A Christian/Legal Response to Children Who Die or Are Seriously Harmed Due to “Faith Healing”

Not a day passes over the earth but men and women of no note do great deeds, speak great words, and suffer noble sorrows. -Charles Reade  LINK


courtesy of NASA

Sunset over the Sahara-Courtesy of NASA



Approximately 6 weeks before my daughter’s diagnosis, I randomly (or not…) picked up a book called Disappointment With God by Philip Yancey. Here is a LINK to the book on Amazon. I believe God was preparing my heart for what was to come. Through the book, I came to realize that our faith in God is not dependent on miracles. Look at the Israelites. God performed miracle after miracle and they would marvel at His power. However, within short order, they were back in the golden calf idol market. The miracles did not change their internal lives in any significant fashion. The reason is that man was desperately sick with another problem known as sin. And a miracle was needed to cure that predicament.


And a miracle came in the form of Jesus. However, some were none too pleased when He broached the problem of sin. In Luke 5:17-26, NIV Bible Gateway LINK

"17 One day Jesus was teaching, and Pharisees and teachers of the law were sitting there. They had come from every village of Galilee and from Judea and Jerusalem. And the power of the Lord was with Jesus to heal the sick. 18 Some men came carrying a paralyzed man on a mat and tried to take him into the house to lay him before Jesus. 19 When they could not find a way to do this because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and lowered him on his mat through the tiles into the middle of the crowd, right in front of Jesus.
20 When Jesus saw their faith, he said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven.”
21 The Pharisees and the teachers of the law began thinking to themselves, “Who is this fellow who speaks blasphemy? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”
22 Jesus knew what they were thinking and asked, “Why are you thinking these things in your hearts? 23 Which is easier: to say, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up and walk’? 24 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the paralyzed man, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 25 Immediately he stood up in front of them, took what he had been lying on and went home praising God. 26 Everyone was amazed and gave praise to God. They were filled with awe and said, “We have seen remarkable things today.”


In this passage, what did Jesus do first? He forgives the paralytic man’s sins. Why? Because that was the root of all the problems of men. Yet, it doesn’t seem as if the people present were in the mood for such a miracle.


What did the man and his friends want? They wanted him up and walking.


What did the crowd take away? They saw something "remarkable." One would assume they meant the lame man walking. One does not "see" sins being forgiven.


The Pharisees were incensed because they knew Jesus was saying something that indicated He was far more than a normal preacher and that was blasphemy.


So, to prove that He was able to forgive sins, He healed the man. But curing the man's disability was NOT His first priority. For example, Paul’s Epistles rarely mention Jesus’ miracles. Instead he focuses on the Cross and our need for grace and forgiveness.


Allow me to interject something into this narrative. I think the majority of people were excited when Jesus helped the lame man to walk and totally blew off the “forgiveness of sins” deal.
Jesus healed the lame man but, in a few short years, this man would die and cease to walk, once again. Yet, with his sins forgiven He would dwell in the House of the Lord forever, permanently and utterly healed. The people didn’t get it.


And I am afraid that many people today don’t get it. They want to focus on the temporary, physical healing. My daughter is healed, for now. But, unless the Lord comes soon, she will die. We all have a terminal illness and it is called sin. But, praise God, there is a cure in the sacrifice of Jesus and through Him we have eternal life. But, for many, that is just a ho-hum expectation.

After reading Yancy’s book I remember vowing that I would never need to have a miracle performed for me to believe. I would always, instead, focus on the miracle of forgiveness of sins. Little did I know how that vow would be tested in the days and years to come. However, I did learn this. Thinking through the difficult issue of miracles ahead of time helped me enormously. I did not spend my time spinning my wheels, looking for a guaranteed miracle from God. Instead, I fell into His arms and trusted Him through my tears and pain. I didn’t pray by using some magic formula that was "guaranteed" to make God do my bidding. I didn’t even dare to believe that my daughter would be cured. I chose, instead, to focus on the Cross and the promise that, one day, I would see my daughter for eternity.

Yet, today, it seems as if some people are chasing after a Jesus who will guarantee them health and wealth. And this is perpetrated by a cadre of charlatans who profit by preying on desperate people. Jesus has been reduced to a sugar daddy who takes care of all of our problems if we give some money to a faith healer. The vast majority of people, including Christians, want good health along with a fancy car and a vacation in the Seychelles and THAT is what it is all about. Oh yeah, we like the eternity stuff but time's a wastin’.

And so we read of people who have allowed their sons and daughters to die of treatable illnesses, such as diabetes, because they have been taught to believe in a God that dispenses cures when we say the right prayer and pay the right amount. And we are left dealing in the aftermath of these preventable tragedies.

