This Week in Religion: How Faith Healing Can Lead to Manslaughter


This week is a sobering reminder of the dangers of fanatical religious beliefs. Travis and Wenona Rossiter were convicted of manslaughter this week in the death of their 12-year-old daughter whose diabetes was left untreated. The Rossiters, who belong to the Church of the First Born, believe in faith-based healing over the use of modern medicine.

According to KEZI News,

The couple is accused of recklessly and negligently causing the death of their 12-year-old daughter Syble last year, who died from diabetic ketoacidosis. The state argues the parents should have been aware of the girl’s health problems, and that a reasonable person would have sought medical care.

Faith-based healing has spent a lot of time in the news over the last few years and has resulted in the death of countless children from preventable ailments. Many states in the US are starting to act and requiring by law any child under the age of 18 be treated by a medical professional. One can only hope the rest follow suit.

This week also saw former Fox News host and owner of The Blaze, Glenn Beck, a radical Christian Right conspiracy news organization; announce that he had been suffering from a neurological disorder. Beck claimed to have had “adrenal fatigue” but had undergone treatment that involved spiritual work and lots of prayer and announced he had been cured.

Well it turns out Beck’s claim was rather fictitious as it was never diagnosed by a medical professional. His treatment was administered by Dr. Ted Carrick, a chiropractic neurologist, which is a field not recognized by medical professionals. According to Dr. Steven Novella of Yale University, the profession is nothing but “pure pseudoscience,”

“Chiropractic neurology does not appear to be based on any body of research, or any accumulated scientific knowledge,” Novella wrote on his blog. “I am not aware of any research that establishes their core claims. A search on PubMed for ‘Carrick T’ yielded nothing, and searching on ‘chiropractic neurology’ yielded mostly studies about neurological complications from chiropractic treatment.”

“Chiropractic neurology appears to me to be the very definition of pseudoscience — it has all the trappings of a legitimate profession, with a complex set of beliefs and practices, but there is no underlying scientific basis for any of it,” he concluded.

Novella went on to question the sincerity of Beck’s entire story, given his on-air history of dishonesty. The first red flag should have been the claim that his ailments were cured by spirituality and prayer. Then second is he believes that chiropractors have the medical education to cure neurological diseases.

We also learned that the Catholic Church does much more than simply move pedophile priests around the globe to protect them from persecution but in some cases will go as far as to actively destroy criminal evidence.

According to the SCTimes:

When two employees at St. Mary’s church in downtown St. Paul found what they believed was child pornography in the Rev. Donald J. Dummer’s living quarters in 1997, they brought the material to an archdiocese official.

The evidence made it all the way to Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, the Vatican’s ambassador to the United States. However, the evidence never made it any further and was never turned over to authorities as a church official told a priest involved that he “will dispose of the tapes.”

It was not until last year, after several trials and pressure from victims groups that any files related to Dummer were turned over to authorities. According to the SCTimes report:

After the accusation, Dummer continued working in the archdiocese until 2006 as a chaplain at Regions Hospital, where he had contact with adults and children, Finnegan said. He continues to be a priest in Tewksbury, Mass.

Pat Robertson thrust himself back in the news this week by offering women advice on how to get clean after abortions and multiple sex partners.

The television evangelist wondered what leads women to sex work and multiple partners that result in abortions and sexually transmitted diseases. On his show The 700 Club they profiled a young women who had gone into dancing to “rule over men,” only to later find Jesus and wash away her sins.

“How many men — dozens — has she had relations with?” Robertson wondered. “How many had ogled her naked body as she was dancing, how many had groped at her, and fondled her, and made obscene remarks about her, and used her?”

Robertson then asked his female audience what they have done to be considered sinners.

“Have you done something that you’re ashamed of? Have you had an abortion? Have you murdered somebody? Have you had multiple sex partners and you’re ashamed of it? Have you caught some sexual disease? What have you done?”

Robertson’s revolutionary advice to these women – and of course only women because men apparently cannot do any of the above – was to accept Gods free gift of cleansing through salvation. And if the women messed up and sinned again? Well in that case all they have to do is call Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and say, “I prayed with Pat.”

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