Thursday, February 01, 2007

Just How Far Should Religious Rights Go?

Just how far should religious rights go? Is it ever justified to restrict religious rights and if so, when?

I ask these questions as I wrestle through the case of a Jehovah's Witness couple in Vancouver who are refusing blood transfusions to three of their four surviving newborns. Two of the original six babies have already died. The issue is one of religious conviction for this couple. Personally, I believe that their convictions are based on a faulty understanding of scripture, but religious liberty is not contingent on proper hermeneutics or restricted only to those who are right.

One might argue (and I am tempted to do so) that one never has the right to endanger the lives of others for the sake of your religious convictions. There is some merit to this argument; the right to life is a basic human right. However, one might suggest then that perhaps a Christian evangelist should remain silent in a religious restricted nation like North Korea or Saudi Arabia because to continue to exercise his ministry could very well endanger the lives of his family and other believers.

So, it is not quite as simple as at first glance, is it?

Does the state have the right to remove children from the care of parents whose beliefs might endanger their children's well-being and even their lives? I am concerned that if we give the state that right in the case of Jehovah's Witnesses (who rarely enjoy public popularity and hence are an easy target), that we might be opening the door to further state intervention as medical science expands and other treatments (perhaps some that evangelical Christians might object to) become available for critical ailments. Suppose that the only cure for childhood leukemia requires the use of stem cells from aborted fetuses? Or suppose that someday using cloned body parts become the normal source for transplanted organs and your child needs a new heart. You refuse. Does the state have the right to take that responsibility from you?

We can point to this couple and say, "Tut, tut." But what if we were in their position? This is not nearly as neat and tidy as we might like to think. Any thoughts, anyone?

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thank God we have the liberty to discuss religion. Of the many countries that do not, North Korea is virtually a modern day AntiChrist dictatorship. For those interested, some other good sites on North Korean situation:

http://www.familycare-foundation.org/
http://grantmontgomery.blogspot.com/
http://freekorea.us/

Anonymous said...

OVER 450 JEHOVAH'S WITNESS LAWSUITS, COURT CASES, ETC SUMMARIZED


This website summarizes 300 United States court cases and lawsuits affecting children of Jehovah's Witnesses, including dozens of cases where the Parents refused to consent to life-saving blood transfusions:

DIVORCE, BLOOD TRANSFUSIONS, AND OTHER LEGAL ISSUES AFFECTING CHILDREN OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES

http://jwdivorces.bravehost.com/



This website summarizes 160 United States court cases and lawsuits filed by Jehovah's Witnesses against Employers:

EMPLOYMENT ISSUES UNIQUE TO JEHOVAH'S WITNESS EMPLOYEES

http://jwemployees.bravehost.com