Religious practices must be rational
Religious freedom is considered one of America’s greatest virtues, but there are times when we are forced to recognize that some rights protections go too far — to the point where they overstep public and logical acceptance and must be limited or prohibited.
The Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City, Ore., are the subject of a number of widely publicized cases where children died after their parents and caretakers refused medical help for treatable illnesses in favor of prayers and a variety of other faith healing practices.
A bill being proposed in Oregon would disallow religious conviction as an excuse against homicide charges for these types of cases, though it doesn’t forbid them from relying solely on faith healing now and in the future.
This bill, along with those with similar aims, should pass in Oregon and be given support on a national scale. Religion should get no more irrational free rides because they fly under the banner of religious freedom — that right, much like others with underlying complexities, is not absolute.
When discussing the legal responsibility of Followers of Christ Church, is murder too severe of a charge? If not, is there a better basis on which they could be held? The situation is a murky one.
A problem arises concerning how such cases will be handled, and it is difficult to know if courts can reach a fair ruling that will establish an acceptable precedence for similar cases that will be tried in the future.
The key is making sure that governments tackle the correct issues and avoid the dangers of a slippery-slope ruling. Clearer boundaries and definitions need to be set defining what is unacceptable — a delicate balance must be struck so that parents still have the right to raise and educate their children the best way they see fit, regardless of religious upbringing and influence.
Where can the line be drawn such that it aligns religious practices with reason, holds people responsible, and still leaves space for religious freedom?
In these modern times, what does it truly mean for religion to be free? Some would define it as holding to a doctrine you cannot act upon.
Regardless, the fact remains: It was not the children who died that were members of Followers of Christ Church, but their parents. This is an important distinction because the cases deal with the fact that an adult is making a religious decision for both themselves and their children.
In decisions concerning life and death, the law and the societal standards take precedence over individual beliefs.