Secular Medicine Saves Lives
A. The United States of America vs. the United Kingdom Regarding Secular Medicine
The purpose of this article is not to disparage the institution of religion as a whole. I realize that there are religious institutions out there that do wonderful things for the underprivileged. However, what greatly concerns me is that religious extremists and Christian fundamentalists are overstepping their boundaries upon interfering with the advancement of medical technology and medical science here in the United States of America. Now I am not mindless of the fact that because I am an agnostic, the opinions I express herein may appear as subjective to some of the more evangelical readers of this article. Nevertheless, I still feel that American society collectively needs to confront the reality of all the damage that mixing religion with both medical technology and medical science has caused our great nation.
Religious tyrants here in the United States of America and in Europe banned the use of anesthetics in surgical procedures for 300 years after the first anesthetic came into existence, because they believed that Christians had a duty to God to suffer in his name.1 Western European nations have matured beyond such fanaticism since then. However, the United States of America never seems to free itself completely from this form of backwards thinking. I believe that healthcare reform here in the United States of America should entail much more than just ensuring that every American has full health insurance coverage. It should also keep religion out of medicine, because the Religious Right's influence on domestic policy has been depriving people of necessary medical care for way too long.
After having been a loyal fan of Real Time with Bill Maher for many years, one talking point that I find being repeated on that same HBO series again and again is that Western Europeans take the principle of separation of church and state more seriously than Americans do. In the United Kingdom, any candidate for a political office runs the risk of sabotaging their own campaign if they even make one mention of religion or God in their public speeches inasmuch as the British people simply do not want religious beliefs forced down their throats by means of their political system. The United States of America is the exact opposite of the United Kingdom in that respect in terms that our country is permissive to the influence of religious extremists upon the American political system to the extent that domestic policy, more often than not, gets molded in accordance to Christian fundamentalists’ beliefs. What I find so particularly commendable about the British is that their propensity to preserve the separation of church and state even extends to their desire for progress in the medical field, whereas medical technology and medical science are both constantly encountering roadblocks here in the United States of America because of Christians fundamentalists’ compulsion to meddle into areas of domestic policy that really do not concern them.
What is so noteworthy about the United Kingdom is that there is an organization named the Secular Medical Forum whose purpose is to campaign for a secular approach to current major health issues in their country. That is, this organization has the objective of standing up against religious extremists who threaten both the integrity and progress of both medical science and medical technology. This organization is run by volunteer healthcare professionals, and it appears to be quite effective. Health professionals in the medical field here in the United States of America are just beginning to wise up regarding the problems that religious extremists cause in that religious extremists continuously find more and more creative ways to interfere with the advancement of medical technology and medical science at the detriment and expense of others who may not share their beliefs. Although I know of no organization here in the United States of America that specifically and exclusively does what the Secular Medical Forum does in the United Kingdom, I find it admirable that the Freedom From Religion Foundation has included that same objective among their other numerous objectives related to their efforts to combat religious oppression here in the home of the free and the brave.
B. The Religious Right’s War on Embryonic Stem Cell Research
I am not someone who has ever been all that happy about the idea of abortion, because I do feel that a baby does have the right to be born. However, I do recognize that there are many other people here in my country who sharply disagree with my viewpoint in that regard, and, therefore, I feel that I must respect those individuals’ beliefs. In any event, I have always been doubtful that the 1973 Roe vs. Wade ruling from the Supreme Court of the United States would ever be overturned. Why? It is not because I don’t believe that many Americans would like to see abortion stopped here in our country, but rather because even some of the most die-hard anti-abortionists likely realize that overturning this same ruling would open the lid of Pandora’s Box to a whole myriad of chaotic problems and adverse situations throughout our nation that would far outweigh the benefits of doing so.
