Friday, May 29, 2009

When prayer is wrong

(I know the story is a week old, but I wanted to write something on this...)

I'm a liberal; this you should already know, if you read this blog regularly. The point is, many conservatives will probably assume that I don't support religious rights all that much.

Truth be told, I'm a strong proponent of religious rights. I believe in public prayer in public places. I'm not all that opposed to religious symbols being placed on government property -- so long as all religions that want to be present there are allowed to be as well. When it comes to religion, I'm under the belief that whatever you want to believe, believe it, so long as it doesn't cause harm to anyone else.

That last caveat is especially important; just as government can become oppressive towards religion, so, too, can religion become oppressive. It seems like something that doesn't have to be said -- there are literally centuries of evidence to confirm it -- but sometimes, it's worth reminding people that religious belief can sometimes go down the wrong path.


Last Friday, a woman from Wausau, Wisconsin, was convicted of second-degree reckless homicide for failing to take her 11-year old diabetic daughter. Instead of seeking medical help, Leilani Neumann decided her best option was to pray for her daughter to get healed.

Actually, she didn't see it as her best option -- she saw it as her only option. Never did the idea of seeking medical help for her daughter come into her mind as a feasible option to take. For a woman who "prays about everything," surrounding her daughter in a prayer circle until it was too late, until she breathed her last breath, was perfectly acceptable.


I have no doubt in God's power. As a Christian myself, I know that God could have very easily healed this little girl. But there comes a time when God wants you to put his faith in Him by putting your faith in others.

Leilani Neumann should have done just that. It was irresponsible to assume that God would punish her for not trusting in His power. God has given us the marvels of modern medicine and science, entrusted in us the wisdom necessary to utilize these things. He didn't hand the ability to understand these things so that we could just waste them; He gave us these things so that we could use them.

So yes, it was right to prosecute and ultimately convict Leilani Neumann for the actions that she took; and if you believe that she was persecuted for her religious convictions, you are wrong. She recklessly used her daughter's life to prove her love for God.

I don't quote from Immanuel Kant very often because he's not my favorite philosopher. But perhaps he put it best when he said this:
"Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end."

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