Unleavened Bread

Here is a picture of the 11-year old girl in Wisconsin who died from type I diabetes. She was evidently being prayed for under an internet-based ministry called "Unleavened Bread."

The main proprietor of Unleavened Bread is a man named David Eells. David Eells has posted his explanation of the events. I strongly encourage everyone to actually read the whole post at the link and you will see exactly what I am talking about in my post about prayer for the sick.

However several things stated need to be reposted here just in case they are later taken down. One is simply stunning in its hubris:

"The next thing I heard from them was that they were being investigated, which is sad since authorities don’t investigate the people who put their trust in doctors whose family members die by the hundreds of thousands from medical mistakes every year, according the AMA's own admission. We know that the doctors do the best they can with what they have and we do not condemn them. We would like the same consideration."

Just to be clear, Mr. Eells is claiming that because some people who go to doctors die, and some people who pray to God die, that they are equivalent. I hope he doesn't open a faith-based auto repair shop. I imagine he might say that while he admired auto mechanics who used oil changes, new tires, brake pads and other mechanical items to insure auto saftey, people still die in auto wrecks every year. He would think it was sad that people didn't accept as valid his prayer for auto safety in lieu of "standard mechanical theory."

Directly after claiming the equivalence with doctors, Mr. Eells goes on to dig himself just a bit deeper:

"When Christians begin to put their trust in The Lord they are as babes learning to walk in a new Kingdom. Sometimes we stumble because of lack of faith or repentance in an area but hopefully we correct this and get back up. "The righteous shall live by faith." Those who do not know Jesus through being born of His Word think it is a terrible thing to die, and it is for them. Jesus called dying "entering into life" for those who know Him."

This is precisely why believing in Jesus and his resurrection is flatly dangerous. The belief that the Bible is literally true leads to a culture of death-acceptance that is shocking to anyone who does not share this belief system. There's no long leap between this belief and the belief of Islamic jihadists.

Is this what the objective moral truths of the Bible reveal?

24 comments:

Evan said...

Sometimes we stumble because of lack of faith or repentance in an area but hopefully we correct this and get back up.

To be clear in case you are wondering: Yes, Mr. Eells is stating that Madeline Neumann died because she and her parents didn't have enough faith or didn't repent in some area.

Excuse, I'm ill.

zilch said...

This is indeed sick. Thankfully, most Christians (and most Muslims and Jews) do go to doctors (and auto mechanics). I just hope that Mr. Eells gets nailed by his "fellow" Christians for this.

stevie said...

This is outrageous! Despite the death of an innocent child this guy says "We are not commanded in scripture to send people to the doctor but to meet their needs through prayer and faith. "

Well, these people failed in their duty of care in that they should also have called the doctor. I won't stop them praying but for gods' sake this monster would have them repeat the same mistake. The logic is self-reinforcing and ensures that once locked into their miracle-seeking they will turn away from the proven help maybe available.

What amazes me is the parents are still allowed custody of their other children! Sometimes I despair.

Steve

lee said...

If "faith" based ministries such as this want to make these claims then I think it is time that a government study be conducted concerning the efficacy of prayer and the mortality rate of those who choose this to believe and trust in these practitioners. We have warnings labels on tobacco, alcohol and even McDonald's coffee; why shouldn't "faith" movement snake oil peddlers be required to advise potential customers of the risk and effectiveness of their product. Before a financial advisor can sell a security product the potential customer must sign several documents, but one in particular states," past performance does not reflect future results." This is the ethical minimum required by the SEC. Should the "Ministry" be held to a lesser ethical standard?

lee said...

Post script; The ministry is the only "industry" where you can make these types of outrageous
claims with impunity. Any other industry would find themselves before a congressional hearing.

Rotten Arsenal said...

I try to keep my militant tendencies in check, and I generally do a good job, but people like David Eells send me over the edge.

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Somewhat understandably, I have yet to have received a reply to my question from a professing Christian, so perhaps this new strand of the same topic will bring some, and perhaps one or more of them will be willing to take a stab at answering...

In the second offshoot of the original post, I had left off with the following:

-----------------

Harvey says:

Anyway, I agree with the general premise stated here. People should follow sound medical advice.

Miracles are NOT meant to be wholesale and are not normative, although as I said I've been a personal witness that they do occur.


I'll ignore the implications regarding miracles for now, and instead ask that you clarify your first statement with regard to my question, which I'll paraphrase now so as to avoid the ambiguity your answer provides:

Do the parents have the right to withhold non-experimental medicine (including the practice thereof) from their minor children based on religious freedom?