Some of you might recall that back in the 1980s right after President Ronald Reagan began showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease, his wife, Nancy Reagan, who was also a loyal Republican, made efforts from that point on to convince even some of the most stubborn of ultraconservatives and religious leaders that embryonic stem cell research was vital to the advancements needed in medical science and medical technology to save people from dying of terminal illnesses. However, her efforts were futile for the most part inasmuch as these same ultraconservatives and religious leaders were of the mindset that it was either their way or the highway. From that point on, the debate among political leaders throughout the United States of America over whether or not embryonic stem cell research should be legal continued to heat up more and more every year, and ultraconservative politicians and Christian fundamentalists continued to argue that embryonic stem cells were little people rather than non-living entities, as their basis for seeking to outlaw embryonic stem cell research.
I have never been a fan of Reverend Pat Robertson. On the contrary, I find this television evangelist to be an abomination to all forms of intellectual reasoning. Unfortunately, there are individuals here in my country who actually take this man seriously. In any event, I have watched a few of his television shows just out of curiosity, and one of his television shows really got me furious. I recall Reverend Robertson doing a movie review on both Poltergeist and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. I expected him to give a negative review on the movie Poltergeist, because, after all, it is a movie about the supernatural and most of us would only expect him to badmouth this same movie in accordance to his religious beliefs. However, considering that he is an avid supporter of family-friendly television programming and movies, I had expected him to have only good things to say about E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial. Much to my surprise, he tore down that movie every way he could. Reverend Robertson showed a clip of that movie where the little boy, Elliott, accidentally cut his finger on the edge of a saw and the alien, E.T., lit up his own finger and healed Elliott’s bleeding finger by pressing his glowing finger against Elliott’s bleeding finger. When I first saw that movie, my friends and I thought that such a scene was awesome. However, Reverend Robertson complained about that scene being a form of sacrilege, and then he stressed verbally that only God had the right to heal. After seeing and hearing him make such a fuss against this movie because of that scene, I found myself looking at the television screen and saying, “Seriously?!”
Reverend Robertson rants and raves on his television show The 700 Club about how there is so much morally corrosive content on television and on the silver screen and that children are, therefore, put at risk from seeing these kinds of television programs and movies. However, just about every parent I have ever known that has gone to see E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial with their children expressed to me how glad they were that they brought their children to see this same movie. Then I feel like asking Reverend Robertson that if he detests this same movie so much, would he have preferred that his grandchildren had gone as small children to see a very violent and gory movie like Nightmare on Elm Street and all of its sequels instead so that they could watch Freddy Krueger attack people with his razor fingers? Moreover, after I saw Reverend Robertson make this one movie review on his television show, I began to question whether he had a fixation about the pain and suffering of others. I could imagine that if it were Reverend Robertson who was bleeding and suffering in pain, he might not have a problem with an alien lighting up a finger and healing him regardless of what the Scriptures may have to say about it. What I know for certain is that he would not be flapping his jaws about this topic in the offensive manner that he does so if he were ever in that situation. As I predicted, I later found out that he was among the religious extremists who opposed embryonic stem cell research.
Nevertheless, what I find so interesting about ultraconservatives and religious extremists is that whenever some horrendous pandemic adversely affects them directly, they open up their minds to ideas that go against their core beliefs. Whenever they do so, it is almost always for the better rather than for the worst. Unfortunately, it does not happen often enough, and, therefore, the American people find themselves, more often than not, being held hostage to a belief system that denies them the medical attention and treatment that they so desperately need. It has been like a regular obsession among ultraconservatives and religious extremists to do everything that they can to obstruct embryonic stem cell research no matter what the consequences are for the American people as a whole. These people clearly do not have society’s best interests at heart. The fact of the matter is that embryonic stem cell research is necessary for the advancement and progress of medical science and medical technology, and it saves lives. The YouTube video below provides you with all the pros and cons regarding embryonic stem cell research. Of course, upon watching it, you will find that most of the pros regarding embryonic stem cell research come from the scientific and medical community, whereas most of the cons regarding it come from the evangelical and ultraconservative political community.