So what is the Christian response to both current laws and proposed changes to the laws which govern such matters?

Here is new Oregon law, posted for discussion, by Christianity Today,May 2011.


“Prompted by the deaths of two children in the last two years whose parents relied on faith healing measures rather than medical intervention, the Oregon House unanimously approved a bill that removes legal protection from homicide charges for parents who choose faith healing rather than medical care for their children.”

Their online discussion, LINK, added

“Previously, Oregon parents choosing faith healing were protected from some homicide charges.”


Here are some excerpts of the responses. I did not include their full responses and urge the reader to visit the site to read their full arguments.

Some responders expressed that government intervention was necessary but were quite concerned that the government could overstep its boundaries.

(Speaking of the need for some government intervention) "But that's a scary and slippery slope, because you don't know where that ends. …we have a bizarre paradox: the government says we won't protect the parents believing for the healing of the child when it dies, but we will protect the mother who kills the unborn deliberately."

Mark Rutland, president, Oral Roberts University


One expressed concern that antireligious zealots might misuse such laws.

"These laws could be used as a club by anti-religious zealots and be open to misinterpretation. What if parents prayed for healing and didn't realize the child was seriously ill and needed immediate medical attention? How will delay in medical treatment due to the parents' faith or prayers be interpreted? It is wiser to deal with these issues on a case-by-case basis versus a blanket law that could be over-interpreted to the detriment of religious freedom."

David Stevens, MD, CEO, Christian Medical and Dental Association

One believed that some religious behavior should be not be protected by the law.

“Part of what it means to respect religious freedom is to avoid imposing such burdens and to make such accommodations. That said, it is the business of the civil law to protect the vulnerable and to promote the common good, and so not all religiously motivated conduct can be tolerated or protected."
Richard W. Garnett, professor, Notre Dame Law School

Another believed that possible punishment of the law might motivate some parents to seek help.

“It is sad to prosecute parents who have already endured the agony of losing a child, but perhaps the threat of prosecution will cause parents to seek medical care in the first place. Some states require not that parents with a seriously ill child seek medical care directly, but that they notify authorities so that the authorities can intervene."
Thomas C. Berg, professor, University of St. Thomas School of Law (Minn.)


One pointed out the difference between the rights of children and adults.

"I defend the right of adults to forego standard therapy for themselves, whether based on their faith or personal values. I am very reluctant, however, to do so when an adult chooses this path for someone else, particularly a child, if the probable result will be death or disability."
Robert Orr, M.D.

Another expressed that a child’s right to life trumps religious freedom.

"Everyone has the right to faith healing for themselves—as a matter of basic privacy as well as religious freedom. But in a case of serious illness, a child's right to life trumps a parent's right to religion. Faith healing should complement, not compete with, proper medical care."
John Witte, Jr., professor, Emory Law School

One thinks that current laws suffice.

"A faith exemption involves lawmakers in saying when a religion is okay and when it's not, and that's the kind of judgment we don't want legislators making. We should stick to classic, common-law definitions of homicide, including defenses, and leave it to juries to decide."
David Wagner, professor, Regent University School of Law


So, where do I stand on this issue. I am perplexed that some people do not see that scientific breakthroughs are part of God’s plan. Years ago, I watched a drama on PBS that revolved around the invention of insulin. There was a young teenage diabetic girl who was days away form dying. Her mother convinced the researcher to try his new medicine (insulin) on her daughter. Within hours the daughter dramatically improved and she was able to leave her dying bed. To this mother, the insulin was a miracle because her daughter was almost dead and now she was alive. This young girl went on to live a long and fruitful life. Yet, somehow, people are taught that this is to be avoided because it means we are not trusting in God?


On the same Christianity Today blog, I read the following comment, which nailed it.

“Mark E.     May 12, 2011 8:55am

"I am reminded of the old story about a man being caught in a flood. He gets on the roof of his house as the waters rise. A boat comes by and offers to rescue him. He says, "No thanks, God will rescue me." Another boat comes by and the same thing happens. Finally as the water is almost up to his feet, a helicopter drops a ladder to him. Again he refuses saying God will save him. Of course, he dies in the flood. When he gets to heaven he asks God why he didn't rescue him. God replies, "What more did you want, I sent you two boats and a helicopter!" God brings healing about in MANY ways, most of which are not traditionally miraculous.”


I am most interested in hearing the opinions of our readers. What do you all think the law should do when a parent refuses medical treatment for a curable condition and the child dies?


