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Some measure of justice has finally reached Jessie Misskelley, Jr., Damien Echols and Jason Baldwin, the three men who were convicted of the 1993 murders (the “Robin Hood Hills Murders”) of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. During a time in which Southern Baptists, members of the Churches of Christ, Pentecostals, and other Evangelical bodies tilted toward Fundamentalism were in a hysteria about “Satanic cults” and “Satanic ritual abuse,” these men were convicted on a paucity of evidence. Recent DNA evidence showed no link between the West Memphis Three and evidence found at the scene. If the men had not made the Alford Plea, which means that they plead guilty from a legal standpoint but did not admit guilt, they would have almost certainly received a new trial. But given what they had already been through with ignorant Fundamentalist juries and prosecutors taking advantage of the almost pathological fascination some Fundamentalists have with Satanic activity (even though there is no evidence of any widespread Satanic activity and virtually none of ritual abuse), they took the safe route in order to be released and continue trying to clear their names. Mr. Echols practiced Wicca, and although as an orthodox Anglican Catholic I sharply disagree with the tenants of Wicca, it is a pantheistic nature religion that has nothing to do with Satanism. But some Fundamentalists seem to be unable to make these distinctions, as evidenced by their ignorant statements about the “evils’ of the Harry Potter series of books and movies. Such attitudes would be a sideshow if they did not lead to false convictions in actual legal cases such as the Robin Hood Hills murder case. The sad thing is that whoever actually committed the murders will most likely never be identified. This case should be a lesson about the dangers of extremists in any religion, including extremists in Christianity–traditional Christians get enough flack without being associated with ignorant fearmongers. I wish Mr. Echols, Mr. Baldwin, and Mr. Misskelley well and hope they succeed in finally clearing their names.

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