Family Guy Discusses ‘Faith Healing’

I haven’t seen the episode yet, but last week’s episode of Family Guy (now available on Hulu) had an interesting premise:

When Stewie makes a new friend Scotty Jennings the Griffins invite him over for a play date. But when he collapses, they rush him to the hospital where they discover he has cancer. When his parents Ben & Hope arrive, Lois finds out that they refuse regular medical care and rely on the power of faith for healing. Lois is aghast at their refusal to get competent help. When she tries to confront them about getting professional help, they still refuse. When even Joe is unable to help, Lois decides to take matters into her own hands and kidnaps Scotty.

If there are any parts we should pay special attention to, please leave the timestamps in the comments!

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Peter White

    There are some states in the US where it is perfectly legal for parents to refuse medical care for their children on religious grounds. In the past 25 years more than 300 children have died as a direct result of their parent’s religious beliefs.

    • http://twitter.com/0xabad1dea Melissa

       The good news is that this is changing. IIRC Washington State finally flipped the metaphorical table when one church lost several children in a short timeframe and banned religious withholding of life-saving medical care from minors.

      • Kevin S.

        Oregon, I believe.  Still it’s excellent news.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

    Watch the whole episode! One of Family Guy’s best!

    Seth MacFarlane is a good one to have on our side! This, the partial birth abortion episode and the atheist episode of “American Dad” are among the best!

  • Freelancer

    full on Family Guy version of the Emo Phillips Heretic joke at 9 minutes, 50 seconds, but the whole episode reminds me of hearing what my parents went through when my sister-in-law’s mother got diagnosed with Breast Cancer a few years back. 
    And my brother and her whole family was like “Jesus is going to provide a miracle! You just watch!” And she voluntarily went untreated and died of Gangrene because the cancer just destroyed the tissue in her chest and shoulder and they allowed it to go septic. This woman was the mother of 5 children. And her husband re-married less than 3 months later. Their family is NUTS. And hearing the whole thing from my mom, who’s a Catholic, but also a cancer nurse, we were and continue to be dumbfounded. What a waste.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=750428174 Paddy Reddin

    Thought the episode was weak, especially the end.  

    As if it was that easy to rationalize with the religious, and of course they’d give up their beliefs that easily.  

    • Anonymous

      Overall the episode is OK, considering that Louis is religious herself, so everything that he did looked kinda hypocritical to me, but I thought it was standard Family Guy humor. But the end was very weak, like it was saying that is all right to “use traditional medicine and still give all the credit to god”, it just defeats the purpose of the episode.. I totally agree with you, there is no arguing with the religious, and there should be laws against this everywhere, specially in cases involving children.

      • http://religionsetspolitics.blogspot.com/ Joshua Zelinsky

        From the perspective of the child, the outcome of the parent who only prays an the parent who treats the kid with medicine and credits God, the results are pretty different. So no, it doesn’t defeat the purpose of the episode. If people are assigning credit in an inaccurate way that isn’t killing their children, let them do so.  

  • http://twitter.com/TychaBrahe TychaBrahe

    beginning at 18:40

    Lois: Ben, Hope, I know you don’t believe in modern medicine.  But you do believe in the power of prayer.  

    Hope: That’s right

    Lois: And through the years, when there was disease or infection, people of good faith would pray to God for a cure.

    Ben: Yes, that’s what we do.

    Lois: Well, then isn’t it possible that penicillan, vaccines, and antibiotics are all actually answered prayers?  And isn’t it possible the amazing men and women of medicine who brought about these miracles could be the instruments of God’s answer to our prayers?

    Lois: Look, I believe life is sacred, and I know you want Scotty to live a full life.  And if that’s true, then I think it’s wrong for you to ignore what very well could be the Lord’s will.  I mean, what’s the point in praying to God if you’re just going to wipe your butt with his answers.  Hope, Ben, please let God answer your prayers.  Please let your son get help.

  • Bintopo

    How about linking to sites that the rest of the world can see?

    • Anonymous

       It’s not available on other sites; should he link to nothing at all, just to be fair?

    • Anonymous

       It’s not available on other sites; should he link to nothing at all, just to be fair?

  • Michael Appleman

    My favorite part of that episode was the peterang.

    • Benathome323

      Just for da record, I was over the hospital – briefly.

      • T-Rex

        Coolwhhhip!

      • T-Rex

        Coolwhhhip!

    • Benathome323

      Just for da record, I was over the hospital – briefly.

  • Liz Heywood

    OK–I’m weighing in as an ex-Christian Scientist (3rd generation) who lost the use of my left knee as a child due to the laws permitting faith-based medical neglect in Massachusetts in the 1970′s. Yes–38 states STILL have exemptions permitting parents to legally choose prayer over medical treatment for children, largely because of lobbying by the Christian Science church.

