Wednesday, July 29, 2009

This Isn't Religion

It may be narcissism. It may be mental illness. But this is not religion:
A central Wisconsin father charged with reckless homicide for not taking his dying daughter to a doctor told police that he believed God would heal her and that he thought she was simply sleeping when she became unconscious.

* * *

The family does not belong to an organized religion, and Neumann's wife, Leilani Neumann, testified Tuesday that she and her husband have nothing against doctors. But, she said, she viewed Madeline's illness as "something spiritual."
I'm not particularly impressed by people who let their children die in the name of an organized religion, either, but how do you defend it when what you call your "religion" is pretty much something you make up as you go along?


  1. . . .as opposed to something equally stupid that was "made up" at some point in the past?

    Sacraficing your child to your "belief's" is inexcusable.

    The whole "power of prayer" crowd is just as out of touch with reality as the "alternative medicine" crowd. Somehow that whole, let's go pray/poke it with pins/take herbal supplement crowd always manages to change their tune about the time that they suffer a compound fracture . . . which might be what it takes to make old Neumann see the light.


  2. What do orthopedic surgeons do to fix a compound fracture, if not poke it with pins? ;-)

    More seriously, acupuncture, massage, (dare I say) chiropractic, and similar treatments can offer significant palliative relief. Admittedly, none will cure a compound fracture. For that, you need to take three bee pollen tablets and a ginkgo biloba, then rub the skin with tea tree oil. (Sorry.)

    Even in terms of prayer, I expect that for some people, knowing that others are praying for them could bring some peace of mind - I'm fine with that, as long as nobody's charging them for the service, even though I don't believe it will improve their medical prognosis.

    Okay, finally getting around to the substantive point. We have this "First Amendment" thing that limits state interference with religion. I'm wary of the extension of that to some of the individual nuttiness that falls under the umbrella of "sincerely held religious belief" - belief that doesn't have to fall within the parameters of any organized religion or be shared by even one other person. Yet we offer significant protections even in that context under the First Amendment.

    But I'm not even willing to call that next step, where your "religion" becomes whatever you feel God wants you to do at any particular moment, "sincerely held". Even if you sincerely believe that you are, in effect, God's vessel on earth, and thus that everything you do is somehow blessed by God, that "held" word should mean something - we should not sanction flights of fancy as "religion".

  3. It's like that joke that ends in the punchline "So God said, what do you want? I sent two boats, the Coast Guard and a helicopter."

    Btw, tea tree oil is indeed a topical antiseptic. I sure as hell wouldn't substitute it for antibiotics, mind.


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