NH Baritone wrote:I fail to understand how you could target specifically religious woo peddlers for retribution.
Keep The Reason wrote:Here's why I asked it the way I did: I want to know if religions should be held culpable.
Pseudonym wrote:Did you mean the specific organisations who dispensed the quack advice, or "religions" as a general concept?
There are laws in most places against giving medical advice which is false or misleading, or if you are not qualified to give it. This is, IIRC, the case in the UK. There may be a case here, and if there is, then the crown prosecutors should certainly pursue it. It is very wrong when unqualified people give bad medical advice, and if these churches have broken the law, they should be prosecuted. If they haven't, then perhaps the law should be tightened up.
I have one slight reservation in this case which, I should point out, has exactly nothing to do with the fact that it was a church giving them bad advice. When you get down to it, these three people were killed by an incurable terminal illness. Legally competent adults with incurable terminal illnesses are allowed to refuse treatment if they want to, for whatever reason.
Keep The Reason wrote:I would say any religion that pretends to know something it cannot demonstrate it knows, like "God will heal you". That is not a demonstrable claim, hence it is quack advice from a non-medical individual.
Keep The Reason wrote:I would say being told, "Don't take your medicine because god will heal you" is, in my mind, an unsupported claim that causes egregious harm in most cases [...]
Keep The Reason wrote:There are drug treatments that forestall this inevitability, and they were specifically advised to drop those treatments.
Keep The Reason wrote:I don't see these people as simply deciding not to take the medical treatment as their own choice; rather, they are told by who they consider to be authority figures in whom they trusted to stop it.
Pseudonym wrote:Does it have to be a religion, or will anyone do?
That a claim must be demonstrable is a tall order sometimes. Questions of ethics, for example, are rarely amenable to evidence. Suppose a church (or even a secular organisation) says to a woman words to the effect of, "don't have an abortion, that's morally wrong; besides, we have a really good adoption agency and we can place your baby with a good family who can't have one of their own". That abortion is morally wrong is not a demonstrable claim, but neither is the claim that it's morally okay under the right circumstances. This borders on medical advice, but for some reason, I have less of a problem with this example.
I tend to agree, but I'm not sure where the line is drawn legally, or where it should be drawn. Certainly, singling out religion or religious organisations for special treatment would be a gross violation of the separation of church and state.
Once again, it's difficult to say where to draw the line. If someone is facing incurable cancer, and considering whether or not to continue treatment knowing that it will prolong their life by maybe 5 years with a high risk of nasty side-effects, would it be so wrong for a counsellor to point out that it's okay to refuse treatment? I don't think so. Yes, there are probably differences between the two cases, but distinguishing between them is legally difficult.
That is far from clear going from the write-up. You seem to have this idea that thy were "told" by an "authority figure". Admittedly, there is one piece of heresay evidence (the last quote) to support this in one out of the three cases. The actual social dynamics in the church might be quite different. It could be more like a community peer group encouraging the person to stop treatment, which is quite different from a decree from on high.
Rian wrote:Well, people can talk about religions/religious figures as being authority figures, but it's the person's choice who they take as an authority.
Keep The Reason wrote:But we already have laws against people doing this -- EXCEPT the religious organizations.
Keep The Reason wrote:I would say the community peer group, if condoned by the church, has the same force of authority.
Keep The Reason wrote:We do have enough information to recognize that religions are not accredited medical institutions, and therefore should they be held accountable if they give medical advice that causes harm?
Keep The Reason wrote:I wonder what your position on this is regarding child abusing priests?
Pseudonym wrote:Sorry, I don't follow. So-called "faith healers" or "exorcists" can and have been prosecuted fairly recently, both in the US and the UK.
'm not Rian, but my position is that this is a false analogy. Child abuse is a crime. It's not clear that what this church did is a crime, though I think we agree that if it isn't, it would be worth investigating the current law to see if it's adequate.
NH Baritone wrote:Or instead would you advocate seeking out those who told him of those "holistic, natural" treatments for prosecution and imprisonment? What if it was nothing more than an internet discussion forum?
Keep The Reason wrote:Pat Robertson has been on TV every night for years saying "There's a lady in Pittsburgh -- her diabetes is now healed and you needn't take your medicine any more." That never gets prosecuted.
Keep The Reason wrote:Who knows how many exorcisms have taken place without any consequence to the participants?
Keep The Reason wrote:And faith healers get away with it here on a daily basis. About the only time it gets prosecuted that I'm aware of is when Christian Scientists refuse medical aid for their children and the children die. And invariably, you hear about how "prosecuting the parents who have already lost their child is more than enough punishment". Religious circumstances often just get a "pass".
Hang on, homeopaths get a "pass" too. Religion doesn't seem to be the distinguishing factor as to whether or not you get a "pass". It sounds to me more who gets a pass and who doesn't largely depends on how much provable harm can be directly blamed on the quack.
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