Agnosticism, Atheism, Christianity, Faith, God, Morality, Parenting, Prayer, Religion, Society

To What Extent Should Parents’ Religious Beliefs Affect a Child’s Well-Being?

Mariah Walton was born with a birth defect that could have been fixed rather easily, if her parents had only allowed it (if there’s an ad in the video, it’s worth waiting through it):

I take parents’ rights very seriously, but how many examples of children being harmed by their parents’ belief in faith healing do we need before we step in? And is there any point at which faith healers will acknowledge that they were wrong? Or is it like prayer, where no response simply means the request wasn’t according to God’s will, or the person’s faith wasn’t strong enough? Do they never stop to wonder why life expectancy was so low back when virtually everyone had to rely on faith and superstition to heal the sick?

143 thoughts on “To What Extent Should Parents’ Religious Beliefs Affect a Child’s Well-Being?”

  1. I take parents’ rights very seriously, but how many examples of children being harmed by their parents’ belief in faith healing do we need before we step in?

    We shouldn’t need any examples of this to know that it is wrong. These are the same people(I think it’s an easy assumption) that are pro-life and opposed to abortion. It doesn’t take a rocket surgeon to know that this does not compute.

    And is there any point at which faith healers will acknowledge that they were wrong?

    No. Because….

    Or is it like prayer, where no response simply means the request wasn’t according to God’s will, or the person’s faith wasn’t strong enough?

    Either it wasn’t God’s will to perform physical healing, only perfect healing in heaven, OR it’s the victim’s(yes, they are victims) fault. Sin or lack of faith. Take your pick.

    Do they never stop to wonder why life expectancy was so low back when virtually everyone had to rely on faith and superstition to heal the sick?

    No. They believe medical intervention is meddling in the process. Meddling in the process only shows a lack of faith. It’s better to live a short earthly life and go to heaven than live a long earthly life and go to he…

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  2. Thanks, Nate.

    This is a difficult problem. I don’t think there’s an easy solution.

    Parents raising their first child are, almost by definition, inexperienced parents. They are bound to make mistakes. So we don’t want to criminalize making mistakes mistakes, else all parents would be criminals.

    But the concern is with horendous mistakes that are a dangerous threat to the child, and where there is plenty of information around so that the parents should know better. I wish there were an easy way of avoiding this. The churches really should be involved in preventing such problems. But, too often, it is some of the more extreme churches who set up these problems

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  3. It’s child abuse…plain and simple. If an adult parent chooses to forego medical treatment for faith-based reasons, they have that right. But to deny health care to a child is abusive. If somebody who was not religious did the same thing, they would be prosecuted, and rightly so. This is a clear violation of our Constitution’s explicit injunction for the separation of church and state.

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  4. I cant see the video down here .
    However ….all religion is child abuse. Period.

    In democracies there are laws protecting kids against forced labour and a parent would be prevented from allowing their kid to do such work. Yet religion gets a ‘bye’. Why on earth for?

    I wonder if we will get a visit from the one who considers religion and god belief is good for your health?
    Hmmm…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ruth mentioned abortion, so I couldn’t help but think about that.

    If abortion is okay, then why would withholding medical treatments be wrong, especially if the parent is trying to do what’s in the best interest of the child?

    What if the opposite occurs, the parent decides to follow the doctor’s advise, but it then turns out later that it was a mistake, and that no treatment would have been better?

    If a parent should do everything they can, including overruling religious conviction for the sake of their offspring, why wouldn’t that carry over to abortion as well?

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  6. …why would withholding medical treatments be wrong, especially if the parent is trying to do what’s in the best interest of the child?

    Let’s take abortion out of the equation for a minute. Define the best interest of the child. Are we talking eternally or are we talking immediately? Are they doing what’s in the best interest of the child or what’s in the best interest of their faith?

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  7. I recently included a post about this on my blog. I referenced this article which indicates this family lives in Idaho. What really blew me away is the Senator of Idaho commented that the church that promotes this teaching (Followers of Christ) are “very nice people.” He also blamed outsiders for stirring the pot on this issue, even challenging the Guardian’s right to take an interest in the story, asking “what difference does it make to you?”

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  8. Ruth, personally I think what’s best for the child is what’s best for them physically, since I don’t believe in an eternal, spiritual life.

    But of course, others do believe in that, and believe that the here after is vastly more important to the here and now.

    Removing abortion from the table seems to make it easier in my mind, but with abortion, I can’t help wonder if there’s some contradiction there. Purposely ending the life of offspring, where with religious zealots, they’re not purposely harming anyone, and even think they’re helping – eve if they’re wrong.

