Tag Archives: Religion

10 Things I Have Learned About Abortion from Pro-lifers.

10 Things I Have Learned About Abortion from Pro-lifers.

1. Women choose to have sex. Men are apparently not involved in this decision-making process.

2. Women who do not use birth control are irresponsible and should never have sex.

3. Women who use birth control are also irresponsible, because they know that birth control is not 100% foolproof and should never have sex.

4. Being pro-life has absolutely nothing to do with religion. It’s just a coincidence that my God is opposed to abortion, and if yours isn’t, then you’re worshiping the wrong God.

5. No matter how many examples you find of God-sanctioned infanticide in the Bible, it in no way indicates that God is OK with baby-killing. Baby-killing on his orders is OK because reasons. If he says it’s OK, it’s OK, but he definitely didn’t say abortion was OK except in the parts where he did.

6. All the aborted babies could have gone on to do great things. None of the aborted babies would have been “welfare queens” or criminals or deranged genocidal dictators.

7. People are lined up to adopt babies. If you give your baby up for adoption, it will find a loving family. It definitely, positively, won’t join the half million kids already available for adoption or be one of the 23,000 who age out of the system without being adopted every year. Oh, and it will be happy with its family, who will never turn out to be abusive in any way.

8. It is never OK to abort a baby that resulted from consensual sex. Conception circumstances are paramount, which is why it’s OK to abort rape babies. Consensual sex babies are alive at the moment of conception because of consent. Rape babies are alive at the moment of conception, too, but it’s OK to abort them because they aren’t the consequences of the choice of an irresponsible woman. Don’t ask me to explain this, I’ve tried and tried and still don’t get it.

9. If abortions are illegal, nobody will need them. Only 1% of all abortions are for high-risk situations like the life of the mother or significant defects in the fetus, and letting women die and having babies who are severely handicapped (even if they’re guaranteed to die after birth) is a risk that people who aren’t dealing with these situations are willing to accept.

10. Even if you are too poor to support a child, too young to be a parent, too ill mentally or physically to be a parent, addicted to drugs and unemployed and homeless, married to an abusive spouse or a pedophile, the baby is a gift from God and all your problems will go away as long as you don’t get an abortion.

While You Guys are Writing Anti-Abortion Legislation. . .

While You Guys are Writing Anti-Abortion Legislation. . .

I make no secret of the fact that I feel that abortion should be a choice made by a woman and her doctor (and in some cases, her partner.) I find none of the reasons provided by anti-abortionists to be rational or compelling enough to justify sweeping legislation that impinges on the rights of women whose lives may be lost or destroyed by these limitations. Some of it is insulting to women’s intelligence; some of it is representative of medical ignorance; all of it is based in religion, which should not be influencing government in the first place.

Let me say, though, that the most abhorrent reasons are the ones that portray children as “punishment” for a woman in one way or another. Some state this overtly, some with a bit more circumlocution, but they all boil down to the woman shouldn’t have engaged in sexual intercourse if she didn’t want to have a child, so now she’s just going to have to deal with the consequences of her actions. I can’t even begin to plumb the depths of the awfulness of this argument. There are so many levels of wrong here that it would be impossible to address them in a single blog post.

What I can do is suggest a way that this attitude can be expressed legislatively in a far less discriminatory fashion.

You see, if a child is punishment for having sexual intercourse, then the punishment should be equally distributed between both parties involved in the punishable act. Legislation that prevents access to abortion should not affect only the mothers, but the fathers as well. Much of this might not be necessary, as in the case of faithful married couples who will already be legally obligated to share the financial and other burdens of having a child, but there’s no reason to leave them out completely, either. I’ll get to that.

Include something in this legislation that creates a record of women who request abortions, just to establish a paper trail for legal purposes. If a woman seeks an abortion and is denied it or cannot afford it, the state will perform DNA tests on both the child and the father named by the mother. Just as the ultrasound costs are paid by the mother in these legislative acts, the DNA testing cost must be paid by the father. Once paternity has been established, a judge will decide the best punishment for the father – in some cases, marriage to the mother may be ordered, but mostly it will involve lifetime child support and regular visitation. If the man didn’t want to be a father, then he shouldn’t have had sexual intercourse, after all.

