I think just about every atheist, especially those who clawed their way out of America’s unique model of Christianity is aware of this. Recently, an Oregon couple was sentenced to 6 years in prison for the manslaughter of their son. David Hickman was born premature in 2009 and died after his parents, Dale and Shannon resorting to faith healing practices to cure him of pneumonia. The couple was sentenced in 2011 and later appealed, but an Oregon judge rejected that appeal in 2015.
I’m not here to bore you with the details of one of the most high-profile cases related to religious faith and its abuse in recent history. I am here to make a simple statement.
Religion is at best, useless, and at worst, dangerous.
If you’re a person of faith or even someone sympathetic to it I imagine this statement comes across as crass, abrasive, tactless, or even edgy. The fact of the matter is, it is true. There is no denying the facts staring us in the face every single day.
If you’re not convinced by what I imagine takes as little as a cursory look into world history, then I hope this case will. I hope the death of an infant, caused by nothing else than the zeal of two parents will at the very least, shake something in you. This didn’t have to happen. A judge in Oregon knew it, the doctors testifying knew it, and I’m sure you know it too. A secular alternative, with a high chance of success was readily available but religious faith is what stopped people from considering it.
If you’re still shaking your head by this point, then I’d like to end on a question. I’d like you to answer that question, in earnest. How was religious of any use to this couple, in this situation opposed to the secular option? Allow me to rephrase. What use was religious faith in treating this infant’s pneumonia and how could anyone say religion isn’t dangerous when it resulted in this child’s death?