Prayer in Health Care

[This was sent to my representatives in Congress.  There's a form letter saying more or less the same thing here that I recommend people fill out.  To read more about this, check out Steven Novella's excellent Neurologica Blog.]

Amid all the crazy health care debates, there’s one campaign that seems to have flown under the radar.  That is the campaign to have the health care bill allow payment for prayers that one gets better.  The campaign is organized by Christian Scientists, who, as part of their faith, do not believe in medicine.  They say that medicine is a human attempt to “play God” and that God alone should have the power to heal the sick.  Rather than going to the doctor, when a Christian Scientist gets sick, he or she goes to a religious official to heal them through the power of prayer.  Of course, these officials charge for their services, so the argument is that if health care covers doctor visits in which medicine is administered, it ought to also cover religious visits in which prayer is administered.

While I am in favor of religious freedom, I demand that whatever the health care bill be limited only to science-based medicine.  Paying taxes to go towards faith-based or unscientific quackery will not be accepted by those who have the ability to think critically.  A faith-based health care bill also goes against the First Amendment separating church from state.  To allow prayer to be covered by the bill also opens the doors to other forms of quackery to be funded by the government such as homeopathy.  Of course, it goes without saying that since prayer actually doesn’t work to cure people of their ailments, people will get sicker and die eventually if they go to a prayer specialist rather than to a medical specialist.  The government ought not to support this.

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