Parents Relying on Religion to Heal Sick Children
What should be done when parents rely on religion instead of medicine
to heal sick children?
The distortions of religion in human affairs are well known. Throughout history Jews, women, homosexuals, left-handed people and mentally people have been regularly victimized in the name of religion. These acts have been justified by appeals to such destructive authority claims as biblical inerrancy and papal infallibility. Children have also been abused in a variety of ways by both religious leaders and religious people. The peculiar abuse, to which this question refers, of withholding medical treatment on the part of pious, but misinformed people, is simply one more tragic chapter in the dark side of religious history.
Yes, of course the act of withholding life saving help from a child by "religious" parents is criminal behavior and as such it should be reported to and prosecuted by the state. That will not be easy since parental responsibility is such a deeply private right and the documentation of such behavior is not easy to obtain or subject to objective review. When, however, health care professionals become aware of children who have had their medical treatment compromised by the deliberate act of a parental interference, that behavior should be reported immediately to the authorities for a thorough investigation. The state already has the right to remove from the care of their parents those children deemed to be at risk in that environment. I also think that family members, like grandparents for example, ought to have the right to sue the religious leader personally or the religious institution corporately if either is guilty of encouraging destructive parenting that results in mental or physical harm. Abuse will stop only when it becomes too expensive to encourage.
John Shelby Spong
June 1, 2009; 2:58 PM ET
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Posted by: rubdel | June 3, 2009 9:35 AM
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