left biblioblography: Allegories Gone Wild - The Doctor Is Out...Permanently

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Allegories Gone Wild - The Doctor Is Out...Permanently

Cross posted @ God Is For Suckers!

reason "I see faith in your eyes
"Never you hear the discouraging lies
"I hear faith in your cries
"Broken is the promise, betrayal
"The healing hand held back by deepened nail" - Metallica

It's a small cult: I speak of the Christian Science movement;

Today it is estimated that there are about 400,000 students of Christian Science in over 60 countries worldwide. There are approximately 1,850 to 2,000 branch congregations in the Christian Science church.

Here is the problem I have with these people (as I have issues with anyone who espouses prayer as a substitute for actual 'science') - prayer doesn't work. At all. Otherwise, we'd be using it in labs, in hospitals, use it as a substitute for pruning our gardens, getting our automobiles to work (who to have faith in? The human mechanic, or the divine touch that never comes?) - I could go on, but you ken me drift I think.

I was watching that great HBO show, Curb Your Enthusiasm (season 3), and there was this hilarious segue. Richard Lewis is dating a Christian Scientist (fairly oxymoronic, I might add) who has an allergy to peanuts, and his friend Larry David (who the show is about, by the way), just fired his 'television repairman' (apparently in LA, you can be kept on retainer for this). So Lewis' girlfriend accidentally eats brownies that have peanuts in them (and, you guessed it, has swollen up). So Lewis and David get the idea to bake brownies peppered with anti-allergy formula (benadryl, I think), since his beau steadfastly refuses to take any medicine. As they go into the house for a visit with brownies in hand, David notices that they have a television repairman working on a TV.

An argument ensues with her and David, and Larry says, "Why don't you pray for the TV to get fixed?" He points out (quite accurately) that it's about the same thing - you want something fixed, you find a repairman, you don't 'pray' for it to work. So why take chances with your own body? When you get sick, you go to a doctor, not a priest (a 'calling', I'd like to add, is parasitic in the extreme: next time I have any sort of discussion with these people, I'll advocate them getting a real job). Anyways, onwards.

It's fairly impossible to get reliable statistics from these people. Yep, you guessed it. All their 'witnesses' are actually members of their crutch (oops! I meant church).

From here:

According to the study, "All testimonies are submitted on the initiative of the respective testifiers…" The study admits, "These testimonies are manifestly religious rather than medical documents…" Moreover, "The medical specificity of the testimonies also varies greatly…a large number of testifiers refer to healings of diseases or conditions that are not medically named." Further, "Some have questioned the reliability of details reported in the testimonies, since most, like the example just given, are by persons who are not medically trained…Even in diagnosed cases, testifiers are often reporting in their own words what physicians have said to them. The possibility that in some cases individuals have misinterpreted, misremembered or otherwise inaccurately reported the remark of doctors cannot be ruled out any more than the possibility in some cases of medical misdiagnosis." Finally, "Cases listed as medically diagnosed, for example, include only those where a diagnosis was specifically mentioned or reasonably indicated by the testimony."

Here's a (non) newsflash, to those of you familiar with religious rationalizations:

In the study's section, "Healings of Children," the church summarizes the results of its compilation of 640 healings (which occurred between 1969-1988) which it claims were medically diagnosed. Of these 640 healings or conditions, 88 are claimed to have been pronounced, by a physician, to have been life-threatening. Of the remaining non-life-threatening illnesses, the study provides no breakdown as to which illnesses were self-limiting (illnesses from which a person will normally recover, with or without treatment), such as colds, headaches, small cuts, etc. Christian Science cannot claim that its methods of prayer are effective in healing all childhood illnesses based on recoveries from non-serious, self-limiting illnesses.

And, of course, the sour icing on the cake:

Next, the study summarizes the healing of 88 "life-threatening" illnesses:

...at least two of spinal meningitis…five of pneumonia or double pneumonia, one of food poisoning, one of diphtheria, one of wet lung, one of brain fever and chorea, two of heart disorders…one of stomach obstruction…Two healings of ruptured appendix involved teenagers.

