The news in recent days has been full of impassioned believers who seem to think they are on missions from God.
Scott Roeder shot and killed Dr. George Tiller last year in what some would call cold blood – but seems, rather, the hot blood of hate – because Tiller performed abortions.
“It is not a man’s job to take life,” Roeder said during his recent trial in Wichita, Kan. That role, he said, is God’s. But he admitted taking Tiller’s life, in a sense equating himself with God – and he sealed his own doom. The jury delivered a guilty verdict last week in only 37 minutes.
What took them so long?
The law of the land is the law, as the Talmud tells us and as the jury, thank God, recognized. Had they bought into Roeder’s real or feigned delusion that he was doing God’s work, that would have given a license to kill to a legion of so-called pro-lifers, to say nothing of other doctrinaire loonies.
Al Qaeda, you may remember, claims to be acting for Allah.
Meanwhile, a group of Baptists from Idaho were jailed in Haiti last Friday. Their alleged crime? Trying to help Haitian children orphaned in the earthquake – or were they? They said they were taking the children to the Dominican Republic, to an orphanage they claimed to be setting up there. But were the children orphans? Some of their parents have been showing up to claim their children. They might have lost them forever had these people had their way.
“God wanted us to come here to help children, we are convinced of that,” Laura Silsby, a member of the group, told The New York Times on Monday from behind bars.
Certainly Haiti and her children need all the help they can get, and the Baptists seem at least well-meaning. They also seem, at the very least, to have broken the law of the land by taking children out of it without proper documentation. Haiti is fearful that child traffickers will take advantage of a country in chaos to sell children into slavery or prostitution or arrange illegal adoptions for them.
Those who feel they are agents or messengers for God are likely to be mistaken – unless they have been given a sign, like a burning bush.