If the father is already married to the mother, DNA tests should also be required, just to make sure that the right father is being punished. This would make having even wanted children more expensive, but we want to be absolutely sure that the right person is being punished for every child that’s born. Some states might even want to do this retroactively, DNA testing every man who, say, applies for public assistance or disability or unemployment, since those are obviously the selfish, irresponsible people who’d go around having recreational sex in the first place, amirite?

This way, states wouldn’t have to limit the procedure to only women seeking abortions, but to all the leeches on society making babies they can’t afford. Oh, yeah. But start with the abortion-seekers. That way the wording that punishes fathers with children can be included in the laws that punish mothers with children. If you want to be taken seriously when you say that you’re not anti-woman when you propose this stuff, then you shouldn’t be leaving fathers out of the picture. Of course, it’s hard to take you seriously when you talk about living, breathing, dependent little human beings as “punishment,” but at least this way you’ll appear a little less disingenuous.

Belief Makes You Close-Minded. . .

Belief Makes You Close-Minded. . .

It’s a refrain that’s heard often by skeptics – “You’re close-minded!” “If you’d open your mind, you’d understand!” “By ruling out the possibility of (fill in the blank) you’re closing your mind to all possibilities!” The thing is, in pretty much every instance, these insistences are completely wrong. The believer is the one whose mind is closed. Let me outline why this is.

Someone who believes something is, by definition, rejecting all evidence and argument that contradict with those beliefs. It doesn’t matter if it’s a belief that was taught to them, or when it was taught to them. It doesn’t matter if they came to the belief via anecdotes or personal experience. The core of belief is that it is not based on actual evidence. What a believer views as evidence is actually confirmation of belief. Evidence is reliable, consistent, and reproducible. Evidence doesn’t happen only under certain circumstances or only when observers are believers.

To a believer, evidence is inextricably bound to belief. Stories that support the belief are considered evidence, while those that contradict the belief are picked apart and dismissed as inconsequential. Supporting information is accepted, regardless of whether it is actual evidence, and dissenting information is rejected, even if it is actual evidence. If we’re talking about what constitutes closed-mindedness, I’d put this way up at the top of the list.
Read the rest of this entry

Wednesday Links

Wednesday Links

Welcome to another edition of Wednesday links. As you can see, I have been reading instead of writing. I hope to have some actual original content for you all in the near future. In the meantime, have some links:

The Discovery Institute feels sorry for my students is an excellent smackdown of Intelligent Design and the “cdesign proponentsists” who support it.

Several states are looking into legitimizing Naturopathy through legislation (as opposed to making sure its practitioners know anything about medicine.) Pretty Scary Stuff.

Fayhan al-Gamdi may actually be punished a little more for the brutal murder and rape of his five year old daughter, Lama. The Saudi royal family is shocked! Shocked, I say! Even though activist groups are pointing out that this kind of thing happens all the time.

Ben Hardwidge could give these folks a lesson or two. In Confessions Of A Former Misogynist he explains his mindset as a proud misogynist and the course of his enlightenment. He likens it to escaping from a religious cult, and I think that’s pretty apt.

And The Curious Case of Reeva Steenkamp’s Boyfriend has some food for thought about why we’re so concerned about the perpetrator but not the victim.

In case you’re not tired of women being hurt when they can’t fight back, read this piece by Amanda Marcotte about a woman who died in surgery, so we should abolish surgery.


Wednesday Links

Wednesday Links

A collection of photos that show beauty in decay.

Did the ancient Egyptians play Dungeons and Dragons?

Now I’m going to have to learn more about mitochondrial DNA – P.Z. Myers explains why your mother’s mDNA might influence your lifespan.

It looks like the FDA is finally putting the moves on fake cancer doctor Stanislaw Burzynski

But the FDA is powerless right now when it comes to protecting us from other, potentially more dangerous medical threats. Now that Massachusetts has finally gotten its act together and actually inspected its compounding pharmacies, only 4 out of 37 passed.