Although these illnesses can be life-threatening, some are not necessarily fatal if left untreated. As in the illnesses classified as serious (above), it is impossible to know if Christian Science prayer was actually responsible for the healings or whether the children would have recovered anyway, without prayer treatment. Particularly, given the small number of cases in each diagnostic category (five cases of pneumonia, three of spinal meningitis, etc.) it is quite possible that the recoveries are not to be attributed to Christian Science but to the natural resistance of the children involved.

Sadly, the link provided does provide a nod to religion, claiming that just maybe a combination of prayer and medicine might prove effective.

And from this portion, a snippet that illustrates quite accurately how fucked up our culture is in re: 'faith':

Forty-four states have had religious exemption laws in force since the mid-1970's. (In 1990 South Dakota became the first state to repeal its religious exemptions from health care requirements for sick children.) Furthermore, the above deaths are only those that have come to public attention. Certainly there are other known and unknown cases of death, injury, prolonged suffering, and permanent disability of children whose parents have refused effective medical treatment.

In 1988, the national office of the American Civil Liberties Union made the following statement regarding state religious exemption laws:

Children have rights too, and parents have certain rights which end when they intrude too far into a child's right to live…the parent's right to bring up the child in the way the parent thinks best-an important right…ends at the point at which the parents' actions endanger the lives of kids…there cannot be in our view a religious exemption no matter how sincere a parent's belief…

Prior to 1982, "For nearly seven years after religious immunity was put under federal mandate, no charges of child abuse, neglect, or manslaughter were filed in any cases of religiously-based medical neglect. Beginning in 1982, though, prosecutors filed charges in some deaths of children due to religious beliefs against medical care. From 1982 through 1989, criminal charges were filed in 29 such cases. To date there have been 21 convictions, 5 acquittals… of the 29 cases, 7 involved Christian Scientists, with a result of 5 convictions for manslaughter and child endangerment." (Swan, The Law's Response When Religious Beliefs Against Medical Care Impact on Children, 1990).

How is it that parents can be prosecuted in the deaths of their children when states have legislated religious exemption? Prosecutors and courts have determined that the state religious exemption laws do not necessarily exempt parents from responsibility from obtaining medical care if a child is seriously ill or if the illness results in the child's death. In 1988, the California Supreme Court (People v. Walker) determined that the state's religious exemption law applies only to the neglect statute and does not carry over to the state's manslaughter statute. The Twitchells in Boston were convicted under a similar interpretation of the Massachusetts religious exemption law.

Not only do the religious exemption laws leave children vulnerable to death and disability, the laws can mislead (and be used by their churches to mislead) parents into believing that the state allows the substitution of prayer for medical care. Only when it is too late, after the agony of a child's death, do parents come to realize they are accountable under the law. In effect, religious exemption laws are punitive rather then preventative.

So much for 'no child left behind'. There are children who have been left behind to die, due to some anachronistic Iron Age diatribe that was big on poetic license and short on reality.

While they do espouse SOCAS, women's rights, insist on obedience to state laws, and are ambiguous on their stand on the homosexual lifestyle, I think that the position on medicine in relation to their own treatment of children is by and large monstrous in the extreme.

Prayer: it's never worked, and it never will.

Till the next post then.

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1 comment:

Ginger said...

Monstrous is an understatement!

My Mom's a Christian Scientist (read: hocus pocus) reader and perpetuates the poo. Rather than seek a physician's assistance, she waited until she her diagnosis (wait, they don't have those either) was terminal and spread to every soft organ. Now she's got 2 months or less to live and won't take pain medication for fear she'll become "addicted". WTF?!

Shame on these folks for putting their families through hell - oh wait, that doesn't exist either.

It's a good thing Mary Baker NutJob is dead or I'd like a piece of her a**.