Death from Faith

October 15, 2009

We of the evidence-based community are well aware of the diversity of religious belief out there, but sometimes the contrary positions within even a single religion are mind-boggling.

Take God’s position on health and well-being for instance. Does he heal us, or should we figure out how to heal ourselves?

Last week, Dale and Leilani Neumann were sentenced to light jail time for 2nd degree reckless homicide in the death of their 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara. When the child became ill a year and a half ago and could no longer walk or talk, mom and dad prayed over her instead of seeking medical help. Madeline died from a treatable form of diabetes.

Just for discussion sake, let’s give these folks the benefit of doubt and interpret their actions as stemming from unadulterated ignorance rather than utter cruelty. It’s quite possible they genuinely believed that their entreaties to God would cure the girl. Maybe they now believe that God let the kid die because she was not worthy or pious enough in his eyes. There are some Christians out there like Christian Scientists who think health and piety are closely related.

But what makes that story even sadder is that many (most?) of their fellow Christians would find their end of the belief spectrum unpalatable.

Another recent story confirms this.

Lately, several flavors of Christianity have modified their Sunday services to guard against the spread of swine flu by sanitizing the chalices congregants drink from, by foregoing hand-shaking during the mass, and with other simple health measures most doctors would approve.

So... on one side you have Christians so concerned about the spread of a mild flu that they - using scientific knowledge about how disease spreads - change their very rites because they believe the lord won’t even protect them in church...

And on the other side, you have a couple who let their daughter die in front of them because they were so sure that God will heal her of a deadly disease.

It seems like the health-conscious Christians are closer to us evidence-based folks than they are to their faith-based brethren. They are, after all, acting prudently in the face of indisputable facts.

Mind-blowing, isn’t it?

Now if they could just go a little further and cancel church altogether...


#1 Personal Failure (Guest) on Thursday October 15, 2009 at 9:22am

They should cancel church anyway. With swine flu (American flu, as it’s called abroad), you’re better off shaking hands than breathing the air around an infected person. All the chalice cleaning in the world won’t help if there’s an infected person sneezing and hacking up a lung during services.

And people absolutely do show up to church that sick.

#2 J. (Guest) on Thursday October 15, 2009 at 9:33am

I prefer that people infected with swine flu attend church instead of CFI events.

#3 gray1 on Thursday October 15, 2009 at 11:35am

That one is soooo mean spirited.  But perhaps at some point as news of such treatable illnesses resulting in deaths get out some ignorant and misled people will come to their senses and start throwing rocks at certain “preachers” who are sooooo stupid or else just dont’ really give a rat’s anus about even their own.

You could rationalize futher and just say that the little girl is now better off, one way or another.

#4 Damien on Thursday October 15, 2009 at 12:16pm

Queston, is believeing that pray would save their child any less rational then beliveing that they had the free will to choose their course of action?

#5 Damien on Thursday October 15, 2009 at 12:20pm

Sorry for my terrible spelling.  See prayer for pray in my above post.

#6 Pau (Guest) on Sunday October 18, 2009 at 5:33am

“Maybe they now believe that God let the kid die because she was not worthy or pious enough in his eyes.” And yet they keep in adoring this god. A god of infinite justice, kindness and what not, that kills a child because the child doesn’t revere it enough?. I would call such being a devil.
Pau Cortes

#7 born catholic (Guest) on Thursday October 22, 2009 at 5:51am

My dear naive atheists,
any stupid excuse will do if it helps the faithheads get rid of one of their born unwanted´s.

The churches are trying not to loose too many members - not to the graveyard and not because of fear to cath something - so they advise at least a bit which makes sense.

But in their families there is no reason enough to counter the emotion of “You spoiled my life!” towards the child, not the male who did not use condoms, and of course not towards the priest and church.
I created a scandal by simply SAYING that I did never want children, and then leaving first the church and after graduation the small town.

I, the childless, am still something like “devil´s grandmother” for NOT being a grandmother in churchy circles, even in big cities.

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