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Should the government have the power to step in and refuse religious freedoms in cases where beliefs cause harm?

There are always going to be examples of religious beliefs that can cause harm to children or others. Extremeists can read in to any faith and find a reason to harm someone. Child brides, refusal of medical treatment, extreme fasting. Recently there was a mother were starved her 19mo old because her religious beliefs dictated that you could only eat if you said Amen. The child did not... She honestly thought she was doing Gods will...

Should the governement have the right to come in and take over on these cases? If the parent or persons honestly think they are doing gods will who is the government to prove them otherwise? Wouldn't gods rules apply over those of man? And what happens if the parent is right in the eyes of god and the government steps in? did they damn the child?

Are these qestions there are even answers to?

*I'll post the link to the story about the baby in a moment!

Answer Question

Asked by SabrinaMBowen at 4:09 PM on May. 17, 2009 in Religion & Beliefs

Level 40 (122,988 Credits)
Answers (10)
  • Here's the link for the story in case you missed it...,22049,24167094-5006003,00.html

    Answer by SabrinaMBowen at 4:16 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • When you are harming your child because of your so called religious beliefs then yes it's time for the government to step in and take your children away.

    Answer by sammiesmom2000 at 4:51 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • Wow, that is so sad. Those poor decieved parents. Someday, when they realize what they have done I don't know how they will bear to live with themselves.

    I think that obviously that is child abuse. So are some of the practices that are promoted by Ezzo (not all, but the hitting the legs of a 10 mo. old with a ruler for crying in a crib is not okay). Some of those ideas are under the guise of religion; dealing with a baby's sin nature. But I think anytime a parent abuses a child in the name of their faith the law should step in. May my faith never hurt anyone (even emotionally).

    I do get really scared that the gov't will go too far though, punishing parents for choosing to homeschool, or taking children away when the parents make medical descisions they don't agree with (vaccinations, chemotherapy, blood transfusions, etc.) I think it is a fine line.

    Answer by Cinnamon-mom at 6:31 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • I should not have brought up Ezzo. I personally disagree with his philosophy, but I do have a very close friend who is all about him. She is a good parent, and she does not get carried away with it all. She just uses some of his ideas to bring a sense of order to her family.

    I am personally just different. I was not intending to offend anyone who is "baby wise" -- I was only refering to the parents who have taken the ideas and ended up in jail for child abuse.

    Answer by Cinnamon-mom at 6:34 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • I see your point, but those beliefs still go against the laws that are set up to protect children. Now, if someone is 18 or over and they want to starve themselves to death for their god, go ahead. Tey are an adult and have the legal right to make that choice. However, children don't have that right and should therefore not be forced to do these things. Plus, if we allow this one set of people off for using the "God" card, can you imagine how many child abusers and neglecters would start using that as an excuse?

    Answer by spiritguide_23 at 7:29 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • There is a fine line between the right to practice your religion and government interference.  For instance with the issue of fasting.  The example you gave is extreme and born out of complete ignorance.  However controlled fasting like Muslims practice is not harmful and so they should be allowed to continue without interference. 

    The problem with the extreme cases is that often by the time it is discovered, harm has already been done.

    I think that health care professionals should have the authority to act without parental consent if they feel the parents are being dangerously unreasonable in regards to their child's welfare.


    Answer by beeky at 8:09 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • You know, this also brings to mind the sects of Christianity that handle snakes, etc.

    I was watching a documentary recently, I forget where it was playing, but it was showcasing a group that that is into the whole speaking in tongues, handling poisonous snakes deal. In it, the guy making the documentary film this group as they were drinking snake venom out of jars, and also giving it to the children. One of the head figures of this group ended up being hospitalized for severe bites from a venomous snake. They were afraid that he would not survive, and would lose a limb. He stated that he would go right back to handling the snakes when he was released, and the place he was at was having a hard time trying to prevent that from happening.

    Answer by _Jynxx_ at 8:44 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • What do you do in that kind of situation? It was an adult that was harmed, but the children are handling these same snakes. There is ever chance that something like that will happen to them. Then when you add ingesting snake venom from mason jars..

    Should the children be taken away? A child hasn't been harmed yet (as far as anyone was told by the people in question), but does just the risk factor give anyone the right to step in, particularly after the incident with the adult? it could just have easily been one of the little kids.

    Personally, I'd get them the heck out of there.. But.. If it isn't known that a child has been injured yet.. What do you do?

    (Reposted from another question- didn't mean to post it there. x.x)

    Answer by _Jynxx_ at 8:45 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • I think the children should be protected at all costs...and part of that protection should include dragging these religious nuts and their churches and their belief systems out into the open. Nothing makes the cockroaches run faster than being exposed to the light. The more exposure, the stronger the immunization. At some point, somebody has to say 'Really? This is REALLY what you believe? Can nobody else see how friggin' insane this is????'

    Answer by mizkaye at 10:13 PM on May. 17, 2009

  • You're right - hard questions to answer. My belief system works on everything in moderation, as long as it causes no harm to others. If chemo was making my child sick and obviously not healing him, it is causing him harm - I would stop the treatments. Not feeding a child causes more harm than not saying amen - but then, I don't believe any God would send a kid to Hell just for not saying a word. (I don't believe in Hell, anyway.) What about people who really BELIEVE they are doing right?

    This is where I think all things should be used in moderation - INCLUDING religion. Being a religious zealot is NOT a good thing. Going overboard, in either direction - upsets the balance.

    Answer by TortisShell at 11:45 AM on May. 20, 2009

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