Wednesday, August 11, 2010


Here is a little story I noticed today that bought a question into my mind; its about a Christian housing officer in Wandsworth who advised (apparently via a 30 minute "barrage") an applicant for one of his housing cases that since she had a serious illness she should not bother with doctors and put her faith in God. Duke Amachree, the officer in question has since lost his job and a subsequent appeal, I think this decision is right. Someone in a public role like this should keep their own superstitions to themselves, unless asked, and certainly not use them to pin someone down like this and subject them to an unwelcome and irrelevant lecture. However my question is not really about this specific case but the more general point that if someone is advised to take a course of action that is harmful to them or others on the basis of superstition or unsubstantiated woo woo (like this case) then should the advisor be culpable in some way?

To put it more directly, if someone in a position of authority i.e. a pastor or Bishop advises someone not to seek medical advice when they should on the basis that "God" will look after them and that person then dies, should the pastor be prosecuted or not? Should religion get a free ride when it comes to making unsubstantiated claims about reality that lead to harm?


Chairman Bill said...

I suspect the Bish (or whoever) would not be classed as an expert in medical matters and the case would be treated as if you or I had advised a good dose of black draught and the bugger died as a consequence - misadventure through stupidity.

Steve Borthwick said...

CB, you're probably right, what if it's someone like the Pope though, a figure of authority? (not that you aren't a figure of authority I hasten to add ;)

Chairman Bill said...

Steve - I'm merely an authoritative figure.

Lisa said...

This photo reminds me of the Dogma movie - instead of "buddy jesus" this would be the "Take-no-shit-jesus". :-)

I had a teacher once who told me his mother had to go to her parish priest to ask permission for a hysterectomy, since she had a uterine cancer the size of a small grapefruit. I was incredulous, and asked what would have happened if the priest had withheld his permission (this was a sterilisation, after all, and meant she would not be bringing any more potential church donors into the world).

He told me that thankfully the priest gave permission, so they never found out. I couldn't help but think that they should have removed her brain whilst she was under, as that particular lump of necrotic tissue was clearly causing problems.

Steve Borthwick said...

Hi Lisa, I was thinking this picture shows the "f*ck you I'm not accountable" Jesus.

Imagine going to a priest to ask "permission" for something like that; completely baffling??