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Posts Tagged ‘what’s the harm?’

Religion as Child Abuse

April 3, 2013 4 comments

by Noah Lugeons

Yeah, a lot has been said about this already so I’m not going to devote too much time to it here.  The four horsemen have long since established what I feel to be a compelling and nigh undeniable argument that religion is often a guise for child abuse.  And we’re not talking about the sexual abuse that has become so synonymous with religious leaders, we’re talking about the actual practice of teaching religion to children.

The apologists like to sweep this under the rug.  When they address a crowd of hostile atheists, they downplay the literalism of the bible.  They pretend that religious people all look at it like a divinely inspired-Aesop’s Fables.  They like to pretend that Christians don’t treat the bible as being 100% accurate.  But when we’re not looking, that’s exactly what they’re teaching their kids.

I recall a field trip I took in 3rd grade where my class was presented with a human skeleton and asked if we could determine whether it was the skeleton of a man or a woman.  Without exception, every kid in my class immediately took to counting the ribs.  Until then, there was no difference between the authority of a religious figure and a secular teacher.  They were both grown-ups who told us things with authority.  They were both people who our parents told us we should listen to and respect.  How were we to know that one source was sound and the other bullshit?

But when all the little Christian Twitter trolls pop up to give us atheists the smack-down we so richly deserve, they have to answer for shit like this.  When a kid gets really, really interested in science she or he might learn something that will aid them for the rest of their lives.  But when a kid gets really, really interested in religion, she or he might do this:

Chirstian Couple Neglect Medical Treatment for Their Child

by Noah Lugeons

If you follow these things closely, you’ve probably heard of the “Followers of Christ”. This extreme sect of medicine-denying faith healers has made news several times in the past few years over their policy of neglecting the medical needs of their children up to the point of death.

As far back as 98, authorities were citing statistics that suggested as many as 21 children within their sect had died from treatable and easily-survivable diseases. Laws were passed in Oregon to combat the clear danger that such a group presented, but apparently the laws weren’t enough to stop them.

Timothy and Rebecca Wyland were recently charged with criminal neglect and child abuse for choosing to treat their infant daughter’s tumor with prayers and the laying on of hands instead of genuine medicine. By the time authorities became aware of the situation, the six month old child had a tumor the size of a baseball on her face. It had grown to the point that it threatened her eyesight by dislodging one of her eyeballs.

Like many of the stories that we cover on this blog, this is a tragedy that does not remotely reflect the average religious believer. No doubt I will be accused of needlessly dredging up the worst examples of religion and ignoring the best. But that misses the point altogether.

Altruism can be obtained through simple observation. Charity is, ultimately, in one’s own best interest. The “good” side effects of religion can easily come from secular sources. But only faith can convince you to ignore a tumor that threatens the life of your child.