I'm not celebrating the National Day of Prayer on May 3. I grew up with nothing but prayer. We prayed every morning, we tried to keep our thoughts "above" mortal influences, we read and studied and went to church. And we prayed when we were sick or hurt.
My parents hadn't used anything else for most of their lives. Neither had our relatives. We'd all been healthy. We believed our prayers had kept us safe. I rode my horse and felt invincible.
But I never touched a horse the year I was fourteen. I lay in bed at home for ten months with my left leg rotting from a bone disease. And my Christian Science parents and practitioner treated me with prayer only. I guess you could say I was overdosed on prayer.
|Nine years old and ready for my first horse show|
My knee and much of my leg were destroyed by the bone infection. It was diagnosed years later as osteomyelitis. For thirty-five years I walked with a fused, bent knee. Then my leg was amputated.
I want to speak for the kids who died. The kids who were spanked to death by parents who believed Michael Pearl's logic. The baby boys who died after circumcision rituals. The dozens of children who died of treatable medical conditions in Oregon because their parents were Followers of Christ.
Religious extremism is alive and well in the U.S. Religious influence in our laws and a politically correct hands-off attitude create a smokescreen for fervent believers to keep on praying for children instead of immunizing, instead of seeing a doctor, instead of calling an ambulance. And kids go on hurting. They go on dying.
Except when people speak up. Rita Swan of Children's Healthcare Is A Legal Duty (CHILD Inc) was instrumental last year in overturning the Oregon law. Parents in that state are no longer exempt from prosecution for faith-based medical neglect of children. For thirty years, Rita, her husband Doug and the non-profit CHILD organization have tackled laws in state after state. They've made changed happen. They've saved lives.
But currently, thirty-eight states and the District of Columbia still have religious exemptions in their civil code on child abuse or neglect.
Think about the overdoses of prayer those kids receive. Beatings. Ignorance. Untreated injuries and diseases.
Seventeen states have religious defenses to felony crimes against children.
Fifteen states have religious defenses to misdemeanors.
Three states have religious defenses to manslaughter.
One state has religious defenses to murder of a child and child neglect resulting in death.
One state has a religious defense to capital murder.
I stopped praying twenty years ago. I have faith in the goodness of humans to reach out to each other, and to find strength within themselves. I'm celebrating the National Day of Reason. I hope to live to see a total separation of church and government. Kids' lives depend on it.
Lots more info at http://childrenshealthcare.org/