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Oregon faith-healing couple found guilty of manslaughter

Published September 30th, 2011 by Bobby Henderson

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From kwtx:

Dale and Shannon Hickman of Oregon City, Ore., who prayed for their ailing prematurely born son rather than seeking medical care, have been found guilty of felony manslaughter.

Prosecutors claimed Shannon Hickman never sought prenatal care and the couple never considered taking the premature infant to the hospital.

The child was born with a bacterial infection and underdeveloped lungs and died within nine hours after he had trouble breathing.

The Hickmans’ attorney claimed religious persecution and said there was no evidence that medical care would have saved the baby.

Faith healing is one of those areas where I can ignore it as a so long as it’s affecting themselves.  But it’s very sad when parents are making reckless choices for their kids.  I am happy to see this case worked out and hopefully it will cause some religious groups to do some critical thinking.

Some believe this case illustrates how evil religion is. I wavered on posting the article because that is not the point I wanted to make. More to the point, I believe the Church of FSM is not just another anti-religion club. A lot of us have the view that religion is harmful and antiquated, but a lot of us also accept that a huge number of people feel they get something positive out of their faith and their religious communities.

So I am cautious about posting things that promote the idea that the world would be better off without religion. Because, more than anything, I don’t believe it’s in the scope of the Church of FSM to make that statement.

The point I want to make is this: instead of drawing the line between the religious and non-religious, let’s draw the line between the reasonable and unreasonable. Let’s criticize a culture that values faith over reason, rather than religion itself.

Why? We know plenty of religious people and we realize that the majority of Christians do not reject modern medicine for their children. We personally know people who get something positive from their religious communities and yet still act with reason.

These are the people who might believe in some scripture, but they also realize that their faith does a poor job of explaining the natural world. They are not blinded by faith, they are reasonable. We need these people to promote the value of reason within their communities.



100 Responses to “Oregon faith-healing couple found guilty of manslaughter”

  1. rdiac says:

    Pretty sad. I understand about half of children of extremist couples fail to inherit the errr, vulnerability to bullshit and will probably wind up rejecting their folks harm; so even I’m having trouble being cynical about this.

    I do hope the conviction goes through and the evangelicals kick up a great big stink so the deterrent effect works. Screw religious freedom….

  2. Keith says:

    Well, they should accept the verdict of the court. After all, isn’t western law a Christian interpretation of Roman law?

  3. Ppenguinator says:

    I see no problem with religion in general, as long as you don’t force it on others; or with raising children in a religious background, as long as they are presented with all the facts and are free to leave whenever they want; but these ‘faith healers’ are sick, tricking people out of their money and risking lives, purely out of greed. And if they actually believe in their ‘powers’, they aren’t just deluded – they’re insane.

  4. Mr. A says:

    Two comments:

    1. I’m a little disappointed that the doctors didn’t just take the child and try to save it despite the parents’ wishes. I’m sure they feared for their licenses but it seems like it would have been pretty tought to prosecute them for saving a newborn’s life.

    2. Where are the cries of outrage from the so-called “pro-life” people?

    • Mr. A says:

      sorry, I meant “tough.”

      • Brian Fritzen says:

        On comment 2: Indeed. Don’t these people claim that Abortion is murder?

        On comment 1: Did the doctors know? Sounds as if the baby was born in the home, possibly with an equally misguided midwife.

        • Mr. A says:

          Yes, I see that now. I think I was so upset the first time through that I missed the part where they never considered taking the child to the hospital.

          Hooray for homebirth! Hooray for religion!

        • Spammyboy says:

          But it wasn’t abortion. God chose to bring the child into this world and then allow it to die. Hooray for God! :) <-Smiley face doesn't mean I'm happy about the death of a baby; it's just an indication of satire.

  5. Brian Fritzen says:

    I think it ironic that, if their religion was correct, their god would send them to hell for murdering their child.

  6. Red Pastafarian says:

    Sad story…Even though I don’t believe it exists I do wish these people would go to hell. Jail used to be like hell some 100 years ago, but nowadys it’s more like a holiday camp it seems.

  7. Mark says:

    Iwas trying to remember a joke that this unfortunate tragedy remind me of and came across which is a very similar to the joke about a man on a life raft this one is about a man stuck on an island with a rising river:
    A rescue team threw him a rope and he refused to grab it because “God Saves”. The river rose and the rescue team sent a boat to him and he refused to get in because “God Saves”. The river rose and he climbed the flag pole and a helicopter came by to pick him up and he refused to get in because “God Saves”. He finally drowned and when he stood before God, he was miffed. “Why didn’t you save me?” he screamed out. God looked down and said “I sent you a rope, a boat and a helicopter. What more do you want?”
    I know not in the best taste but some strong religious types do seem to express a similar view.

  8. I'm Brian and so's my wife. says:

    “The point I want to make is this: instead of drawing the line between the religious and non-religious, let’s draw the line between the reasonable and unreasonable. Let’s criticize a culture that values faith over reason, rather than religion itself.”

    Religion IS faith. You can’t separate them.

    • Jason says:

      “Religion IS faith. You can’t separate them.”

      I have faith the sun will rise tomorrow, does that mean I’m religious?

