A few religious communities in the U.S. deny their children basic health care because they believe it’s a sin not to trust God to heal. The parents dare not seek out doctor’s care for illnesses that are directly curable with modern treatments because of the fear of being chastised by their insular social network and accused of having weak faith. Children suffer and die from this antiquated, absurd belief system. As more cases come to light, U.S. lawmakers, law enforcement and children’s advocates are pushing to punish parents who use faith in lieu of medicine with serious jail time while informing these faith-centered communities that putting the child’s welfare second to religious tenets will not be tolerated.
By William M. London
On October 25th, the Australian 60 Minutes television program featured a follow-up to Liz Hayes’s 1998 skeptical investigation of João Teixeira de Faria, who is better known as "João de deus" or "John of god." João has been credulously promoted by Oprah Winfrey as a medium who channels the spirits of dead doctors and saints to perform miraculous healings for people from around the world who visit him each week at his “Casa” in Abadiânia, Brazil.
Here is a summary of what was revealed in this airing - though the title sort of gives it away...
SWIFT is named after Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels. In the book, Gulliver encounters among other things a floating island inhabited by spaced-out scientists and philosophers who hardly deal with reality. Swift was among the first to launch well-designed critiques against the flummery - political, philosophical, and scientific - of his time, a tradition that we hope to maintain at The James Randi Foundation.