Archive for the ‘Book Review’ Category

Bad FaithRecently Dr. Paul Offit, a doctor and author who I greatly respect, wrote a new book, Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine. I knew from reading reviews and from participating in a conference call through Voices for Vaccines that this was going to be a hard book to read. Not just as a Christian, but also as a mother. I know the most visceral emotion I feel when my children are in pain, the fear when I don’t know what’s wrong, the panic when the fever starts to creep up. I won’t read books or stories where children suffer and die. I avoid news headlines. So picking up this book and knowing what’s in it is a difficult and painful thing for me to do.

I’m going to review this book chapter by chapter from the perspective of a Christian (I’m a Calvinist), a pastor’s wife, and a mother. This isn’t going to be cold and analytical, these are going to be my emotions and perhaps even my tears.

Dr. Offit, in his introduction, commends religion for the good acts and in fact dedicates this book to “all those who perform good deeds in the name of their faith.” I respect that he hasn’t taken a hostile view like Dawkins or Hitchens and that he admits the good commands that those who believe are called to do. While I don’t believe good works is how we enter into heaven (salvation is through faith in Christ), I do hear what James says when he writes that faith without works is dead in this.

Chapter One

I know the second I see the name and the religion where the story is going to end and my stomach churns and twists. I hate Christian Science. I hate it. I don’t hate the people within, I hate the lie that they’ve been told. Before I explain the story of Rita Swan, who watched her child die of a preventable illness (bacterial meningitis), I want to quote Offit with regards to Christian Science as I think it is incredibly accurate:

Eddy used the term Science because healings could be demonstrated, and Christian because healings follow the ministry of Jesus. Christian Science, however, differs from Christianity in nearly every central doctrine; mot importantly, whereas Christians believe that Jesus died for their sins, Christian Scientists believe that Jesus died to prove that diseases aren’t real. As for the word Science, Christian Science doesn’t incorporate any known scientific discipline. Arguably, Christian Science is neither Christian nor Science.

This is vital to understand no matter your faith or lack thereof. Christian Scientists aren’t Christians. Furthermore their beliefs are deadly. This is evident in Rita’s story.

For an opening chapter, this packs a punch. I could barely breathe as I read through the Christian Science practitioners blaming Rita for not believing enough. That they all stood by, so convinced of a lie, that when this child was screaming in pain they did nothing. Admittedly, I grabbed my toddler and I held him so tightly and yes, I thanked God for vaccines, for the doctors at our local clinic, for modern medicine.

I held back tears when Rita and her husband realized much too late that they’d been lied to.

This is how the chapter ends, with the death of a child. A baby.

It’s only chapter one and I’m furious.

 

 

 

 

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