Religion is a topic many people feel strongly about, but Laura Reid, 49, of Louisville, Kentucky, took it too far when she allegedly assaulted and robbed a disabled man after he claimed he did not believe in God.
When police finally caught up with her two months later after the Oct. 20 incident, she was arrested by Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office deputies on Tuesday, Jan. 5, at the Hall of Justice. She was charged with second degree assault, second degree robbery, and first degree unlawful imprisonment. She has pleaded not guilty.
On Oct. 20, according to the arrest warrant, Reid was visiting the disabled man in his home and asked him whether or not he believed in God. The man said he was joking when he told her he did not, but Reid took it seriously, becoming enraged. According to the police, she picked up the man’s metal cane and beat him over his head and body. The blows came so fast and furious that the cane broke. The man was unable to escape from her because of his disability, and Reid stayed for three hours after the assault while the victim was unable to alert police.
When Reid finally left, she took the man’s keys, cell phone, and a wallet containing $50 cash and the victim’s credit cards. The victim was eventually able to crawl to a nearby gas station. Police were alerted, and the man was transported in an ambulance to St. Mary and Elizabeth Hospital. He was treated for multiple injuries including a concussion, a broken arm, cuts and abrasions, and multiple bruises.
Eventually, the victim was able to cancel his credit cards. The man knew Reid beforehand, so he was able to identify her, and a warrant was issued for her arrest, although the actual arrest didn’t take place for another two months.
Although religious freedom is an issue that’s been much in the news lately, we tend to hear less about people who are threatened, harassed or even hurt for not believing in God. But as another recent story has shown, self-proclaimed atheists can be at risk for discussing their lack of faith openly. People feel strongly about religion, and those who may be unstable to begin with may turn violent when their faith feels under attack.
In December, 39-year-old Anitra Braxton of Phoenix was arrested when she told police she shot and killed a woman for not believing in God.
Police found the woman’s body on Braxton’s couch, possibly pregnant, and covered with a towel. Braxton initially told officers she lived alone, but when they investigated, they found the body on the sofa, which had been there for two or three days. The victim’s identity is unknown.
Braxton told police her victim had been made into a “shrine from God” and that she had shot the victim in the eye because she said she didn’t believe “in her God.”
Braxton is being held in the Maricopa County Jail on $750,000 bond and has been charged with first-degree murder.
Those who claim to want religious freedom should remember that religious freedom applies to each and every one of us, and that includes people who want freedom from religion. It’s our job to ensure that all people, no matter what their beliefs, are allowed to express them without fear of violent retaliation.