Greg Laden goes to visit a creationist science fair. At least these kids are homeschooled. Some politicians want us to pay for this kind of education with our tax dollars.


The (Annual) Christmas Rant.

The (Annual) Christmas Rant.

Once upon a time, Christians wanted everyone to celebrate their holiday.
They wanted children to get excited about it, so they allowed the myth of Santa Claus to be created and perpetuated, and nobody seemed to mind if a few non-Christian children got presents from him at Christmas.
They wanted to have the day off – they wanted the whole nation to have the day off – so Christmas became a Federal Holiday. They didn’t mind that it had to be turned into a secular holiday for that to happen, and they didn’t mind that non-Christians got the day off, too.
They wanted Christmas music to fill the air everywhere. They wanted schoolchildren to sing songs of Christmas in school, even if they weren’t Christian children. When music for other holidays, or for secular Christmas celebrations had to be included, they didn’t mind. As long as the children sang Christmas songs, it was OK.
They wanted Christmas to be a big, big deal. When glossy Christmas sale ads started coming out earlier and earlier, they didn’t complain. When Christmas music started being played in stores and shopping centers two months before the holiday, it was welcomed, because it got people in the spirit. When TV and movies and books and magazines told the world that Christmas was a season for giving, a season of generosity that filled all the people of the world regardless of their religion, their voices did not rise up in protest.
They wanted to share their holiday with everyone, so they allowed whatever compromises were necessary in order to do so. It went from being a minor holiday, a distant second from Easter, celebrated with their families and church congregations, to a mass-marketed, materialistic, completely secular festival of excess with their full approval and encouragement.
But now that it has become a holiday that excites children, that frees workers all around the country for at least a day, that is sung about in public places, that is celebrated most of all by retailers, now, only after this, is there a protest.
“Keep Christ in Christmas,” they say. But how? They are not asking the nation’s parents to tell their children the truth about Santa Claus. They are not asking December 25th to be removed from the list of Federal Holidays. They are not asking for Hymns and Carols to be removed from the musical repertoires of non-Christian musicians. They’re shopping for toys and decorating their homes with pagan icons just like the nonreligious. If they themselves aren’t doing anything to return to the religious celebration of Christmas, how can they expect anyone else? And how can they now expect an entire nation – no, many nations worldwide – to stop decorating trees, to stop telling children that Santa filled their stockings overnight, to turn off the radio so they don’t hear “The First Noel” or “We Three Kings of Orient Are”, to stop buying presents or traveling to see family or even serving dinner in soup kitchens? Is “Keep Christ in Christmas” an ultimatum? Celebrate it our way or don’t celebrate it at all? Yet, for all the protests against the secular holiday Christmas has become, none of the War on Christmas militia seem to be leading by example, by celebrating Christmas without any of the non-Christian trappings that their predecessors so blithely allowed.
Christ cannot be inserted into a holiday that has had more than a hundred years of concerted effort put into its secularization. It is immoral and wrong to create a tradition, expand it so that it crosses cultural boundaries, intertwine it with an entire season of the year, and then turn around and insist that everyone must suddenly adopt the religion that is now only loosely associated with it. The damage is done, so to speak. Religious people are welcome to their own traditions, are allowed to share their rituals and celebrations exclusively among their own, and can make whatever changes to their own significant events that they want. At this point, though, the secular Christmas belongs to everyone. They gave it to us willingly. You can’t change the rules in the middle of the game, and you can’t take this ball and go home anymore.

An Allegory on Belief

An Allegory on Belief

I know that the allegory is an often disparaged form of argument, but for me it is almost essential. The allegory creates a visual picture in the mind of an often ethereal concept, and creates a connection that allows many of us to better recall the details of the argument itself. I’m all about visuals and connections, and allegories – good ones, mind you – are often helpful to me in understanding an intangible concept. As such, I often find myself creating allegories to strengthen my understandings, and this is one I thought of this morning that seemed worthy of sharing.

