Some time back, I wrote an extended rant about a girl who was allowed to die of diabetes. Her parents believed that she was under some sort of “spiritual attack”, and therefore decided to cure her with prayer. I asked then why we allow such pernicious superstition to exist, especially given the general antipathy of religious fundamentalists toward the science and technology which makes our civilization possible. I’m still waiting for an answer.
The parents are now on trial for the murder of their daughter, which gives me a few shreds of hope for rational thought in this country.
American citizens are awash in a sea of information, all readily available through a variety of channels. Internet, television, radio, free public libraries, newspapers, and even word-of-mouth can (and do) convey enormous amounts of data on demand. With so much knowledge readily available, there is no excuse for allowing a child to die from an easily-preventable illness. Worse still, when told specifically that treatment is available for their daughter’s illness, the parents instead chose prayer. This sort of willful disregard of reality can have lethal consequences. In this case, a thirteen year old girl died from it.
If an adult chooses to believe that prayer is the only acceptable answer to illness, that’s his or her choice (so long as the illness would not endanger others). Children are a different story. We- as a society- have deemed children to be incapable of making informed decisions on such matters. We permit the parents great latitude in making choices on their children’s behalf, under the assumption that the parents will make such decisions with the child’s best interests in mind. Somebody please tell me how it could be in Madeline Neumann’s best interest to die at age thirteen?
Such willful stupdity in the face of objective reality is dangerous to everyone. What if one of these god-deluded ass-hats contracted TB? Would they go about their regular daily lives, exposing averyone with whom they come in contact in the smug belief that their imaginary friend will make it all better?
I believe in live and let live. You can believe in whatever you want, so long as your beliefs do not affect those around you. You can believe in the Invisible Pink Unicorn, God, Allah, Kali, Amaterasu, Flying Spaghetti Monster, Odin, Hercules, Perkunas, Quetzalcoatl, or the Giant Space Goat to your heart’s content … as long as you don’t try to make me believe the same thing. Believe what you want- even if you want to believe I am a heathen- so long as you grant everyone else the same privilege and do no harm.
That do no harm bit is most important. To the religious fundamentalist, what happens here on Earth is secondary to what happens after death. Any atrocity committed here can be forgiven if it was inspired by their imaginary friend. The Neumanns allowed their child to die because they believed their Angry Invisible Skyman and his Zombie Offspring would take care of her illness. Far too many religious apologists have said, “Madeline is in a better place, now.” Really? This stupid platitude is part of the wider problem- essentially buying into the delusions of the fundamentalists by rationalizing their murderous beliefs. She’s in a “better place”? I’m reasonably certain it would be better for Madeline Neumann if she were still alive.
Far too many atrocities and tragedies are allowed to occur as a result of pandering to the deluded religionists among us. Too many children are allowed to die from treatable illnesses because their parents buy into the idea that prayer can cure all ills.
Prayer is not an acceptable substitute for ability … or reality.
Current status: Peeved
Current music: Cygnus X1, Book II by Rush