Lydia's Corner: Judges 15:1-16:31 John 2:1-25 Psalm 103:1-22 Proverbs 14:17-19



A Christian/Legal Response to Children Who Die or Are Seriously Harmed Due to “Faith Healing” — 51 Comments

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    I think this is an area where it is hard to draw the line legally. I have absolutely no problem with prosecutors going after parents who refuse to provide their children treatment for treatable illnesses (i.e. the parents who deny their diabetic child insulin and she dies). Likewise, I absolutely would not want to see parents in hard situations such as the one Dee detailed in the previous entry come under legal scrutiny. Punishing someone for trying to make the best decision from an array of untried and problematic options makes no sense.

    I can see where it is hard to draw the line between intruding on someone’s deeply held religious beliefs are caring for children and requiring medical treatment that may or may not help, though. For instance, I recall a case where a teenage boy had a cancer that had a 95% survival rate with treatment, but the father refused the chemotherapy and relied upon prayer only. The boy died, and if I remember correctly, the father went to jail. In another recent situation near a good friend of mine, a child had a rare and fast-growing cancer for which there were only experimental therapies. The parents’ decision to rely on faith-healing drew some debate, but since the cancer had a very low survival rate and the experimental therapy had very drastic side effects, both social services and the legal authorities stated they would not intervene. Those cases both fall on either end of the spectrum, but I have to admit that I wrestle with where along the line I would stop saying parents are negligent and simply allow that they are making the best decision they can in a bad situation.

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    Withholding standard medical treatment when a child needs it is at least neglect and I believe it to be abuse. Thus, the standard legal treatment for parents who abuse their children should attain, and if the child is disabled or dies as a result, the standard legal penalties should apply.

    I deal with situations in which children have been abused. A recent one involves a mom who, with 5 weeks to the projected delivery date, consumed a very small amount of cocaine at a friends birthday party. The baby was born less than a week later with cocaine in its stool in an amount barely above detection. The standard result is that the child is taken by CPS and, depending on a variety of factors, may be permanently placed with another family, or placed with the non-drug consuming parent with constraints on the consuming parent.

    Why should be treat the denial of medical treatment any differently?

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    Why should we treat the denial of medical treatment any differently?

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    Thank you for weighing in. I agree with you wholeheartedly. I am truly flummoxed by the number of people who turn down standard medical care for their children. I believe that many of them have been taught poorly on their churches and I lay that at the feet of pastors who do not roundly and frequently condemn the Benny Hinns of this world.

    I also believe that other people are so distraught at the devastating illness and scared of al the tubes and lines in hospitals that they run. That is when a good hospital counselor/chaplin needs to intervene.

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    Here is why our decision is very different than many who refuse standard treatment. We had two members of the tumor board who agreed with our decision. One was the chief neurosurgeon and the other was a chief neurologist.

    Secondly, we were able to demonstrate why our decision was logical. I still remember meeting with my daughter’s pediatrician who was very upset because she had received a call from one of the radiologists who wanted her to talk some sense into me. I grabbed her pen and sketched, on the paper that covered an examining table, where the residual tumor was located and convinced her that a third surgery was worth the attempt, if the tumor started growing. More on that tomorrow. By showing her our thinking, she calmed down and said she hadn’t been aware of the details I pointed out and she became our advocate.

    Many parents do not understand that doctors disagree with one another all of the time. We were blessed because my husband is a doctor and I am a nurse. We understand the system and that fights are typical amongst dedicated medical people. They all want the same thing-the healing of a child. How they get there is sometimes messy. It is often left to parents to navigate through the divergent opinions and it is very, very difficult.

    Unfortunately, few people who are faced with this situation have our background. That is why I decided to share our story so others will understand the “between a rock and a hard place” decisions that face parents.

    One other factor that was unusual in our situation was the assumption, at that time, that radiation therapy is the treatment of choice for all brain tumors. It is usual but we believed that it should be a last resort in young children. Her tumor, at that time, was rare and we questioned why a boiler plate response should be applied to this situation. In the end, we were proved correct, but I still suffer from stomach problems due to the stress.

    However, our decision helped doctors. Just before we moved away, I was seated next to one of the new medical directors at a fundraiser. He told me he had heard about our situation and congratulated me on our decision. He told me that doctors were now a bit more reticent in automatic responses in similar situations.

    Once we had some of the influential doctors on board, they became our greatest advocates. I still remember one neurosurgeon actively intervening when a radiologist visited us during a clinic appointment.(Each clinic visit we had to see all of the team even if they were not currently involved in the case-like the oncology/chemo folks). As the radiologist,once again, advocated for therapy, the neurosurgeon said that he disagreed and that he felt the conversation should stop.

    I believe that evangelicals should get together and form a group of caring individuals made up of doctors, nurses, social workers, lawyers, pastors and counselors, who could be called in when difficult cases involving Christians arise. However, since many evangelicals can’t gather around the same communion table, I doubt such a group could form.

