The Watering Hole, Monday, October 19th, 2015: Word of Life Christian Church of Death

Last week, a young man of 19 was beaten to death, and his 17-year-old brother was beaten senseless, in the sanctuary of the Word of Life Christian Church in a small town in upstate New York. Lucas Leonard, the 19-year-old, and his brother Christopher Leonard, were beaten during an “intervention” by their parents and several other church members, in an effort to get the boys to ‘confess their sins and beg forgiveness.’

Yes, there’s lots wrong with those sentences. But then, everything I’ve read about this killing is so very wrong. Here are several examples from various reports on this heinous beating marathon:

From the Olean Times-Herald, a local newspaper in Oneida county, where the killing took place:

“An attorney for the mother, Deborah Leonard, said she felt helpless to stop an “intervention” that spiraled into severe punishment by others at the Word of Life Christian Church. But a lawyer for the father, Bruce Leonard, said the incident stemmed from a family meeting that had nothing to do with the church.”

[It has been said that at least the older son wanted to leave the church/wanted to join the Army; and/or that he (or both boys, still unclear) had attended a pro-choice rally.]

“A timid Deborah Leonard “went along with” others in a church where she had worshipped for years, not anticipating how harsh the intervention would become, said her lawyer, Devin Garramone.

“She didn’t have the temerity to stand up to them and say, ‘You’re not punishing my kid,'” said Garramone, adding that he believed she didn’t cause the fatal injuries.”

Sure, a “timid Deborah Leonard” “didn’t have the temerity” to try to stop the fatal beating. But apparently [read further below] she was not so timid about joining in the flogging, kicking and punching that comprised the approximately 12-hour-long “intervention.” But it just gets weirder and more horrible.

“Bruce Leonard’s lawyer, Donald Gerace, said the episode “could just as well have taken place outside the church.” He said the Leonards had no intention of seriously injuring their son.”

WTF? Other than the fact that it is hideously fucked-up that this happened inside the SANCTUARY of a (so-called) church, what difference does it make where the parents helped to kill their son? Is the father thinking that saying it could have taken place anywhere somehow exonerates him or mitigates his crime?

“Devoted to the church, spiritual leader Traci Irwin and pastor Tiffanie Irwin, members often “wait to be told what to do,” [New Hartford Police Chief Michael] Inserra said. After the attack, the beating victims’ relatives wouldn’t tell officers where to find the injured Christopher Leonard, who ultimately was located on the church’s second floor, the chief said.”

[Emphasis mine.]

If “the beating victims’ relatives” don’t get an “Obstruction of Justice” or “Obstruction of an Investigation” charge added to the other charges, I’ll be very disappointed.

Then we have these bits from the New York Times’ article about the killing:

The teenagers’ parents, Bruce T. Leonard, 65, and Deborah Leonard, 59, who live in nearby Clayville, have been arrested and charged with first-degree manslaughter in their son’s death. Four other church members, including the teenagers’ half sister, Sarah Ferguson, 33, were also arrested and face felony assault charges.

[This was the first that I heard that Ms. Ferguson was a half-sister; another article says she’s the teens’ stepsister.]

Lawyers entered pleas of not guilty for all six suspects on Tuesday. A lawyer for Ms. Leonard, Devin Garramone, said she had belonged to the church for several decades…“I don’t think this is a clear-cut case of guilt,” Mr. Garramone said on Wednesday. “At first it might look like that, but you have a mother — I don’t think she inflicted these injuries on her son. There were other people involved.”

Could the lawyer get a little more incoherent? Not a thing that he said made any sense. And if “there were other people involved”, it does not make the mother guilt-free.

Of course, being a “church”, this cult is tax-exempt, according to the NYT:

“Word of Life Church, which owns the building it occupies, was incorporated in the 1990s in Oneida County, naming four officers but giving little indication of its mission. A certificate of incorporation filed in 1995 lists Bruce Leonard as a trustee. The church property — valued at $210,843, and sitting on 1.86 acres — is tax-exempt as a religious organization, according to a 2015 assessment roll.”

CNN’s report on the killing includes some weird shit, too:

“Another witness, State Police Sgt. Todd Grant, said Bruce Leonard made admissions about what happened to his son and agreed to write a statement. The interrogation was videotaped. At no point did Bruce Leonard ask about his son, Irwin says.”

Nice concern for your son there, Bruce. What a loving Christian family.

