Sunday, June 23, 2013

Faith healing is murder

Here's an article on a couple who've been charged with third degree murder in the death of their baby, who died of pneumonia because they believed in "faith healing" rather than proper medical care. The kicker is that they were already on probation for a similar 2009 death of a child (the charge then was manslaughter). They are members of a church "teaches that healing comes from prayer and that reliance on medicine or doctors demonstrates a lack of faith in God."

The wife was released on bail, but the husband remains on jail, because the judge apparently bought the defense attorney's argument that the wife "was less culpable in her children's deaths because of church teachings that a wife must be 'submissive to her husband.'" Shouldn't law matter more than church doctrine? I think women should be held responsible for their misdeeds exactly as men should. Women are not children, and the law shouldn't treat them as such. Unless he was abusive, it's hard to justify this. But then again, we get into a sticky gray area, as I tend to think pretty much all religious belief that women should be "submissive to their husbands" equates to abuse-- emotional, if not physical.

The judge also justified his decision by saying that "I have to think about the welfare of these (seven remaining) children...These children have one mother and one father, and I don't think it's necessarily a good thing that for months, they have had virtually no contact with either parent."

Say what? I think it's a damn good thing, personally. These are people who are allowing their children to die. Calling it "faith healing" and trying to give it a glaze of respectability by labeling it religious doesn't justify it. The "welfare" of the children is best served by keeping the parents as far away from them as possible. If these people had allowed their children to die because they were busy watching a SyFy marathon of "Star Trek" and couldn't be bothered to take the kids to the doctor, would the judge have the same attitude? I suspect not. I doubt the mother would be out on jail, and I suspect (though I admit to not knowing anything about law) that the charges might have been tougher, too. I would certainly think letting a baby die should be more than "manslaughter."

We as a society need to stop letting this happen. I don't know how. At a minimum we need tougher penalties for parents, no second chances, and maybe some penalties for churches who teach this crap, too (could they be charged with fraud? could the pastor be charged as an accessory to murder?). At the very least, parents who've let a child die because of "faith healing" should not be allowed within a five-mile radius of their other children ever again.

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