符水殺人事件

“Thanks, I appreciate it, but did you also sacrifice a goat?"
Daniel C. Dennett, “THANK GOODNESS!" Edge.org, November 2, 2006. http://www.edge.org/conversation/thank-goodness

2006年,哲學家Dan Dennett因大動脈撕裂入院,接受緊急手術康復後,寫了一篇(在無神論者間)很有名的<THANK GOODNESS!>。Dan Dennett除了表達對醫護人員、醫學、科學的感激之外,當然也免不了拿宗教調侃一下。事源Dan Dennett(竟然)尚有一些教徒朋友,在探病時告訴他曾為他祈禱;Dan Dennett謂自己忍著不出言嘲諷,當時吞下肚的正是上面那一句。

(為病者祈禱不但無聊,甚至有害!
 有研究[1]發現,如病人知道有人替自己祈禱,會增加發生併發症的機會。)

為已接受正當治療的病人祈禱,雖然迷信,還可說是一番心意,害處不大。(引上述研究,只要不告訴病人就好;你私下想做甚麼,誰管得著?)然而,妄想以祈禱治病,那就是明顯有害了!跟勸人飲符水、搵神醫,毫無分別。

有自主能力的成年人,若墮入此等無稽迷信,最終受害,也只能怪自己愚昧,後果應自負。不用想得太複雜,用最簡單直觀的想法就能破除此迷信:如果祈禱就能治病,那所有教徒都應該身體健康、長命百歲吧!如果祈禱就能治病,有這麼便宜經濟的方法,老早就不用有醫生了吧!

事實是,所謂「神蹟」,全都是不能重複的巧合,甚至只是騙局,不足為憑,完全沒有相信的理由。(當然亦有「安慰劑效應(Placebo Effect)」、誤診等等… 各種各樣的可能,但總之都是毫不神奇的原因。)

成年人怎麼做是一回事,一般而言也不用理會,有病不看醫生,有甚麼後果都是自找的。(如果是嚴重傳染病,那是另一回事;如果有影響他人的可能,則不能只顧個人的選擇自由,也要保障他人不受其愚行所累。)

令人擔憂的,是有父母以這種所謂「信仰治療(Faith Healing)(我照本宣科,緊跟原文;如果讓我自由發揮,應該叫「迷信治療」、「妄想治療」才對。)代替正統醫學,令子女得不到適當治療。從客觀的角度看,其實已經相當於疏忽照顧、虐兒了。

關於這一點,就扯到神秘的美國了。這實在是個奇怪的國度:科學、科技發展的一面,固然令人印象深刻;但其迷信、落後的一面,也絕對超乎想像。

在美國,關於防止虐兒的聯邦法例有這麼一條--《Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act》。我也懶得慢慢介紹,反正維基的內容都很詳盡,我也不過是讀過同樣的資料而已。

有趣的部份,是這一段:

“(a) In general
Nothing in this subchapter and subchapter III of this chapter shall be construed—
(1) as establishing a Federal requirement that a parent or legal guardian provide a child any medical service or treatment against the religious beliefs of the parent or legal guardian; and
(2) to require that a State find, or to prohibit a State from finding, child abuse or neglect in cases in which a parent or legal guardian relies solely or partially upon spiritual means rather than medical treatment, in accordance with the religious beliefs of the parent or legal guardian.
(b) State requirement
Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a State shall, at a minimum, have in place authority under State law to permit the child protective services system of the State to pursue any legal remedies, including the authority to initiate legal proceedings in a court of competent jurisdiction, to provide medical care or treatment for a child when such care or treatment is necessary to prevent or remedy serious harm to the child, or to prevent the withholding of medically indicated treatment from children with life threatening conditions. Except with respect to the withholding of medically indicated treatments from disabled infants with life threatening conditions, case by case determinations concerning the exercise of the authority of this subsection shall be within the sole discretion of the State."
42 USC § 5106i

簡而言之,其效果就是令迷信的父母有豁免權,即使不帶子女看醫生,只依賴所謂「信仰治療」,也不會被控告虐兒。

再舉一個實例可能更清楚。

這是威斯康辛州(Wisconsin)的相關法例:

“Treatment through prayer. A person is not guilty of an offense under this section solely because he or she provides a child with treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone for healing in accordance with the religious method of healing permitted under s. 48.981 (3) (c) 4. or 448.03 (6) in lieu of medical or surgical treatment."
Wisconsin Stat. § 948.03(6)

這樣荒謬的法例,最初究竟是怎麼通過的呢?我暫無此心力一一探究,但推斷可能是以「宗教/信仰自由」為借口吧[2](尤其在因為在美國,宗教/信仰自由似乎是頗惹火的題目。一方面,憲法明文保障宗教自由,但其實只能管制政府行為,民風未改。只看政客取態就明白得很:有幾多總統、州長、議員不是[聲稱]耶教徒?我懶得統計,但提供一則趣聞。美國眾議院第一位公開的無神論者議員,叫Pete Stark,他是在2007年才「出櫃」的;也就是說,起碼在2007年前,歷任所有眾議院議員,都[自稱]有某種信仰。(當然多數就是耶教,難道你以為會是回教嗎?)