Proof That The Religious Right Is Wrong About Embryonic Stem Cell Research
The Vatican and the Catholic Church have sided with the evangelical community here in the United States of America on opposing embryonic stem cell research in any manner. What I find so hypocritical about all these Catholic priests always appearing on television with their smug looks to denounce embryonic stem cell research as the destruction of human life and murder of unborn children is that, at the same time, many of the higher-ups in their organization have covered up sex crimes against children as young as 6 and 7 years old to protect pedophile priests from the law for years and perhaps for even centuries. As the above YouTube video described, Christian fundamentalists and ultraconservative politicians just love the death penalty; and I am not going to deny that I also find capital punishment attractive in a sense that there are viciously barbaric individuals whose heinous crimes warrant the untimely ending of their lives. I find it outrageous that Charles Manson was able to get off of death row after the Supreme Court of California ruled to abolish the death penalty in their state and shortly before the Supreme Court of the United States ruled to abolish the death penalty throughout our country back in 1972. However, I am an agnostic who does not adhere to any set of Biblical standards that I find to make no sense to me. On the other hand, Christian fundamentalists and also ultraconservative politicians, most of who are extremely religious, are always citing the *Sixth Commandment of The Holy Bible, which states “Thou Shall Not Kill,” as their reason for opposing embryonic stem cell research while they hypocritically encourage legislators to expand capital punishment. (*Note - this is the Fifth Commandment of The Holy Bible in the Catholic faith.) My feelings regarding people who deserve to be on death row is that these individuals have used up every second chance that society has given them. However, Christian fundamentalists shouldn’t really have the option of viewing capital punishment in that light, because their religion deems all life as sacred and The Holy Bible repeatedly encourages devout Christians to love and forgive their enemies.
Although I consider myself to be pro-life, most Christian fundamentalists would probably snipe at me for claiming to be so in that I completely support embryonic stem cell research. However, the way that I see it is that any cell that is grown outside the body in a laboratory culture dish is not technically a living human being and should never be considered as such. Many Americans are more concerned about being cured of their ailments, some of which may be deadly, than they are about what some book that was written nearly two millenniums ago states. Moreover, Christian fundamentalists are interpreting The Holy Bible in this respect to state what they want it to state regarding embryonic stem cell research. The Holy Bible was written long before any major scientific breakthrough was ever accomplished, and, therefore, such a publication could never fairly address the morality of embryonic stem cell research or any other medical procedure that cures deadly diseases. The hypocrisy of how Christian fundamentalists and ultraconservative politicians approach the subject of embryonic stem cell research and medical science in general is that these evangelicals are always preaching about how it is one’s obligation to God to accept any suffering that he allows to come that person’s way. These people are so emphatic about preaching about suffering, so long as it is not their own. However, whenever they find themselves in much pain and in need of being cured of a deadly disease that only embryonic stem cell research or any other medical breakthrough that they condemn can cure, they always somehow manage to find some loophole in their belief system to condone their use of such methods, even if they have to fabricate some ludicrous story on how the ghost of Jesus Christ appeared before them and approved their actions to do so. Otherwise, these religious fanatics stand in the way of such needed advancements in medical science and medical technology.
Like so many of you out there, I find myself becoming furious whenever I come across a story on television about someone who was denied valuable medical treatment inasmuch as some ultraconservative politician in office pushed for legislation against embryonic stem cell research that would have otherwise saved this individual’s life. During an election year, there was a television advertisement in my local area concerning an elected official who had pushed for laws against embryonic stem cell research, and her actions had deprived a terminally ill man of any chances of overcoming his deadly disease. The man’s wife described how much pain her husband was in right up to the time that he had died, and she complained that it was because of this one elected official’s imposition of her religious beliefs in her actions to pass legislation that would obstruct embryonic stem cell research. The man’s wife cried that, as a result, her husband was ultimately denied the necessary medical treatment that might have saved his life.
Whenever I see stories like these on television, I sometimes find myself believing that probably my country would be better off if our Federal government were to set aside a certain amount of land for all of these Christian fundamentalists and the ultraconservative politicians who support their belief system, so that they could have their own nation with their own government, their own constitution, their own elected officials, their own military, their own laws and even their own flag. I would not doubt that previous presidents and legislators on Capitol Hill have at least discussed the prospect of entertaining such a thought at one point or another. However, I can also understand why even the most ultraconservative of elected officials have never gone through with such a measure, because it would definitely be a recipe for major disaster. That is, if our Federal government were to allow for such a country to be created with a strictly faith-based political system, it would be bound to become another Jonestown, Guyana at one point or another. For those of you who don’t know what I am referring to, allow me to explain. Back in the 1970s, a deranged religious leader named Jim Jones took a group of his followers with him from San Francisco, California down to Guyana in South America to build a sort of holy land, so to speak. Ultimately, in 1978, he enticed them all into committing suicide by getting them to drink tainted Flavor Aid, and then he took his own life. The whole irony of that tragedy was that two years later, in figurative words, the Christian Coalition hijacked the Republican Party here in the United States of America when President Reagan first ran for president on the Republican ticket.
