Tragic story of the malign effects of religious ignorance

Believe it or not, I’m not much of one for atheist evangelism (for lack of a better word). I’m just not that concerned with changing other people’s personal beliefs (but of course I’m always willing to offer my opinions, and always trying to promote accurate information). I think there’s a case to be made for religion as mental illness idea (and have pushed that idea myself), but when it really comes down to it most religious people (at least in the US) are mostly harmless. My friend and colleague Trevor Blake often points to a correlation between religious belief and committing violent acts. To paraphrase him, you never hear about atheists burning down Christian stores for sex, but you frequently hear about Christians burning down sex stores for Jesus. However, correlation and causation are not the same thing. We can learn from this that religion is not a necessary or sufficient source for morality, but little else.

So my main concern, with regards to religion, is theocracy: when one group’s superstitions become law. So I’ve stopped taking much note when an individual Buddhist priest is found guilty of molesting a woman, or someone commits a murder in the name of their religion. There are laws against these sorts of things, and I’m not sure someone commits these sorts of acts because they’re religious, or if their attraction to religion stems from the same source as their attraction to rape and violence. In other words, I’m not sure religion is a symptom or a disease. I’m more concerned with sovereign nations that organize child-rape syndicates and the institutional oppression and murder of women and homosexuals in countries like Saudi Arabia.

Sometimes it’s not so cut and dry, though. One kicker is parents and their children. I was raised Christian, and I think I turned out ok. I could have done without the paranoia inspired by the notion of an invisible monster watching everything I did, but I don’t hold it against my parents. So I’m generally inclined to believe that parents should be free to teach their kids whatever sort of nonsense they want, and that if the kids are smart they’ll grow out of it eventually.

But what happens when parents take it too far? Recently, an 11 year old girl died of a treatable form of diabetes because her parents choose to pray instead of seek medical help (via Pharyngula). This obviously crosses the line between believing something crazy and behaving in a malicious way. What is the response of the local police?

The girl has three siblings, ranging in age from 13 to 16, the police chief said.

“They are still in the home,” he said. “There is no reason to remove them. There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see.”

The girl’s death remains under investigation and the findings will be forwarded to the district attorney to review for possible charges, the chief said.

At least the case is being investigated, but how can the police chief say there is no abuse? I know people who have had their kids taken away from them temporarily for far less. Sadly, this is not without precedent. Trevor wrote last year about parents who withhold medical treatment for religious reasons. None of the parents of children who died preventable deaths were charged with a crime.

This is not a case of religious freedom, or of individual belief. It’s theocracy. If the parents had let their children die for any reason other than religion, they would be charged with crimes and their other children would be taken into state care.

1 Comment

  1. Excellent post, Klintron.

    In the past I too have claimed that religion is a mental illness. I am not making that claim at present.

    Religion is incompatable with moral behavior. If God exists and is omnipotent, God knows our actions before we act. If our actions are known before we act, we have no free will. If we have no free will, we cannot be moral agents. Being forced to do good is not doing good, being forced to to ill is not doing ill. Morality is a choice. God takes that choice away.

    I do claim that religion is a cause of violence, not merely that it co-occurs with violence. There are direct lines of causality between what is commanded in a religion, how secular or superstitious a nation is, and what acts of violence are carried out in that nation. Attacking the acts of violence yeilds individuals in prison. Attacking theocracy yeilds better results. Attacking the root problem, religion, yeilds the best results. I aim my fire up and down the chain of causality, but I know aiming closer to the middle and the root is most important. Attacking theocracy as the central concern is a good choice, and one that I share. I gained this perspective after reading The Raving Atheist, a blog that has gone into suspended animation.

    Agreed that libertarian thinking breaks down when it comes to parents and children. I have no answers here other than getting a vasectomy a few years ago so my need to make those sorts of decisions is lessened.

    Note that the parents of the girl that died recently are members of the same church I wrote about last year. Institutionalized multi-generation child sacrifice with the indulgence of the State, happening a short drive from where I’m sitting right now. Boiling rage is the appropriate responce.

Comments are closed.

© 2024 Technoccult

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