No evidence of neglect??

I just read an A.P. story from Wausau, Wisconsin about parents having 3 of their children taken from their home after a 4th child died from undiagnosed and untreated diabetes. The parents believe that healing comes from god, as it says in the bible.

They didn’t pray for their daughter to die, but they did pray her to death.

As disgusting as I, and any other reasonable person, would find this story. It was even more horrifying to hear the quotes from the authorities. After having the surviving children checked out by physicians, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said, “There is no physical evidence of abuse or neglect. None” I don’t think you’re looking hard enough, Dan! Maybe you should look at 11-year-old Kara’s corpse. Kara, who hadn’t seen a doctor in 8 years and who passed away of treatable diabetes.

“They believed up to the time she stopped breathing she was going to get better. They just thought it was a spiritual attack.”, Vergin said. Honestly, how is this really any different than the voices in their head telling them to cut the demons out of her?

If you were hoping the state would provide some kind of protection for the rest of the kids, aged 13-16, it is unlikely. While I expect their would be follow-up by the appropriate agencies, the parents will probably get their kids back since Wisconsin has laws to protect the misguided followers of ancient superstitions. Janine Geske, a Marquette University law professor says that in Wisconsin a parent cannot be accused of abuse or neglect of a child if in good faith they selected prayer as a basis of treatment for a disease.

According to the grandmother, the girld had been ill for several days and by last Saturday couldn’t walk or talk.

“… Religion may not be the root of all evil, but it is a serious contender..” — Richard Dawkins

More references:

Wisconsin’s faith-healing law faces fresh scrutiny

Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion

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Teapot Worship? Doesn't sound so bad.

I came across an article about a Malaysian woman jailed for worshiping a giant teapot which I thought might be, at the very least, amusing. Unfortunately, the lady and the late lamented Teapot cult were really just subtext to a much more disturbing situation.

While Malaysian constitution guarantees freedom of worship, it is currently interpreted as meaning you are free to worship as your parents did. Kamariah Ali, our teapot worshiper, is being jailed under Sharia law since she was born a Muslim. Never mind, that she no long self-identifies as one, the Malaysian constitution defines all ethnic Malays as Muslim and Muslims in Malaysia are subject to the Sharia courts.

This is particularly poignant in light of the recent Pew Forum survey on the U.S. Religious Landscape which shows that about a quarter of Americans exercise their freedom of religion by choosing not to practice the faith of their parents. This is the expression of freedom of religion only possible where there is a complete secular constitution and separation of church and state.

“If you have a faith, it is statistically overwhelmingly likely that it is the same faith as your parents and grandparents had. No doubt soaring cathedrals, stirring music, moving stories and parables, help a bit. But by far the most important variable determining your religion is the accident of birth. The convictions that you so passionately believe would have been a completely different, and largely contradictory, set of convictions, if only you had happened to be born in a different place. Epidemiology, not evidence.” — Richard Dawkins

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The Out Campaign

I’ve chosen to advertise my support for Richard Dawkins’ “Out Campaign” http://outcampaign.org on this site. I was initially reticent to do this. But I have changed my mind.

I originally felt that The Out Campaign and the stylized red letter ‘A’ was the kind of ostentation required for a philosophy that cannot stand on its own merit. Seriously, while it seems to be quite necessary to repeatedly avow devotion to a chosen superstitious life philosophy, it doesn’t seem to me that the same protestations are necessary for attempting to base your life on reason. Shouldn’t this be the default? Thus leaving spirits, magic and other nonsense to the fringe. Why should it require advertising?

Well, in a time when there indeed seems to be religious test for the office of President of the United States, I can comfortably say there is a real need for this kind of grass roots marketing of reason and I am happy to be part of it.

“But it does me no injury for my neighbor to say are twenty gods, or no god. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg.” — Thomas Jefferson, Notes on the State of Virginia (1782)

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