其實這理由實在不堪一擊。

雖然父母有宗教/信仰自由,有教養子女的權利,但任何人的自由和權利,均不能凌駕他人(子女)的人身安全。你自己怎樣迷信是一回事,但將你的迷信強加於子女身上,危害子女的安全、健康、福祉,這就不能容忍。

(另外,如上文曾提到,如果是對社會有危害的傳染病等情況,自也不容個人迷信的自由,凌駕公眾健康、安全。[3]

我可不是危言聳聽,有真人真事為證。

2008年,在威斯康辛州,有一名十一歲的女童Madeline Kara Neumann身體不適,其父母相信所謂「信仰治療」,只是替她祈禱(及求親友替她祈禱);病情轉趨嚴重,但父母仍照舊祈禱,最終女童失救夭折。

後來,父母被控二級魯莽殺人(second-degree reckless homicide)[直譯,不敢造次;雖然我覺得所謂「魯莽殺人」可能類近「誤殺」,但美國法制複雜,又分「一級」、「二級」不知道有沒有「三級」、「四級」,跟香港差別太大,未深入瞭解,還是直譯為宜。]父母分開受審,同被陪審團定罪。後上訴。

上訴的要點之一,是上引的「『信仰治療』豁免被控虐兒」條文,是否適用於「二級魯莽殺人」條文。

2013年7月3日,威斯康辛州最高法院(Wisconsin Supreme Court)頒下判詞,維持原判。(該判詞十級複雜,看得我頭暈眼花,暫時還是不要勉強摘錄「欣賞」了。不過,當中有一句我認為會是名句,以下將引用。)撰寫多數判詞的首席大法官Shirley Abrahamson如是說:

“No one reading the treatment-through-prayer provision should expect protection from criminal liability under any other statute."
State v. Neumann, 2013 WI 58, ¶50.

此案絕非孤例。

「信仰治療」的維基專頁,引述了美國癌病學會(American Cancer Society)一段文字,當中提過一些研究結果,不妨也在此引述:

One review published in 1998 looked at 172 cases of deaths among children treated by faith healing instead of conventional methods. These researchers estimated that if conventional treatment had been given, the survival rate for most of these children would have been more than 90 percent, with the remainder of the children also having a good chance of survival. A more recent study found that more than 200 children had died of treatable illnesses in the United States over the past thirty years because their parents relied on spiritual healing rather than conventional medical treatment.
Although there are few studies in adults, one study conducted in 1989 suggested that adult Christian Scientists, who generally use prayer rather than medical care, have a higher death rate than other people of the same age." (emphasis added)
American Cancer Society. “Faith Healing." Last modified January 17, 2013. http://www.cancer.org/treatment/treatmentsandsideeffects/complementaryandalternativemedicine/herbsvitaminsandminerals/faith-healing

美國,當然離香港頗遠;但觀乎近年香港耶教大盛,而一般人對科學也未見重視,實令人擔憂此歪風在香港萌芽、以至生根。若發展到那地步,則已病入膏肓。

在香港,相信符水、香爐灰能治病的人想已不多,大部份人會嗤之以鼻,甚至會理直氣壯的斥之為落後迷信。(但也難說… 「性交驅鬼」、「性交轉運」也有人相信,有時候… 現代人的迷信反智,往往出人意料。)但同樣無稽的迷信,換一個包裝,以乜教物教的姿態出現,就有不少人受落,奉為真理。實在令人失笑。

--
注:

[1] Benson, H.; Dusek JA, Sherwood JB, Lam P, Bethea CF, Carpenter W, Levitsky S, Hill PC, Clem DW Jr, Jain MK, Drumel D, Kopecky SL, Mueller PS, Marek D, Rollins S, Hibberd PL (2006-04). “Study of the Therapeutic Effects of Intercessory Prayer (STEP) in cardiac bypass patients: a multicenter randomized trial of uncertainty and certainty of receiving intercessory prayer“. American Heart Journal 151 (4): 934–942. doi:10.1016/j.ahj.2005.05.028. PMID 16569567.

[2] 其實我找到一篇文章約略提過,但不清楚詳情如何:

“Statutory exemptions which protect parents who practice spiritual healing are of fairly recent vintage. Ironically, they did not exist in most states prior to the enactment of the Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act of 1974. Due in part to lobbying by the Christian Science Church, this federal law was interpreted to require states to amend their child abuse and neglect statutes to include an exemption for spiritual healing. If states failed to amend their statutes to include such exemptions, they would be ineligible to receive the funds appropriated by Congress to fulfill the intent of the Act — i.e., to establish preventative programs to reduce the incidence of child abuse." (emphasis added)
Monopoli, Paula A. (1990) “Allocating the Costs of Parental Free Exercise: Striking a New Balance Between Sincere Religious Belief and a Child’s Right to Medical Treatment." Pepperdine Law Review 18, 319.

[3] 美國最高法院另一宗案例--Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158 (1944),有一段令人印象深刻的說話(當然,其實是因為其看法跟我相同;是有點私心的,哈哈。)。法官Wiley Blount Rutledge, Jr.撰寫的判詞如是說:

“[T]he family itself is not beyond regulation in the public interest, as against a claim of religious liberty. Reynolds v. United States, 98 U. S. 145; Davis v. Beason, 133 U. S. 333. And neither rights of religion nor rights of parenthood are beyond limitation. Acting to guard the general interest in youth’s wellbeing, the state, as parens patriae, may restrict the parent’s control by requiring school attendance, regulating or prohibiting the child’s labor and in many other ways. Its authority is not nullified merely because the parent grounds his claim to control the child’s course of conduct on religion or conscience. Thus, he cannot claim freedom from compulsory vaccination for the child more than for himself on religious grounds. The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death. People v. Pierson, 176 N.Y. 201, 68 N.E. 243. The catalogue need not be lengthened. It is sufficient to show what indeed appellant hardly disputes, that the state has a wide range of power for limiting parental freedom and authority in things affecting the child’s welfare, and that this includes, to some extent, matters of conscience and religious conviction."
Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 166-167 (1944) (Opinion of RUTLEDGE, J.)

“Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children before they have reached the age of full and legal discretion when they can make that choice for themselves."
Prince v. Massachusetts, 321 U.S. 158, 170 (1944) (Opinion of RUTLEDGE, J.)

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