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    How would that group of “Christian” specialists differ from the normal group of specialists that counsel parents? Do you presume that they would, because of their religious beliefs, be more likely to offer a medical consensus as opposed to non-Christian specialists? Would the Christian specialists have some special “God-given” insight into the proper course of treatment or perhaps you feel that they would be more “concerned” for the life of the child than those who do not share the same religious beliefs?

    What is it exactly that you think the evangelical group could provide, medically speaking, that the currently available groups do not.

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    I may have been a little unclear in my intent. I meant to propose that such a group could be convened in order to intervene in the case of an evangelical family who had been misled by some of the charlatan faith healers out there. People in such a group could be trained to help walk a family through the Biblical basis for accepting help. I think they might be more willing to trust a preacher type than what they may perceive to be godless” health care professionals. My hope is to prevent, in any possible, the death of a child.

    In my own situation, there was no need for such a group. I only want the best doctors and don’t really care if they are Christian or not.

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    I think that such a group would be very useful in working with the parents who believe that their child should not have any medical intervention but should be healed by prayer and faith. Those who have an ongoing faith, who will pray with such parents but explain that they are involved in medicine because of their faith, and believe that medical care is appropriate, may be better able to move the parents to approving standard medical care for their child.

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    I see what you mean now, thanks for clarifying for me.

    I would disagree with Arce, I believe that people who are members of churches like those in question, and who are putting their children in harms way as a result of those teachings are very unlikely to be swayed either by an unbeliever or by a group of evangelical medical professionals.

    My guess is that members of that group would be viewed by the parents as apostates, heretics or at best well meaning brothers and sisters who were being manipulated by Satan in order to get the parents to “give up” on their faith in God and this is exactly what they’d be hearing from their fellow members and pastors, to be “on guard” and not let Satan deceive them by listening to those who would deny God’s promise and power.

    They might even take the attempt to show them the “biblical basis for medical help” as evidence that their inclination to just trust God was correct…why else would Satan be trying so hard to get them to change their minds.

    Christians can justify almost anything in the name of faith, relying on sound reasoning or rational thought is, especially in times of crisis and stress, not likely to be fruitful. Trust me I have some experience in this… 🙂

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    Laws to protect children need to work in faith healing cases too. BUT the laws should not have the word religion in them. That can be used against believers, as David Stevens points out.

    I believe such parents should be prosecutable under the normal laws for child abuse and neglect. That already happens, sometimes.

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    I am going to disagree with you.However, I may be wrong. Having been through the trauma of having a deathly ill child, I can testify that most people are desperate enough to listen IF the subject is broached with a modicum of sensitivity. Even the parents of the teen boy that I mentioned did acquiesce to chemotherapy and other medical interventions when the hoped for miracle did not seem to be forthcoming.

    My husband and I have just been asked to serve on the local board of CMDS and I plan to raise this idea and get some feedback.

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    My husband and I have been members of CHristian Medical Dental Society for over 30 years. David Stevens is the head of that group. I plan to discuss this issue with him and see if there is a way that the group might approach helping in these situations.

    BTW, I agree that religion should not be written into the law. I know some “holistic” types who use highly questionable therapies to “cure” cancer.This is not just religious based.

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    I will follow through with CMDS this coming year. I’ll keep you posted.

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    To all
    I keep using CMDS(Christian Medical Dental Society) when I should use CMDA (Christian Medical Dental Association.) My husband and I have been members for so long that we joined when it was CMS(Christian Medical Society.) Old habits die hard. Sorry.

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    I’d be interested in hearing the response and I wish you luck with the endeavor. I think that the truly “hard-core” believer’s of those sects will never waiver, but I too could be wrong.

    As you pointed out, the parents of the teen boy did acquiesce AFTER the miracle was not apparently forthcoming…and that’s one of the problems. As you know, in medicine, timing is everything.

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    Dee, I think your idea has a great deal of merit, especially given the contacts you have in CMDA.

    I wonder, though… are there provisions for groups (or even individuals) to do counseling and/or some kind of intervention in cases where the parents are from another kind of religious group, or none at all? (ikwym about some “holistic” stuff being very strange, though i have seen that with adults, not kids – and never in a clinical situation, as I am not a medical professional. I actually think “holistic” is probably not the best word to sue, but it’s the only one i can think of at the moment.)

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    So, back to an older question which is still open.

    Christians want to “challenge” a parents faith in God (or their belief of how God works) when a child’s life is on the line, presumably out of love for the child. Yet the same people (in general) believe that when an infant dies, they go directly to heaven, yet if they live to adulthood, the vast majority of those same children will NOT end up in heaven, but in another, far less enjoyable place for all eternity.

