We know how bad things get when Christian Science practitioners fail to take their children to doctors because they believe God will heal them. Curable problems become death sentences.
Now, according to BBC News, we have a new problem to deal with: Pentecostal preachers who tell HIV patients to stop taking anti-retroviral drugs. The Children’s HIV Association surveyed 19 doctors and health professionals who work with children and babies and what they heard was shocking:
Among 10 doctors who said they had encountered the problem in the last five years, 29 of their patients had reported being put under pressure to stop taking medicine and at least 11 had done so.
The healthcare workers also reported that some patients had been told by their pastors they would be healed by prayer or by drinking blessed water.
We’re only talking about a few churches affecting a few people, but when you’re battling a disease that serious, why wouldn’t you want someone who has it to take all possible precautions? How deluded do you have to be to take health advice from your pastor over your doctor?
Dr Steve Welch, who is chairman of the Children’s HIV Association, said it found it difficult to engage with the faith leaders of churches where healing was an integral part of the worship.
Of course it was… you’re trying to talk to people who think you’re disobeying the will of God.
It’s not just Pentecostal preachers who are the problems, either. Last fall, BBC News reported on evangelical Christian pastors who had the same problem:
Last year, BBC London identified three people with HIV who died after they stopped taking antiretroviral drugs on the advice of their Evangelical Christian pastors.
I remember once going to a Vineyard Church service where the pastor suggested that members of the congregation with back problems could be healed by others whose arms were tingling (because that was a sign God was giving us power, she said, and not just a response to sitting in the same position during a long, dry sermon). At no point did she suggest that anyone with a back problem should see a doctor. The Christian I was there with later told me the “seeing a doctor” part was implied.
It’s easy to see how some people would never know that. We’re talking about the same people who preach abstinence-only sex education because actually talking about sex would be too “hypocritical.” If they’re telling the congregation that God will heal them, then why bother mentioning doctors, right?
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Bob for the link)