Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine Info

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Reviews for Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine:

4

Jan 29, 2016

Two things I've always said you just don't discuss on social media is politics and religion and now I read a book that has a religious theme. The author states at the beginning of this book that that in beginning this book he would have assumed that in uncovering the stories of medical neglect that he would find religion illogical and potentially harmful but states instead that he found himself embracing religion. I really didn't see that part of the book. He does impart his findings in an Two things I've always said you just don't discuss on social media is politics and religion and now I read a book that has a religious theme. The author states at the beginning of this book that that in beginning this book he would have assumed that in uncovering the stories of medical neglect that he would find religion illogical and potentially harmful but states instead that he found himself embracing religion. I really didn't see that part of the book. He does impart his findings in an engaging way, he made me rage for some of the children and women that he featured in this book. He writes in a way that is very readable and relate-able and I actually wished there were more to each story he tells.

This being said, I'm not really religious but I am interested in what makes people follow each religion. What makes a parent turn to a preacher to pray for their child when medicine could very easily save them? What makes a large group of people follow leaders who for the rest of us are bat-stuff crazy?


I still really don't know some of those answers. I do wonder sometimes about whether I'm any worse for not being religious (and I live in the Bible belt and it's unheard of)....or being like a co-worker of mine? He is super religious and comes across as this very nice man, until you cross him. Then you see a whole different person. And it's ugly.

This book covers so much and I wanted to highlight it all but it's pretty impossible and not write a ten page review. Some that I found fascinating though were the fact that some Jewish practitioners believe in the practice of metzitzah in which a newborn's circumcision is done and the blood "spit on the earth." Several children have died from herpes due to such.
Oral Roberts and several other "celebrity" pastors and their "faith healing" practices. Abortion rules for some religions. Christian Scientist who knew something was horribly wrong with their child and instead of seeking medical help just changed practitioners.
This book will enrage some readers (I think I popped several extra gray hairs reading it) and then enrage others because it dares to examine some religious practices. One thing I thought about it was it does make you think.

What I have learned is that to be truly religious is to be humane; to find that greater part of ourselves; something that causes us to do extraordinary acts of love and kindness; that allows us to see ourselves as part of a larger community. In the name of religion, people have counseled the addicted, ministered to the downtrodden, fed the poor, housed the homeless, helped tsunami victims, and served as beacons in the fight against slavery and for civil rights. But religion has also been used to justify some of humankind's most unconscionable acts.


My friend Becky read this book and I sorta stalked her while she was..her review is fascinating and I could not wait to read this book. ...more
4

Jan 10, 2016

If you have been following my reviews at all, even say... the last five, then you'd know that I'm not a religious person. Up until right now, and with few exceptions, I would say that I'm tolerant of others' beliefs... but I've found my line in the sand, it seems. That would be where some people or religions, like Christian Science for example, choose to use belief or prayer as their only method of healthcare, and it causes people to suffer and die needlessly. This, to clarify, since it was If you have been following my reviews at all, even say... the last five, then you'd know that I'm not a religious person. Up until right now, and with few exceptions, I would say that I'm tolerant of others' beliefs... but I've found my line in the sand, it seems. That would be where some people or religions, like Christian Science for example, choose to use belief or prayer as their only method of healthcare, and it causes people to suffer and die needlessly. This, to clarify, since it was pointed out to me that I did a poor job of it originally, is not the rule when it comes to religion or faith or a belief system. It's definitely more common than I would like, but it's certainly not the majority by any means.

This book was fucking heartbreaking and appalling and horrifying. At the beginning of the book, I really wasn't sure where it was going. Offit mentions that he's not anti-religion, and that in fact, in researching this book, he had actually come to appreciate religion even more, and that the answer to the problems he would soon outline would be found therein. Which was something I found a little suspect, to be honest. If some religious faith is the impetus for avoiding medical care, how exactly is that going to do an about-face and suddenly embrace it?

It could be that he was trying to draw a line separating "religion" from "faith", or between religion and these types of cults, and was imploring organized religions to intercede and change their doctrine to allow for modern medicine to have a place in addition to faith... but honestly I don't see that happening. Some of these beliefs carry the weight of thousands of years of tradition, or at least text which can be interpreted to mean the same thing, and even when they don't have the eons of time behind them, like Christian Science, they continue to exist simply because people believe in them. Faith requires no proof or logic.

It's an almost flawless system for the church/religion or cult, really. They aren't accountable for failure. If your faith is true and pure in whatever the doctrine they specify, you, or the one you're praying for, will be healed. If not, it's because you, or the sick one, or someone, somewhere, lacked faith. Or maybe it was just God's will. There's no way of knowing. Better luck next time.