    So we end up with people (evangelicals), who believe in heaven for infants who die and also believe that most who reach adulthood will NOT end up in heaven, trying to convince people who want to rely completely on God for healing to supplement their faith with medicine, for the welfare of a child, who, if it grows into adulthood will likely end up in hell. All for the benefit of the child.

    Hmmmm 🙁

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    I think there is a danger in this law in that if any parent takes a path not sanctioned one way or the other by a medical boards and admits it had anything at all to do with faith, then they could be prosecuted if the child dies. That is, if a the folks interpreting the law are biased negatively toward faith, then it opens the door for people of faith the be targeted specifically. Primarily because the ‘correct’ course of action is in many cases be poorly defined, or even impossible to define. It becomes essentially an decision based more on personal values than any objective criteria.

    As in your case Dee. Had you not been able to get the approval of your medical board, in the absence of this kind of a law you could prayerfully and with knowledge chose that a few good years with your child being fully aware of her life was better than 50 years with seriously impaired mental faculties. And in general, I think that situations like this (rock and a hard place decisions) need to still be at least to some extent legally in the hands of the parents.

    For example, as it last stood at my youngest child’s birth, vitamin K injections for infants still need parental approval because, even though in most cases this helps protect a child, in a small number of cases it can have the opposite effect. Which risk to take often falls to the parent to decide, even when it is fairly clear cut what the ‘best’ decision is. Yet many cancer treatments barely would pass a test for ‘fair’ in a gambling casino. In such situations there often is no right answer, and the fact a person relies on faith to try to parse that kind of case should have no bearing whatsoever on the legality of the parent’s decision. It seems to me that if whether or not to give a vitamin K injection is in the parents rights to refuse, then certainly highly dangerous and risky cancer treatments should also be up to the parent – and whether it’s based on faith in God or gods, or faith in ‘natural foods’ should have NOTHING to do with the legality of that decision.

    The only times such a law should exist/apply is when there is essentially no reasonable doubt that normal medical treatment will restore the child to health, and a lack of medical treatment will result in irreparable harm to the child or death.

    Both apply. Consider the opposite scenario. A parent who does not take their child to a doctor for treatment of a normally insignificant illness that suddenly, for unknown reasons, blooms into a fatal infection? What then? What if the parent says they prayed about whether to take the child to the doctor or wait till morning? Are they then now under the gun, whereas if they’d just kept their mouth shut and said ‘she was fine when we put her to bed’ there would be no issue?


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    You are a funny person.

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    I think that the people who brainwashed them into this action are likewise liable and should be prosecuted.

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    I think the goal is to remove a religious exception in the law not to put religion into the law. As an ardent separationist, I would applaud any movement to remove religious references from the law.

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    Dee – As I mentioned in my first comment, I definitely saw your situation as different from that of the parents who refuse standard treatment (insulin for diabetes, antibiotics for strep, etc…). In situations like that, where even the medical team disagrees, the parents probably don’t have very clear choices. For the cases involving standard treatment, though, I think your idea of a team approach could be very helpful. I’ve done some work with a hospital near me and I know they’ve relied on some of the chaplains to pray with and engage families about withholding treatment. That’s another idea that I could see possibly being helpful.

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    I appreciate the compliment (at least that’s how I took it), but the question is a serious one. It goes to the lack of logical consistency in the belief system. People act according to their actual beliefs not necessarily their stated beliefs…in more common parlance..”actions speak louder than words”. The question challenges what people say they believe against what the truly believe based on their actions. Unfortunately most people dismiss the observation out of hand, because they don’t want to think about the implications.

    Such is the world we live in…

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    Karlton, Joey:

    There is significant research and theory in social psychology that indicates that people develop or amend their beliefs to align with their behavior. That is, if you can get someone to behave in a particular way that appears to them after the fact to be contradictory to prior beliefs, they will do one of two things: change their beliefs or change their understanding of what their behavior was. Too much of the latter results in a disconnection from reality, BTW. If you can get people to behave in a generous way, they tend to believe that they are generous, which then results in future tendency to be generous, even if they did not have that belief before. We use behavior, both others and ours, to attribute motive and personality traits, to others and our selves. Ditto with beliefs.

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    Do you really think that ALL Christians are inconsistent and illogical? Don’t you think that is a bit condescending?

    Frankly, some of the greatest minds in history were also those who believed in God. And don’t go giving me the classic rejoinder that some geniuses were atheists. I agree. In other words, there are great minds on both sides.But one side does not have the lock on “smart people.”

