A Call To Action

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Image Credit: Black Atheists (Facebook Page).

Politics is something I don’t care much for, and don’t get involved with much beyond the voting booth. I have my political positions, and I do express them on occasion, but I’m not a political activist, and I would never use a platform such as this blog to advocate a political stance, except when it’s an issue that strikes at the core of what I write about here in this blog.

In past posts, I’ve mentioned my opposition to exemptions in law that permit the parents of children who die, or endure harm due to the parents’ exclusive reliance on “spiritual means” of healing to avoid prosecution for child abuse or neglect. I’ve told of compelling stories of people who have suffered permanent physical damage due to untreated medical conditions when they were children. There are way too many stories of children who’ve died miserable deaths from easily treatable or curable conditions like obstructed bowels, appendicitis, and diabetes. Parents who stand by and pray while their children scream in pain and waste away should be held accountable for their harmful decisions. Too many faith healing religions are riding the coattails of exemptions brought into law in the United States by the Christian Science Church–with very tragic results. Fortunately, for most of us outside of the United States, such exemptions in law do not exist.

I also strongly oppose the billions of dollars per year in taxpayer subsidies that religious organizations enjoy in the United States and other countries to varying degrees. In the United States, and my own country, Canada, donations to churches are deductible on income taxes. In the United States, churches routinely do not pay property tax or sales tax as other businesses do, and you can’t convince me that much of religion isn’t a business, especially when people like Joel Osteen live in multi-million dollar mansions and fly around in private jets. I guess they forgot all about the background of the poor son of a Galilean carpenter they like to say they emulate. Tax deductions and exemptions ARE subsidies! Someone else has to make up for the lost tax revenue that provides much of the government services that these religious organizations benefit from just like the rest of us do. I’ll give you three guesses who makes up for it: you, you, and me. Make churches pay taxes! That is a nice quick way to cut taxes for the rest of us. The only activity of a church that should be tax deductible or tax exempt is direct charitable work, such as Salvation Army efforts to help the poor, and other such activities.

I’ll end this post with what prompts me to write this. It’s a call to action for my readers in the United States, regarding two companion bills currently working their way through the United States Congress. This e-mail came to me from C.H.I.L.D. Inc. yesterday. I urge you, if you are an American, to get involved and contact your federal representative and senator, if you oppose this proposed religious exemption to the law popularly known as ObamaCare (The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act). Trust me, the Christian Scientists will be doing it–on March 11th. I absolutely guarantee it. They will be out in full enough force that they will convince lawmakers that they are a much larger and more powerful interest group than they actually are. It is also worth noting that both bills have broad bipartisan support. The e-mail explains it all (the bold text is my emphasis):

Dear CHILD Members and Friends,
The Christian Science church has scheduled a “national call-in day” on March 11 and is asking all members to call their federal legislators that day and urge votes for HR1814 and S.862, their bills exempting everyone with “sincerely held religious beliefs” against “medical health care” from the mandate to buy health insurance.HR1814 has 216 co-sponsors; S.862 has 31. They are in the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance Committees but have not been scheduled for hearings. With so many co-sponsors and with this national call-in day, they may get pushed through Congress.We urge you to contact your Congressperson and Senator in opposition to these bills either on or close to March 11. There are 177 minor children and stillborns buried in one cemetery used by the Idaho Followers of Christ. We believe that at least some of those children would have gotten medical care if their parents had been required to carry health insurance for them.These bills will be a great burden for governments to enforce and may involve the state in unconstitutional investigation of a person’s beliefs—whether they’re really religious, whether they are sincere, and whether he objects to all medical care or just some forms of care. Maybe the state will just accept anyone’s word that he has sincere religious beliefs against some medical care, which will be financially convenient for many people to claim. It is likely that some will claim the religious exemption to save money but later get medical care at the public’s expense. While the law provides that doing so forfeits the exemption, the provision will be hard to enforce and the cost of the medical care they get may be more than the penalty for not having insurance. Furthermore, they can claim the exemption again for the next year after forfeiting it for one year.Please voice your opposition to HR1814 and S.862. They increase the risk to children in faith-healing sects and the cost to the state if the children do get medical care.Sincerely,

