“God Told Me To Do It”

Church bloodbath. Seven church members, including the minister and his teenage son, were gunned down and killed, and four others wounded in a bloodbath by congregation member Terry Ratzmann during the weekly religious service on March 12, at the Living Church of God, Brookfield, Wis.

Ratzmann, 44, killed himself with his 22nd shot. The denomination, whose leader recently prophesied that end times are near, is an offshoot of Ted Armstrong’s church. Ratzmann, who was losing his job, was said to have left an earlier sermon in a huff,” apparently offended by a callous prophesy. Ratzmann, who was discouraged by the church from seeking treatment for depression, was also frustrated by attempts to find a wife within the small denomination, which forbids dating outside the faith.

“I wanted to know where God was when this happened,” Don Free told the Chicago Sun-Times. His niece was one of the wounded. “He was supposed to be everywhere. He could have at least been there.” Sources: Wisconsin State Journal, March 14, 2005, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, March 14,16, 2005

Daughter, 13 months, “sacrificed.” A toddler, who had been struck 40 times with a needle on the bottom of both feet and the side of her head, died last October of a broken neck, severed liver and 12 broken ribs. Her Ohio mother, Vanessa McGlumphy, 25, testified that her boyfriend, Daniel Duffield, 32, sacrificed her child because he is a different religion than she is, and that they performed a “ritual” on the girl. Duffield was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and murder. McGlumphy pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment. Source: Channel3000.com, March 3, 2005

Dad killed 4-year-old “Antichrist.” Ivan Henk, of Nebraska, was sentenced in March to life in prison without parole for murdering his son, Brendan Gonzales, 4, “because he was the Antichrist. He had 666 on his forehead.” Source: Dayton (Ohio) Daily News, March 6, 2005

“B.T.K.” killer church big-wig. The suspected, long-elusive Kansas serial killer calling himself “B.T.K.” (for his modus operandi, “bind, torture, kill”) was apprehended in late February. Arrested was Dennis L. Rader, 59, of Park City, who once led a Scouting troop and was currently president of the church council of Christ Lutheran Church, Wichita, where he had been a member for 30 years. B.T.K. was suspected of 7 cold-blooded killings between 1974-1979, and claimed responsibility for an 8th killing in 1986. Source: New York Times, Feb. 27, 2005

“If thy right eye offend thee. . .” R&B singer Houston gouged out one of his eyes in a London hotel room, telling his bodyguard he had to “get the devil off his back.” Houston had a 2004 hit called “I Like That.” Source: Associated Press, Feb. 7, 2005

God told man to kill family. Joseph Ganshert, 42, of Hillsboro, Wis., killed his wife and her two children on Feb. 2, then shot himself. Dead are Mary Ganshert, 36, and her children Mandi, 5, and Troy Klein Jr., 14. The man left notes saying his family was going to “a better place,” and “God asked me to bring my family to heaven.” Source: Channel3000 (WISC-TV, Madison, Wis.), Feb. 4, 2005

Molester cites God. A man in Riverside, Calif., sentenced to 36 years to life for the repeated sexual abuse of his young stepdaughter, invoked God as his rationale. “God has a reason. Sometimes the things that happen in this life are so that we can learn from them,” stated Miguel Angel Ordonez, 34. Ordonez was convicted of rape, forced oral copulation and repeated sexual abuse of the 12-year-old over a 7-year span. Source: Press-Enterprise, Jan. 8, 2005

Vatican likes women to die. The Vatican in January praised an Italian woman who died after refusing cancer treatment that would have saved her life but required her to abort her pregnancy. Rita Fedrizzi died in late January, three months after giving birth to a boy. The Vatican newspaper L’Osservatore Romano praised her for “welcoming new life even at the cost of her own death.” Fedrizzi, 41, left motherless her newborn, Frederico, and children ages 10 and 12. Source: Associated Press, Jan. 25, 2005

God ordered parents’ deaths. “God told me to” kill his parents, Philip Badowsky, 22, testified. He read the bible before shooting his parents, then dismembered them with a chainsaw on Dec. 2. His mother was a nurse and his father was an engineer in Nixson, Tenn. Source: Chattanoogan.com, Dec. 10, 2004

The “devil” made him do it. Rev. Bill McElroy, 72, died two days after being attacked and choked in front of the altar by a man who called him “the devil.” Suspect David J. Cooper, 40, Whiteland, Ind., had known the minister for 20 years. Source: Associated Press, Dec. 21, 2004

Man killed for being atheist. Ashley John Appoo, 40, pleaded guilty in a court in Brisbane, Australia, to the manslaughter death of John Leslie McDonald, and to cause grievous bodily harm to McDonald’s wife, Alois, during an ax attack in November 2001. Appoo, a hitchhiker whom McDonald picked up and befriended, went berserk when Ms. McDonald mentioned they were atheists. Described as a “proud Christian whose bible was one of his most precious possessions,” Appoo grabbed an ax and began attacking the couple. Source: Daily Telegraph, Dec. 23, 2004

Superstition kills. A teenage boy and a woman were detained in South Africa in connection with the killing of a girl, 9, whose tongue and genitals were removed while she was still alive. The body of the girl, reported missing on January 2, was found in a nature reserve. The boy said the woman killed the girl in order to give her body parts to a witchdoctor. Source: Herald Sun, Jan. 16, 2005

“Act of obedience.” Edwin B. Baxter, 33, of Oregon, was convicted in December of attempting to circumcise his 8-year-old son. The fundamentalist Christian, who sat with a bible in the courtroom, decided to circumcise his son on Sept. 3 after reading the Old Testament: “I had no reason to think I would be in violation of any of God’s laws. I felt it was an act of obedience.” He put his son in a dirty bathtub on some towels and used a hunting knife, then called 911 when his son began bleeding profusely. His wife is pregnant with their 10th child. The boy recovered. Source: The Columbian, Dec. 8, 2004

Barbarous to barber. Umm Ali of Baghdad, Iraq, claims religious militants, whose strict reading of Islamic teachings requires that men wear long beards, killed her son for trimming men’s beards. On Jan. 27, Sadiq Abdul Hussein was cutting a customer’s hair when a man with a scarf over his face walked in the door and opened fire with an assault weapon, killing him and wounding his customer. Source: Associated Press, Feb. 7, 2005

Crawling for God. Tomas Poblar, 74, of Cuba, has crawled backward 13 miles down a highway to a church outside Havana–dragging a 100-pound stone chained to one leg–for 52 consecutive years every December. He joins thousands of Cubans who walk, crawl or drag themselves to the St. Lazarus shrine on the night of Dec. 16, in a pilgrimage in homage to San Lazaro and his reputed miracles curing the afflicted. Source: Chicago Tribune, Dec. 19, 2004

Freedom From Religion Foundation