    For those of us on the side of the faith, it makes sense. For me, the faith offers the best explanation for the world that I see. As you know, I have read the atheists. I have read other faiths. And Christianity comes out on top. I know you reject that. But, I do not think you have a low IQ for doing so.

    There is a simple answer to your question that makes sense to me. God is the author of life and He has told us to preserve life. We do not have the right to end the life of young children, either by abortion or to guarantee eternity.That is not in our job description.We preserve life and we witness to the truth and let God sort it out. It’s called trust in the Almighty who created the heavens and the earth.

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    I try to acting a manner consistent with my beliefs. But Christianity tells us that “we do what we don’t want to and do not do what we want to.” That is called sin. And that is why we need to grace of Jesus. We are all in process. As my pastor says “Even on my best days, my motives are mixed.”

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    Karlton said

    “So we end up with people (evangelicals), who believe in heaven for infants who die and also believe that most who reach adulthood will NOT end up in heaven, trying to convince people who want to rely completely on God for healing to supplement their faith with medicine, for the welfare of a child, who, if it grows into adulthood will likely end up in hell. All for the benefit of the child.”

    First of all, Christians don’t know what happens to infants that die. We can try and guess, or build a partial answer based on other doctrine, but we aren’t specifically told. We DO know that we have a duty to take care of children, the weak, and the needy. And we are especially responsible for the well being of our own kids. So there is no inconsistency in encouraging the very best care be taken of our kids (and testing God by demanding a miracle and ignoring the common grace of medicine and experts is sinful disobedience, not wanting “to rely completely on God for healing”) knowing that their eternal destiny is in God’s hands, not ours, no matter when they die.

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    I have never said or implied that those who operate from a faith perspective are any more or less intelligent overall than those who operate from a non-faith basis. However, logic is no respecter of persons. A series of statements either follows the rules of logic or it does not. If a person asserts a conclusion to be true based on a series of steps, and a logical inconsistency can be shown to exist either in those steps or the initial starting assumptions then the conclusion is not supported by logical means…plain and simple. It says nothing about the intelligence of the person who proposed the conclusion, other than they erred in their reasoning process, at least from a logical perspective.

    Their conclusion might, in fact, actually be true..but that does not alter the fact that they arrived at that conclusion through other than logical means.

    I think the argument that “it’s not my job”, I just trust God to work it all out is morally a pretty weak stance to take, especially if a person truly believes the things I said before about heaven,hell and children. It is akin to the soldier who follows his superior’s orders and murders a village of women and children and justifies it by claiming he was “only following orders”, i.e. “it’s not his job to decide right from wrong”. I think each of us needs to actively take responsibility for those things which we can control and not delegate them away simply because it is outside of “our job”. A similar example might be the employee (maybe a janitor) who becomes aware that the CFO has been illegally siphoning off funds from the corporate accounts. He certainly is not responsible for overseeing the fiscal operations of the company but morally has a responsibility to act if he believes something is wrong.


    Yes and no…At the moment of action we always act in accordance to what we believe, now the other side to that is that we can hold on to multiple beliefs or philosophies that, depending on the action in question can be in conflict…for example I might believe that you should always tell the truth, but I also believe that you should never intentionally hurt someone’s feelings…I can operate quite well until my wife asks me if her new dress makes her butt look big….hmmm what to do! Whichever I chose to do it will be based on what i believe to be the “most” correct between the two. I might, for example, redefine “big” to mean bigger than then dress makes her look, so I can say “no dear” and preserve my “no lying” imperative and also not violate my “no hurt feelings” philosophy…This is for the most part what YEC people would accuse the Old Earth people of doing…i.e. interpreting Genesis as metaphor so they can claim adherence to to Biblical authority without compromising their belief in science.

    So even with behavior modification, a mental “belief” change must come first…action is always the result of belief.

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    Thank you, you hit on a key point….we DON’T know what happens, we like to think it is this or that, but we really have no way to be sure…in other words we “believe” it is true in the sense of “hope” or “like to think” it is true…but we don’t “believe” it is true in the same way we “believe” our house is on fire when we see the flames and smoke…in other words caring for children IS the right thing to do, including protecting their lives so they can reach adulthood, because we really do NOT have sufficient information or proof of an afterlife.

    This is the point I spoke of earlier, this is why being specific with our vocabulary is of paramount importance. If by “believe” you mean “hope”, that implies a completely different set of logical responses than it does if you mean “absolute certainty” by the word “belief”.

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    Karlton: Not all Christians believe that all babies go to heaven, and the bible don’t spell out that babies do. Some believe God is just and all-knowing, and he will judge babies by what they would have done, had they the opportunity. That is the same kind of reason why it will be better for Sodom in the day of judgement than for Capernaum – God know they would have repented if they had the opportunities to see Jesus ( Mat 11:23-24)

    As such, your connection is based on what you think Christians believe, and not what they actually believe.