We all believe things, whether it is because we lack portions of knowledge (a common problem, since nobody knows everything!) or because we have a hope that would be supported by belief. Belief itself is not a problem. In fact, a belief that urges us towards better understanding or towards a positive attitude is probably a pretty good thing. What nudges belief into being a negative thing is when it is used in lieu of available knowledge, or when it is used to obscure available knowledge. Even then, it is only mildly harmful, in that it is belief held by an individual. Consequences of holding a belief in such circumstances are borne only by the person who holds them. What makes belief that replaces or represses knowledge harmful is when that belief (and the arguments for sustaining it despite contrary evidence) is spread to others. Knowledge unsought or misused can become more and more harmful the more it is spread. . .

I do many creative things, and find that the ever-expanding information about materials, uses, and techniques is sometimes even more enjoyable to discover than putting that information to use. However, as more is discovered, some older information is often found to be incorrect. This information, though, has usually been widely available and often used to teach beginners, which means that many people learned to do things poorly, which means that many people thought that they could never attain a good result, which led to many people thinking that they just couldn’t do something simple, which led to self-deprecation. “I tried, but I’m no good at it,” stops the conversation. Sometimes people will follow that statement with something more empowering; they might then talk about something in which they excel. Often it simply hangs in the air. The person who excels feels bad for reminding someone else of his or her failings. The person who has failed is reminded of her shortcomings. Any enlightenment is promptly snuffed out.
So what does this have to do with belief? Well, let me start with my allegory. (I know you were waiting with bated breath!)

I sew. I hunt for bargains. If I see something that appears to be a material I could use, and it’s a fabulous bargain, I might not worry too much about its makeup. After I get it home – and let’s assume it’s fabric for this story, although it could be nearly anything – I’ll wash it and dry it and see how it comes out. This way, I know that any chemicals that alter the appearance or hand or drape of the fabric have been taken out, and that any changes due to laundering have happened before I’ve put all the work into constructing an item. (Piece of knowledge – I know that there are chemicals used to make fabric easier to manufacture, or to make it more attractive on a sales floor. Piece of knowledge – certain fibers change during/after laundering, and even with the greatest care these changes can take place in subsequent launderings.) If I see these changes, I then need to put some more consideration into how I will use this piece.

When the laundering is done, the change the fabric has undergone might require me to treat the fabric differently. Let’s narrow it down to a single piece for this example – a shiny, stiff fabric in a lovely iridescent shade.

In the store, I see this piece, and it looks almost like a taffeta, although a bit lighter bodied. I may think it would be good for the skirt of a formal dress, and it’s 70% off and a unique color, so I buy it. There is no indication at the bargain fabric store of what it might really be, because the sale table is mixed remnants of all kinds. Once home, I pop it into the washer and dryer – formal or not, anything I make needs to be washable. The fabric comes out crazed with wrinkles, but incredibly soft and drapey. It bears little resemblance to the smooth, stiff piece I bought. (Piece of knowledge – even the stiffest shiny fabrics may come out like this, but only some can be restored to that state.) At this point, I need to decide if I’m going to find a way to work with it as is, or if I’m going to try to remove the wrinkles and/or restore some of the stiffness. If I’m being smart and thinking ahead, I’ll then take a small piece and do a burn test. The burned fabric will curl up or melt into little balls if it is an artificial fiber, but leave crumbled or flaky ash if it’s natural, a combination of these if it’s mixed. (Piece of knowledge – a low temperature iron is less likely to burn an artificial fiber, but won’t take out the wrinkles, while a high temperature iron might replace the wrinkles with a sheen on bumps like darts, folds, pleats, and seam allowances.) Before I ruin the whole piece trying to get the wrinkles out, I need to decide if the fabric can handle a temperature high enough to get the wrinkles out. If it can’t, I have the knowledge to re-imagine the fabric’s potential and use it for a different project. (Piece of knowledge – the fabric can be underlined to give it more body, or can be used in a manipulated form as it is in smaller areas than a full formal skirt. Piece of knowledge – I can also take advantage of the fabric’s properties and re-launder it in a manipulated form.)

