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Faith and reason do not always follow the same path

Feb 06, 2017 • by Mike Zielinski, Host of The Mike Zielinski Show
Mike Zielinski

There are assorted types of religions and varying degrees of devotion.

When it comes to religion, one size does not fit all.

Some congregations give their followers some latitude in their lifestyles.

Other congregations require their disciples to live within restrictive parameters.

It can be rather difficult for someone without blind faith to see the logic in it.

The death of a 2-year-old Upper Tulpehocken girl has puzzled, even bewildered, most of us. Indeed, her passing seemed unconscionable.

Ella Grace Foster died from complications from pneumonia because her parents didn’t do anything to stop it, according to Berks County District Attorney John Adams.

Investigators said that Jonathan and Grace Foster, members of Faith Tabernacle Congregation, didn’t seek any medical attention for their daughter as she died in their home on Nov. 8 because their faith bars them from modern medicine.

The Fosters have been charged with involuntary manslaughter and child endangerment.

Faith Tabernacle Congregation was born out of the faith-healing movement that gained popularity in the 19th century. Unlike some of the other congregations to come out of that movement — such as Seventh Day Adventists — Faith Tabernacle relies solely on God to treat all illness or injury.

The basis for Faith Tabernacle’s belief is that divine healing is the sovereignty of God’s will.

As an outsider to their beliefs, I would assume that the Fosters, while their daughter was dying, found themselves squarely in the crosshairs, agonizingly torn between their faith and their love for their child.

They were straddling a thin thread between sacrificing their child or their faith because it was impossible for them to cross breed the two seeds that grow on opposite sides of the wall — their faith and modern medicine.

It had to be the ultimate inquisition of their souls.

But perhaps not, considering the precisely circumscribed environment in which they live.

Faith Tabernacle members live in insulation. They attend church several times a week, children usually go to schools run by the church and interaction with outsiders is kept to a minimum. Things like television and radio are not allowed, members dress modestly, and women don’t wear makeup or cut their hair. They are ensconced in their church.

They need a periscope to see the world, a periscope they opt not to use. The divide between their world and our world is Ginsu knife sharp.

Their belief that healing is the sovereignty of God’s will is coupled with a distrust of modern medicine and science, viewing them as temptations aimed at shaking one’s faith.

Evidently the Fosters’ faith was absolutely, indefatigably relentless.

Faith can be even stronger than hunger.

Faith is transformative, like a ray of light passing through stained glass.

But for those of us who do not share the Faith Tabernacle beliefs, that transformation is recoiling to see.

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