Police arrested Kimberly Felder at Centerville Beach in Humboldt County, Calif. as she attempted an exorcism on her 11-year-old daughter on Friday.
The Sacramento Bee reports the 45-year-0ld mother from nearby Ferndale was observed hitting, biting, and choking the girl after stripping her naked.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call abut 9 a.m. reporting a mother attacking her child at Centerville beach near Ferndale. The caller said the mother was attempting to perform an exorcism. She had stripped the child naked and was shoving handfuls of sand in the youngster’s eyes and mouth, according to a Sheriff’s Office news release. The woman reportedly stated that she was trying to remove demons from the child.
Around a dozen people witnessed the “alleged assault,” according to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s office. But only one bystander, local resident John Marciel, had the presence of mind to intervene. He “stepped in and tried to restrain Felder” But even as he wrestled her to the ground, she still managed to keep hitting her daughter “in the head with a piece of driftwood.”
Kimberly Felder is being held at the Humboldt County Correctional Facility and is being investigated for attempted homicide, assault with a deadly weapon, felony child abuse, and aggravated mayhem. The sheriffs had her daughter taken to a nearby hospital to treat her injuries, which include severe ear damage. Had John Marciel not stepped in, she may have died.
The Sheriff’s Office commended Marciel for intervening, saying he likely prevented the youngster from being killed. The Sheriff’s Office is requesting that Marciel be recognized with the Red Cross Life Saving Award for his actions, the news release said.
Still think the government should stay out of our business?
Trying to perform an exorcism on one’s child sounds like something only random crazy people would do. But believe it or not, ABC reports exorcisms are “thriving” in the U.S. And apparently, it’s not just for Catholics anymore.
Many conservative Protestants see the devil as an active force in the everyday lives of people, and feel that exorcism is the natural way to deal with it. They might undergo several exorcisms — also called a “deliverance” — a month.
While evangelical Christian exorcisms may “involve nothing more than a prayer and laying hands on the inflicted,” that doesn’t mean no harm is done. Some people who may suffer from depression or other psychological or neurological conditions that require actual medical treatment.
The news headlines abound with examples of children psychologically and physically injured or killed by various types of abuse and neglect at the hands of their religious extremist parents and other authority figures in their lives. These include extreme forms of discipline designed from infancy to break a child’s spirit and make them obedient; withholding of medical treatment when parents turn to faith healing; sexual abuse by Catholic priests and trusted adults within evangelical churches.
Furthermore, child abuse in evangelical Protestant families often goes undetected because pastors are often reluctant to report and because children are often homeschooled and have little contact with the outside world.
Yet despite — or perhaps because — of rampant abuse within authoritarian, patriarchal church communities, conservative Christians of all stripes insist on the sanctity of family life, that parents — especially the father — should be able to raise their children as they see fit, and want the government out of their business.
ABC reports on Kimberly Felder’s arrest and attempted exorcism.
CBS confirms reports that the child likely would have died and adds she’ll be placed in protective child custody. When asked about the exorcism, John Marciel told CBS Kimberly Felder “questioned me about my faith.”
Sheriff William Honsal also told The Los Angeles Times, “The mother stated she was trying to remove the demons from the child.”