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Aug 20 2013

Annals of bad advice

The BBC reports a situation.

Some young HIV patients are giving up their medicine after being told by Pentecostal Church pastors to rely on faith in God instead, doctors warn.

Medical staff told the BBC a minority of pastors in England were endangering young church members by putting them under pressure to stop medication.

It’s a test of faith, you see.

I wonder if those pastors ever test their faith by walking in front of trains.

The doctors and health professionals reported a variety of cases:

  • Some said they had dealt with parents who felt under pressure to stop giving their young children their HIV medicine – and some had actually done so
  • Others were breastfeeding mothers with HIV who refused the medicine that would stop the virus being passed onto their babies
  • Some were young people, making the decision for themselves

The healthcare workers also reported that some patients had been told by their pastors they would be healed by prayer or by drinking blessed water.

That makes me feel indignant. Those pastors shouldn’t be doing that.

Dr Toni Tan, a consultant paediatrician, said some Pentecostal pastors were endangering the lives of sick followers.

“It’s my view that it’s very wrong for faith leaders to actively encourage their congregations to stop taking their medication… it will lead to their deaths.”

Pentecostals and other Christians see healing, like speaking in tongues, as a sign of the presence of God.

They should get over that.

17 comments

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  1. 1
    A Hermit

    Now now, don’t get carried away Ophelia. There’s no call for indignation…/JT

  2. 2
    davehooke

    It might have been hoped that news of the Pentecostal pastor dying from snake-bite in West Virginia last year would spread and give these people pause, but the line is just that it was that person’s time to die. Which makes no sense, but they will no doubt say the same about anyone who dies due to not taking their HIV meds.

  3. 3
    Al Dente

    I wonder if these pastors could be charged with practicing medicine without a license. Probably not, but it is a thought.

  4. 4
    ajb47

    Others were breastfeeding mothers with HIV who refused the medicine that would stop the virus being passed onto their babies

    Ayieee. I get the same feeling I got when I first heard Susan Smith murdered her own kids (after thinking someone had just taken them), and that was one of the worst feelings I’d ever had. There’s a sad hole in the gut that feels like it will never be filled.

    Yeah, OK, pray to your invisible magic man in the sky who seems to care more for which football team wins than actually fixing the shit he screwed up from the start, but take the fucking medicine, too — this is for your kids. You do everything you possibly can to make sure they are OK.

    I need to take a few deep breaths now. There may be what those who get the vapors call “profanity” or “salty language”, too.

  5. 5
    jabes

    Oddly enough, a friend of mine published an article on the Atlantic Wire website today about the same thing (he practices in New Hampshire): The Strange Phenomenon of Pentecostals Who Decline HIV Treatment.

  6. 6
    Robert B.

    I’ve read that fanfiction!

    Wait, “annals”? Sorry. Thought it said something else.

    Anyway, I’m not sure whether I admire or despise Dr. Tan’s press-friendly understatement:

    It’s my view that it’s very wrong for faith leaders to actively encourage their congregations to stop taking their medication… it will lead to their deaths.

    Admittedly she stated the facts without weasel words, but I would have said something more like “These superstitious evil assholes are committing murder by proxy, why the fuck are we standing here just talking about it?”

  7. 7
    davehooke

    Since it is illegal for a parent to not give their child prescribed medicines essential to their health, then it is also illegal, under the Serious Crimes Act 2007, for a Pastor to tell a parent not to give their child medicines, as the Pastor knows that the act will be committed if they call for it.

    I think it would be a great service if someone with some profile could start a campaign to have Pastors and other religious authorities prosecuted for encouraging crimes such as this. I could start a petition if it came to it, but I don’t have the best social impact at all (e.g not a lot of facebook friends, I don’t work in an office etc).

  8. 8
    rorschach

    Odd. That article is clearly talking about SCOAN as far as I can tell, and yet they don’t name them. I wrote a post about those crazies a few years ago, and to this date I get threats and comments from their flock.

  9. 9
    sc_770d159609e0f8deaa72849e3731a29d

    I wrote a post about those crazies a few years ago, and to this date I get threats and comments from their flock.

    It’s interesting that- as with DR Dabholkar- these nutters rely on miracles to cure the faithful but use more drastic methods to deal with unbelievers.

  10. 10
    lochaber

    :/

    As much as I may see religion as being generally silly, I’m pretty much fine with people who think eating a specific type of critter, working on the wrong week day, or reciting some grouping of words will have some influence on their afterlife residence.

    I have a hard time talking to those who deny science, or think one grouping of people is inferior/superior to another based on sex, gender, race, whatever. But so long as they can act like decent people, and keep those views private, I can generally function fairly well as a neighbor, coworker, etc.

    The ones who actively call for oppression of others, or who push anti-choice or anti-science bullshit… well, I don’t have much patience for those, and have trouble remaining civil around them.

    This stuff, I can’t even… it’s horrible and disgusting.

    people are the worst kind of animal

  11. 11
    left0ver1under

    I wonder if those pastors ever test their faith by walking in front of trains.

    Is that a reference to what happened in India?

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/furious-mob-attacks-driver-after-dozens-killed-when-train-runs-over-hindu-pilgrims-in-india-8774044.html

    A group of pilgrims walked in front of a scheduled train with the idea that they could stop it. Three dozen of them learnt the hard way that they can’t.

  12. 12
    F [is for failure to emerge]

    Holy shit I hope these infants, children, and youth survive without getting infected or get back into treatment.

    I guess if AIDS is God’s punishment, then God can stop punishing you if you please Him, right? Fuckin’ A.

  13. 13
    Omar Puhleez

    “Pentecostals and other Christians see healing, like speaking in tongues, as a sign of the presence of God.”

    This has to be in gross theological error. God is omnipresent. There is nowhere that he cannot be or is shut out of, because that would make him considerably short of omnipotent.

    Consequently, a follower of any Abrahamic faith can pray at any time or place, knowing that their religion says they will be heard by God. If he is in a position to hear, see, or otherwise become aware and take the situation in, God has to be not absent: ie present.

    Similarly, no sin can be hidden from God. Even impure thoughts taking place only inside the believer’s head are known to God.

    I suppose this is just another of the inconsistencies of theology.

    (Sigh.)

  14. 14
    Raging Bee

    That makes me feel indignant. Those pastors shouldn’t be doing that.

    Understatement of the CENTURY!

    This has to be in gross theological error…

    With theology, how can you tell?

  15. 15
    Markita Lynda—threadrupt
    This has to be in gross theological error…

    With theology, how can you tell?

    And Raging Bee wins the thread!

    So, is it illegal to counsel someone to commit a crime?

  16. 16
    rnilsson

    And Raging Bee wins the thread!

    So, is it illegal to counsel someone to commit a crime?

    Agreed!
    IANAL in any of them, but my understanding is that many jurisdictions have rules against instigation or incitement or criminal or unruly acts. So: probably often. Probably less often or selectively enforced.

  17. 17
    davehooke

    Yes I believe it is illegal in the UK. Section 45 of the Serious Crimes Act 2007. You cannot encourage a crime if you believe it will be committed.

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