregation—and the wider public—could easily read his message as being there was little that they could do. God would decide their fate.
1 The 9/11 Hijackers
There is no need to re-hash the events of this terrible day as everybody remembers where they were and what they were doing when they heard the news of the attack. It was a day that changed the world, and one way or another, this atrocity touched all our lives.
The terrorists were driven by the belief that God ordained their actions; the result was the death of the innocent.
Religion can be a unifying force, and faith can be a strong force for good. Unfortunately, religion can also divide. Of course, most Muslims were horrified that such an atrocity could have been committed in the name of Allah.