This is an example of a set of beliefs that are challenged by knowledge, that change as more knowledge is gained, and that continue to offer hope as they changed. I believed that the fabric was shiny and stiff, and imagined it as one garment. When it came out of the dryer, I believed that I could iron out the wrinkles and imagined it as something else. When I did the burn test, and found that it was too delicate to withstand ironing, I was once again able to imagine a different purpose for it, based on my knowledge of sewing and fiber arts. My beliefs all started with a lack of knowledge (Will it come out of the wash like it went in? Will I be able to get it back to the way it was? What is this stuff made of, anyway?) and hope (imagining throughout the process all the wonderful things the fabric could become) that were changed as knowledge grew. Additionally, at no point did the beliefs cause any harm beyond increasing the amount of time and thought I had to put into using the fabric (or requiring me to go out shopping again if the project had to be done regardless and this fabric wouldn’t work for it!)

Now, how in the world could a belief in the properties of a fabric, or not knowing how a particular fabric needed to be treated or used be a harmful belief, you might ask. Well, consider if I were to love that fabric enough to open a store whose entire inventory consisted of shiny, stiff fabrics. Consider if I were to stock that store with fabrics of all different fiber contents, labeling none of them, and then advertise myself as a fabric store for fancy dress fabrics. I could even have regular fantastic sales events to draw people in. Even beginners would be tempted to try whipping up wedding dresses and prom gowns.

These beginners, though, are not going to know that some fabrics won’t withstand even the most delicate of cleanings, or behave differently from each other, or look just fine until they attempt to press the final garment. People with knowledge might bypass my store entirely, or ask for cut samples to test at home before buying, or decide the sale price makes something worth buying no matter what it turns out to be. No harm there. People who have some knowledge might decide to not clean the fabric at all, treat it very carefully, and understand that the garment might be worn only once. People with very little knowledge will know only that they have failed once again when they end up wasting time and money on an unwearable garment. Imagine, though, that the harm is even greater – the people whose knowledge is limited get no additional knowledge from me or my store, and end up believing that all shiny, stiff fabric is identical – and never try again. And moreso, they believe that their lack of success is due to personal failure, and not only learn no more but also anticipate failure so deeply that they do not try to learn any other creative art.

Belief, here, that a shiny, stiff fabric is simply that, and lack of knowledge about how to work with various types of fabric, has done a great deal of harm. People who believe that a particular type of sewing (or any sewing, indeed) is out of their realm question their abilities – might even cause others to question their own (I was thinking about making a dress, but when Mary told me all the troubles she had. . .). The sorely discouraged won’t even try flower arranging or scrapbooking, hurting not only themselves and their self-image, but the flourishing of businesses and artists in those endeavors that they’ve dismissed. Existing knowledge will not be passed along. New knowledge will be shared only by a persistent few. The set of beliefs that follow that first one, “I guess this is too hard for me;” “I’m really bad at sewing;” “I’m not creative at all;” “I suck at all that arts and crafts stuff;” “I mess up everything I do;” become more and more staunch defenders of the wall of enclosed knowledge. The beliefs do not encourage learning, do not inspire hope of anything attainable, and as they spread do so even more.

Most beliefs range between the mostly harmless, personal ones and the negative ones like those above that have consequences for only the people who have tested the waters themselves. If the beliefs are challenged and either are overridden by new knowledge or changed to accommodate new knowledge, it doesn’t mean that belief (and the hope and anticipation it might inspire) is wasteful or useless. The changed belief might even inspire better things because it compels believers to expand their horizons further.

There are people in the world who give belief far more weight than knowledge, though, and this is where the harm lies. They feel that belief must be taught to others, that any knowledge that challenges a particular belief must be denigrated or suppressed, that the belief must be held regardless of whether it eventually causes harm to individuals or weakens a society. They believe (!) that what they believe must be true because they and sometimes others believe it, and insist that as many people as possible be taught how to believe it (and how to resist learning about things that don’t outright support that belief.) Teaching a belief, teaching the unknowing how to avoid further knowledge, does worse than impede progress; it actually encourages regress.

I do not condemn belief. As I said in the beginning, belief can actually be a good thing – shoring up confidence and curiosity – or at the very least, unharmful. A people or group of people can still do great things under the banner of belief. What I condemn is the active presentation of belief as a means to stifle knowledge; I condemn the use of belief as a tool to control others; I condemn belief as a way to demean people into a particular way of behavior. I condemn belief as a substitute for knowledge.