    I contracted a bone disease called osteomyelitis in my left knee at thirteen–though it wasn’t diagnosed for 20 years. My parents were devout Christian Scientists surrounded by our CS family and “practitioners” paid to pray who did just that. I literally had no medical treatment: no doctor, no aspirin, no hospital visit–I lay in bed for most of a year with an infected leg. Over the course of two years my knee fused in a bent position. When I was able to walk on it (scarred to the bone with a limp that could stop traffic) my practitioner said I was “healed.” (He is still teaching practitioners to this day.)

    At the time (1976 near Boston) schools shied away from interfering with Christian Science treatment.  

    The law read: A child shall
    not be deemed to be neglected or lack proper physical care for the sole reason
    that he is being provided remedial treatment by spiritual means alone in
    accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious
    denomination by a duly-accredited practitioner thereof. 

    My best friend’s parents tried to have me removed from my home but their lawyer told them there weren’t enough grounds. I lived through hell. Besides the physical condition, it left me with severe post-traumatic stress disorder that affects me to this day. I was in therapy for 15 years & still take meds.

    I wasn’t even able to leave Christian Science until my early 30′s, I was so indoctrinated. I was sure it was my own fault I wasn’t perfectly healed. After the birth of my first daughter I left–amid flashbacks and breakdowns. It’s rough finding out you have no concept of reality. My leg was surgerically uncorrectable. When it gate out in 2007 I had it amputated above the knee. I’m currently writing about my life & looking for a literary agent for my memoir.

    I’ve only found my voice in the last few years, but damn! it feels good. I wrote a statement for the Secular Coalition’s White House meeting with Obama aides in 2010  as their poster-child for religion-based medical neglect.   http://secular.org/heywoodtestimony    I also did an interview  with Sean Faircloth of the Richard Dawkins Foundation a couple months ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOY1ME19dLk

    The Christian Science church claims they never urge their members to withhold medical care from children. This wasn’t true when I was a kid. If my writing makes the church defensive enough to allow CS parents to take their kids to doctors, I’m glad.  For more information on religious-based medical neglect of children, check out Children’s Healthcare Is A Legal Duty, Inc. (CHILD): http://childrenshealthcare.org/

    Personally, I got a kick out of this show thinking how it puts one more little knot in the church’s tail. We’ve got to stop this cult from telling children their pain isn’t real. That’s the mindf**k. I lived it.

  • Liz Heywood

    OK–I’m weighing in as an ex-Christian Scientist (3rd generation) who lost the use of my left knee as a child due to the laws permitting faith-based medical neglect in Massachusetts in the 1970′s. Yes–38 states STILL have exemptions permitting parents to legally choose prayer over medical treatment for children, largely because of lobbying by the Christian Science church.

    I contracted a bone disease called osteomyelitis in my left knee at thirteen–though it wasn’t diagnosed for 20 years. My parents were devout Christian Scientists surrounded by our CS family and “practitioners” paid to pray who did just that. I literally had no medical treatment: no doctor, no aspirin, no hospital visit–I lay in bed for most of a year with an infected leg. Over the course of two years my knee fused in a bent position. When I was able to walk on it (scarred to the bone with a limp that could stop traffic) my practitioner said I was “healed.” (He is still teaching practitioners to this day.)

    At the time (1976 near Boston) schools shied away from interfering with Christian Science treatment.  

    The law read: A child shall
    not be deemed to be neglected or lack proper physical care for the sole reason
    that he is being provided remedial treatment by spiritual means alone in
    accordance with the tenets and practices of a recognized church or religious
    denomination by a duly-accredited practitioner thereof. 

    My best friend’s parents tried to have me removed from my home but their lawyer told them there weren’t enough grounds. I lived through hell. Besides the physical condition, it left me with severe post-traumatic stress disorder that affects me to this day. I was in therapy for 15 years & still take meds.

    I wasn’t even able to leave Christian Science until my early 30′s, I was so indoctrinated. I was sure it was my own fault I wasn’t perfectly healed. After the birth of my first daughter I left–amid flashbacks and breakdowns. It’s rough finding out you have no concept of reality. My leg was surgerically uncorrectable. When it gate out in 2007 I had it amputated above the knee. I’m currently writing about my life & looking for a literary agent for my memoir.

