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Christianity &Politics Johnson on 23 Feb 2009 12:38 am

Time magazine panders to Christians once again

The cover story for the February 23, 2009 issue of Time Magazine is titled “How Faith Can Heal”. The main article is:

The Biology of Belief

This is the article’s premise:

Here’s what’s surprising: a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that faith may indeed bring us health. People who attend religious services do have a lower risk of dying in any one year than people who don’t attend. People who believe in a loving God fare better after a diagnosis of illness than people who believe in a punitive God. No less a killer than AIDS will back off at least a bit when it’s hit with a double-barreled blast of belief. “Even accounting for medications,” says Dr. Gail Ironson, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at the University of Miami who studies HIV and religious belief, “spirituality predicts for better disease control.”

But then the article goes on to unravel that thesis. For example:

Pray and meditate enough and some changes in the brain become permanent. Long-term meditators — those with 15 years of practice or more — appear to have thicker frontal lobes than nonmeditators.

Meditation does not require faith. Meditation is meditation and anyone can meditate. Sam Harris meditates.

Another example:

Faith and health overlap in other ways too. Take fasting…

Fasting does not require faith. Fasting is fasting. Anyone can fast.

The article asks the obvious question in a bold section header: How powerful is prayer?

It then goes on to provide the obvious answer – prayer has no effect:

A larger study in 2005 by cardiologist Herbert Benson at Harvard University challenged that finding, reporting that complications occurred in 52% of heart-bypass patients who received intercessory prayer and 51% of those who didn’t.

But that single statement of fact is surrounded by a collection of verbiage implying otherwise. [Learn more about the study here and here]

Finally the article states that people who go to church live longer:

Social demographer Robert Hummer of the University of Texas has been following a population of subjects since 1992, and his results are hard to argue with. Those who never attend religious services have twice the risk of dying over the next eight years as people who attend once a week. People who fall somewhere between no churchgoing and weekly churchgoing also fall somewhere between in terms of mortality.

A similar analysis by Daniel Hall, an Episcopal priest and a surgeon at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, found that church attendance accounts for two to three additional years of life. To be sure, he also found that exercise accounts for three to five extra years and statin therapy for 2.5 to 3.5. Still, joining a flock and living longer do appear to be linked.

They appear to be linked. But they are not. The problem with these studies is that, if they compared apples to apples, they would not show any effect. And the article states as much just a few paragraphs later:

In the 1990s, Marci Campbell, a professor of nutrition at the University of North Carolina, helped launch a four-year trial called North Carolina Black Churches United for Better Health. The project signed up 50 churches with a goal of helping the 2,500 parishioners eat better, exercise more and generally improve their fitness. The measures taken included having pastors preach health in their sermons and getting churches to serve healthier foods at community events.

The program was so successful that it has been renamed the Body and Soul project and rolled out nationally — complete with literature, DVDs and cookbooks — in collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and the American Cancer Society.

Obviously, if you create health programs that specifically target churches, people who attend churches will live longer. OBVIOUSLY. It is not church-going that improves health – it is the fact that “parishioners eat better, exercise more and generally improve their fitness” because of the programs.

The cover story should have been titled, “How Faith Doesn’t Heal”. But that wouldn’t be pandering, and Time would sell less magazines with an honest article.

[More on pandering: Using St. Joseph to sell a house]

12 Responses to “Time magazine panders to Christians once again”

  1. on 25 Feb 2009 at 1:45 pm 1.Anonymous said …


    This is a great article.. If you want anymore information you can also get a Time magazine subscription from here: http://www.magazine-group.co.uk/.


  2. on 28 Feb 2009 at 11:42 pm 2.iusemyskullasakey said …

    There’s also the factor that people who don’t go to church very often may not go because they are sick or depressed which would increase death rates.

