Religion: Death at the Font

Russian newspapers give prominent play to horror stories about religion designed to equate the practice of Christianity with darkest superstition. The latest, timed for the Christmas season when many Russian infants are baptized, was the trial of Father Scherbatov for the murder of Vova Marchenko.

Vova Marchenko was three months old when his parents took him to the Church of St. Michael the Archangel in Magnitogorsk (pop. 284,000) to be baptized by immersion, as is the practice of the Russian Orthodox Church. When the Rev. Ivan Scherbatov lifted little Vova from the font, the baby was dead—"the victim of a senseless rite,"...