I feel a special connection to the whole John Salvi thing. After all, Both he and I were born in the same town -- Salem, Massachusetts. We both were raised to be good little Catholics (but I gave it up some time ago), and we both hung out in downtown Salem and Danvers at around the same time -- he would be looking for souls to convert, and I would be looking for religious nuts so I could fuck with their minds. Until just a couple of years ago, He lived in Everett, Mass, literally a short walk from where I live, and he even attended a church that I walk by every day on my excercise walk. When he committed his dastardly crime, I was literally working about 1 block away from where both Clinics were located, in Brookline. CREEEEEPY, isn't it?
One thing that fascinates me about people like Salvi is the fact that they are obviously mentally ill, but nobody thinks of doing anything to help them, because of what their illness is about. Salvi's own parents knew he had a problem years ago, but figured that because he was expressing his illness through religion, that it was not really that bad, because he could have been on drugs or hanging around with criminals. Obviously, being into the bible and religiousness is not perceived as a negative, even if the person is exhibiting negative behavior.
The list of religious murderers is long. For succinctness, though, I'll only mention the more recent ones. Most of us still remember Mark David Chapman, a born-again who shot John Lennon to death, because he blamed Lennon for being a cheif catalyst in the societal revolution of the 60's, which allegedly has turned society away from Jesus. The names of Michael Griffin, and Paul Hill are fresh in the minds of people, because they are John Salvi's role-models, both of whom murdered doctors to send a message to people about the "murder of the unborn".
What I find interesting about all of these people is their behavior -- all of them were obviously insane, and their insanity was actually encouraged by their peers, instead of discouraged (Their peers were suffering from the same illness, and saw being overly-religious as a good thing). They all felt persecuted by society in general, all talked about conspiracies against Christianity, all felt a more special connection to Jesus than most Christians do (John Salvi once claimed that he was the theif on the cross next to Jesus, in a conversation with his mother), and none of them are concerned with their well-being or their punishment as much as they are concerned with getting the Media's attention so that they can use the media to preach their message. John Salvi is mad at his lawyers and the court because they will not let him take control of the courtroom and the cameras to broadcast his message. He doesn't seem to care about the trial, and sees it as an opportunity to spread the word. All are pathological losers, who were frequently living below the poverty-line, frequetly fired from their jobs for frightening behavior, and were pathological loners, only finding companionship occaisionally, usually with others who felt as persecuted and passionate as they did.
I think that we can say that religiousness really is a kind of mental disorder. The disorder is typified by paranoia, feelings of persecution, feelings of impending doom (such as the end of the world), and an almost nihilistic sense of martyrdom, where the victim feels that they must die, become imprisoned, or force themselves to suffer for a cause that is greater than themselves. The illness in and of itself is not caused by the religion that the individual chooses; it is there reguardless of the religion. What the religion of the individual does is color the illness, give the individuals justifications for their delusions and paranoias, and peers with the same delusions will act as a support system, acting to keep reality in-check. For the Schizophrenics, religions offer answers to who those voices in their heads are, be they demons or angels.
No religion has ever been able to draw a line between religiousness and mental illness, probably because historically, mental illness has only been a definable, recognizable, and treatable within the last couple of centuries. In times of yore, the mentall ill were either considered gifted by God, or demonically possessed (depending on whether their actions were acceptible or frightening to their peers). Shamans in many tribal religions often sought out those who by our standards, were schizophrenic (hearing voices in their heads that told them to do things, ect), and trained them as their apprentices. Is it no wonder that active religions today, often make the same assumptions about the symptoms of mental illness that have been made for millenia, and continuously embrace delusional people as "gifted"? How many more insane people will become religious leaders? How many more Jim Jones's and David Koresh's will we have to go through before we realize that religious or not, these people are insane?
The commercial he played while advertizing this book was an ultra-paranoid Max-Headroom-esque commercial portraying a family of Christians runninng from the law while a TV reporter announced the news on screens everywhere that the people ran. The news reports were of Government sanctioned Bible-outlawing, Christians being sent for re-education, people who commited the crime of having more than one child having forced abortions, and so on. I have this bizarre commercial on my "Religious Maniacs" tape for anyone interested.
The week of 1-8-96 sets a new paranoia precidence for Pat. He's launched a new telethon on CBN, to raise money for his ministry (he has not said why he needs so much money so fast), claiming that the time will come very soon when the government will compulsorily euthenize the elderly! He has a new ultra-paranoid commercial on his Family Channel and localized CBN broadcasts of the 700 club, which looks like a re-enactment segment from "America's Most Wanted". We see 2 police officers in a car discussing the arrival of vehicle. They spot thei vehicle, which is a medium-sized delivery truck, and chase it into a road-block, presumably at the Mexican border, giving the location and the uniforms of the soldiers at the roadblock (they are wearing Mexican Police uniforms circa 1950!).
The police search the truck and discover a hidden compartment with a huddled bunch of old people. The cop remarks to the driver of the truck "Do you know what the punishment is for smuggling elderly across the border?!" A jackbooted Fascist-looking guy in a uniform shines a floodlight on the old people and reads from a booklet, "Under the federal bankruptcy emergency act, section 4, citizens over the age of 65 have been classified as UNPRODUCTIVE CONSUMERS. As such, pursuant to the new federal life code D.A, your right to life has been abrogated. You will now be taken into PRODUCTIVE CUSTODY, until such time as it is convienient for us to humanely exterminate you."
With music remeniscent of "Unsolved Mysteries", the commercial ends, and a smiling Pat Robertson comes out of the studio darkness, and remarks "Do you think such immoral acts are impossible in this day and age, think again. It happened before in Nazi Germany, and it will happen again soon in our country..." In my honest opinion, Pat is really teetering on the edge of sanity with such paranoid visions. He claims that sending him $100 or more will go to help fight against the "evil that is happening in our government" (nice and generalized, eh?), and he starts to list snippets of pro-euthenasia statements made by politicians. Though He could only come up with statements advocating the right of an individual to choose to die, he claims that what is really on the minds of certain "evil people in Washington" (those nameless people we presume are "liberals", or maybe even President Clinton, I suppose...) is federally mandated euthenasia for anyone eho falls under certain categories like "too ill", "too old", or even "too unproductive".
If Pat Robertson ever tries to run for president again, or he openly advoactes particular candidates, like maybe his little puppet Ralph Reed, I think I'll send in the first half-hour of his telethon to all the News Stations, so his utter extremist paranoia can be broadcast to the world, and Americans can see what a whacko he really is.