“Offit is unflinching in his examination of the lethal costs of belief taken to irrational extremes.”—Publishers Weekly

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When Jesus said, “Suffer the children,” faith healing is not what he had in mind.

In recent years, there have been major outbreaks of whooping cough among children in California, mumps in New York, and measles in Ohio’s Amish country—despite the fact that these are all vaccine-preventable diseases. Although America is the most medically advanced place in the world, many people disregard modern medicine in favor of using their faith to fight life-threatening illnesses. Christian Scientists pray for healing instead of going to the doctor, Jehovah’s Witnesses refuse blood transfusions, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish mohels spread herpes by using contaminated circumcision tools. Tragically, children suffer and die every year from treatable diseases, and in most states it is legal for parents to deny their children care for religious reasons. In twenty-first century America, how could this be happening?

In Bad Faith, acclaimed physician and author Dr. Paul Offit gives readers a never-before-seen look into the minds of those who choose to medically martyr themselves, or their children, in the name of religion. Offit chronicles the stories of these faithful and their children, whose devastating experiences highlight the tangled relationship between religion and medicine in America. Religious or not, this issue reaches everyone—whether you are seeking treatment at a Catholic hospital or trying to keep your kids safe from diseases spread by their unvaccinated peers.

Replete with vivid storytelling and complex, compelling characters, Bad Faith makes a strenuous case that denying medicine to children in the name of religion isn’t just unwise and immoral, but a rejection of the very best aspects of what belief itself has to offer.

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Reviews of Bad Faith

Bad Faith is a haunting account of how and why people use faith to ignore medical science, even when doing so kills children and spreads disease. It completes what is Paul Offit’s trilogy of books (along with Do You Believe in Magic? and Autism’s False Prophets) that examines how the human desire to believe in or defend something greater is expressed in an attack on science and reason. It is hard to read this book and not conclude that the most virulent threat to human existence is that part of our imagination that equates rejection of medical progress with achieving Heaven on Earth. It is Offit’s best book yet.”

- Robert M. Goldberg, Ph.D., Vice President, Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and author of Tabloid Medicine: How the Internet is Being Used to Hijack Medical Science for Fear and Profit

“An important and fascinating book. For more than a decade, Paul Offit has been relentless in his exposure of forces that can undermine the life-saving advances of modern medicine. His latest effort, Bad Faith, combines gripping storytelling with an insider’s knowledge. Offit offers a compassionate and clear-headed take on religion that puts children’s well-being where it should be: at the center of the discussion. A must-read for anyone interested in the challenges of public health in the twenty-first century.”

- Seth Mnookin, Associate Director of The Graduate Program in Science Writing, MIT, and author of The Panic Virus: The True Story Behind the Vaccine-Autism Controversy

“The medical system may function, in many ways, like an organized religion, but Paul Offit is not asking us to abandon God for doctors. Nor is he arguing that faith is bad. His premise here is that both medicine and religion, at their best, hold human life sacred.”

- Eula Biss, author of On Immunity: An Inoculation

“No physician today writes with more passion and courage about the impact of quackery, zealotry, hucksterism, and bad science upon the health of our children than Paul Offit. Bad Faith is another superb example, exposing the dangers of religious extremism in denying basic and life-saving medical care to the most vulnerable among us. This is no screed against religion, far from it. Deeply moving, elegantly written, Bad Faith brilliantly exposes the harm done by belief systems gone awry.”

- David Oshinsky, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Polio: An American Story and Director, Division of Medical Humanities, New York University Medical School

“This is a brave examination of the unhappy borderlands where religious beliefs battle—often tragically—against the imperatives of medical care and public health; packed with fascinating stories of the most tortured meetings of medical practice and religious practice, but also allowing glimpses of good faith and medical hope.”

- Perri Klass, M.D., Director, Arthur L. Carter Institute of Journalism, New York University and author of Treatment Kind and Fair

“Offit makes a convincing case that these actions are contrary to the very best aspects inherent in religious beliefs.”

- Muses & Visionaries

“A thought-provoking discussion of the conflict between society’s right to protect all children and the constitutional guarantee of religious freedom.”

- Kirkus Reviews