Should parents in general be required by legislation to follow sound medical advice from bona fide medical professionals (read: M.D. or better)?


Don't worry about the Hines article (it was 1981) -- it isn't really that relevant. I suppose I'm a bit curious to see what evidence of a miracle you can produce, but I'm sure you're aware of my skepticism.

Please, though, answer this question, and qualify your answer. Bear in mind the implications of either side -- either you become complicit in deaths such as the one this topic describes, or you deny at least partially religious freedom.

-----------------

So for all potential respondents, I think this question is a hopeless catch-22 if you place too much emphasis on religious freedom (especially the freedom of religious expression), and one with potentially dire consequences even if you don't.

To me, the only way out is to allow religious freedom only for consenting adults, but to require minor children to be subjected to modern medicine (as only one of a number of subjects to which religionists typically object).

It makes me curious as to how the Amish handle matters of medicine, and whether that bears closer scrutiny... I'll have to look that up now.

--
Stan

JUSTIN said...

Stan,

Fine, I'll bite.

"Freedom of religion" is a political "right", not an inalienable one. History and current gov'ts have and will continue to demonstrate that fact.

The gov't can and will do what it wills, but it better be ready for the political fallout that ensues. Who knows, it may be worth effort in some cases.

Freedom of thought and/or freedom of belief, on the other hand, is a different matter. Even so, if the gov't somehow made some expressions of my spiritual beliefs illegal, so be it.

lee said...

Stan,
Why couldn't government require disclosure for ministries professing the ability of physical healing?
Government would not be sanctioning or endorsing any religion or it free exercise thereof. If would simply be demanding that disclosure be provided for any person or group engaged in the extraordinary claims of supernatural manifestations. Religious freedom should not be a license to embellish and exaggerate claims and results, especially when health and life are at risk. How can any religious institution hope to be taken seriously when they will not police themselves?

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Lee said:

Why couldn't government require disclosure for ministries professing the ability of physical healing?

Because that wouldn't address the issue at all.

Sure, it would provide the literate, free-thinking adults in these "ministries" the realization that modern science (which certainly includes medicine) is advantageous on many occasions, but it will not assist minor children of any kind in getting the much-needed medical attention that treatable maladies such as Type-I Diabetes are.

The point is that the parents may well have the right to deny medical attention to themselves, but do they also have the right to deny medical attention to their minor children?

Furthermore, in my other requests for an answer to this question, I specifically pointed out the problems with landing on either side of the question --

If the parents do have the right to withhold medical attention in favor of "spiritual medicine", then we implicitly accept these clearly preventable deaths.

If the parents do not have the right to withhold medical attention as described, then we explicitly deny certain applications of the freedom of religious expression.

Jason in fact makes a good point, though counter-intuitive: what is the difference between an "inalienable right" and a "political right"? Aren't they one and the same? Didn't a political body define "inalienable rights" in the first place?

Since I'm so pestering on this subject, I'll offer my own answer to this question:

No, parents in general do not have any right to damage their children, either through indoctrination, willful ignorance, denial of medical services, denial of educational opportunity, and if I think further on it I could probably come up with more parental transgressions.

Society, instead, has the obligation to ensure that each of its children is provided with an education, medical services, an environment as free of bigotry and ignorance as possible, cultural diversity, and, again, I could think of other things society is obligated to, yet fails to, implement.

Children are not the property of their guardians. They are individuals who are typically unable to make rational judgments regarding their own well-being, and as such the responsibility for their well-being falls on the collective shoulders of society-at-large.

(And I'm a parent)

--
Stan

Stan, the Half-Truth Teller said...

Okay, so I did some research.

Amish peoples (and presumably Mennonites in general) are not intrinsically opposed to modern medicine, though there are certainly sects which shun it.

Curiously, even the Amish would most likely have allowed modern treatment in this topic's case -- if for nothing else, then due to the high frequencies of genetic disorders their lifestyle tolerates.

Of course, and as I suggested, there is considerable variance in what is and what is not considered "kosher" (if I may borrow that term from the Jewish) medical practice, and there was even a case in 1999 where an Amish girl was compelled to undergo chemotherapy to treat leukemia.

In general, though, there seems to be considerable controversy (go figure) regarding the balancing act my question portrays. I found a news article about a boy whose guardian was a Jehovah's Witness, and who died after refusing a transfusion -- in which a Superior court judge had ruled in favor of the boy's (14-years-old) right to refuse treatment, as opposed to his biological parents' desires to the contrary. He died the same day as the ruling, so there was no appeal.