  3. on 03 Apr 2009 at 1:00 am 3.Abba's girl said …

    Greetings.You are probably a feel-sorry -for-yourself amputee who is mad at God because you haven’t gotten your own way when you have demanded it…. God is Sovereign –not you—and He does what He pleases. He needn’t answer to you or to anyone else–although you and everyone else WILL have to answer to Him. He answers prayers when they are in accordance with His Will and timing, and for His glory, not yours, mine or anyone else’s. Christian’s do not HAVE to answer to you or to anyone else either–which you imply by saying “10 questions an intelligent Christian MUST answer”. We stand and fall before our own master–which neither you nor any other person or government are…..To correct you–There are no ‘innocent people’—that is a myth which YOU have come to believe in, in your smug self-righteousness. The Bible declares: “ALL have sinned and fall short of the Glory of God” and stand condemned already. Only yielding to Christ who died to save you, offers you hope for the payment of that guilt. The real question YOU must answer is–why, considering the fact that the entire race is hell-bent upon rebelling against God–why does GOD put up with us at all–why doesn’t He just wipe us ALL out??? Because He has chosen to show mercy–and is allowing time for those to repent who will, that He might turn some around from the road over the cliff they are headed on. Your website is the same kind of attacking and slanderous baloney that Lenin put out to lay the groundwork for his communistic revolution–and you are probably being used for the same purpose, though you are too blind to even know it. (I give you the benefit of the doubt–although suspect you are doing so deliberately) If this weren’t true, the question for you is–why would someone such as yourself, who (merely) THINKS he is an intelligent being, spend so much time worrying about the beliefs and doctrinal stances of others–why spend one’s life tearing down another’s firmly held beliefs when one is supposed to be a part of the new ‘tolerant’ society and mindset? Why should you care what other people believe? Except that you have been inspired by hell to set out to destroy it. The Christians have allowed for atheists to co-exist with them in America–now the atheists have a chance to return the favor and respect as fellow Americans, and you have turned it into the bash Christian hour in our nations’ history. This is the groundwork for an eventual persecution of Christians and all those who have been blessed enough to have come to Faith in Jesus Christ–the only hope for mankind from the zeitgeist spirit of the age–the devil and his hosts. Because you are jealous of what the Christians have, and you never will have, you are actively working to destroy the knowledge of the Truth they have come upon. You never will destroy it. Jesus Himself IS the Truth, and He is now beyond your reach at the right hand of the Father on high–and we are IN Him, and are beyond the devil’s reach as well. However, we will be there on the Day of Judgement to bear witness against you for the evil and slanderous work you are spreading against God and His Name. I am sure God has some very interesting questions He plans to demand that YOU answer to, on the Day of His Wrath, as well…… You need to repent of this evil while you yet have time.

  4. on 03 Apr 2009 at 3:02 am 4.Anonymous said …

    But God said he would! It’s in the Bible!

    Apparently, no one has more faith than a mustard seed…

  5. on 03 Apr 2009 at 3:04 am 5.Anonymous said …

    You haven’t read any of the 50 proofs or looked at the forum, either, have you?

  6. on 03 Apr 2009 at 3:46 am 6.Anonymous said …

    ABBA’s girl:
    21:21 Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done.

    21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

  7. on 03 Apr 2009 at 11:49 am 7.Steve said …

    It is interesting what can be done by selectively quoting verses out of context without explanation. The above verses demonstrate several things. Firstly, in context, they show that God will not be mocked. It is reminiscent of the Israelites who mocked God by their actions and yet still expected Him to answer their prayers. God withdrew Himself from them because that is essentially what they had done by ignoring His commands. Sin always brings a separation between man and God, ever since the first one.

    Ps 10:17-18
    “LORD, thou hast heard the desire of the humble: thou wilt prepare their heart, thou wilt cause thine ear to hear: To judge the fatherless and the oppressed, that the man of the earth may no more oppress.”

    he very thing the Israelites would not do, even though they knew better was to humble themselves and turn from their wicked ways. They wanted to ‘have their cake and eat it too.’ They wanted to live in sin and rebellion yet also get good things out of the God they had despised. No wonder He ‘hid Himself’ (see Isaiah 45:15 and read the context)
    Ps 51:17
    “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise”

  8. on 03 Apr 2009 at 2:09 pm 8.Anonymous said …

    As for quoting things out of context, Christians really have the advantage there.
    Your first paragraph, isn’t that the reason he sent himself to die to please himself in the first place?

    “21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

    What is out of context about this? Was he a liar?

  9. on 03 Apr 2009 at 4:22 pm 9.Lou said …

    I enjoy the Proverbs due to the great wisdom they provide. There is one that comes to mind.

    Proverbs 28:9 says, “One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination.”

    I don’t know if you looked at the webmasters link regarding “THE TEST”. He picks out what HE deems a worthy amputee, an Iraq war veteran then asks for thousands of people to pray for God to heal the amputee. I agree with the webmasters conclusion, it will not work. Atheist seem to have this Santa Clause mentality. I suppose that is from our society that grew up with Santa. I agree with you Steve, a great lack of knowledge in even elementary theology.

    But remember, the Hebrews fell into the same trap many times in the OT. If they only desire to use Scripture to support a false premise, you can’t help them

    “Thous shalt not test the Lord your God”
    “God will not be mocked”


  10. on 04 Apr 2009 at 1:42 am 10.Hermes said …

    Lou, your deity won’t be mocked because would require a target of the mockery.

  11. on 04 Apr 2009 at 2:53 pm 11.Steve said …

    I had missed that link but I checked it out. How can atheist know what God would and would not do? Are they arrogant enough to think their way is the only right way? In a blind world the one-eyed man is king.

  12. on 04 Apr 2009 at 5:42 pm 12.Anonymous said …

    It’s, uh, in the bible. So yeah, Steve.

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