Friday, April 22, 2016

Did Religion Kill Prince?

Like most of the world I got the news of the passing of artist Prince Rogers Nelson in the early afternoon yesterday. Yes, it was a shock. Another influential musician dead in 2016 among too many others. Please, whoever controls the universe, give us a break on carrying off beloved musical figures for a little while. It's just been too much this year.

While I'd listened to the music of Prince during the early 1980s as a young woman by the time I started having babies and entered a life of Christian submission to my husband I'd stopped listening. The music of Prince wasn't something a committed Christian Quiverfull momma was supposed to listen too. Prince, along with Queen and many other beloved musicians, was replaced with music like Jason Upton, the Newsboys, Petra and assorted Hillsong United or Vineyard worship songs. I missed out on a huge chunk of Prince's career and music in those many years. I knew nothing much of him beyond what was in the media when I was younger and from seeing his film 'Purple Rain'.

Yesterday afternoon after watching Wolf Blitzer and Larry King awkwardly discuss Prince and his life I felt compelled to call up one of my stepsisters, the one that loved Prince for many years. She followed him around the country on many of his tours. She was emotionally shattered, understandably so because of her great love for him, and starting to ask questions about how he passed.

There aren't many genuinely verified details of what happened to bring about his death yet, but the tabloid rumor mill has already started up, churning out possible scenarios.  First claiming that a recent emergency stop in Moline, Illinois was not for treatment of the flu, but was due to opioid overdose. Supposedly the overdose on Percoset was so serious that emergency personnel had to administer Narcan right on the tarmac. I don't know. But the point is that no one really knows at this point what was going on with Prince Rogers Nelson and his health. There's been a lot of speculation about long term health conditions that may be the true cause of his death in the years since corrective hip surgery.

But what jumped out at me from the many rumors was this from one of the more legitimate celebrity news sites :
He kept the illness quiet but began taking his medication RELIGIOUSLY up until about two years ago. Here's what we're told by a VERY trusted entertainment insider: "[The celebrity] believed that he was cured, and he had some crazy [religious] people who told him that God cured him. So he stopped taking his medication and the sickness came back. Now doctors say he's dying, and there is nothing anyone can do about it."  Very sad news.
Is it possible that what we're seeing in the death of Prince is something that plays out again and again and again in extremist versions of Christianity?  Was he told what so many have been told in less mainstream Christianity, to 'Trust Jesus and be healed'? Some many times this seems to happen in extreme faith communities. Even in the one I was a member of I can point out a large number of graves of people with treatable conditions that were told to trust in God for their healing only to die horribly in a short span of time. This is a story that's been repeated here on NLQ and many other communities that track the deaths of believers that refuse traditional or even non-traditional treatments for life threatening illnesses that end with the death of the believer.

I was unaware until late last night that Prince was a practicing Jehovah's Witness. There's evidence that the JW faith doesn't much like modern medicine any more than fundamentalists or evangelicals. They don't believe in blood transfusions or use of any blood products, even if the products form the basis for a life-saving drug.

Sure, pray for a cure, a touch of healing from God if that's your thing. It's harmless and at the least can be comforting. But the idea that others may have influences someone to give up medical treatment that was helping to trust in God only is heartbreaking. I hope this rumor of being influenced to claim healing without any evidence is just that - a rumor. Time will see.

In the meantime, if you or someone you love has a chronic or life-threatening health diagnosis and someone tries to convince you to proclaim your healing by Jesus and throw away all your medications or treatments just say no. Don't do that to the people who would be left behind, that love you.

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