A recent post at one of my favorite blogs, Bad Astronomy, linked me to another very good blog post at NeuroLogica, which went into detail about something a little bit disturbing: a provision being slipped into the Senate’s health reform bill by wingnut Senator Orrin Hatch, and co-sponsored by Senator John Kerry. What is this addition, you may ask?
It would prohibit insurers from discriminating against “religious and spiritual health care”, including prayer healing. (linky linky)
Yes, as if the Senate hadn’t done enough to totally mess up the drive for health care reform, we now have this steaming pile that would require insurance companies (some of which, as I understand it, would be subsidized by our tax dollars) to pay people to pray for you. The links I’ve posted above go into a better detail about what “prayer therapy” really is, and who the people behind it are, and I urge you to click them and learn more. However, I just thought I would share one point that really struck me.
Why would you pay someone to pray for you?
Last time I checked, it didn’t cost anything to say a prayer. As a materialist I believe that it’s all a bunch of baloney anyway, but even if I was a believer, it simply doesn’t make much sense to me that you and your family can pray your little hearts out, but God only responds to professional Prayerists. To be fair, I understand that the Christian Science prayer therapists who do this sort of thing charge a ridiculously low amount; about what it would cost to cover their gas & meals. However, the whole idea that God only listens to a small group of individuals who will gladly pray on your behalf for a nominal fee, or that you need to hire some sort of special trainer or coach to help you pray the correct way, is troubling to me. Even more troubling is the prospect that this could create a prayer industry, flush with professional prayer therapists who go around “speaking to God” on your behalf, charging off huge sums of money to your insurance company (which can’t legally deny their claim), and making a fortune while driving up insurance premiums for the rest of us.
Now, this is disregarding several other facts, such as: prayer therapy doesn’t work (and can even be dangerous), my tax dollars shouldn’t be spent financing your church, and it’s offensive and stupid for the government to elevate superstition to the level of science. But I imagine that even those who have religious faith would be a little suspicious of anyone asking them to pay for prayers.
Hopefully this gets weeded out.