Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What If I Prefer "Holistic Medicine"?

There are lots of bright, loving parents out there who are afraid of or have a problem with medical science. So when their kids get sick, they "treat" them with "alternative medicines." What's wrong with that?

First of all, most parents aren't familiar with the course a disease takes, so they can mistake what appears to be "getting better" for actually getting worse, much, much worse.

Second, "alternative medicines" that have stood the test of time--that work--aren't called alternative medicine; they're called medicine. Props to Tim Minchin.

Here's why you don't want to "treat" your child with holistic medicines to the exclusion of proper care from a licensed healthcare provider: In a heartbreaking case, Tamara Lovett, a Canadian mom from Calgary, Alberta "treated" her seven-year- old son, Ryan, who was sick with not just one, but several treatable illnesses, with "holistic medicines." He died. Had she taken him promptly to a medical doctor, he would be alive today. She stood trial and was found guilty of "failing to provide the necessaries of life, causing death." I don't want that to happen to you. More important, I don't want your child to die unnecessarily.

Now there is reason to be concerned about the over-use of antibiotics, and you should talk to a licensed healthcare provider if you are wondering about that. There's also a very helpful book available to help you talk intelligently with that doctor. Breaking the Antibiotic Habit: A Parent's Guide to Coughs, Colds, Ear Infections, and Sore Throats by Paul A. Offit, MD. Caution: reading this book, even repeatedly, does not make you a licensed healthcare provider, and you need to take your child to a real one. Use this book to help you have intelligent conversations with healthcare providers. 

So if you like using, say, "aroma therapy," knock yourself out; it will make your house smell good. But when your kids are sick, for God's sake, for your own sake, and most importantly for your children's sake, take them to a licensed healthcare provider. 

Friday, October 7, 2016

Howard Clark's Healing

In 1964, I met Howard Clark at the Feast of Tabernacles in Squaw Valley. I was nine years old and my family told me his story, that he'd been divinely healed of paralysis caused by wounds sustained in the Korean War. Today I am a skeptic, and as such, I suspect that if Mr. Clark was healed of anything, it was a psychological "healing." One of the things that was said about it was that the VA continued to pay him full disability, despite his claim that he had been healed. I heard Clark confirm this in a sermon in 1974 or 1977.

I contacted the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Missouri to ask if I could learn anything about his healing from these records. At first I was told that they had located the file and that the information I requested would be sent to me in mid-September at no charge. Then shortly afterwards I was informed that because of his separation date, the entire records were available to the public, and as such were not subject to the Freedom of Information Act. They offered to sell me a complete copy of his personnel file for $70. I sent a check in that amount, but then asked if the information I was seeking would be in that file. The NPRC said that it would not be, no or ever, because it was part of his medical record which is in the custody of the Veterans Administration. Those records are only available to next-of-kin. The NPRC kindly intercepted my check and returned it to me.

One of my relatives was married to a minister of the Worldwide Church of God (known as the Radio Church of God in 1958, when this healing purportedly occurred) who had worked under Howard Clark as a local elder while Clark was pastor of a congregation of the church in El Monte, California. They said, circa 1974, that Clark told them he was in constant pain and wished that God had healed him entirely or not at all.

I wrote to Howard Clark's son several weeks ago, asking if his father, at the end of his life, had still believed he had been divinely healed, because the few individuals I knew of who had known him personally said that it was a topic he didn't talk about much. To date I haven't heard back from him.

If anyone with personal knowledge of Mr. Clark's alleged healing would care to contact me about this story, I would appreciate it very much.

Mariah Walton

I received an email from Sara Walton Brady who read the Introduction on my profile, which dealt with her sister Mariah Walton's congenital heart defect. She told me that the information was incorrect and asked me to take it down. She sent me a link to her testimony before the Mariah Walton Faith Healing Working Group, where she decries the purportedly false information that various groups have used to further the agenda of passing laws to protect children by eliminating the exclusionary clauses in child safety laws. As far as I can tell from listening to her testimony, the family is hurt and embarrassed because she says they would all do things differently now if they knew then what they know now. She also states that her parents are not members of a fringe LDS group, that they have always only been members of the LDS group, and that the church does not teach against seeking medical care. Furthermore, because her mother is "knowledgeable" about "natural healing," and used those methods in addition to praying for Mariah's healing, that they were not relying strictly on prayer. She says that if her parents had known about Mariah's heart defect, her mother would never have tried to treat it with herbs.
Sara Brady argues near the end of her testimony that she doesn't like the idea of mandated twice a year well-child check ups. The irony of that is that had Mariah's parents been legally obliged to do this, Mariah's heart defect would have been discovered in time to repair it.

So here is what I'm going to do. I am going to link Sara's testimony and an ABC interview of Mariah and Emily, another sister, and let my readers mull this over. By the way, there is absolutely no mention of Mariah having blackmailed her father, so I can't imagine what ABC was thinking to title the interview the way they did.

Here's a link to a telephone interview with Emily Walton, further describing what happened to Mariah.


Tuesday, August 30, 2016

A Word to the Wives . . .