This book broke my heart a dozen times over. At one point, I literally was so shocked and horrified and angered by one of the stories told in this book that it was either shout "Are you fucking SERIOUS??!" or just start angry crying. And as I was driving at the time, I figured the former was the better option.

I just don't understand how or why someone could sit by and watch their child(ren) die slowly and painfully by inches, and do nothing. I'm sorry, but praying doesn't cut it. Time after time, these parents had time to seek actual help that would be much more effective than speaking words into empty air, and they chose to do the latter. Sure, to them, the air wasn't empty... yet for all the good it did, I see no reason to call it anything but.



This book covered a lot of ground that I thought was interesting, from Biblical stories to historical mistreatment of children to infectious disease outbreaks caused by failure to vaccinate (for religious reasons here though, not because of Jenny McCarthy's autism nonsense), to abortion, placebo effect (briefly), to legal battles over First Amendment rights and where to draw the line between a person's right to practice their religion and protecting society and innocent children who are being treated as pawns in this tug of war. Or, as the book claims, "martyrs". It talks about cults and the Westboro Baptist nutjobs and the ACLU, and corporations as "religious entities" when it comes to providing certain healthcare options, and it shows how this religious freedom from medicine thing is much more widespread than people would think. (I seem to remember a Law & Order episode where a Jehovah's Witness needed a blood transfusion, and it was a big deal... but otherwise, this really isn't something that you hear about in the news.) This book even went into the Jerry Sandusky trial, and at the same time as he was being brought up on charges for sexual assault on children and teens, another case going on here in PA was ensuring that parents who choose to allow their children to die by withholding medical care for religious reasons will not be prosecuted. I live here in PA, and I definitely heard about the one case, and definitely nothing on the other.



I will say that bits of this were repetitive, and I think it could be a bit more organized as far as the layout. Perhaps it was due to my listening to this on audio, but it felt like it jumped around a bit more than I would like. I would also have liked, and maybe this exists in the print edition, a bibliography and resource index. There were a few other books mentioned that I would be interested in reading, and I would love if there were resources for people looking to help or seek help for someone else.

Otherwise, as much as this book was a major downer, I did find it interesting and fascinating and horrifying and heartbreaking. It just amazes me that in this day and age, in some ways, we're still stuck in the fucking dark ages. ...more
5

Jun 18, 2015

I don't always finish a nonfiction book in one day, but when I do, it's really good.

Fair warning though: this is an emotionally difficult read. Lots of descriptions of children dying awful, painful, totally preventable deaths. But if you can handle it, it's an extremely important issue to get yourself informed about, and Offit is a very compassionate and engaging writer.

He also changed my mind about the usefulness of laws. I went into this thinking that there's no way it would work to simply I don't always finish a nonfiction book in one day, but when I do, it's really good.

Fair warning though: this is an emotionally difficult read. Lots of descriptions of children dying awful, painful, totally preventable deaths. But if you can handle it, it's an extremely important issue to get yourself informed about, and Offit is a very compassionate and engaging writer.

He also changed my mind about the usefulness of laws. I went into this thinking that there's no way it would work to simply make it illegal to withhold medical care from children for religious reasons, that people would do it anyway. But Offit offers compelling evidence that these laws would actually work, because they've been tried in some places. ...more
5

Jul 05, 2015

This is a book about compassion. It's also a chronicle of how well meaning people can loose sight of compassion. It covers the dire consequences of and legal battle around faith healing. That is, neglecting medicine for religious reasons. Many of the cases involve cults. Worst offenders are members of the so-called "Christian Science" who's practices are neither Christian nor scientific. Offit writes with compassion for both the victims and perpetrators of medical neglect.

He doesn't vilify This is a book about compassion. It's also a chronicle of how well meaning people can loose sight of compassion. It covers the dire consequences of and legal battle around faith healing. That is, neglecting medicine for religious reasons. Many of the cases involve cults. Worst offenders are members of the so-called "Christian Science" who's practices are neither Christian nor scientific. Offit writes with compassion for both the victims and perpetrators of medical neglect.