    I’ve only found my voice in the last few years, but damn! it feels good. I wrote a statement for the Secular Coalition’s White House meeting with Obama aides in 2010  as their poster-child for religion-based medical neglect.   http://secular.org/heywoodtestimony    I also did an interview  with Sean Faircloth of the Richard Dawkins Foundation a couple months ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uOY1ME19dLk

    The Christian Science church claims they never urge their members to withhold medical care from children. This wasn’t true when I was a kid. If my writing makes the church defensive enough to allow CS parents to take their kids to doctors, I’m glad.  For more information on religious-based medical neglect of children, check out Children’s Healthcare Is A Legal Duty, Inc. (CHILD): http://childrenshealthcare.org/

    Personally, I got a kick out of this show thinking how it puts one more little knot in the church’s tail. We’ve got to stop this cult from telling children their pain isn’t real. That’s the mindf**k. I lived it.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_LNWAM4DYCN4MLBLHFGDHE2YKZM GloomCookie613

      Thank you for sharing your story. *big hugs*

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

      Glad you are out now. And the power you hold now as a survivor is amazing. Good for you!

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

      Glad you are out now. And the power you hold now as a survivor is amazing. Good for you!

    • http://profiles.google.com/conticreative Marco Conti

      Liz, please find that agent, make sure you also find a good editor (my FIL had to fire the one provided to him and hire his own, but it was worth it) and finally insist you have the kindle edition ready at release. I’ll be in line to buy the book.

  • Anonymous

    Thankfully, Joe Swanson is wrong. RI does not have a religious exemption provision, so the law does require parents to treat their kids with appropriate medical care.

  • Jake

    I liked this episode.  The show usually goes one of two ways: pandering to Brian, or beating up on everybody.  At the beginning of the episode, they actually presented the whole concept in a very dry and fairly neutral fashion, which somehow made it seem funnier to me.

  • George

    The end of this episode was very similar to a conversation I had when I was younger with someone at a Christian Science summer camp, with regards to ‘ Couldn’t God work miracles through people such as doctors?’ To which, the person responded: “don’t be silly.”

    That’s religious thinking for you.

  • George

    The end of this episode was very similar to a conversation I had when I was younger with someone at a Christian Science summer camp, with regards to ‘ Couldn’t God work miracles through people such as doctors?’ To which, the person responded: “don’t be silly.”

    That’s religious thinking for you.

  • Anonymous

    Had an aunt with a number of medical problems – all manageable with care and attention, but she refused to follow doctors’ instructions. Thus she was in and out of hospitals every few months. She got tired of this since docs couldn’t just “fix” her once and for all.

    Then some preacher (backwoods Baptist) told her that Jay-zus would heal her if she just prayed hard enough. She announced that she was through with doctors, and that God would make her an example of the power of faith. I told my parents at the time that I was sure that was true, though not in the way she expected.

    This lasted for a couple of months, while Jehovah failed to keep her hydrated, control her blood sugar or recharge her kidneys, no matter how much she praised him. Finally she agreed to go to the hospital, where godless medicine got her into good enough shape to go back to church.

    She did die after a couple more years of ups-and-downs, doctors each time salvaging what they could from prayer’s failure; but that kind of seesawing wears a body out. At her funeral, of course, there was a preacher (not the original charlatan) who barely knew her name but was sure she had gained “eternal life.”

    • Mairianna

      I work in a hospital and just yesterday, I was waiting at an elevator when a team wheeled an elderly woman from the Emergency Department to the ICU.  All the way down the hall, the woman was evoking Jebus’ name at the top of her lungs.  I felt so embarrassed for the medical team that accompanied her.  All those educated, talented nurses and doctors  surrounding her and all she could do was call out to her imaginary friend in the sky.  I felt sorry for her.  She sounded so scared.  Despite all her “faith” in the glory eternal, she was afraid of the possibility of death. 

      • Anonymous

        I often wonder what doctors and nurses must be thinking when the results of their dedication and skill are attributed to divine intervention. Just about every big recovery is quickly dubbed a “miracle,” and Jesus is praised for it. I wonder: do these people fail to thank the medical professionals who really did it?

        The same applies to plane-crash survivors and similar cases. When’s the last time someone praised structural engineers and safety inspectors?

        • KEH

           I did just that last year when I hit black ice and rolled my van off the highway.  I got out without so much as a scratch or a bruise.  My seat and seat belt kept me right where I needed to be and the roof was high enough that even though it crushed in a little, it never touched me.  I immediately went on Facebook and praised Toyota and all of their designers, engineers and inspectors.  Even wrote to Toyota.  I am safe because of them.

        • Jaheira

          I can’t speak for everyone (or even for myself), but my Sister-in-law (surgeon in a local hospital) is so deeply annoyed by this, she’s started saying loudly saying “You’re welcome” when people start with “Thank god my relative made it through the surgery well”.

          And she’s received several unofficial complaints against this…

      • Liz Heywood

        YES!! The defining quality and lifeblood of religion is FEAR. In 30-odd years of religion I never felt as unfraid as I do since I ditched belief. Born-aain atheist & so relieved.


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