It’s generally a bad idea to assault the religious beliefs of your friends, neighbors, and relatives. That being said, sometimes it’s unavoidable. My being Jewish is hard for some people, who feel that just by being me, I am denying their Lord and delaying His return (and before you start tossing No True Scotsmans at me, this has indeed happened more than once). Still, unless someone is directly pestering me with their religion (you know, by posthumously baptizing my grandma or something), I leave them be.
But what about quasi-religious beliefs? A great deal of alternative medicine is “cult medicine”, in that it relies on faith instead of evidence. I spend a great deal of time calling people out on this one, despite its religious quality. And there is one more area in which we must confront our neighbors, no matter how painful it may be.
Vaccine-denial cultism isn’t just a wacky idea—it’s a dangerous one. We must find respectful ways to ask everyone—everyone—we know why they would put their kids and others at risk by their decisions. We must ask them to justify their anti-social behavior. We must push them back to the fringe, so that the most rational of them will come back to society.
Those who won’t should not be allowed to hide behind “philosophical” or “religious” exemptions. If parents have no valid medical reasons for avoiding vaccination, fine, there should be no legal penalty. But if they wish to violate the social contract in such a profound way, they should not be allowed to make use of public schools, an act which endangers everyone involved.
This is serious stuff. Let’s act like we understand that.