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?