He doesn't vilify religion. Though in a book like this it would be like shooting fish in a barrel. Instead, he reminds the reader that not caring for people, especially children, is unsupported by the teachings of all the world's religions. It's a commendable effort though a bit of wishful thinking. My take away from this book is that all systems of belief not based in the real world can have negative consequences therein. ...more
4

Jul 07, 2015

BAD FAITH: WHEN RELIGIOUS BELIEF UNDERMINES MODERN MEDICINE
Written by Paul A. Offit, M.D.
2015; Basic Books (272 Pages)
Genre: nonfiction, medicine, religion, science

Rating: ★★★★

I was just going to read the Introduction of this book before I turned to my current read (legal thriller); and the next thing I knew I was halfway through the book and a little past my bedtime. I had work in the afternoon so I was able to finish the book just before lunch. Bad Faith is a hard book to rateit is well BAD FAITH: WHEN RELIGIOUS BELIEF UNDERMINES MODERN MEDICINE
Written by Paul A. Offit, M.D.
2015; Basic Books (272 Pages)
Genre: nonfiction, medicine, religion, science

Rating: ★★★★

I was just going to read the Introduction of this book before I turned to my current read (legal thriller); and the next thing I knew I was halfway through the book and a little past my bedtime. I had work in the afternoon so I was able to finish the book just before lunch. Bad Faith is a hard book to rate…it is well written and the subject matter is fascinating but at times can be quite difficult. Offit uses real life cases and those of young children to illustrate his point. Parents who believe that healing through religion is the only salvation and cure for their children usually have given them a death sentence. I liked that Offit didn’t blame religion or mistreat it in this book as it gave more credence to his argument. It is the way in which religion is used and how it allows treatable illness to be ignored. I didn’t know the origins of Christian Science – which Offit points out is not very “Christian or Science”- and is something I would like to read more on. It seems like it’s creator allowed a lot of exceptions to getting “medical help” if it served her purpose. And, it was interesting in what people thought “medical help” meant. Going into this book one must keep in mind that it is not a “what is wrong with religion” diatribe but how can we make people see that modern medicine is not the enemy or downfall of mankind in regards to disobeying God. There was a great point made in the book that it is God who has given us the ability to think and create new things like medicine so why wouldn’t he want us to partake of it? While the subject matter of young children dying of treatable illness is tough, the way the book is written is very easy to understand as Offit explains but doesn’t provide too much medical jargon. Read the introduction and see if you can put the book down!

My Novelesque Love ...more
3

May 11, 2015

All in all, this book sets out to do what it aims to: highlight the dangers of following faith-healing practices over sound medical advice. The examples highlighted in this book are both harrowing and heartbreaking. They provide insight into an important and often overlooked topic.

Yet, in several places, Offit's arguments "jump the shark." Especially in Chapter 8, where he seems to be specifically addressing/speaking to the faith healing crowd. His analyses of the Biblical stories of Job and All in all, this book sets out to do what it aims to: highlight the dangers of following faith-healing practices over sound medical advice. The examples highlighted in this book are both harrowing and heartbreaking. They provide insight into an important and often overlooked topic.

Yet, in several places, Offit's arguments "jump the shark." Especially in Chapter 8, where he seems to be specifically addressing/speaking to the faith healing crowd. His analyses of the Biblical stories of Job and Abraham/Isaac are particularly problematic. Furthermore, Offit's non-overlapping magisteria argument at the beginning of Chapter 9 - along with yet another attempt to convince faith healers to come around to his viewpoint by using Biblical scriptures - is equally flawed.

Bad Faith also fails to address the root of the problem: religion itself. Not just the cults that Offit calls out are guilty: major religions are also complicit. Yes, Offit briefly wags a finger at Catholicism and Judaism for their negative medical practices (ex: exorcisms and Metzitzah b'peh), but he falls short of actually calling out religion as a whole for perpetuating Bronze Age superstitious practices.

While I admire Offit's struggles to balance just criticism with compassion for those being criticized, if he had spent less time placating the religious audiences he was worried about offending, I suspect this would've been a stronger book.

Nevertheless, Bad Faith was a moving and interesting read.
...more
4

May 27, 2015

If you want to feel some serious outrage, grab this book. Its a scathing look at the relationship between religion and medical care, encompassing everything from Christian Scientists who let their children die of preventable illnesses because they fear medical care to anti-vaccine movements among some fundamentalist Christian groups. Offit attempts to be somewhat fair to the earnestness of the beliefs that would allow parents to essentially murder their children in their own homes in the name of If you want to feel some serious outrage, grab this book. It’s a scathing look at the relationship between religion and medical care, encompassing everything from Christian Scientists who let their children die of preventable illnesses because they fear medical care to anti-vaccine movements among some fundamentalist Christian groups. Offit attempts to be somewhat fair to the earnestness of the beliefs that would allow parents to essentially murder their children in their own homes in the name of religion. But, he also makes it clear that he finds the prevalence of these deaths in this country both appalling and in need of greater state oversight and/or legislative intervention. I feel like Bad Faith was maybe rushed to publication in the wake of the recent Disneyland measles outbreak because it could have used more fleshing out in certain areas. He spends a lot of time on faith healing, for example, but less time on other, equally important medical issues. The anti-vaccine portion of the book, for example, would have benefited from a methodical study of the current state of affairs and how our children’s future could be affected by this persistent pseudoscience bullshit. I mean, “belief system.” ...more
4

Mar 01, 2016

The author definitely engaged in cherry picking at times. For example, he used bits of information about circumcision while ignoring other bits that were just as important include if one is to provide a balanced and critical argument. However, I have to say, this book was so good, that I don't even care about some cherry picking here or there. I was blown away by almost every story.

