Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Faith vs Modern Medicine: More epic fail from the Bible Belt

Back when I visited RDF more regularly, I recall catching glimpses of stories like this one every so often. And then suddenly I don't feel quite so bad about giving harsh advice against prayer (see two posts down).

I did take a peep at the helptheneumanns site, and truth be told, I did find it quite useful, that is, it points out all the bits of Wisconsin law that support the Neumanns' actions in choosing prayer over medicine and hence are in obvious need of amendment. Among other things, it also had links to press releases from the Neumanns' delusion dispensers of choice, Unleavened Bread Ministries. They begin with:

"We at UBM would like to clear up some misconceptions from what we know, which is little."

Well, at least they're honest about one thing. However, I didn't think having this plastered across the top of their page did much for their credibility:

This kind of silliness should be very familiar among those of you keeping an eye on the culture war. For the benefit of those who aren't, this is a common strategy among religious institutions to maintain their hold on the flock: Fearmongering.

In the ancient art of demagoguery, the most powerful weapon in the arsenal of the preacher man is fear. That's what Hell was created for. Of course, Heaven and Hell are light years away, that is, on the other side of life and death. So, the preacher man has to come up with other boogiemen to keep the sheeple fearful: The End of Days, demons, witches, foreigners, abortion, contraception, other religions, the lack of religion, video games, the internet, science, Richard Dawkins... With skill, a preacher can set up boogiemen in so many places that his flock's worldview gets narrower and narrower until the preacher becomes the sole beacon of truth in their hapless little lives.

Take a look at this quote from another luckless victim of faith-induced glaucoma:

"... we knew that once we went to the doctor, we'd be cut off from God."

That's from a former Christian Scientist whose 16 month old son expired after she'd postponed taking the poor lad to the hospital a wee bit too long.

Anyway, the rest of the UBM site was a silly mess of scripture-quoting, infantile platitudes and saccharine testimonials. I, and no doubt many atheists, are very much immune to such tripe, but I really wonder sometimes, how utterly warped does a mind have to be to actually take such silliness seriously? How can those who stand on the side of reason reach out to the poor sots whose idea of truth is "the [insert scripture of choice here] says so, so it must be true?" Anyone who has tried to explain evolution to a fundie will have felt the same exasperation I've felt so many times before. Have they truly fallen so far? Are they really below our reach? Well, this atheist won't stop trying.

Where do I stand on the Neumanns? Frankly, I most certainly do think they deserve to be punished for the manslaughter of their child. However, I do think 25 years each seems a bit much. Who do you really suppose is at fault here? The sheep or the shepherd? I think this David Eells joker has a LOT to answer for.

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