My fabric store, FWIW, would convey not only my points of knowledge, but all the new information that would be gathered from staff and customers and media that built upon them. Each time knowledge supplanted a belief, new ones would be presented, challenged, and tested. The possibilities would never stop expanding, in part because the beliefs expanded side by side with new information, in part because the beliefs filled their need and encouraged people to keep trying and learning – new knowledge would encourage the kind of positive need a belief fulfilled until even more knowledge displaced it.

Drinking the Sarah Palin Kool-Aid

Drinking the Sarah Palin Kool-Aid

I haven’t been astonished at the reactions I’ve been seeing among certain people to the nomination of Sarah Palin. Honestly, there are still people out there who think that Saddam Hussein engineered the 9/11 attacks, that we need to fight terrorists over there so we don’t have to fight them over here, and that George W. Bush is one of our greatest presidents EVAR. They write lots of letters to the editor, and they leave poorly-thought-out comments on blogs. Without exception, they sound like they have gone to the Fox News website and copy-pasted directly into their brains. Yesterday, though, I was shocked to see a Palin endorsement on the blog of someone I once considered a critical thinker. Yowza.

What did I see? Well, the complaint about the press coverage of daughter Bristol’s pregnancy. The argument that it’s a private matter is generally put forth by people who are unaware or unconcerned that Ms. Palin wants every child in the US to benefit from the same kind of sex education that got her daughter that way in the first place. Admiration that she can field dress a moose (a very important thing for the leader of our country to know.) A casual disregard for the fact that Ms. Palin did not know what the Bush Doctrine was – only one detail of what she does and does not know, as seen in her interview with Charles Gibson:

For me, this shows that during the time that she was secreted away, protected from the press, she was learning not about issues, or filling holes in her knowledge, but how to use approved Republican sound bites to dance around the issue without actually answering any questions.

What blows my mind is that the only issue mentioned where there is a difference of opinion between Palin and this person is abortion. I cannot fathom why there is no concern about the fact that Palin believes the world is only 6,000 years old, that man walked with dinosaurs, that she wants the Bible to be used as a history and science text in public schools, and that we’re living in the “end times.” I was surprised that nothing had been mentioned about her attitude towards Israel, since that is pretty much the top subject of the blog, but I wonder. . .most of the rapture-ready are very pro Israel only because they’re certain that the return of all the Jews to Zion will get the Revelation ball rolling. If I were concerned about electing a candidate who supported Israel, I wouldn’t want one who wanted to ship all the country’s Jews over there so the end of the world would come faster. In fact, regardless of that, I wouldn’t want a president or vice president who wanted to hasten the end of the world in any way whatsoever.

Why is there no concern about the Wasilla librarian fired by Palin because she wouldn’t take “objectionable” books off the shelves? Doesn’t it rankle that she lied about her support for the “bridge to nowhere” and earmarks in general? Is it unimportant that her geographical closeness to Russia is represented as “foreign policy experience”? That when she (or McCain) are caught distorting the truth, they manufacture outrages rather than issue corrections or apologies? (Lipstick on a pig is now a sexual slur, but it wasn’t when McCain said it a few years ago? Cut me a break. It’s a sexual slur the way “pot calling the kettle black” is a racial one. Which is to say, not.)

Nope. It looks like there is one overarching qualification Palin has that subverts any of her other shortcomings. She has a vagina.Around 3:19. . .Samantha Bee is parodying this attitude, but to see it in real life is disturbing. No matter how you expand it into an argument in favor of putting more women in positions of authority, when it comes down to that, it doesn’t count as a rational position. To see it coming from someone who purports to be a rational thinker is truly unpleasant. The thought that people all over the country will be so easily hoodwinked into the idea that voting this woman into office will in any way represent progress for women makes me fear for my daughters’ future.

The Power of Prayer. . .

The Power of Prayer. . .

Not too long ago, I passed on a story about a young girl who died because her parents were treating her diabetes with prayer. A different church attempted the same thing with young Ava Worthington, with equal success, and now Ava’s cousin has had the same results.