This author did a great job of relating the details of the events (what illness did each child have and what The author definitely engaged in cherry picking at times. For example, he used bits of information about circumcision while ignoring other bits that were just as important include if one is to provide a balanced and critical argument. However, I have to say, this book was so good, that I don't even care about some cherry picking here or there. I was blown away by almost every story.

This author did a great job of relating the details of the events (what illness did each child have and what actions did the parents take or refuse to take), detailing the history of child abuse laws as they relate to faith healing, and a history of the religions themselves. Some of his arguments were fantastic.

I enjoyed this book from start to finish and couldn't put it down. ...more
4

Feb 17, 2015

Thank you for the advance copy from First Reads.

In the introduction Dr. Offit begins with many stories that will break your heart and make you grind your teeth. He ends this introduction stating that this book is about using faith and religion as a source of information to convince the reader to seek a medical professional and not just prayer alone. This grinded my gears at first. Then I realized this book isn't for me. I don't need convincing that science based medicine is the best alternative Thank you for the advance copy from First Reads.

In the introduction Dr. Offit begins with many stories that will break your heart and make you grind your teeth. He ends this introduction stating that this book is about using faith and religion as a source of information to convince the reader to seek a medical professional and not just prayer alone. This grinded my gears at first. Then I realized this book isn't for me. I don't need convincing that science based medicine is the best alternative to woo woo. This book is for those that are religious and on the fence about accepting science based medicine over alternative (and often dangerous) methods. If this book can convince even one person of faith to go see a doctor when they (or their children) are truly ill, then this book has served its purpose.

Some of the chapters are difficult to get through, reading about the suffering and death of children from parents who are being misled. The end of the book is shocking, discussing how states have exemptions to child abuse laws letting parents who let children die of treatable illness get away with murder. This book does a good job of bringing to light the abuse people are having on their own children when they treat meningitis with prayer and not medicine. It's a short book but gets right to the point and hopefully inform more people about the plague of not treating people, especially children. ...more
3

Feb 20, 2017

3.5 stars but not rounded up. I guess that's an awkward way of saying 3.5 stars rounded down to 3.

I like Dr. Offit's work a great deal and appreciate that he goes head on against thorny issues (the anti-vaccine crowd, faith healing and alternative medicine). He's a man of science, and in the field of medicine that's paramount.

I'm not sure why but I'm beating around the bush in saying why I liked this book but didn't love it. The scientific backing is there, as it always is, so that's not the 3.5 stars but not rounded up. I guess that's an awkward way of saying 3.5 stars rounded down to 3.

I like Dr. Offit's work a great deal and appreciate that he goes head on against thorny issues (the anti-vaccine crowd, faith healing and alternative medicine). He's a man of science, and in the field of medicine that's paramount.

I'm not sure why but I'm beating around the bush in saying why I liked this book but didn't love it. The scientific backing is there, as it always is, so that's not the issue. He's very respectful of religion and the historical record so that's a plus too. Parts of it were classic Offit at his best:

"Faith-healing parents often reject medical advances because they’re a product of man, not God—a position that is not only illogical, but inconsistent. Let’s assume the following. One: God created man in His image. Two: that image includes a brain. Three: the human brain is responsible for scientific and medical advances. The New Testament was written about eighteen hundred years before antibiotics, clotting factors, and insulin were discovered; that’s why these therapies are never mentioned. Other scientific advances also aren’t mentioned. For example, centuries passed before refrigeration and pasteurization were found to reduce contamination of food and beverages; or before high-powered lenses allowed people to see distant stars or low-powered ones to read books; or before it was understood that water—if it was to be safe—had to be separated from sewage. And although all of these inventions were a product of man, the Swans, Parkers, Mudds, and Beagleys embraced them. They didn’t pray for toilets or refrigerators or safe water or eyeglasses; they paid for them. But when it came time to save their children’s lives, they demurred. “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect,” wrote Galileo, “has intended us to forgo their use.”"