Later, the sergeant said, Deborah Leonard said she had struck Lucas with a cord. When Grant removed a cord from the back of a computer and asked her to demonstrate how she hit him, the investigator said, Deborah Leonard struck a table violently.
Deborah Leonard’s attorney, Devin Garramone, said his client had a stent put in due to a heart condition and requires constant medical attention.

“I cannot imagine my client had anything to do with these injuries, especially in the condition she is in,” he said.

Yes, well, Mr. Garramone, perhaps you should talk to your client again, it seems that her heart condition did not inhibit her, as she demonstrated to Sergeant Grant.

Yet more horror, from an NBC News article:

“A mother and father whipped their 19-year-old son in church with an electrical cord and what appeared to be a belt during a deadly, all-night spiritual counseling session triggered by his desire to leave the fold, according to witness testimony and police Friday.

Church deacon Daniel Irwin testified that he peered through a doorway window in the sanctuary at one point during the more than 12-hour ordeal at the Word of Life Christian Church, and saw Lucas Leonard bleeding and in apparent agony.

[Emphasis mine.]

“Lucas was rolling himself back and forth on the floor and making a sustained, monotone moaning,” Irwin said.

Within hours, the young man would be dead — killed by blows inflicted by his parents, sister and fellow church members, authorities said. His mother told police the group took turns hitting him and holding him down, state police investigator Jason Nellis testified. Irwin, the church deacon, testified that he got a text message after services ended around 8 p.m. Sunday saying the Leonard family would be part of a counseling session with the church’s pastor, Tiffanie Irwin, who is Irwin’s sister. Irwin said he wasn’t told what the session was about.”

Yet when Irwin “peered through a doorway window” and “saw Lucas Leonard bleeding and in apparent agony”, he never thought to report it to any ‘secular’ authorities? He didn’t think to intervene himself? Does this type of “spiritual counseling” happen often at this so-called “church”? WTF kind of “Christian” deacon is he? WTF kind of HUMAN BEING is he, FFS?!

This is from the Word of Life Christian Church’s website:

Under “This Is Us”:

”Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” – Matthew 28:19-20

Word of Life is mission! Mission is not just something we do, it is something we are. The Great Commission is of highest priority, we sense its urgency and therefore reach out into many countries and cultures across the world. Nations filled with precious individuals are waiting for the Good News. We have decided – they shall not wait in vain! We want to reach them, equip them and send them forth. The harvest is great and the number of workers will grow! – Christian Åkerhielm, Missions Director

Huh? Sounds like they took word-salad lessons from Sarah Palin. So, what exactly is their “mission”, and/or their “Great Commission”? To “make disciples of all nations”?

One creepy detail, from the website might have the ‘answer’ – or an ‘answer’, anyway:

“One stitched textile was framed and hung on the wall that said, in part, “We have been commissioned through the written word of God to reach out to those who have not experienced the love of Jesus Christ in their lives … Through the systematic training up of saints, our goal is for them to reach out confidently, sharing the love and compassion of Jesus Christ…”

“[S]ystematic training up of saints…”? I don’t think that this “church” knows the definition of either “saints” or ‘sainthood’ – nor that of “love” or “compassion”, for that matter. None of those words has ever had anything to do with physically beating anyone to death. I think that Word of Life Christian Church, with fewer than 10,000 members, has some serious delusions of grandeur issues. Hopefully, a thorough investigation into last week’s horrifying beatings will help shine a light on this particular cult of mutant hominids that call themselves “Christians.”

Oh, just to be “fair and balanced,” here’s the Fox News website’s write-up on the beatings. You’ll have to read it for yourselves. Surprisingly – or not, perhaps – it’s almost as poorly written and content-free as the Word of Life “Christian” Church’s “Mission.”

This is our daily Open Thread – “I Report, You Decide Discuss.”

70 thoughts on “The Watering Hole, Monday, October 19th, 2015: Word of Life Christian Church of Death

  1. Fundamentalist religious sects, be they Christian, Islamic, Jewish, or ‘other’, remain one of the best early indicators that each and every specified ‘god’ is clearly nothing more than a human-created myth, the purpose of which is to offer the means of power and control to whomever wants to pretend it. The fact that hate, fear, and brutality are invariably the drivers of zealots everywhere serves as icing on said god-cake(s) — also as proof positive that humans have, indeed (H/T M. Twain), ‘descended from the HIGHER animals.’

  2. What’s the difference between a gang and a church?

    No, this isn’t a joke awaiting a punchline.
    I’m serious. What’s the difference between a gang and a church.
    Neither of them pay taxes.