Your child is ill and their father tells you that you and he are going to have faith in God to heal your child, no matter what--even if it means letting your child die, because, he says, nothing can happen outside of God's will. Your church teaches--indeed the Bible teaches, that wives must obey their husbands. Maybe other members of your congregation tell you that you are fearful. Maybe your church is so exclusive that you hardly know anyone who isn't a member of it who would help you. The longer your child is ill, the more desperately you want to take them to a proper doctor. But your thoughts are confusing, and you're afraid to trust them. Maybe Satan is tempting you to be weak in faith and to disobey your husband. Maybe you feel like you're going crazy with all the contradictory thoughts swirling around in your head. Scriptures about trust and obedience. Because you know it's stupid and criminal to deny your sick child proper medical care. This woman is going to prison for twenty years because she obeyed her husband.

This poor woman is not a martyr; she and her dead baby are victims of ignorance and poverty.

Don't obey your husband when he refuses to take proper care of your children. Don't think that this is what it means to trust in the Lord with all your heart. Take some control over your life and the lives of your children. You'll be glad you did.



Saturday, August 20, 2016


Hi, Readers:

Sorry for the long gap since my last post. I have been researching instances of healings, and it's raised some interesting questions. Stay tuned as we look into these; meanwhile, if you have healing stories of your own, feel free to share them below.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Parental Sovereignty?

You may have been following the story of the parents of little Ezekiel Stephan, whose parents didn't want to use conventional medicine when he was sick with what turned out to be bacterial meningitis. In this instance, the parents, although they belong to a church, weren't refusing medical care because of their faith; it was because they had some negative experience with conventional medicine or the medical establishment in Canada and chose to use so-called alternative medicine to treat their son. Ezekiel was not only not medically treated when he was ill, he was not vaccinated against this fairly common illness, either. His parents improper action--treating a serious illness with dietary supplements, and inaction, led to his death.

His parents were convicted of "failure to provide the necessaries of life," and both received extremely light sentences, Collet's being four months of house arrest with privileges to keep medical appointments and go to church. David Collet, who sells alternative medicine products, insists that their conviction is an infringement of their parental rights to choose what medicine they deem best for their child and has used it as a rallying cry to other parents, claiming that parents have a right to not vaccinate their child without being held liable for the consequence. While the history of the development of vaccinations does include tragedies, the evidence for the lives saved by immunizations far outweighs those numbers.

At the very least, David Collet and any other parent should be willing to suffer the consequences of decisions made on his child's behalf, but he wants it both ways.  The Collets failed to provide preventative medicine and to seek proper treatment for Ezekiel when he got sick. While this is not an instance of faith healing, it is an instance where the parents claim to sovereignty has been properly overruled. We have no more right to deny our child proper medical care because of our faith than we have to choose "alternative medicine" that has no scientific evidence to support its claims.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Do Parents Have a Right to Deny Themselves Medical Care?

So far I’ve argued that parents don’t have a right to deny their child competent medical care on the basis of their religious faith. But what about the parents? Do they have a right to die rather than seeking medical care? In Bad Faith: When Religious Belief Undermines Modern Medicine, author Paul A. Offit, M.D., addresses the issue as he recounts an instance in 1963, when a Jehovah’s Witness, Mr. Jones, brought his wife to Georgetown College Hospital, now Georgetown University Hospital, in Washington, D.C. She was suffering from a ruptured ulcer and had lost so much blood that she would soon die if she didn’t receive blood transfusions. But the woman and her husband both refused permission for the transfusions, because these would have violated their religious beliefs.

The hospital’s attorneys sought a court order for Mrs. Jones to receive the blood transfusions. Judge J. Skelley Wright ordered the transfusions, and gave his reasons for having denied Mrs. Jones her religious right to martyr herself:

Jesse Jones was […] the mother of a seven-month-old child. […]The state will not allow a parent to abandon a child, and so it should not allow this most ultimate of abandonments.

In researching this case, I found that Judge Wright went on to note that Mrs. Jones’ obligation extended beyond the one she owed her child:
The patient had a responsibility to the community to care for her infant. Thus the people had an interest in preserving the life of this mother….

No one lives in a vacuum. The loss of a parent can have devastating and far-reaching effects on the life of a child--even on any children he brings into the world--by shaping the kind of person he becomes. Don’t get swept up in some happy dream that God will work everything out for your child if you decide not to fight to stay alive and take care of him. He becomes instantly more vulnerable than he was before. And that vulnerability increases according to any instability in the surviving parent and other relatives left to care for that child. Furthermore, any parent choosing to die places an immediate burden on surviving relatives or friends to help care for the child, and on the resources of the larger community, including the Social Security Administration, which will pay survivor benefits to help provide for that child. And that's if everything goes well for the child.
If you still think God requires you to die rather than seek competent medical care, consider your obligation not to abandon your child in this light:

But if any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith and is worse than an infidel (an unbeliever). (I Timothy 5:8, King James Version, public domain)

If you have to face the judgment of an all-powerful God someday, tell Him that if He had wanted you to die, nothing you could have availed yourself of would have kept you alive, but that you were honoring your obligation as a parent by doing everything in your power to stay alive and provide for your child.

“Application of The President and Directors of Georgetown College, Inc. (331 F.2d 1000) 1964” United States Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit. 14 Jul. 2016.

Offit, Paul A. “The Peculiar People,” Bad Faith: When Religious Faith Undermines Modern Medicine. Philadelphia: Basic Books, 2015. 159.