Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Religous Freedom or Murder?

I read this story when I got to work this morning about a family whose 11 year old daughter died of a treatable diabetic condition. Treatable. They didn't take her to the doctor, choosing instead to pray for her, and when she was pronounced dead, said that they guess they didn't have enough faith. On a lot of different levels, this really pisses me off. I am a Christian, and I have a very deep faith, but it would never in a million years occur to me to go to God instead of a doctor if one of my kids was seriously ill. And they HAVE been-both Eli and Sam have been in the hospital more than once due to their asthma, and had they been left in the hands of just me and The Big Guy, they would be dead. Period. I DO believe that God can heal, but I also believe that He made people smart enough to learn how to help ourselves heal for a REASON (I also believe that science and technology can be and are taken too far, but that is the subject of an entirely different post).

I believe in free will, and I believe that we each get to choose what God looks like to us, and I also believe that what you choose to believe isn't really any of my business. Hey, if it makes you happy, if you feel peace and contentment in your faith OR lack of it, if you are a basically good person who is doing your best, that's pretty much what matters-whether you are a believer in God or not. I also believe that as long as we don't hurt anyone with our belief or lack of, we can run around naked at midnight and worship trees if we want. The point is, we get to choose.

But in a case like this, these parents didn't just hurt their daughter, they killed her, and that is what upsets me so much. Their choice is to believe in a God that will heal, and there isn't anything wrong with that-but what about their daughter? Where is the choice for her? You can't tell me that this little girl wanted to DIE. I am sure that at 11, she held similar beliefs to those of her parents (and it sounds as if she was kept fairly isolated from society in general, so wouldn't have had a chance to explore other beliefs), but I highly doubt that were she given a choice she would have chosen to stay home and die.

There are three other children in the home, and one of the people involved in the investigation made the comment that they will remain in the home because there is no evidence of abuse; that blows me away. So the kids are cared for and probably loved well, the house is clean and they have enough money, therefore abuse is not taking place. Murder, sure, but not abuse. I don't GET this, I really don't. And this is where it gets really sticky, the whole religion thing. Because we live in a nation where we are allowed to believe whatever we want (and I don't argue with that, I really don't), if this family is ever charged with anything, they will get to pull the religious discrimination card and will probably get off with probation. IF charges are filed. And how is that fair or right or okay? It is one thing to make a choice for yourself based on your own beliefs and values-as an adult, I would totally fight to the death for the right to choose not to seek medical care, to have a say in what does or doesn't happen to my body. But aren't we as adults supposed to be looking out for our children's best interests? I fail to see how in this instance death was in her best interests, and now she will NEVER have the opportunity to make her own decisions about anything.

I am a Christian. I believe in the God of the Bible, I believe that He can and does perform miracles on a daily basis. However, I also think we are supposed to do our part-which is to avail ourselves of the amazing, wonderful world of science and medicine and nature, to allow those who are gifted with the ability to help heal to do their job. In my opinion, anything less is spitting in God's face and saying, no thanks. I think there are a lot of ailments that can be cured with natural remedies, we use essential oils for different things, and of course I pray for my kids when they are ill-but that doesn't take the place of medicine at times.

Part of me wants to be generous and loving toward this family-because no matter what their beliefs or how it happened, they lost a daughter, a sister, a friend. I am struggling with it, though, because they killed her and choose to believe it is God's will. I don't believe that our deaths are pre-ordained, I don't believe that God knows the exact hour and day of our death; I don't believe it is His will for things like this to happen. I believe His heart broke when this little girl died, I really do, and I fail to see how anyone can find a blessing in something like this happening-except that maybe she isn't going to have to grow up with such crazy fuckers, I don't know.

Things like this are why it is NEVER a good idea for me to get online and read the news first thing in the morning. It's going to fuck with my head all day.


April said...

I hate stories like that. At the age of 11, whether or not she believed what her parents believe, she was not of the age to make these kinds of decisions for herself. Her parents are held responsible for her, and the law should hold them responsible. You're absolutely right - it IS murder and they should be charged accordingly.

FreedomFirst said...

Wow, there are a couple of things I would like to express my opinion about on this.
#1: I definitely agree with you, in the belief that "Heaven helps those who help themselves." Miracles do happen, but they are for those times when we have no other options. Like if the family lived in a third world country where medical care was unavailable. It is sad that people take the Bible to such an extreme. Nothing is good in extremes.
#2: As far as the other kids, I have to strongly disagree that they should be removed, unless they also have medical conditions that aren't being treated. The foster care system in this country is DREADFUL; and it is far better for kids to grow up with kooky, weird parents who still love them, rather than some ill-tempered, possibly abusive, controlling jerk who just wants the money they bring. The bond between parents and their kids is too valuable to break over religious beliefs. I would say that the social workers in that area should make regular visits to the family, just like they would have to do if the kids DID go to foster care, and make sure their health is properly attended to.
Of course, they will probably force the parents to get vaccinations and other things that I and many other parents are against (as a mandatory requirement). But sadly, there are certain freedoms that you risk losing when you make choices as severe as the one they made. If the kids went to foster care, they'd all be vaccinated anyway.
I think it's better to leave the kids with their parents, and treat it as a foster family. Supervision without tearing the kids apart.

FreedomFirst said...

I would like to add that the definition of murder implies willful intent. At worst, this is manslaughter. I think the actual legal term would be "negligent homicide." But you have to remember, other religions also hold these beliefs as well; and I still think it is better to press charges that do not destroy the rest of the family.

Kori said...

freedomfirst...I think we will have to agree to disagree on this one. In my opinion, NOT taking your child to the doctor and knowing she will die if you don't IS murder; they intentionally withheld medical attention which resulted in death. In my book, that is murder.