Another article mentioned another child of Jehovah's Witness upbringing, who was also 14, who refused a transfusion to treat leukemia. In this case (in Canada), not only was the child required to undergo a transfusion if required, but when the parents took the child to a different province for a second opinion, they were ordered to return to their home province of British Columbia and deemed a "flight risk".

It is pretty fascinating stuff to consider, I think, and makes one wonder if, as in the case of the Amish girl, the state (of Michigan, in that case) would have prosecuted the parents if a death had occured.

Either way, it is clear that in the U.S. (and Canada), there is ample confusion regarding the rights of parents and the overlap with the rights of the child, and where the state's responsibility to the preservation of life trumps each. Ro Sham Bo, indeed.

(Unfortunately, in those cases where the child has yet to have died, there is no further information to be found, or I was too lazy to locate it.)

--
Stan

Evan said...

Scott, very interesting research. The position of family members has progressed substantially but there are still legal remnants of the old chattel system.

The problem with laws regarding raising a child are that they are difficult to enforce and juries are reluctant to punish parents who have lost a child.

The Neumanns are probably not bad people, but their daughter is dead because they are believing things provably false being told to them by people in a position of authority. This person may or may not be sincere in his belief but he is defrauding his supporters and is practicing medicine without a license which is punishable in all 50 states.

Evan said...

Stan my apologies for calling you Scott ... my fingers are faster than my mind.

Evolved Rationalist said...

Those theistard parents should be removed from the gene pool.

Harry McCall said...

The fact that Type One diabetes is genetically inherited (and I‘ll assume this is what she had), means that someone, either mother or father passed the gene on to her. The American Diabetes Association says:

“Type 1 diabetes is usually diagnosed in children and young adults, and was previously known as juvenile diabetes. In type 1 diabetes, the body does not produce insulin. Insulin is a hormone that is needed to convert sugar (glucose), starches and other food into energy needed for daily life.
Finding out you have diabetes is scary. But don't panic. Type 1 diabetes is serious, but people with diabetes can live long, healthy, happy lives.”

Lets rephrase this last sentence as an issue of faith:

“Finding out you have diabetes is a scary demon. But don't panic. Type 1 diabetes is serious, but people who have faith in Jesus with diabetes can live long, healthy, happy lives though trust in church prayer chains and not the secular medical establishment.”

But on the only hand, the Old Testament says:

Jeremiah 31:29 In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge.

Ezekiel 18:2 What do you mean, that you use this proverb concerning the land of Israel, saying, The fathers have eaten sour grapes, and the children's teeth are set on edge?

So as much as their Pastor Eells can claim they did not have enough faith, I can claim that there was sin in their family’s history and God took it our on the child!
This Bull Shit makes about as much sense a prayer.

If it was inherited (which it appears to have been), it’s just a matter on time before a younger sibling contracts it too.

Evan said...

Harry, while most of what you say makes a lot of sense, the genetics of diabetes is complicated.

There are compelling reasons to think you need two hits to get the disease, the first is a genetic susceptibility, and the second is the right virus at the wrong time of development. The likelihood of the siblings getting the disease is higher, but it's not necessarily just a matter of time.

Harry McCall said...

Thanks evan. All I know on the subject is what little I've read and that's not much.

richdurrant said...

Seems like a good thread to post this question. I have a son with my first wife. He was born and raised close to where I now live. When she left and moved a few hours south of here, she entered a much different climate. When he would return home from visitation he was sick a few times, and came here sick often. I knew then it was because of being in day care, lots of sick kids there. So to me no big deal but to my ex it was a big deal. So much a big deal that she went to the doctor and he prescribed antibiotics to be taken while he was with me. This was because he had said that the problem was the change in climate was causing him to get sick, even though he was born and raised in the climate that was now making him sick and the true change of climate was the move. Now keep in mind we are talking about Sat/Sun every other week, or 4 days of each month. I refused to give him this medicine because of how obviously ineffective it would have been. My understanding of antibiotics is that it takes a couple of days to take effect. Not to mention that they kill all bacteria, both good and bad, am I wrong here? So I definitely went against a doctors recommended treatment, obviously not in lieu of faith, but still not buying what I was told by a professional. My question then is was I wrong to deny that treatment?

I also have a severely handicapped daughter that is the direct result of a doctors care. I don't hold the doctor nor the medical profession to blame, even though they are accountable. So while I think we need to have medical help I don't know that I believe we should prosecute parents for denying their children medical help. I'm not convinced to one side or the other as of yet.

Hamilcar said...

richdurrant,

You're making a rational choice to withhold medicine (anti-biotics) that is of dubious value in this case.