And this:

"Despite their abhorrence of blood transfusions, Jehovah’s Witnesses aren’t faith healers. When they’re sick, they go to the doctor. But when it comes to blood transfusions, they share one thing in common with all faith healers: a remarkable capacity to live with their own inconsistencies. Although Jehovah’s Witnesses don’t accept transfusions of whole blood, they do accept transfusions of fractioned blood. The logic here is obscure. Acts was written well before doctors knew that blood could be divided into a solid fraction, containing red blood cells, and a soluble fraction containing albumin, clotting factors, and nutrients. It’s hard to claim Divine Will as a reason to embrace one blood component over another."

I think part of the problem for me is the inconsistency of the book. The medical stories are completely absorbing and when Offit adds his perspective there's nothing else I want to read. Unfortunately there's a mixture of history that, while good, doesn't fascinate me like the stories of faith healing gone bad. The history portions reminded me of Offit's book "Vaccinated" which was good, never bad, but never great.

Also, the last chapter and the epilogue were okay but felt like they were written by a different author. Someone who was in a bit of a rush and didn't make an effort to coordinate those parts with the earlier material.

I feel a little guilty not rating this book a star higher because the message is very important. I can't ignore the inconsistencies in style though. ...more
4

Mar 11, 2015

The story of how the religion I grew up in made it legal to medically neglect children, and the ramifications.
4

Feb 08, 2016

As a Pennsylvanian, if I drive drunk with a child in the car, I can be sent to prison. If I can show a "serious" religious belief in the power of faith "healing," however, then I could watch a child of my own die slowly in agonizing pain from a treatable illness, and be confident that I will avoid prosecution. This does happen, and the cases make for extremely uncomfortable reading. Most states have religious exemptions to child abuse and child neglect laws, in fact (partly another terrible As a Pennsylvanian, if I drive drunk with a child in the car, I can be sent to prison. If I can show a "serious" religious belief in the power of faith "healing," however, then I could watch a child of my own die slowly in agonizing pain from a treatable illness, and be confident that I will avoid prosecution. This does happen, and the cases make for extremely uncomfortable reading. Most states have religious exemptions to child abuse and child neglect laws, in fact (partly another terrible legacy of convicted subverters of democracy Haldeman and Ehrlichman, it turns out). Two countries have refused to ratify the UN's Convention on the Rights of the Child: Somalia, and the US. In the face of this, this book takes a remarkably generous stance toward religion, giving great credit for example to Jesus and then the Christian emperor Constantine for founding the very idea that children have rights, and are not property to be used or disposed of (and in Jesus's case also, unlike the vengeful God of the Old Testament, that sickness is not a mark of sin). It also makes a very powerful argument for setting limits on religious rights, however--and that watching children suffer and die needlessly cannot reasonably be considered doing God's work. ...more
4

Mar 31, 2015

I really love this author, although there wasn't a lot in this particular book I didn't already know. I guess I've read a fair bit about cults and the like, lol. I loved the first book I read from Offit regarding vaccines. I still think this is a great book too, although it's unlikely that anyone who doesn't already share his views on this one would read it, so it's mainly preaching to the choir. Still, an interesting read, well researched and points well made, as I have come to expect from I really love this author, although there wasn't a lot in this particular book I didn't already know. I guess I've read a fair bit about cults and the like, lol. I loved the first book I read from Offit regarding vaccines. I still think this is a great book too, although it's unlikely that anyone who doesn't already share his views on this one would read it, so it's mainly preaching to the choir. Still, an interesting read, well researched and points well made, as I have come to expect from Offit. I look forward to reading his other books! ...more
4

Feb 17, 2015

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http://muslimmediareview.blogspot.com...

Dr. Offit reviews a series of incidents in which children died of treatable illnesses due to the pursuit of their guardians or parents of spiritual healing through supplication in lieu of standard medical practice. He then gives an interpretation of Christianity which rejects spiritual healing as a substitute for medicine. Then he provides an overview of the historically recent development of state protection of children from abuse by formatted text here:

http://muslimmediareview.blogspot.com...

Dr. Offit reviews a series of incidents in which children died of treatable illnesses due to the pursuit of their guardians or parents of spiritual healing through supplication in lieu of standard medical practice. He then gives an interpretation of Christianity which rejects spiritual healing as a substitute for medicine. Then he provides an overview of the historically recent development of state protection of children from abuse by their parents and guardians. Finally, he discusses efforts to proscribe and punish parents and guardians who fail to provide standard medical care to the children in their care and resistance by some religious groups which led to religious exemptions to these anti-neglect laws.

The organization of the book makes for a logical progression to Dr. Offit's call for an end to all religious exemptions to laws designed to protect minors.