    And Dee’s : “God is the author of life and He has told us to preserve life”is an important part of what Christians believe.

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    God is neither a CEO or a general and to compare Him to such things shows a profound difference in how we view life. If we believe that God is just and merciful, then we have made our choice and stand for him.

    Everyone is judged for following orders in the military and must make a decision to do or disobey. One day, we will see who has followed the morally just way and I believe we will stand before the Judge. So, I make my decisions based on the Book and the Book says that only God is the author of Life. The Bible has been accepted as a standard of behavior even by some who disagree with the spiritual aspects (Thomas Jefferson. So, my reason, within my construct and with a historical construct is logical.

    You claim that my obedience to the God of the Universe is morally weak. I say it is morally justified and one day I will answer for my decisions. Frankly, not killing babies to send them to the afterlife is morally just under my system and yours.

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    The reason you seem to be having such a hard time understanding your conundrum is very simple. You have no faith. FYI that is not meant as an insult, just a statement of fact. You may have faith in the things you can see or in your own reason but that’s not really “faith” as a Christian understands the word. You have “faith” in things that can be seen, touched or understood. Those things don’t require much in the way of trust and belief, FAITH if you will. Religion in general does not have those aspects. It requires trust and belief in the unproven and unseen. For whatever reason you can’t bring yourself to find that belief and therefore you regect that system. This is a LOGICAL explaination for why you fail to understand those of us that do. I’ve often wonder why, as an avowed aethist, you’re so drawn to this blog. Are you seeking converts or acceptance? Or do you just enjoy lobbing grenades? Just wondering.

    As to the greater question off this thread…I join some of the other folks here in fearing that laws similar to the one discussed could be used as a club against any know “person of faith” that does not to the letter heed medical advice for a child. I certainly am not talking about the withholding of routine medical treatment! Dee, your own experience from the previous post could be an example of this. Like someone said before, what if none of those doctors was on your side. What would stop them from claiming you were ignoring medical treatment and advice for religious reasons simply because they know you to be a religious family? What would stop the state from then taking custody from you and ordering the treatment of your child? Like someone said before, this can be a slippery slope.


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    Again, the change being sought in the law is to remove an exemption or defense that protected religious people from prosecution or resulted in reduced charges. That is, the change is to take religion out of the law, not put it into the law. Thus, the change would result in religious people being treated the same as non-religious people making the same choices. And that is the way it should be.

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    In fact, in most cases, under current law in some jurisdictions, if the person had a “religious” reason for refusing treatment for their child, they were treated more leniently or not prosecuted at all. The purpose of the amendment is to make religion irrelevant to the question of prosecution and what charges should be filed. People should be treated in the justice system the same way, whether religious or not. Child abuse is child abuse, child neglect is child neglect, whether committed in the name of religious belief or not. This change would implement that.

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    I believe your interpretation is correct. The laws are changing to remove religious exemptions and to judge each circumstance on the evidence presented.

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    Yes Karlton, there is a tooth faerie. Yeshua is a kind of tooth faerie for adults like me, adult believers who no longer subscribe to the standard belief system of Biblical conservatives but still refuse to throw out the baby Jesus along with the bathwater. I have no assurance of a good afterlife, I have a hope, that’s all, and it’s good to believe in, it resonates in my guts. It makes me feel more human, it satisfies my longing for immortality. The desire for something bigger than myself is as human as laughter, sex, & tears.

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    I understand how the law is written but you must admit that the true test of any law is how it’s implemented and interpreted once it takes effect. This is the “law on unintended consequences” that our dear leaders either fail to understand or don’t care to think about. I can just hear a judge ruling “it was well documented at the time of enactment that the legislature wrote this law specifically to respond to medical decisions being made in the light of religious views and practices, therefore…..blah, blah, blah” My fear is not that parents will be prosecuted for the wongful death of a child when lifesaving medical care was withheld, I support such prosecutions. My fear is that a law such as this will be used as an excuse to remove parents from the medical decision making process to prevent “harm or death” of the child and use the parents religiousness as the excuse.

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    But Jerry, the law as it now stand provides an exception to the normal charges and prosecution for people who claim “my religion says”. The law being proposed removes that exception, removing the language about religion. Yes, in the future a judge could refer to it, but that would make his actions contrary to the law adopted by the legislature to remove the religious exception. The language is being deleted! A prosecutor would not find cause to raise the religion issue, and could object that religion is irrelevant to the charges, since the law did not provide for that. This is about criminal prosecution for harming a child by refusing standard medical treatment, whereby the child died or was seriously injured as a result of the parents’ refusal of treatment. The burden of proof is still on the prosecution show that the refusal was a cause of the death or serious injury.

