Timberlake: Faith healing churches

Ian Timberlake

Faith-healing, the immoral act of neglecting a person’s well-being to the point of death on the basis that modern science is ineffective or worse at healing than simply having a belief in a god.

At least that’s my definition.

The American Cancer Society says, “Faith healing is founded on the belief that certain people or places have the ability to cure and heal—that someone or something can eliminate disease or heal injuries through a close connection to a higher power.” and that,“available scientific evidence does not support claims that faith healing can actually cure physical ailments.”

The word “faith”, in itself, is already an oxymoron in regards to medicine. “Faith” is literally the belief in something in the absence of evidence. So “faith-healing” by definition would be comparable to trying to fly an airplane on the moon and wondering why you can’t get anywhere.

The beauty of a placebo effect means that anyone, so long as they truly believe in something (religious or not), will physically and mentally feel better. Obviously, this doesn’t correlate with long-term actual healing.

Already all over the news is the story of the Philadelphia couple, Herbert and Catherine Schaible, who were just charged with third degree murder for resorting to faith-healing when two of their children in the last four years weren’t treated for pneumonia and died. Cases like these crop up multiple times a year and it saddens me knowing that the kids nearly always have no say in the matter.

The real question that must be asked is whether or not this constitutes as murder.

The Schaibles, and many other fundamentalist families out there, follow a practice that is beyond medieval. Even bloodletting, which dates back to the time of Jesus, is considered unholy practice… oddly enough.

There are many scripts in the Bible that could loosely, with bending, refer to what might be called “faith-healing”, none of which speak of “medicine” as medicine in the practical and functional sense was non-existent 2000 years ago.

The nearest interpretation is probably from James 5:13-16, “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

It seems the Schaibles and other fundies have made their beliefs mostly on the synthesized belief that the Bible somehow talks about medicine. The Schaibles said that, “[Medicine] is against our religious beliefs”, and that, “It means that we pray and ask to be healed the way that Jesus did when he was on Earth.”

So I’ll ask again, does freedom of and from religion grant the right to willful medicinal negligence of another human with a severe, potentially lethal, illness?

The obviously moral answer should be, “no”.

In my eyes, faith-healing should be non-permissible unless you are of legal adult age and the decision itself made only by the individual undergoing the “healing.” This way the consequences of the faith-healing are only on the individual requesting it.

Parents who faith-heal their children (where they have no choice in the matter) should be massively fined and potentially placed in prison depending on the gravity of the illness.

No matter the age or era, society or religion, no human should ever make a decision that infringes on the rights and freedoms of another individual… even if both are oblivious to the infringements. Religious freedom does not extend to someone other than yourself, even your child.