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  9. I think what’s best for the child is what’s best for them physically

    I would have to extend that William – I think what’s best for the child is what’s best for them physically, mentally, and emotionally.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I don’t think the “faith” issue is as complex as we make it seem. The real issue is the false post-enlightenment divide between faith and science. Without that barrier, medical treatments are the answer to prayers.

    Reminds me of while I was in England, I saw in a church, unironically, “Thank God for James Young Simpson’s discovery of chloroform anaesthesia.” Because yes, that would have been a game changer, thanks be to God indeed. And so is our technological and medical advancements around heart care.

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  11. Balance in all. A person that do not want to heal will never heal. Healing begins in the mind and nobody can heal us except ourselves. God is inside all of us, is pure love, not greed, nor passion, is truth, not lying, does not belong to any religion, is oneness, is not clinging to our fake egos, but is open for deep understanding.

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  12. When science becomes worshipped like a religion it can also become child abuse, especially if its priests who we think are close to gods are connected with the devil inside of the pharmaceutical industry.

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  13. Having deep faith in something without first doubting and investigating is not actually possible. If faith occurs before investigation it will not be a thorough deep faith. That goes for all. For scientists and for religious. In meditation we can go deep.

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  14. Are you a vegan? If vegan; Do you end the life of plants? Are male lions evil ending the life of young lions? Who should be the judge?
    Are all humans evil being part of the destruction of “Gods creation”?

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  15. Just so I’m clear, I’m not pro-abortion. I am pro-choice. I don’t really want to get into an abortion debate. I’ll just say that an unborn fetus is a potential human being. Until it has reached viability and autonomy it isn’t a person. People who are already born, people who are already here on earth with us, are not potential human beings anymore. They are human beings. Thus, I am also pro-life.

    Maybe when people become as concerned about the people who are already people I’ll change my mind about that. It’s hard to listen to anyone criticize a woman for making the right choice for herself when those same people couldn’t care less about her or her baby once she has it.

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  16. @ ratamacueo

    Maittrya Buddha – which god, and why do you believe that? Do you have evidence for your claims?

    It don’t matter what the breed of fundi … they are somewhat like roaches.
    Except they appear to be more dense.
    A question that will remain forever unanswered, brushed off in hand- waving obfuscation and theological rhetoric.

    If it smells like bullshit …. You know the rest, right?

    Liked by 2 people

  17. It don’t matter what the breed of fundi…

    Somehow I thought Buddhists were a bit more Zen than this. Until today I’d never met an Evangelical Buddhist. o_O

    Liked by 3 people

  18. Ruth,

    I wasn’t really trying to get into an abortion debate either, but the mention of abortion along with this issue just made me think.

    I don’t throw stones at people who have abortions. I don’t want their kids either. But, I think a fetus or whatever you want to call it in the womb is a human life, and there are some who try to equate it to fingernails or hair, or other minuscule parts of a woman’s body and I think that’s just untrue, and attempt to make it less gruesome – albeit there are clear differences between aborting a child to save the mother than aborting a child because it’ll be a hassle. If a woman were to cut herself, and I don’t even mean cutting off a limb or trying to commit suicide, but just cut herself, that very few people would proclaim, in her defense, that a woman has a right to do what she wants with her body – they’d recognize that as a sign of some problem, and that the woman needed help.

    Then I think with human lives that made it out of the womb, we clearly see that neglect for whatever reason from an adult toward their child is a problem, and here we’re not even talking about the intentional harm of the child, but mere neglect. We’re all up in arms over it – yet, most of us are really still as indifferent as we would be with a fetus – i don’t want their kid and I don’t want to foot the expenses to care for them,

    I guess I’m “pro-life,” but not in the sense that I’ll fight over it or demand punishment for those who exercise a different choice, but only in the sense that at this moment I see value in human life, and have a hard time saying an unborn human life is less valuable than a born human life.

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  19. I view the abortion issue like this:

    There are many people in my city who need a kidney transplant. I have two healthy kidneys. If I donate one of my kidneys, it would save a life. Should the government force me to donate a kidney?

    I think most of us would say no. Even though donating one of my kidneys would save another human being, I should still have a choice in whether I want my body used in that way.

    When a woman is pregnant, the embryo / fetus / child can only survive if it spends months using her body as an incubator. It’s invasive, and there are health risks involved. Therefore, I think she should have the right to decide if her body is going to be used in that way or not.

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