Via Lawyers, Guns, and Money, here is an extremely stupid idea and evidence that those calling for health care reform to put an emphasis on science-based medicine aren't blowing smoke out their asses: There's a small provision in the health care bill that would cover Christian Scientists who want to pay for prayer.


The measure would put Christian Science prayer treatments -- which substitute for or supplement medical treatments -- on the same footing as clinical medicine. While not mentioning the church by name, it would prohibit discrimination against "religious and spiritual healthcare."

It would have a minor effect on the overall cost of the bill -- Christian Science is a small church, and the prayer treatments can cost as little as $20 a day. But it has nevertheless stirred an intense controversy over the constitutional separation of church and state, and the possibility that other churches might seek reimbursements for so-called spiritual healing.

It's not just the immediate issue of paying for Christian Scientists to do nothing, because while that's offensive to thrift and decency, it's not really all that expensive. It's also that this sort of thing opens the door to all sorts of charlatans who charge a lot more than $20 a pop to do nothing, using what amounts to magical arguments about healing. "Religious or spiritual" healing is a nice way to dress up the claim that you're going to be healed by some sort of supernatural cause outside of science. If you're going to allow that prayer is a form of healing you're willing to finance, then where do you draw the line? Are we going to be paying thousands of dollars to faith healers and psychic surgeons? Homeopaths currently bury their bullshit in pseudoscientific babble, but if the money is in "religious or spiritual" healing, prepare to see them all start coming down with lucrative religious revelations. Acupuncture already makes magical claims about "chi" being routed through your body with the needles. That shit ain't cheap, or effective.

And what about the growing evangelical movement that increasingly treads into magical healing claims? A lot of those churches claim to "heal" people by casting out demons, and they're not just claiming to heal them of psychological distress, but also of physical and mental illness. Right now, those churches don't charge a lot for the "service" of convincing people to pretend they're casting out imaginary demons, and it's often free, but as soon as they find out that the Christian Scientists are getting faith-based kickbacks, they're going to want their share, too.

If praying and casting out demons were actually effective forms of medicine, we wouldn't need health care reform. We wouldn't need to pay for the hospitals, the doctors, the research, the drugs, the nurses, the surgeries. Like so much of the culture war stuff, it comes down to a simple fact: Recent history has demonstrated that humanity doesn't need religion, and religion is retaliating by honing in on the space of non-charlatans. We shouldn't let them. They had thousands of years to make their case and failed miserably. Science has done more for humanity's well-being in a fraction of that time, and science should get the rewards for it.

Can't believe that they're actually going to pass a bill where prayer is covered but abortion isn't.