The variety of USA religious groups which rejected standard medical treatment in favor of supplications surprised me. And while I knew that most pre-progressive era law systems ignored abuse of guardians towards their children, I did not know anything about how that changed in the United Kingdom and the USA. I also didn't realize how important developments in radiology in the 1950s were to exposing child abuse.

Muslim bioethicists, health care practitioners and counselors/imams should read this book to understand better the dangers which occur on the periphery of alternative, holistic and spiritual treatment modalities. The Journal of the Islamic Medical Association of North America has published numerous articles exploring "Prophetic Medicine" and "Islamic Medicine," While most of these articles supported standard medical practice, they may not have expressed with Offit's urgency how easy it is for charlatans and con artists to prey on ignorant and vulnerable people in matters of religion and disease.

Some of the most valuable passages in the book are Offit's analysis of Larry Parker, who, after hearing a faith healer speak in his church, decided to stop administering insulin to his eleven-year old son Wesley, who died after several days of suffering. This analysis is based on published reports and the two books Parker has authored since his conviction, We Let Our Son Die and No Spin Faith: Rejecting Religious Spin Doctors. Parker may have suffered from Narcissistic Personality Disorder,
defined by the [Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders] as a "pervasive pattern of grandiosity, in fantasy or behavior, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy." When [Parker's pastor Nash] pleaded with the Parkers to take Wesley to the hospital, Larry said, "God has given me the faith." After Larry was arrested, he likened himself to Paul the Apostle. When Larry asked God to set him free from prison, God talked to him. When Larry wondered whether he should fast, God sent him a delicious helping of sweet potatoes. ... To Larry, God was like the CEO of his own personal "make a wish foundation," ready to reward his faithfulness whenever asked; like many believers in faith healing, he had presumed to know the mind of God. (pp. 55-6, emphasis in original)
Imams and preachers need to steer people away from these kinds of temptations and misinterpretations, assuming the religious functionary hasn't succumbed to them himself/herself.

Another great point Offit makes about faith healers is that they tend to cling to some passages of scripture with their sectarian interpretation, but they don't use the same epistemology for other passages of scripture.

I came into the book extremely suspicious of government attempts to force healthy behavior. Offit's evidence that passage of laws did result in changes in behavior made me more open to this idea. It seems that ending religious exemptions to child neglect laws results in fewer people believing in faith healing without standard medical practice. Law establishes value.

Nevertheless, I'm still reluctant to imprison neglectful parents and strip them of guardianship of their surviving children. I wish there was a way for them to continue raising their children while ensuring that they receive standard medical treatment. In practice, this has proven difficult since many of these parents, while on probation which specifies standard medical treatment for their parents, continue to practice faith healing exclusively. Some of these parents have lost two or more children to preventable disease.

To me, the cases most calling for government intervention are those involving infectious diseases, where other children are placed at risk by the actions of faith-healing parents. Certain vaccines are not administered until children reach a certain age, and maintaining herd-immunity is important, as there will always be some children who are not vaccinated, either by choice of the parents, issues of access or contraindication.

While it may be outside the scope of his book, I think Offit neglects some of the structural reasons why faith healing remains popular. Large segments of the USA population can't afford standard medical care. Standard medical care doesn't have great results with some of our chronic diseases such as diabetes and dementia. Being on the patient side of standard medical care is often frustrating, disempowering and humiliating. So it's not far-fetched that adults are trying to treat their children outside the health system. The obvious retort to this is that the diseases which kill children are actually the ones which our health care system, with all of its flaws, actually does a good job addressing.

Another problem is the undermining of science by special interest groups and of government by oligarchy, as exposed by Cablegate, the Afghanistan war logs and the Panama Papers. People don't believe scientists and government officials when they say vaccines don't cause autism.

Finally, major segments of public and private education fail to provide students with the tools necessary to evaluate claims of faith healers and Ponzi schemers alike, although it should be noted that many educated and high-performing individuals follow them. ...more
3

Apr 10, 2016

This book was rather good, simple to read and interesting case studies spoken about. The content wasn't new for me however, so can't be higher than 3 stars.
4

May 23, 2015

Dr. Offit tells the stories of family after family who count on faith to heal their children. The children die. It does not shake their faith. The damage can extend beyond the children unlucky enough to be born to parents who count on Jesus for medical care. A measles epidemic in Philadelphia in the early 1990's was centered in the members of two churches, killing 6 children in those congregations. Measles also killed 3 children who were not members. If not for the large reservoir of Dr. Offit tells the stories of family after family who count on faith to heal their children. The children die. It does not shake their faith. The damage can extend beyond the children unlucky enough to be born to parents who count on Jesus for medical care. A measles epidemic in Philadelphia in the early 1990's was centered in the members of two churches, killing 6 children in those congregations. Measles also killed 3 children who were not members. If not for the large reservoir of unvaccinated children, the disease would have died out and children too young for vaccinations or with health issues that prevented vaccination would have been spared.

