Saturday, March 29, 2008

Religion Kills 11-Year-Old Diabetic

First up from the God machine this week is one of the more painful religious stories I’ve seen in a while. I suspect very few people would ever want to interfere with parents’ rights and the religious upbringing of their children, but this does seem criminal.

Police [in Weston, Wis.] are investigating an 11-year-old girl’s death from an undiagnosed, treatable form of diabetes after her parents chose to pray for her rather than take her to a doctor.

An autopsy showed Madeline Neumann died Sunday from diabetic ketoacidosis, a condition that left too little insulin in her body, Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin said.

She had probably been ill for about a month, suffering symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness, the chief said Wednesday, noting that he expects to complete the investigation by Friday and forward the results to the district attorney.

The girl, who was homeschooled, had not been to a physician since she was three. Family members begged her parents to take her to the hospital, but they refused.

When her health deteriorated, the girl’s aunt called authorities to seek help. “My sister-in-law, she’s very religious, she believes in faith instead of doctors …,” she told a sheriff’s dispatcher in a call from California. “And she called my mother-in-law today … and she explained to us that she believes her daughter’s in a coma now and she’s relying on faith.”

When the dispatcher asked if an ambulance should be sent, the family member said the girl’s mother is “refusing” to seek medical care for her daughter. The dispatcher eventually got the family’s location, but by the time paramedics got Madeline Neumann to the hospital, she was declared dead.

Leilani Neumann, Madeline’s mother, said she and her husband are not worried about the investigation because “our lives are in God’s hands. We know we did not do anything criminal. We know we did the best for our daughter we knew how to do.”

I have no idea what the law is regarding these kinds of cases, but it sounds like criminal negligence to me. People can be as religious as they like, and believe whatever they choose. But when they let a little girl slip into a coma and die — from an easily treated ailment — without getting her care, it’s time for the state to intervene.

Also from the God Machine this week:

* After losing in court a few weeks ago, state lawmakers in Kansas passed another law this week to restrict some right-wing religious fanatics from protesting at funerals for U.S. troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fillipinos Urged Not to Crucify Themselves

From the BBC:

Filipinos warned on crucifixions
By Frances Harrison
Religious affairs reporter, BBC News

Filipinos nailed to crosses on Good Friday in 2002
Crucifixions are an annual event in the Philippines
Health officials in the Philippines have issued a warning to people taking part in Easter crucifixion rituals.

They have urged them to get tetanus vaccinations before they flagellate themselves and are nailed to crosses, and to practise good hygiene.

On Good Friday dozens of very devout Catholics in the Philippines re-enact the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

It is something that has become a huge tourist attraction, although the Church frowns on the practice.


The health department has strongly advised penitents to check the condition of the whips they plan to use to lash their backs, the Manila Times newspaper reports.

A Filipino is nailed to a cross on Good Friday in 2002
Real nails are used in the re-enactments

They want people to have what they call "well-maintained" whips.

In the hot and dusty atmosphere, officials warn, using unhygienic whips to make deep cuts in the body could lead to tetanus and other infections.

And they advise that the nails used to fix people to crosses must be properly disinfected first. Often people soak the nails in alcohol throughout the year.

Every Good Friday, in towns across the Philippines, people atone for sins or give thanks for an answered prayer by re-enacting the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.

Giving thanks

In the northern city of San Fernando alone there will be three separate improvised Golgothas - the biblical name for the hill where Jesus was crucified.

Four people there have pledged to have their feet and hands nailed to wooden crosses, while others will flog themselves while walking barefoot through villages.

Sometimes people repeat the penance year after year, like the fish vendor who will be nailed to the cross for the 15th and last time on Friday to give thanks for his mother's recovery from tuberculosis.

With long hair and a beard, wearing sandals and a crown of thorns, he is tied with cloth to the cross but also has nails driven through the flesh of his hands and feet, avoiding the bones.

Minister Prefers to Export Homosexuals from US


"I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society."

That's how Peter Sprigg, vice president of policy at the Family Research Council, explained the conservative group's opposition to the Uniting American Families Act, which would allow gay Americans the same right straight Americans have to sponsor a foreign partner for citizenship here.

Just in case you wondered…

(Video here; Spriggs quotes at 1:37)

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Catholic Church "Spins" The Inquisition

A new article in Newsweek highlights a new push by the Catholic church to downplay how bad the Inquisition was. Seriously. Good to see the Pope has learned the tricks of modern day spin.

Best Quote: "Now, after centuries of secrecy on the subject, the Vatican has launched a new phase in its campaign to show that the Inquisition wasn't so bad after all."

Followed by: "In 2004, the Vatican published an 800-page report claiming that of those investigated as heretics by the notorious Spanish Inquisition—which became independent of Rome in the 15th century—only 1.8 percent were actually executed."

Only 1.8%? that's nothing.

The gall of these people. I wonder what's on deck for explaining away the Crusades?

Read More: Secrets of the Inquisition