So what we have here is a mysterious CNN report that raises way more questions than it answers and, frankly, the kinds of questions that readers are able to raise about this story are making me frustrated. What am I talking about? Readers have sent me several copies of the URL for this one, so here's the top of the story:
A 5-year-old California boy, missing for two years after his parents lost custody and then allegedly abducted him, was found undernourished and weighing 38 pounds, Los Angeles County authorities said Tuesday.
The boy, tracked down Friday, was returned Saturday evening to the custody of his maternal grandparents in Rancho Palos Verdes, California, about 40 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, authorities said. The boy was undernourished and had other medical conditions, authorities said.
"He is beginning to adjust to living in a normal environment," Deputy U.S. Marshal David Dominguez said in a statement. Although doctors say the boy's recovery will take a while, he should thrive with the proper medical attention, Dominguez said.
So, why are GetReligion readers sending me URLs for this story? The assumption is that it contains a ghost.
Well, maybe it does or maybe it doesn't. Why might they think so?
His parents, Ausar Allah-El and Serenity Sol-El, are in custody in New Orleans on charges related to the alleged 2009 child abduction, with bail set at $100,000, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Captain Mike Parker said in a statement.
Do you, like me, have questions about whether these names have any relevance?
Then again, before answering yes or no on that, I would want to know the answer to another question: What are the names of the maternal grandparents? Are we, in effect, wrestling with another painful story in which a woman married into Islam and the extended family has been divided ever since? The boy, by the way, is named Shalomiel Sol-El.
So, can we quickly learn the names of the grandparents elsewhere? Apparently not. Surely not in the Los Angeles Times.
So is there a religion ghost or not? We don't know. There isn't enough information. That said, what are readers supposed to do with THIS part of the report?
The parents had lost custody of their son after Los Angeles County officials made "repeated attempts" to help the parents care for their son and found the boy suffering "from numerous medical conditions that could have been prevented with the proper care and medication," the statement said.
"His parents refused to provide the child with necessary medical appointments, dental exams, occupational therapists and ophthalmology appointments," the statement said.
Asked why the parents allegedly did this, Parker told CNN: "Apparently, they have some type of belief that affects what they feed him and what type of medical care that they will allow him to receive."
Say what? Did the reporter ask a follow-up question at that point? Meanwhile, does anyone know of any belief in any branch of Islam that would be connected to beliefs of this kind? I do not. I mean, Ramadan is one thing and everyone knows that is completely mainstream. The starvation of a child? Surely this has nothing to do with the content of Islam as a world religion. Right?
Hence the frustration. What are we dealing with? It's impossible to know. The bottom line is that we don't have enough information, which only makes many readers suspicious that certain questions were not asked or that the complex answers were not printed.
PHOTO: From the Center For Missing And Exploited Children