C. Unscrupulous Rich People’s Role Against Medical Science
Various times when I have watched Real Time with Bill Maher, I have heard Bill Maher stress the point that if the Religious Right here in the United States of America did not impose so much influence on domestic policy, it is likely that our medical science and medical technology would be more advanced than it currently is. I believe Mr. Maher in that regard; and he makes perfect sense, because another point that he brings up periodically on his HBO series is that there appears to be an unusual alliance between Christian fundamentalists and the ultra-wealthy in the form of the Republican Party here in the United States of America. I’m not saying that all Republicans fall within that scenario. There are many Republicans who favor the working class and also recognize that religious fanaticism and religious oppression are both like cancer in the political fabric of our nation. In any event, here is my point. Christian fundamentalists take a predilection of obstructing advancements in medical science and medical technology, and many people who are among the ultra-wealthy stand to benefit monetarily from these same actions of the Religious Right. How? If my memory serves me right, I vaguely recall once reading information concerning a permanent cure for allergies that existed in the People’s Republic of China. I talked to a friend of mine about it, and she told me that such a permanent cure would likely never make it into the United States of America inasmuch as too many very rich moguls who owned the companies that manufactured antihistamines and other allergy-related medications were profiting by leaps and bounds from selling their products to treat the symptoms of allergies rather than allowing for permanent cures to allergies to be marketed here in our country. The ultra-wealthy who fit the description of these corporate moguls make millions and millions of dollars every year marketing their remedies to diseases that could otherwise be permanently cured if Christian fundamentalists did not make sustained efforts to stand in the way of advancements in medical science. These rich shysters, therefore, are enamored with the activities of the Christian fundamentalists in this regard, because it helps line their own pockets. They also contribute to this same injustice by buying out the patents to medications and vaccinations that would permanently cure these ailments and diseases, so that they can keep them off the market. This shady tactic of theirs sends profits their way in the form of sales of products that merely treat the symptoms of such ailments and diseases.
I have never particularly been a fan of the People’s Republic of China. I find their government to be oppressive in that it does not allow for free elections. However, one characteristic of their political system that they did get right was that they do not allow for religious institutions to stand in the way of medical and scientific progress. Of course, then again, their government heavily regulates their churches and religious institutions. And, yes, I get it. Such a setup could never work in the United States of America, because the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects religious freedoms here in our country. However, the irony of that same amendment is that Christian fundamentalists disbelieve that they have to respect the rights and beliefs of agnostics and atheists also; and whenever they push their agenda on others who disagree with them, they are violating that very same amendment of our constitution that they so proudly defend.
D. The New American President’s Prospective Approach to Secular Medicine
Many Americans out there are probably wondering how our new president, Donald J. Trump, is going to handle the issue of embryonic stem cell research as well as any other medical breakthrough that the Religious Right attacks. It is no secret that Republican presidents in the past, especially President George W. Bush, have taken some of the most reactionary measures while in office to obstruct the progress and even the very existence of embryonic stem cell research as well as other advancements in medical science and medical technology, and they have done so all in the name of religion. However, I have a much more optimistic outlook on how President Trump is going to handle this issue than I did as for the Republican presidents who preceded him. First of all, unlike President George W. Bush, President Trump is not from the Bible Belt but rather from New York City, which is a place where people find themselves obligated to coexist with one another regardless of how diametrically different their respective belief systems are. I know this for a fact, because I used to live in New York City. Second of all, President Trump is the nephew of the prominent scientist Dr. John G. Trump, who was highly regarded by the scientific community right up until his death in 1985 and who continues to be in the scientific Hall of Fame, for a lack of a better description. Therefore, I believe that President Trump is going to have more respect for professionals in the field of medical science and in other areas of science than the preceding Republican presidents did. He may even surprise many Americans and show more respect for professionals in the field of medical science and in other areas of science than even President Barack Obama did, which would be a blessing inasmuch as President Obama was the president who lifted President George W. Bush’s ban on Federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.
