Book Review: In The Name of God

In The Name of God delves into the ramifications of religious shield laws which (thank heavens this is changing) grant protection under the law if a child dies of a treatable medical illness and due to the parent’s religious beliefs– they refused medical care.

This touches close to me as a pediatric ER nurse seeing parents refuse some aspects of medical care– immunizations would be the largest. As a parent, I believe in my right to make decisions for my children, but as a pediatric nurse, I also believe that children deserve a certain level of medical care to grow up strong and healthy. The line between these two are not always clear.

Refusing immunizations pales in comparison to what these religious groups do– who believe that God is the ultimate healer and that if God decides– their child will be healed from illness. Sadly, these kids die from highly treatable conditions like pneumonia, cysts, prematurity, diabetes, and urinary obstructions. The strange thing is, The Followers don’t seem to have trouble going to the dentist or eye doctor.

The book alternates perspective between the legal side (those trying to change these laws) and inside views of The Followers as a religious group.

The book is interesting but really needed to be pared down. I don’t need to read a play by play of a child’s vomiting and throwing up each meal over two days to get the point that they couldn’t hold anything down. Also, I don’t think it’s necessary to give gory details about a pediatric autopsy– using words like, “This doctor was going to eviscerate . . . ” I think it’s disrespectful of a pediatric victim to do that. The intimate look into The Followers, in my opinion, became overindulgent and tedious to read.

That being said, I do think this is an important, challenging book and in this era of religious extremes, I think those of us that have faith need to speak out against the extremes of our faith and I applaud this book for doing so in a balanced way.

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