Fortunately, Oregon, unlike Wisconsin, has laws that hold parents responsible for withholding medical treatment from children in favor of faith healing. (In the articles from kgw, it looks like this particular church was a driving force in this law.)

Colorado had just changed their law granting exemption from prosecution for faith-healing parents when this happened:

March, 2001
Grand Junction — Charges have been filed against the parents of a 13-year-old girl who died from a common infection that turned into gangrene after her parents opted to treat her with prayer but not medicine.

Randy and Colleen Bates, members of the General Assembly Church of the First Born, were issued summonses Friday on charges of criminally negligent homicide, reckless manslaughter, reckless child abuse resulting in death, and criminally negligent child abuse resulting in death.

Church of the First Born members believe there is a biblical injunction against medical treatment. They treat illnesses and injuries with prayer.

Amanda Bates, one of the Bateses’ 11 children, died Feb. 6. Someone at her home called 911 early that morning to report an unattended death. Paramedics were able to revive the skeletal youngster, and she was kept alive until evening on machines at St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Luke’s Hospital in Denver. An autopsy showed she died from complications of diabetes, which include an increased risk of infections. Amanda’s infection began with an easily treated vaginitis, which eventually spread and turned to gangrene.

Even a group called Religious Tolerance lists faith-healing sects, including their incidences of unnecessary deaths. Our tolerance, as well, should be exclusive of beliefs that cause this kind of suffering. Perhaps we must allow people to hold their beliefs, no matter how ridiculous, but they have to be held responsible for the actions they take because of their beliefs. People whose beliefs include animal sacrifice or grave robbing for human remains to be used in ceremony find themselves charged with crimes if they’re caught sacrificing animals or robbing graves. There is no reason that people who withhold medical treatment from children until they are clearly ill, even until they die, should not be charged with a crime. The evidence of faith healing’s failure as a treatment is abundant – evidence of its success is wishful thinking.

And yet. . .our tax dollars just paid for Ken Ham to speak at the every-Wednesday Pentagon Prayer Breakfast.

Despite the fact that Ken Ham is delusional, as any look at Answers in Genesis or a brief tour through his ludicrous Creation Museum shows. But our military leadership wants to hear what he has to say.

Despite the fact that the prayers of devout believers directed at specific individuals has failed to save their lives, our government supports prayer to save entire troops (who were sent into danger by the very same folks soliciting the prayers) both ideologically and financially.

Despite the fact that parents avoid simple, proven medical treatments in favor of wishing really hard end up killing their children, many states exempt them from prosecution.

Am I wrong to object to my government endorsing religion in this way? Does it not seem like letting people die is OK as long as you really wish hard that they don’t? Is doing nothing, in the form of waiting for your invisible friend to grant your wishes, a get out of jail free card?

As long as prayer is held up as a viable course of action, practiced loudly and publicly by influential people, and allowed as an excuse for people to act in otherwise inexcusable ways, it is indeed an establishment of religion. It is a violation of the Constitution, and a violation of common sense.

What is it with people?

What is it with people?

From the Associated Press:

WESTON, Wis. An 11-year-old girl died after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical help for a treatable form of diabetes, police said Tuesday.

Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said Madeline Neumann died Sunday.

“She got sicker and sicker until she was dead,” he said.

Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.

The girl’s parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to “apparently they didn’t have enough faith,” the police chief said.

They believed the key to healing “was it was better to keep praying. Call more people to help pray,” he said.

The mother believes the girl could still be resurrected, the police chief said.

Telephone messages left at the Neumann home by The Associated Press were not immediately returned.

The family does not attend an organized church or participate in an organized religion, Vergin said. “They have a little Bible study of a few people.”

The parents told investigators their daughter last saw a doctor when she was 3 to get some shots, Vergin said. The girl had attended public school during the first semester but didn’t return for the second semester.

Officers went to the home after one of the girl’s relatives in California called police to check on her, Vergin said. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The relative was fearful the girl was “extremely ill, dire,” Vergin said.

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.

The family operates a coffee shop in Weston, which is a suburb of Wausau, Vergin said.