E. The Religious Right’s Hypocrisies Regarding Medical Science
It greatly amazes me how Christian fundamentalists and ultraconservative politicians always seem to believe in medical science and medical technology only when they find it as a convenient way for them to impose their beliefs on others, whereas most of the time they are at war against the medical and scientific community in a collective effort to obstruct any advancements in science and medicine that they view as going against their beliefs, especially embryonic stem cell research. For example, I was once watching an edition of Real Time with Bill Maher on HBO, and a female conservative Republican whom Bill Maher had invited to his show made a comment to him and the other guests regarding medical science and abortion. She said that if liberals are so adamant about everyone respecting medical science and medical technology, then they should also respect the fact that procedures of medical science such as sonograms and ultrasounds prove that unborn babies are, in fact, living human beings, whenever these same procedures show an image of a growing fetus with arms and legs on a monitor screen. Now because I have never liked the idea of abortion, this woman’s opinion did not bother me in the least. However, others who may proclaim themselves to be pro-choice may not have liked her approach on the issue.
I can deal with the kind of arguments that the above-described female guest on Real Time with Bill Maher presented, although others may find them to be invalid. It is no mystery that abortion has been a touchy subject for the American people for over four decades. However, here is where I begin to have a major problem with Christian fundamentalists and ultraconservative politicians engaging in their hypocrisy regarding medical science and medical technology. In my research on the Internet, I have come across information concerning Christian fundamentalists who adamantly believe that anyone who is born as a result of rape should love their biological father no matter what the circumstances may be just because the *Fifth Commandment of The Holy Bible states that one must honor their father. (*Note - this is the Fourth Commandment of The Holy Bible in the Catholic faith. However, because I used to be a Protestant, from this point on herein, I will refer to it as the Fifth Commandment of The Holy Bible.) That is, if a man raped someone’s mother and got their mother pregnant with them, then that person should love their biological father according to what The Holy Bible says, no matter how repulsive and dangerous he is. Such a belief is so nonsensical, and it is a definite hypocrisy on the part of Christian fundamentalists. Now I’m not saying that women don’t commit rape too, but that’s a whole different article for a whole another time. To stay on point in this article, I’m going to continue to use the example of a man raping a woman and conceiving a child.
A father is someone who loves and raises a child regardless of whether or not that child is his biological offspring. The man who marries your mother and brings home the bacon is your father. Aside from those characteristics, a man who raises and nurtures you from a baby is your father. That man may or may not be the same man who got your mother pregnant with you. If he is not the same man as the one who got your mother pregnant with you, then the man who got your mother pregnant with you is only your progenitor according to medical science; and the man who got your mother pregnant with you is nothing more than your progenitor if he was never in your life. I find it extremely offensive how certain Christian fundamentalists can have the audacity to tell people that if they are the biological result of a man raping their mother, then they are obligated to love and respect the man who raped their mother if he ever decides to become a part of their life someday in one way or another. Here is where certain Christian fundamentalists apply medical science to promote their own twisted and nonsensical ideologies, and this inclination of theirs could explain why people like me decide to leave a religion. Moreover, I somehow cannot envision any Christian fundamentalist spending Father’s Day visiting their biological father in prison after they find out that he got their mother pregnant with them by raping her. For that reason, I also call this inclination of theirs a hypocrisy, because somehow their adamant imposition of the Fifth Commandment of The Holy Bible always seems to apply to everyone else but themselves. This is where I have to give religions that engage in this so-called logic an F minus on how they appeal to the public at large.
