Saturday, May 07, 2005

Do you know what I'm talkin' about, Ladies,

Chris Selley has well and fairly rejoined on the topic of the B.C. Jehovah's Witness girl and consent for blood transfusions. He makes his point clearly; there's no value in me going over it sentence by sentence.

Neither do I want to rehash my own previous comments. However, having digested Selley's clarification, I am relieved that I pinned very little of my argument on religious freedom - because this take from Selley is pretty good:'s one of my all-time favourite religious-themed quotes: "The Witnesses do not feel that the Bible comments directly on organ transplants." Really? Nowhere? What about in the New Testament, next to the stuff about MRI scans, epidurals and hyperbaric chambers?

I mean… arrgh! Am I really prohibited from commenting on this on the grounds of letting everyone live his or her life however he or she wants? The Bible doesn't "comment directly" on anything that didn't happen or wasn't invented until after the Bible was written. I question the sanity of those who disagree with that, and renew my demand that children be protected from the negative consequences of such beliefs.

A few days before Terri Schiavo's death, Colby Cosh touched on this same theme--without making much of an impact, apparently. This is basically what it comes down to: if you want me (or the state) to respect, or defer to, your beliefs because they are "religious" beliefs, you had better be prepared to address any internal contradictions of those beliefs.

I have zero theological education, so I'm willing to hear rebuttals, but: God may be omniscient, but He doesn't see the future. If He knows everything in advance, then concepts like redemption, and prayer, are meaningless. And like Selley, I decline to accept any old belief as legitimate merely because it is a RELIGIOUS BELIEF, like that bestows some kind of magic force field around it.

If it looks like I'm softening my stance, I'm not--I just think that the best arguments for not intervening in this girl's case aren't necessarily intertwined with religion. I probably won't elaborate on this; I have another Redneck Christmas update.


At 4:20 p.m., Blogger deaner said...

Chris said:
"I question the sanity of those who disagree with that, and renew my demand that children be protected from the negative consequences of such beliefs."

Perhaps I should be hashing this out with Chris over at Tart Cider - but here I am, anyway. Would that we could all be protected from the negative consequences of our beliefs - like the idea that society owes me a living, that capital is indifferent to taxation and return on investment, or that regulation carries no cost. Chris, I don't know who set you up as the arbiter of correct or acceptable beliefs, for children or anyone else. Is my son's belief that practicing his slapshot will provide him with a career (it won't, by the way - no footspeed) acceptable to you? How will you protect him from his mistaken understanding? How will you protect the kid in his school, who thinks that drug use won't affect his ability to provide for himself in the future? Why haven't you (or at least, others who would presume to displace parents) been after these problems before now?

Everyone has the right to their own beliefs. They have that right, even if they are wrong. Everyone has the right to accept things that I find absolutely preposterous (Chretien wasn't a thug, Warren Kinsella isn't a partisan hack, or the moon landings never happened - take your pick). The people in the world who have the greatest interest in treatment for this child - her parents - have a belief that accepting a blood transfusion is wrong, and they do not wish her to undergo such treatment. To the extent that it matters to you (and it seems that it doesn't) the child agrees.

It doesn't matter if they are incorrect in their belief, it doesn't matter if their belief is grounded in religion or irrationality, and it doesn't matter if the underpinnings of that religious belief are internally consistent. It is their belief, and it is their choice to live within that belief or not. Until it affects you directly, you don't get a say.

The nanny state already does a piss-poor job of protecting me from the incorrect beliefs of others - say that I won't mind someone breaking into my apartment and stealing my wallet - maybe it should concentrate on protecting us from others, before trying to protect us from ourselves. We all agree that it is horrible to see this girl dying, when perhaps she could be saved. I think it is also horrible that a judge, who observed that she was "a mature fourteen, who understands the cosequences of her decision" could still take it on himself to deny her the right to make that decision.



At 5:28 p.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...


This website summarizes 300 United States court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah's Witnesses, including dozens of cases where the Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions:


This website summarizes 160 United States court cases and lawsuits filed by Jehovah's Witnesses against Employers:



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