      • Keith says:

        No: faith does not necessarily mean religion. It’s the same as “All fish live in the sea but not everything that lives in the sea is a fish”

        • Danny says:

          That sounds about right.

        • I'm Brian and so's my wife says:

          Just because religion is faith, it doesn’t necessarily follow that all faith is religious. I never said that. Religious belief requires faith, as I said, you cannot separate them.

      • He Who Doubts says:

        Actually you don’t have faith in tomorrow’s sunrise. According to TheFreeDictionary website, faith is defined as, “Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.”[1] You can’t prove the sun will rise tomorrow. It’s a future event, and far beyond anyone’s ability to confirm foresightedly. You do however have evidence this will happen; from past experience you know the cycle of sunrise and sunset, from astronomy you know the orbit of our planet around the sun, and from astrophysics you know the likelihood of such an orbit being interrupted by intergalactic phenomena such as black holes. This makes what you believe[2] not about faith, but rather about inference. From the same website, this is defined as, “The act or process of deriving logical conclusions from premises known or assumed to be true.”[3] Something similar happens whenever we estimate commute time in our cars before we pull out of the driveway, wonder if the recipient of a gift will enjoy what they’re given, or place bets on the final score of a sports game. Other beliefs held by a person may have nothing to do with either faith or inference, such as my belief that I should stop at a red traffic light, wash my hands after going to the bathroom, and should dress warmly in a blizzard. In order for you to be religious, you would need to participate in an institutionalized system which has basis on the belief and worship of supernatural powers responsible for the creation and governing of the cosmos.[4]

        1) http://www.thefreedictionary.com/faith
        2) http://www.thefreedictionary.com/belief
        3) http://www.thefreedictionary.com/inference
        4) http://www.thefreedictionary.com/religion

      • I'm Brian and so's my wife says:

        No, you KNOW the sun will rise tomorrow because you understand Copernican motion. It doesn’t require faith which, by definition, is belief without evidence.

        • He Who Doubts says:

          According to The Discovery Channel, the Copernican Principle, as it’s called, posits that, “there’s nothing special about humans or Earth.”[1] This is perhaps the understanding behind why we, as humans, have mostly rejected geocentrism[2][3] in favor of heliocentrism,[4] but it isn’t why we know about the movement of the earth in relation to the sun; we get that knowledge directly from heliocentrism itself.

          Regardless of our knowledge of the movement of earth around the sun which we derive from the highly accurate model of heliocentrism, we do not know for an absolute unquestionably certain fact that the sun will rise tomorrow. We can however make an unconfirmed prediction that it will. What confirmation of tomorrow’s sunrise have you traveled into the future for that can provide you with the certainty that you stake claim to?

          1. http://curiosity.discovery.com/question/what-copernican-principle
          2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_geocentrism
          3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geocentric_model
          3. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heliocentrism

        • He Who Doubts says:

          I agree with what you said about faith. In fact you reiterated what I’d said in my original post, that, “According to TheFreeDictionary website, faith is defined as, ‘Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.’”

    • He Who Doubts says:

      People of faith don’t necessarily participate in organized religion, nor are those who participate in organized religion necessarily of faith. In the former example, someone might practice their faith privately without the inclusion of a church; in the latter example, someone might be a part of a church because of social connections, appeasement of family, fear, curiosity, or for another reason other than faith. Ergo, religion and faith can be separate.

      Typically however, they are not. A person may seek support of their faith, and kinship with similarly faithful people, from those in a church of the person’s choosing. Those in the church might also require faith in religious doctrine to believe and perform religious practices.

      The exact relation between religion and faith depends on the specifics of a circumstance.

    • Dave says:

      I would call religion organised faith, faith is what an individual thinks/believes, religion is when a group of people come together and decide they have the same faith; that’s usually when the trouble begins.
      Faith is fine, everyone should have freedom of thought, it’s when people decide that their religion is superior to other forms of law that is bad, and why the state should be secular and set limits on religion (but not faith)

      • He Who Doubts says:

        “I would call religion organised faith, faith is what an individual thinks/believes, religion is when a group of people come together and decide they have the same faith; that’s usually when the trouble begins.”

        I agree with you on these points to a degree. My suspicion is you and I have described similar beliefs, even if we stated them differently.

        “Faith is fine, everyone should have freedom of thought, it’s when people decide that their religion is superior to other forms of law that is bad, and why the state should be secular and set limits on religion (but not faith)”

        I agree with you on these points also, which exceptions. A personal understanding of mine is that people employ six methods for viewing and understanding the world. Faith is one of them, with the others being math, science, philosophy, imagination, and emotion. Each of these, including faith, have their uses, but one should always beware of the ill effects of improper use. I can build myself up, bolster my self-esteem, improve my disposition, and feel happy if I have faith in my efforts to improve the situation at work or at home if I’m faced with adversity in those places, but I would never have faith that the supernatural has reliably factual answers to life’s important questions concerning morality, mortality, origins, etc. Doing so is not ‘fine’ as you stated, it’s dangerous. I wouldn’t suggest that people be forced into conforming their thoughts to this idea; I value freedom of thought also, but I will correct someone’s understanding of faith if I believe it’s necessary, even if that means being assertive with my words.

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