My First Experience With Faith-Healing Death

My most recent post touched a very sensitive nerve with me; I’ve bumped up against faith healing before. I can’t blame the believers too much in these cases, but I certainly can blame the religion.

A friend of mine, some thirty years ago,
The eldest son, a farming family’s pride,
Was gone from school, about a month or so
Before we heard the truth—the boy had died.

He’d fallen from a tractor in a field,
Though whether he was dead first, we don’t know;
The coroner’s exam? Too late to yield
An answer; there was nothing it could show.

His parents tried to cure the boy with prayer–
They brought him home, and put their son to bed.
Devout and faithful, hope turned to despair;
It broke their hearts, admitting he was dead.

Their church—to whom they turn when times are rough—
Blamed them, and said they had not prayed enough.

Again, these are the examples that leap to mind whenever I hear “but religion gives people hope”. Perhaps there was nothing medicine could have done for my friend; we will never know. But to have a system in place for blaming the parents for their lack of faith, that is just cruel.


  1. speedwell says

    Sonnet form, grave and measured. All the better to let the frustrating facts scream for themselves. Well done, Cuttlefish.

  2. Luna_the_cat says

    I never knew my maternal grandfather. He died before I was born, of renal cancer, a surgically treatable cancer; that is, if you actually treat it, rather than pray over it. Unfortunately, my grandfather’s family were “Christian Scientists” who convinced my grandparents that the only appropriate course of treatment was prayer and faith.

    When my grandfather died, his parents and siblings blamed my grandmother, for her “lack of faith.” She, a devout Southern Baptist, was apparently not good enough for God to listen to, and her faults apparently infected her husband so that he wasn’t good enough for God to listen to, either.

    That story was my first encounter with faith healing. If it fails, blame the victim.

  3. dochopper says

    There is the double edge sword to this .

    The Gods Will side of it .

    That is were folks of faith decide that it wouldn’t be smart to say the churches Biggest donor Lacks the Faith or isn’t Prayerful enough to have connections to get a favor from the Man Upstairs.

  4. The Lorax says

    Churches do give people hope, and hope (in and of itself) is never false. Solutions, yes; those can not just be false, but demonstrably false using all the rigor of the scientific method. We can, and have, and (unfortunately) continue to show this to be true. Hope, though, is not as concrete. Hope is a placebo, and we have evidence to support that placebos have a measure of effectiveness, to a limit.

    But for the lies the churches crow,
    Do they not reap that which they sow?
    Perhaps they do;
    For all this woo,
    A “cure” is not a “placebo”

  5. reasoningbeing says

    Last night, as I worked my shift in the er, I listened in sadness as a pentecostal mother mourned the death of her only son, a 21 year old man who had been electrocuted by power lines in a work accident. She screamed,”I hate you God. I hate you. You took my son from me.” It is too bad that her grief had to be compounded by this conflicted belief in what is supposed to be a benevolent deity.

  6. Cuttlefish says

    My sister-in-law went through similar agony, with two very late term stillbirths. Her words were something to the effect of “I thought of becoming an atheist, because I hated God so much.” She was, and remains, Catholic.

    I suspect that her view is shared by a good many believers; they can’t conceive of an atheist as anyone other than someone who acknowledges, but hates, god.

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