Monday, November 7, 2011

Dear Abby's religious bias: dangerous?

I usually like Dear Abby. But today, her column included this advice:

"then I recommend you talk to Donny's mother about finding a Big Brother for him, through her religious denomination."

I am always ticked off when she says something like this, but I was particularly ticked off today, so I wrote her this:

Abby, so often you give advice like this, but surely you know that not everyone is a member of a religion, and not every community of faith has the capacity to handle various personal, family or marital problems? There are *millions* of Atheists in the USA, and so often, your advice would be useless to these millions of Americans because you so often refer to a community of faith as a way to address some problem.

Every time you give this advice, I wonder about the person you have given it to - what if they are an Atheist, like me, or part of a church that just provides sermons and some music, with a religious instructor who has no idea how to handle various family or personal issues beyond, "Pray" - or has some kind of twisted view that women should submit to their husbands, believes there's a religious basis allowing husbands to beat their wives and children, etc.?

I personally know so many women who went to the leaders of their community of faith regarding problems they were experiencing in their marriage, with their children, with their parents, with siblings, etc., or regarding emotional issues or conflict, and who were given absolutely lousy advice as a result.

It's time for Abby to start referring to qualified nonprofit organizations, health care professionals and mental health care professionals when people write to her regarding these problems! If she wants to add some kind of line at the end about, "And, in addition, if you are a person who believes in a religion, you might find strength in a community of faith - but don't use that as a substitute for getting qualified help," I'd be okay with that - I wouldn't be crazy about it, but at least it would be preceded by helpful advice!

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