  3. People wonder how atheists know right from wrong without a belief in a gawd.
    How the hell can these xtians justify murder under the hand of gawd?

    • They like to point to God’s Covenant with Noah (notice they have to go back to the OT for this one) where God told him that whoever takes the life of another shall have his life taken. I am unaware of any NT message saying the same thing, but that doesn’t mean one doesn’t exist somewhere.

      • Problem is, “God” never “told” anyone anything. Whenever the sole source for a given thesis is the bible, it means nothing at all. Might as well quote a James Michener novel — at least he existed and wrote the stuff.

        I jumped off the religious bandwagon in my early teens, so I’ve reached roughly sixty years of bafflement on the matter, esp. considering that no matter how many times I’ve asked someone — ANYone — to “PROVE” a religious thesis, I always and invariably get nothing. Zip, Zero, Zilch. Makes me think that maybe there ain’t nuttin’ out there to git. Sotospeak.

    • That might be the most disgusting and frightening thing about religious extremists. Almost all say something like “if I didn’t believe in God I would lie, cheat, steal, rape, kill, etc.” so what’s to keep atheists from doing all that bad stuff? Personally? I have no desire to do that stuff and being an atheist never even enters into it. I actually live by the maxim that kindness is it’s own reward and have never seen any reason to change. I also think they could take a page from Gomer Pyle’s maxim which, IIRC, goes something like…

      “If you treat me nice, I’ll treat you nice. If you treat me bad, I’ll ignore you”.

      • Referee Craig Joubert’s controversial decision to award a penalty to Australia in the dying stages of yesterday’s World Cup quarter-final against Scotland has been ruled incorrect by the World Rugby match official selection committee.

        The selection committee confirmed overnight that Joubert was wrong to penalise Scotland’s Jon Welsh for offside in the 78th minute of the Twickenham clash, after he had played the ball following a knock-on by a team-mate, and a scrum would have been the correct decision.

        Joubert should have awarded a scrum feed to Australia instead of granting Wallabies five-eighth Bernard Foley the opportunity to kick a match-winning penalty goal.

    • Yup it was a horrible error. It decided the game – along with another error he made earlier when he sin binned a Scot harshly and ignored a dreadful late hit on a kicker just 1 min before the end ….. This error gave the Australians a chance to kick 3 points and win the game in the last seconds, when he should not have.

      Now, you could say ‘honest mistake, he calls what he sees and maybe he didn’t see something’ and that is a fair call – he was not supposed to have to use the TMO – but he saw the play on the big screen replayed anyway.

      But then as soon as he blew the whistle to end the game – he ran off the field as fast as he could go, without shaking anyone’s hands – he knew he had fucked up.

    • World Rugby has reversed a precedent by saying so – per the law Joubert is the sole arbiter of the fact of the call ….if he did not see the reason why it was the wrong call, there’s nothing anyone can or should do.

      But the turd should have stayed on the pitch and shaken the players’ hands – that was despicable.

      • Sorry this was the 1 or 2 – not a repeat of the fake-Scot poser in blue paint

  4. Oh here comes another God-botherer…….

    “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen”

    – Jesus H Christ

    • I wonder if that was added to the bible because others saw christians praying in the open and thought ‘WTF are they doing?’

    • The sad part is that the school board is probably too afraid of someone not buying a game ticket to fire his ass. Indoctrinating the players in the religious beliefs of one individual? Meh!

    • Apparently I am, to the crowd, more Christ-like than has ever been my intent. Lucky none of ‘them’ are privy to my “prayers” after I close the door — I doubt they’d like me as much as that foosball coach.

    • Thanks! I needed the laugh and I got it.

      Gosh. Years ago someone posted the reviews to a wild game cookbook and everyone gave them grief for all the recipes starting with; “First. Kill a (blank)”. People were chiming in with stuff like… “First. Kill a dog but make sure it’s hot” and “first, kill a rice. One needs a sure eye and a special gun to kill a rice” but the one that really made me laugh was… “First, kill a dough and a nut. It doesn’t matter which one is killed first but the nut must be dead or he will scream when you throw him in the deep fryer”.

  5. Trumpy is a very strange man. He sounds like more of a sociopath when he’s trying to be nice than when he’s spitting venom at someone. Now we need Vegas to start taking bets whether the fainting woman was a plant used as a prop in an attempt to make Trumpy look like he has the barest shred of empathy and compassion.

    BTW. Wasn’t he quoted as saying that he likes the people who don’t get shot or sick or something? I started in on the beer a bit early tonight so I can’t seem to recall the specific quote.