I was not always an agnostic, and, in fact, I did study The Holy Bible when I was younger and I was still a Christian myself. It is when I began to see how certain religions engaged in this sort of sadistic belief system that I started to realize that perhaps Christianity was simply not for me. Moses never had any meaningful contact with his biological parents. As I was watching the film The Ten Commandments starring Charlton Heston on television when I was a little kid, my mother pointed a scene out in the film where Moses did once come into contact with his birth mother. He was compassionate with her, and he acted protective of her for the brief moment that she appeared to need his help. However, I have no recollection of Moses ever coming into contact with his biological father in that same movie. Therefore, even if Moses was the one to whom God, so to speak, delivered the ten commandments and he was the first person ever to know of the Fifth Commandment that would later appear in The Holy Bible, he still does not impress upon me as someone whose place it would be to champion the Fifth Commandment’s directive to the world that everyone should honor their father regardless of what kind of monster he may be. That fact in itself presents Christianity to me as a hypocritical belief system in that one respect.
Men who rape women likely do not practice age discrimination against their victims. Therefore, they can be a danger to their own biological children. As our society has laws to protect children from violently abusive parents, it only makes sense that children born as a result of rape should not be compelled to have any contact with their fathers. It appalled me when I found out that there were actually still seven states here in the United States of America that didn't have any laws preventing rapists from claiming parental rights over their rape-conceived children. In my opinion, there should not be any states here in our country that allow for men to gain custody of children that they have fathered as a result of rape. These lowlifes should not even have visitation rights to the children that they have fathered as a result of rape. Every time I hear about how state laws are dangerously permissive about the parental rights of rapists throughout my country, I get the distinct impression that Christian fundamentalists are to blame for the irrational nature of state laws like these that still exist here in the United States of America. For that reason, I have never liked the idea of a faith-based political system at a state level or at a Federal level or at any level of government.
Quite frankly, if I were summoned to serve on a jury in a criminal case of patricide in which the defendant was a result of rape and the prosecuting attorney were even to mention the Fifth Commandment of The Holy Bible, I would already have my mind made up to vote that the defendant was not guilty. Also, if the prosecuting attorney were even to mention the word “God” in any of his or her statements to the court, I’d most definitely vote to acquit the defendant. Of course, my vote during jury deliberations would only be one vote among those of up to eleven other jurors. In any event, you get my point. Religion just has no place in medical science, and society should do everything to keep religion and medical science separate from each other. By the same token, secular medicine should be a societal standard here in the United States of America.
F. My Conclusion Regarding Secular Medicine
Christian fundamentalists and ultraconservative politicians continue to find ways to influence domestic policy here in the United States of America in order to hinder and even obstruct embryonic stem cell research as well as other means to advance medical science and medical technology. Is our country the only one that has this problem? No. The Middle East has a wealth of doctors, physicians, and scientists who are striving to make advancements in medical science and medical technology in their countries. However, these professionals are confronted with the same problem as Americans in that religious extremists in their countries are constantly looking to stand in the way of medical, scientific, and technological progress in any manner that they can do so. The irony of this problem there in the Middle East is that the Moors, who were their ancestors, were a group of people who discovered advancements in astronomy, medical science, and other areas of science during their occupation of Spain and other parts of Europe during the fifteenth century and before then. In any event, here is the point. The United States of America is supposed to be a free nation in contrary to most of these Middle Eastern countries that live under religiously oppressive dictatorships. Therefore, it makes no sense that professionals in the area of medical science and medical technology should have to contend with the same nonsense from religious extremists in our nation that professionals in the area of medical science and medical technology do so throughout the Middle East in the form of Sharia law. We as Americans have witnessed the harm that mixing religion with politics has done to people in the Middle East. There is no reason that we should allow this kind of religious oppression to stifle the efforts of scientists to make advancements in the medical field here in our own country. We are a modern society that should not allow ourselves to be manipulated by such stupidity.
1Al Pacino made mention of this fact in his starring role as Dr. Jack Kevorkian in the movie titled You Don't Know Jack, which was released one year before Dr. Kevorkian died.
A Poll for American Taxpayers
Should religious organizations that set out to obstruct embryonic stem cell research be entitled to the tax exemptions that they normally receive because of their faith-based status?
© 2017 Jason B Truth