I have been closely following the slew of bizarre stories involving child deaths whose parents chose to leave their children's lives in the hands of faith healers and/or the healing power of a perceived god rather than seeking out medical attention for their dying offspring.
Let me start by saying: I have a lot of compassion for these people. It seems to me that they really feel that they are doing the right thing by leaving their kid's fate in the hands of their god. As a parent I can't imagine purposefully denying my child medical treatment even in the event of minor accidents and sicknesses, but I have never had faith either and so I feel that saying these people are completely horrible isn't fair. Maybe it is, I don't know them personally, but I feel like given that I don't know them personally and given what I've read about them, they seemed to love their children the best way they knew how. They seemed to sincerely believe that a physical life on earth was less important than an immortal afterlife and one of the ways they could assure their kids this afterlife was by being what they felt were true Christians.
This is where my compassion quickly sours and falls into rapid decay. You have to ask the question - when the choice to take the child to the doctor is in the parent's hands regardless, is the action of choosing faith in god over proven and accessible medical attention a selfless act for the sake of the child or a selfish act in regard to the parents? More and more I'm inclined to believe that these parents were far less concerned with their children's mortal OR immortal lives and far more focused on proving themselves pious and unquestioning followers to their god - even at the cost of their kid's life. It makes sense that the christian god would ask this of them, according to the bible he's done it before.
I also have to wonder if an action which results in the death of a child can in any way be considered excusable, even when you factor in intent. These parents didn't murder their kids with any malicious intent, but they did stand aside praying while they watched their kids die. I can't reconcile the difference enough in a way that would continue to honor the importance of the child's life.
This makes me feel angry, bitter, upset. Especially when you consider that the woman of one of the dead kids is already pregnant with another child. I find myself hoping for the child's sake that he or she isn't born with any kind of physical abnormality or ever happens to suffer from an ear infection or urinary tract infection. Thankfully in this case the judge has made a strict requirement of the parents that they provide evidence of medical treatment for the not yet born child, both routine and otherwise. I don't feel like that's good enough, but at the same time I don't know what a sensible alternative would be beyond throwing the lot of them in prison until the woman grows old and unable to bear children. This is an emotional response and not a logical or sensible solution - but nothing about these cases could really be considered logical or sensible from the choice of the parents to forgo medical treatment to the death of the child to the sentences rendered in the trials.
I feel compassion for these people because I don't think you can honestly claim that they are trying to hurt their children. My compassion is limited though, to their misguided and archaic opinions in regard to god and medicine. I'm not so compassionate as to argue that they should not have been held accountable for what they did, in fact I feel that the sentences in both recent cases were too lenient. There is no excuse for these child faith healing deaths because no one has the right to take advantage of their position of power and authority over someone else's life and choose death for that person. If that's what your god wants - for you to let your kids die rather than give them insulin, penicillin, or take them to the doctor when they can't breathe without your skilled intervention with a turkey baster, then your god is a sadistic evil being and you are the willing participants of its unspeakably cruel whimsy. That is nothing to feel righteous about.