  6. LMFAO! I don’t know who this guy is (or was?) but I stumbled upon this video and it’s awesome. The whole thing is like a GOP “apology”.

    NOTE: It’s also more than a bit like Bill Clinton’s “I did not have sex with that woman” too. I still like it.

  7. #BoycottStarWarsVII:
    The hashtag appeared Sunday night, encouraging viewers to avoid seeing “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” due to its “anti-white propaganda.” The film is set for release Dec. 18.

    Without a doubt, the most pointless boycott effort, ever.

    • This story might have been my biggest “WTF” of the day. They, apparently, have no great issue with an assortment of aliens, including a bipedal dog that can’t speak English and a little frog guy who can speak English in a very odd manner, but they freak the fuck out if there is a black guy in a Stormtrooper outfit.

      Wait a minute. They like Stormtoopers but they hate black guys. Did they ever notice that the prototype Stormtrooper was not entirely Caucasian?

  8. I’m late as ever, because parts of my life suck and the parts that don’t are time consuming. Just sort of wanted to comment on Ebb’s post about wondering how christians can wonder how atheists can develop a moral compass absent a belief in God. I realize my own christian beliefs are somewhat atypical, but I consider the desire to do what is good and just, regardless of how one develops that desire, which does seem to be universal across religions and cultures, to be the only evidence I can muster for the existence of something beyond ourselves. Define that spark and desire to weigh in on the side of good anyway you wish. I think Jesus stated it well, so I’m going with that. Neither my God, nor any moral code, nor the beauty and truth any of you find in our natural world and in each other, is advanced by the cruelty and ugliness displayed by the narrow-minded murderers Jane wrote about.

    • Well said, OIMF.

      (there are a few neighbors that find it very difficult to understand my moral compass is just that, and not guided by a higher power.
      A few times I’ve driven one of them to a Thursday bible study. She asked why I would do that.
      Scratched my head and said why wouldn’t I? You need a ride and I’m on my way out…)

      • We each do our little bit to advance what is good, kind, and just. That’s the best path, no matter how we come to it. I feel sad for people who can’t understand that.

    • I think that’s because you are a good person who happens to be a Christian. Unfortunately; the loudest “Christians” in this country at this time also happen to be, at best, sociopaths who are merely seeking an excuse for appalling behavior.

      And, just to be clear and correct any mistakes I have made while ranting about right-wing “Christians”, Christ’s teachings can provide a lot of good when they aren’t being hijacked by a bunch of hateful creeps to be used as a weapon. That’s why I refer to them as “Fundicidal Psychochristians” or just “Psychochristians”.

      I have a great deal of affection and respect for you, OIMF, and never want any of my contempt for them to be misdirected or misinterpreted.

      • I think it was Gore Vidal who first used the word “Christers” to describe those you call ‘Psychochristians.’ AFAIC, both words perfectly describe that all-too-familiar brand, the one “led” today by familiar creeps such as Robertson, pHuckabee, Santorum, Cruz, et al., each and all of whom bear zero resemblance to true Christians such as Pope Francis, OIMF, my (late) sainted mother, and millions more ‘good’ and ‘kind’ and ‘caring’ people who can be of any race, nationality, or religious belief (or non-belief).

        Note: I didn’t mention Republicans or Fascists. No need to include certain groups under the big umbrella

      • His unanswered riddle at the end are the key questions to ask:

        1. Is there any good, consequential moral act that a religious person may commit that an atheist cannot?
        2. Name one bad moral act that only an atheist can do?

        I think that was the riddle.

  9. In Canada, Stunning Rout by Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party

    Starting with a sweep of the Atlantic provinces, the Liberals capitalized on what many Canadians saw as Mr. Harper’s heavy-handed style, and the party went on to capture 184 of the 338 seats in the next House of Commons. The unexpected rout occurred 47 years after Mr. Trudeau’s father, Pierre Elliott Trudeau, first swept to power.


    The Conservatives were reduced to 99 seats from 159 in the last Parliament, according to preliminary results. The New Democratic Party, which had held second place and formed the official opposition, held on to only 44 seats after suffering substantial losses in Quebec to the Liberals.


    Turnout fell to as low as 58.8 percent in 2008 and was 61.1 percent in the last parliamentary elections, in 2011. The agency that supervises federal elections reported that 68.5 percent of the country’s 25.6 million voters cast ballots in this election.

    Clear majority! No coalition needed! Elections work the same in Canada as in the US. When turnout is high, Liberals win!

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