Offit uses all arguments for getting rid of laws that give people the right to choose death for their children as long as they are religiously sincere about it. That includes religious arguments. He gives examples of religious people who work for laws that require parents to seek medical care for their children's obvious serious illnesses.

Interesting factiod: Bob Haldeman and John Ehrilichman, powerful men in the Nixon administration who were convicted of Watergate crimes were both Christian Scientists. They were responsible for getting religious exemptions added to the Child Abuse Protection and Treatment Act which severely limited the government's ability to protect children if their parents have sincere beliefs that treating disease is wrong. ...more
2

Dec 19, 2015

Dr. Offit has written at length about the anti-vaccination movement. Interesting anecdotes about families that refuse medical treatment, but no solutions offered. Was a bit thin at book-length. Probably would have been better as an article.
5

May 13, 2015

This book was not at all what I was expecting. I was expecting a book that scrutinized religion and was information-heavy. Dr. Offit, however, wrote a book that was extremely easy to read and separated harmful religious traditions, such as faith healing, from the benign. I give this book my highest recommendation for non-fiction.
4

Apr 15, 2015

Very difficult to read the stories of children who's parents refused medical treatment in favor of prayer. Offit casts his net too wide, though; he tried to venture off into abortion and it really doesn't fit with the rest of the book. I found his portrayal of St. Bernadette extraordinarily dishonest and really wish he had taken the time to consult a bishop or a group like the NCBC regarding abortion/Catholicism bit (because he's demonstrably wrong in his claims) b
5

May 18, 2016

This is probably not an easy book for most people to get through. I already knew many of these stories. But the way it is compiled here makes it a MUST READ.

This is an incredibly good book and a necessary book. I am so grateful this book was written. And I am so glad a documentary is currently being made about it too.

-------

Updating my review:

This book is chock full of stories that most people I know probably have never heard of.

It is time for America to WAKE UP and realize that "Freedom of This is probably not an easy book for most people to get through. I already knew many of these stories. But the way it is compiled here makes it a MUST READ.

This is an incredibly good book and a necessary book. I am so grateful this book was written. And I am so glad a documentary is currently being made about it too.

-------

Updating my review:

This book is chock full of stories that most people I know probably have never heard of.

It is time for America to WAKE UP and realize that "Freedom of Religion" is ensuring that parents can do what they like, and kill their children in the name of religion. And this DENIES THE RIGHTS of the children to a life to live!

Parents who refuse medical care to their children in the name of religion need to be prosecuted! Please read this book.

I know our country was founded on the idea of "Freedom of Religion." What about the Right to Life by a child who needed protecting by their parents, teachers, church, family, community? They often can't speak up for themselves. We as a country need to speak up for the defenseless.

"Freedom of Religion" is NOT good enough alone. ...more
5

Feb 11, 2015

Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine is not an easy book to read unless you can stomach the idea of parents helplessly standing around spouting religious platitudes while watching their children suffer and die from a treatable illness. Christian Scientists, Jehovahs Witnesses, the Catholic Church (through their opposition to abortion even where the life of the mother is at stake) and faith healers of every stripe reject some form of modern scientific medicine to instead Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine is not an easy book to read unless you can stomach the idea of parents helplessly standing around spouting religious platitudes while watching their children suffer and die from a treatable illness. Christian Scientists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Catholic Church (through their opposition to abortion even where the life of the mother is at stake) and faith healers of every stripe reject some form of modern scientific medicine to instead put their faith in religious superstition. It would be tragic enough if an individual lost their life because of a personal decision to rely on prayer instead of medical treatment. Unfortunately its usually a child, too young to make medical decisions for themselves, that suffers for the fanatical beliefs of the parents.

The book was written by Paul Offit, the Chief of the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He witnessed the effects of this topic first hand in 1991 when a measles epidemic broke out in schools operated by the Faith Tabernacle Congregation and the First Century Gospel Church (fundamentalist organizations that rely on prayer, rather than medical care, to cure disease). None of the children at the schools were vaccinated and hundreds were sickened and nine died unnecessarily as a result.

Rather than rant at the senselessness of it all, Offit lets the horrors speak for themselves. He then goes on to patiently demonstrate that faith healing is not founded on early Christian doctrine, but developed later through the biblical interpretation of its adherents. As a medical professional his goal isn’t to bash religion, but to remove an obstacle that stands in the way of a patient to receiving medical treatment. As a result, I found his approach to the subject to be sensitive, sympathetic and professional. Whether the information will get into the hands of those who need it, however, remains to be seen.

