Do people have a right to hold pre-scientific ideas? Do they have a right to teach those pre-scientific ideas to their children? Do they have a right to risk their children’s lives based on those beliefs?
My own tendency is to say adults can believe anything they want but, in contradiction to that belief, I also hold that we all have a corporate responsibility for the well being of every child. Our corporate responsibility would mean interfering in the “religious right” of parents to force their children to handle poisonous snakes, to perform female genital mutilation on their daughters, or to leave children trapped in views of the world that will make it very difficult for them to study science or views of history that treat the voices of those outside our own group as valid.
I am posing this question after reading about Herbert and Catherine Schaible who were just convicted for refusing medical treatment for their sick child. The child died. It was the second time one of their children had died as a result of their belief in faith healing. The couple defied a court order telling them to seek medical care for their children when they lost a 2 year old son after refusing medical treatment in 2009.
So what does religious freedom mean when other people are effected by our beliefs? Do any of us have a right to put others at risk, or to teach our children a view of the world will leave them little chance of joining the rest of us in making this a better world or ever having a rational thought of their own?
So do we think children should all be wards of the state, trained to be good citizens, as happens in communist societies? How far do we go with this idea?
I recall a supposedly true story of a youngster who, based on the faith of his parents, whom I know, refused medical care for a broken arm, insisting that God would heal it. The parents decided to honor his faith, saying that building faith and character was more important than having a perfectly healed arm. All came out well, but the risk was high. I’m not sure how this fits, exactly, other than to say that there is a fine line between protecting and training children and conscripting and brainwashing them. How to properly raise children is among the top issues in nearly all households with children and more than one adult. We all have trouble agreeing on what’s right and wrong for kids and what is right to teach them and what is not. 2/20/14, 08:13 CST
I do not believe that parents rights to freedom of religion extends to the decision to refuse medical treatment for a minor child. Vacines as an example are not just to protect the lives of your children but of every child. Polio was almost completely removed from the world until some parents refused to comply and now the illness has come back.
So, in your “religion,” societal concerns trump personal religious concerns? Where does one draw the line between one’s strongly held personal religious tenets and society’s purported concerns? Did the Nazis get it right, after all?
I think I actually mostly agree with you. We need to be practical, not idealistic in navigating some of this.
I just have to point out that our society is battling over many things that seem very straightforward to opposing sides ethically, morally, societally, etc. Those who believe it is morally wrong to terminate a pregnancy is every bit as certain of the morality of their position as those who fight for “women’s rights” on this issue. I think Jim crosses the line into a very grey area when he expresses societal interest in making sure children are educated in certain ways, especially about certain controversial public issues. I think we have to trust that it will all work out ok. The fights will not end. People will continue to be vitally diverse without us taking control of what kids are taught, especially by parents who don’t think like we do regarding that or many other issues. 2/21/14, 08:13 CST
Children should be protected, physically, emotionally, and psychologically, until they can “live to” the age of consent at which time they can choose what they believe and how they want to live. If their parents can’t even protect their health, with all of God’s medical inventions (I prefer to credit science but since these people think God is responsible for everything…), until they can “grow-up” then the rest of us are derelict in our duty for not protecting them as we would protect them (by law) from strangers who would abuse them. When parents do not protect their children from childhood diseases (like polio) they are putting the rest of us at risk too. Think about your children dying from polio because of the ignorance of a few.