    It is the case across the country, that physicians and hospital administrators and child protective services can go to court and have the court overrule the parents who are refusing necessary treatment for a child. Typically the court appoints a guardian ad litem and an attorney ad litem for the child. The guardian is the one charged with making the decisions and the attorney with representing the child’s interests in court. Courts are notoriously loathe to intervene without strong evidence that the treatment is necessary to preserve life and/or prevent permanent or disabling injury to the child. Most courts insist on almost continuous oversight in the court. Nothing in this law would affect that.

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    I am well aware of what Christians, in general, believe…I did not either say or imply that ALL believed that infants all go to heaven. What I did say was that those who DO say they believe it don’t seem to me to be acting in accordance with those beliefs.


    What conundrum? The fact that I chose not to believe in things, to the point where I alter my life, which have no objective, verifiable evidence for their support, does not mean that my ability to understand those who do is impaired.


    nice 🙂

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    This entire area has a lot of pit falls. What is “accepted” medical practice? Homeopathy. Chiropracty in some of it’s forms. Some of the odd corners of phychiatry. Frontal lobotomies.

    Parents need to be given wide latitude much of the time.

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    Who Knows….

    Don’t get me started on homeopathy and the like! 🙂

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    Who Knows

    I agree with latitude but not with dangerous behavior.

    Also, i think it would be good to educate people on how to assess alternative therapy. Many people do not know the difference between an anecdotal report (I took mint tea and my joint pain went away) and a double blind, randomized study that actually proves whether mint tea improves joint pain. I one met a lady who was selling a product that she called “therapeutic oils that are talked about in the Bible.” She claimed it healed all sorts of things. I asked her for the randomized, double blind study results and she looked like a deer caught in the headlights. This sort of stuff is unbecoming to the faith.

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    For once, you and I might actually agree!

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    There is a ton of difference between doing things that improve normal state health of the human body, where the ideas BEHIND homeopathy may make some sense, and treating illnesses such as cancer, etc. Good diet practices, consuming Omega-3 fatty acids and RDAs of vitamins and minerals, keeping up the fiber level in the diet, exercising, losing excess weight, good sleep habits, etc., are things that can help to maintain and perhaps improve the normal state health of a human body. Using those, or magnets, etc. to try to heal a cancer is foolishness beyond the pale.

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    “Don’t get me started on homeopathy and the like! ”

    Don’t have to. It has protections from oversight from the FDA written into law by Congress. So using homeopathic concoctions to fight cancer is not child abuse. And the same thing could be said for some of the more fringe areas of Chiropractic treatments. I like the ones where the “doctor” diagnoses a baby by touching the mom who is HOLDING the baby.

    “good to educate people on how to assess alternative therapy. Many people do not know the difference between an anecdotal report (I took mint tea and my joint pain went away) and a double blind, randomized study that actually proves whether mint tea improves joint pain.”

    Now you’re trying to confuse decent people who know what works. And replace decent with Christian about 1/2 of the time. Most people don’t want to be educated if the education contradicts their knowledge.

    The biggest problem with this issue is that the area of “accepted” medical science has some big untamed wilderness areas. The people commenting here don’t think these area belong in the pale of science and medicine but many “voters” do.

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    Who knows,

    the “oversights” from the FDA do not include proof of efficacy, which means using “homeopathic” medicines for treatment of cancer, may not cause direct harm, but certainly has the potential for causing harm by omission if it is being used as a substitute for traditional pharmaceuticals.

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    Karl and others. I was too wordy.

    My point is that everyone here is talking logic. The general population and juries don’t operate on logic.

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    It is amazing that people who will not believe in God or the Christ will believe in every fad nostrum. And some who do believe in God or the Christ will believe in every fad theology, no matter how far it contradicts the Bible and any reasonable interpretation of it.

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    Who Knows…

    Yes, I agree…I had an opportunity when living in Atlanta to participate in a mock jury sponsored by a pharmaceutical company..to gage juror responses to a potential malpractice claim.

    If I was in the hands of a jury…especially if I was innocent… I’d be scared.

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    I once overheard a juror, after the jury convicted, say: “We couldn’t say that, without a doubt, he didn’t do it, so we convicted him. After all, the police and district attorney said he did it.”

    I do not participate in the criminal injustice system as an attorney. If called for jury duty, I will serve if not excluded.

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    “some who do believe in God or the Christ will believe in every fad theology, no matter how far it contradicts the Bible and any reasonable interpretation of it.”

    Or non theology “science”.

    Check out the hallelujah diet