Is charisma really that powerful?
Posted by c. wagner on October 23, 2009
Yesterday, I posted my reaction to an article in Pediatrics about people who won’t take their kids to the doctor because of their religion. Once I calmed down a little, I took notice of the fact (okay, the girlfriend, who also read the article, pointed it out) that something called the “Faith Assembly” in Indiana was responsible for an out-of-proportion number of the reported child deaths.
One should never dangle a researchable fact like that in front of a librarian.
A quick trip to Wikipedia later, and I knew more about the Faith Assembly. And learned that my instinct that it was a cult-like community was spot on.
The charismatic leader of the community, Hobart Freeman, was a piece of work. You don’t have to read very far into the article to realize that any group under his sway was going to be in medical trouble. The dude had a heart attack, claimed he was healed by faith, threw out his medications, and promptly suffered repeated attacks of angina.
Of course, it gets worse.
John F. MacArthur in Charismatic Chaos says that (p237) “Freeman and the Faith Assembly congregation utterly disdained medical treatment, believing that modern medicine was an extension of ancient witchcraft and black magic. To submit to a doctor’s remedies, Freeman believed, was to expose oneself to demonic influence.”
Whoo boy. And because of that totally nonsensical belief, local authorities estimated that 90 people who would otherwise have lived, died.