What if you were to withhold your child's Ritalin while he visits you on the weekends, because you think that kids should be allowed to be rambunctious and you're not sure your child is actually suffering from ADHD in any real way?

What if you withhold the Airborne "medicine" your wife sends along with your kid, because you're rightfully dubious about the benefits of unregulated vitamin supplements and don't want to mega-dose your kid with Vitamin A?

These are fundamentally different parental choices than the life or death issues of the diseases we're speaking of here.

We must use a different set of criteria when evaluating dangerous or emergency situations -- situations where someone could come to great and permanent harm.

I'm reminded of the fallacy of "lifeboat ethics": that is, the problem of building your basic ethical system out of emergency cases. But there's a converse fallacy as well: failing to apply emergency ethics when they're actually called for.

richdurrant said...


We must use a different set of criteria when evaluating dangerous or emergency situations -- situations where someone could come to great and permanent harm.


Agreed, I just wasn't completely sure that we were only considering such cases. I thought that maybe it was just medical attention as prescribed by a doctor. But if we are just to consider emergency life threatening cases that would make a difference to me.

Trou said...

I had a thought about parents reliance on prayer instead of medical care.
Could this be similar to honor killings? It seems that parents know that there is a good chance their children will die (the church in Oregon has it's own graveyard with nearly a dozen dead children in it). They do it to uphold their position in the church community (save face) and before God. This seems to be the same things that motivate honor killings.

Shygetz said...

rich,

What kind of sick does he get, and what are the climates like where you live and where your ex lives? I don't need actualy names of cities, just general regions (Southeast, coastal Northwest, mountains, etc.) and population density (urban, suburban, rural). Also, how old was your child when he left and how old was he when he started getting sick? I assume that, since you said he was in daycare that he is pretty young. Finally, do the antibiotics seem to help?

I ask because I may have an idea of what is going on, and if I am right, then while antibiotics will work they are not the best course of treatment.

However, rich, if your kid is getting sick every time he visits you and you are not satisfied with your ex's doctor's treatment, the solution is not to ignore the doctor. It's to get a second opinion from a doctor you trust. (However, I agree with you that repeated antibiotics are not the way to go.)

I have no idea what happened to your daughter, so I don't want to comment other than to offer my sympathy.

So while I think we need to have medical help I don't know that I believe we should prosecute parents for denying their children medical help. I'm not convinced to one side or the other as of yet.

We prosecute people who operate a motor vehicle that has not been properly maintained, yet there is even an argument that we shouldn't prosecute people who do not adequately maintain their children?!?

And Mr. Eels can go right ahead and kiss all of my ass. I wish there was a way to prosecute him as an accessory to child neglect, although the more accurate charge would be consumer fraud.

stan said: If the parents do not have the right to withhold medical attention as described, then we explicitly deny certain applications of the freedom of religious expression.

We already do deny certain applications of religious freedom. Human sacrifice is forbidden, even if the sacrifice is a willing participant. Suicide cults are forbidden. Child abuse for religous reasons is illegal. In general, if an action is illegal you cannot claim the right to do it for religious reasons unless the law is clearly discriminatory in nature (e.g., a law specifically forbidding ritual animal sacrifice, but allowing for the killing of animals for other reasons). Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah. If the people had refused to get their child medical care for non-religious reasons, would it be okay? If not, then it's not okay for them to do it for religious ones. They are free to believe what they like, but the state may compel their actions so long as the state has a compelling interest.

darusts said...

stan said: Either way, it is clear that in the U.S. (and Canada), there is ample confusion regarding the rights of parents and the overlap with the rights of the child, and where the state's responsibility to the preservation of life trumps each.

What if the state had demonstrated a lack of responsibility to preserve life by permitting (and in some cases paying for) the premeditated killing of children? Should parents in the German state under the control of the National Socialists have submitted their wishes to the state or collective will? This is similarly being perpetuated today in both the US and Canada under the guise of abortion rights (driven by eugenics just as Germany's policies were).

How can I trust a state which allows this to have the best interest of my child in mind?

darusts said...

stan suggested: No, parents in general do not have any right to damage their children, either through indoctrination, willful ignorance, denial of medical services, denial of educational opportunity, and if I think further on it I could probably come up with more parental transgressions.

Many who would espouse this would gladly define requiring my child to accompany me to church and actively encouraging his adoption of my world view as "indoctrination". Likewise, "denial of educational opportunity" could easily be twisted to imply that I am obliged to voicelessly submit my child to all doctrinal stances imposed by the state in its educational institutions.