~Rita Swan~
____________________
  • For more information on Children’s Healthcare Is A Legal Duty (C.H.I.L.D.) Inc, and their work, please visit their website.
  • For a list of children who have died due to religiously-based medical neglect, click here.
  • For bill text and information about the U.S. House of Representatives bill HR 1814, click this link (S 862 is an identical companion bill in the U.S. Senate).
  • For information on how to contact your U.S. Senator or Representative, click here.
  • For information on religious exemptions in law to the duty to provide proper health care for children, click here.
  • My fellow ex-Christian Scientist blogger at Kindism has also written an excellent post on this very same issue, and includes a number of informative links.
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8 thoughts on “A Call To Action

  1. Pingback: Calling your Congress People on Religious Exemptions | kindism

  2. FYI, C.H.I.L.D. Inc. as a non-profit organization takes advantage of the same IRS “tax exemptions and deductions” you criticized in your article. You pluck Joel Osteen out of a group of thousands of religious organizations that take advantage of the Federal IRS tax rule, you should give equal mention to the American Catholic Church, Islamic Center of America, the Vedanta Society (Hindu), Church of Latter Day Saints and the list goes on…

    • I agree, there are a number of religious organizations that do a lot of charitable work, and as I said in my post, that work should be tax exempt and tax deductible, as it is of a greater benefit to the community and to the world. The religious aspects of the work of a church or other religious organization, I maintain, should not be tax exempt or deductible, as that is forcing everyone to subsidize religion, and I do not wish to subsidize religion. Religion benefits itself only. There are many others I could single out for their material excess than Joel Osteen as well, but then I’d just fill a post of 1,000 or more words, just listing names. C.H.I.L.D. Inc. does advocacy work for the benefit of children, to work to protect them from religiously motivated abuse and neglect. If Church of the First Born members, Christian Scientists, and others who routinely deny their children medical care that would otherwise save them are denied their shield of exemption from responsibility for their terrible choices, and children are saved from the gruesome and horrible deaths that too many have suffered, that is a charitable act that benefits the world.

  3. Millions and millions of children die under medical care. Rita, Only your child and a handful of others have died under Christian Science care. It is criminally negligent to allow parents to force their kids to get medical treatment. How cruel can you be?

    • This argument you offer, which is one that is regurgitated time and time again by Christian Scientists (I used to swallow the Kool-Aid myself at one time too), is spurious at best, and demonstrates a distinct lack of knowledge of basic statistical analysis on your part. Yes, it is true that tens of thousands of children and adults die under medical care, and a handful under Christian Science care. However, what you and all others who put forth this argument repeatedly fail to acknowledge is that there are MILLIONS who seek medical care and barely thousands worldwide who seek Christian Science care. For example, according to the United States CDC, 130 million people accessed emergency rooms, and another 100 million accessed outpatient care in the United States alone. So yes, based on that fact, more people do die under medical care because MORE PEOPLE SEEK MEDICAL CARE. Also, medical care does not and never has claimed to cure everything–unlike Christian Science which does claim to be able to cure everything, yet clearly does not. What you need to look at is the proportional percentage of people who die under medical care versus the proportional percentage who die under Christian Science care. It is also worth noting that deaths in the medical system are recorded, reported, and investigated. That is most certainly NOT the case with Christian Science care.

      Also, I would like to see conclusive scientific proof of Christian Science’s purported ability to heal–undeniable proof that healing occurred solely by the action of Christian Science care, and not the body’s natural ability to heal itself, and to see the results repeatable in scientific tests. I can state unequivocally that I have never seen proof. Christian Science healings published in the periodicals only require that three people who either know the testifier or who witnessed the healing vouch for the testifier. That is not even close to the standard of proof for effectiveness or affirmation that is required in scientifically based medicine.

      I have never said that medical care is the cure-all. But, odds are better for cure or successful treatment than with Christian Science. And, by the way, I am not Rita Swan. I don’t know her, and I’ve never met her.

  4. If medical treatment fails to work, doctors and researchers figure out why and make changes to avoid a repeat. When Christian Science fails to work, Christian Scientists blame the victim and do exactly the same thing next time. That’s not much to brag about, especially since Christian Science regularly fails to work. (People often survive–but mere survival is a pretty low bar.)

    • Christian Science practice reminds me of my favourite definition of insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. I think anyone who survives a physical malady while under CS treatment is lucky. I consider myself extremely lucky–I survived 41 years, and my recent physical (first one since I was 20) came back good–blood-work and all. Like I said, when I got those results, inside I was breathing a sigh of relief at how lucky I’ve been.

  5. Pingback: Christian Science, the Affordable Health Care Act & Congressional Lobbying | kindism

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