Here’s the thing … while religious traditions around the world believe in healing through prayer, the fact is that it simply doesn’t work. Though anecdotal claims can be found in abundance, absolutely no concrete data of any kind exists of its efficacy. If there were, one would have to wonder why God hates amputees since no documented human cases of spontaneous limb regeneration have ever been observed. In the absence of evidence it can be conclusively concluded that faith healing is just a form of magical thinking. Contrast this with medical science which, despite its shortcomings, has a proven track record of positive health outcomes for many forms of illness.

There are a few good reasons for hope:

1. California recently approved tough mandatory vaccination requirements, ending exemptions based on religious or other personal beliefs.

2. In 2011 Oregon eliminated faith healing as a legal defense allowing parents who deny their children medical care for religious purposes to be prosecuted for murder.

Finally, it should be noted that the fastest growing ‘religious’ group in the US are those who claim no religious affiliation (aka the ‘nones’). As the influence of religion wanes it can be assumed that its pernicious effects will diminish as well. ...more
4

Mar 12, 2019

A thoughtful, sympathetic book that seeks to understand the beliefs of those who deny their children medical care in the name of religion while still demanding that children be protected and given a chance to live.
2

Apr 17, 2018

Disappointing. Despite Offit's obvious knowledge and passion, this book is overtaken by his need to tell stories rather than the ability to develop an argument. If you're looking for a list of tragic, faith-motivated deaths and superficial philosophical digressions,then this will do, but it's not a rigorous analysis or argument on the topic.
1

Mar 27, 2018

Wow, I really hated this book. I dreaded reading it, but since I was chipping away at it while waiting for clinic and other appointments, I felt like it'd be a waste to just abandon it.

Essentially this was written by someone who is anti-religion, and their attempts at supporting their views seemed extremely lazy. I was surprised to notice that they were a doctor, because a lot of the flaws I picked up on were because of my neuroscience and medical background.

Examples: 1) Claiming that highly Wow, I really hated this book. I dreaded reading it, but since I was chipping away at it while waiting for clinic and other appointments, I felt like it'd be a waste to just abandon it.

Essentially this was written by someone who is anti-religion, and their attempts at supporting their views seemed extremely lazy. I was surprised to notice that they were a doctor, because a lot of the flaws I picked up on were because of my neuroscience and medical background.

Examples: 1) Claiming that highly religious people who rejected medical science would fit DSM criteria for dependent and narcissistic personality disorder as well as psychosis, but didn't mention delusional disorder even though that diagnosis seems much more likely. 2) Comparing the placebo effect/endorphins to Parkinson's, by explicitly stating that people with Parkinson's could learn to release their own dopamine. 3) Talking about someone with placenta previa needing an in-utero transfusion to their baby....Of course some aspects of these examples could have been true and just poorly explained, but it seemed a more than a little fishy to me. It took away any remaining credibility I might be willing to award this book because even just in my scope of knowledge, there were several glaring misrepresentations.

This book would have been great if it was just an account of instances where religion interfered with medical care, but instead I had to sift through the author trying to make the same point over and over again.

Basically, read this if you're an atheist and you're looking for someone to repeatedly make the same argument to reaffirm your disbelief in God. ...more
5

Nov 17, 2017

Offit hits you with some pretty tragic accounts of events that will break your heart right at the beginning of this book. The overall point and purpose of this book is to find out why Heavily Religious faith healers are able to sit back and let there kids suffer in agony and die. Where does this level of faith come from? He also touches on a few other overlapping subjects like laws, the history of religion and foreign religious policies. The book starts off following Rita Swan, a Christian Offit hits you with some pretty tragic accounts of events that will break your heart right at the beginning of this book. The overall point and purpose of this book is to find out why Heavily Religious faith healers are able to sit back and let there kids suffer in agony and die. Where does this level of faith come from? He also touches on a few other overlapping subjects like laws, the history of religion and foreign religious policies. The book starts off following Rita Swan, a Christian scientist who turns her back on her religion after learning her child could have easily been saved by regular doctors instead of false healers and praying. After seeing both sides of the medical fields she soon fights to educate, halt, and protect the innocent and voiceless victims of this bizarre practice. The Children.
The accounts within this book may shock you because of the brutality of the abuse of the kids. I feel though that its necessary to not only tell these stories but to not sugar coat details so that people understand the severity of those situations. So people open there eyes. So they know its real and not an overreacting parent or atheist. The facts of all these accounts can be legitimized and looked up. I would recommend this to anyone. Especially those that think prayer will work over modern medicine. ...more

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