Christian Parents Let Daughter Choose ‘Heaven’ Over Medicine So She Can Be With Angels

As the country debates whether or not a patient has the right to die if he or she wishes, one Christian family is demonstrating the dangers of laws that would allow someone to choose “heaven” over medical treatment. Michelle Moon writes in a blog post on The Mighty that she will be allowing her four-year-old daughter Julianna, who suffers from a severe neuromuscular disease, to choose to go to Heaven to be with the angels rather than spend more time in the land of the living.

Julia has never been healthy enough to attend Sunday school, but her Bible-believing mom has been sure to sell Julianna on the idea of Heaven. KSPR reports that Moon and her husband Steve Snow tell Julia that in Heaven, she can run and play and eat. She will meet her dead relatives, who are all amazing — and, of course, Julianna will meet God, who will love her more than mommy and daddy ever could. While her parents will not be in Heaven when Julie is flown to Heaven on the wings of angels (and what child doesn’t want to fly?), nor will her six-year-old brother Alex, but thanks to her Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Juliana will get to meet Jesus much earlier than any child should (yaaaaay!).

Julianna’s illness is nothing to laugh about, as KSPR notes:

Her coughing and breathing muscles are so weak that the next time she catches even a cold, the infection could settle in her lungs, where it could cause a deadly pneumonia. Her doctors believe that if they can save her under those circumstances — and that’s a big if — she will likely end up sedated on a respirator with very little quality of life.

To a child, especially a sick one, the idea of going to Heaven and being away from the pain — especially since Mom made the afterlife seem so, so appealing — sounds absolutely wonderful. No one can deny that the child’s life will not continue much longer, but Moon is finding herself the subject of criticism for filling her daughter’s head with fantastical tales and then asking her — a preschool-aged kid — to make medical decisions for herself. Thanks to Snow’s urgings, the little girl has decided that the next time she becomes ill, she wants to stay home, die, and be with Jesus rather than obtain medical help. Julianna wants to go to “Heaven.”

In her blog, Snow chronicled that conversation with her daughter — one that was filled with leading questions that were clearly designed to lead the young child, who trusts her parents to do what is best for her, to come to the conclusion that “Heaven” is the best choice:

Julianna: Mom, do you want me to get a shot?

Me: It depends. If you need the shot…

J: Do you want me to go the hospital and get a shot?

M: You don’t want to go to the hospital, right, J?

J:  I don’t like NT [naso-tracheal suction, the thing she hated the most from the hospital].

M: I know. So if you get sick again, you want to stay home?

J:  I hate NT. I hate the hospital.

M: Right. So if you get sick again, you want to stay home. But you know that probably means you will go to heaven, right?

J: (nods)

M: And it probably means that you will go to heaven by yourself, and Mommy will join you later.

J: But I won’t be alone.

M: That’s right. You will not be alone.

J: Do some people go to heaven soon?

M: Yes. We just don’t know when we go to heaven. Sometimes babies go to heaven. Sometimes really old people go to heaven.

J: Will Alex [her 6-year-old brother] go to heaven with me?

M: Probably not. Sometimes people go to heaven together at the same time, but most of the time, they go alone. Does that scare you?

J: No, heaven is good. But I don’t like dying.

M: I know. That’s the hard part. We don’t have to be afraid of dying because we believe we go to heaven. But it’s sad because I will miss you so much.

J: Don’t worry, I won’t be alone.

M: I know. I love you.

J: Madly.

M: Yes, I love you madly. I’m so lucky.

J: And I’m so lucky.

M: Why?

J: Because you love me madly.

While urging one’s child to die is something most would consider sickening, another conversation detailed in a separate blog post adds new levels of demented, dogmatic horribleness to the discussion. The little girl tells Snow she’s scared about dying and, for reassurance, asks Mom to tell her about the angels again — the ones who will fly her to Heaven. Snow explains that the angels will make sure that she’s not scared on her trip to God’s mystical sky kingdom. The girl is obviously distraught at the thought of leaving her mother, but Snow continues to push dogma in an effort to convince her daughter that death is the right thing:

J: Will you miss me?

M: Yes. I will miss you so much. I’ll be really sad. But I’ll come join you one day.

J: Will I die in heaven?

M: No, we only die once. We get to live in heaven forever.

J: Good. I won’t die in heaven. When you die, will I come to get you?

M: I don’t really know how it works, Julianna. But I think you will be the first person I see when I get to heaven. And I’ll be so happy.

J: Do you want me to stand in front of the house, and in front of all the people so you can see me first?

M: Yes. I’ll be so happy to see you.

J: Will you run to me?

M: Yes. And I think you will run to me too.

J: I’ll run fast! (then she shook her head back and forth to show me how fast she will run).

M: Yes, I think you will run so fast.

Naturally, many took issue with Snow filling her daughter’s head with religious propaganda and expecting her to make a life-and-death decision at the age of four. One parent of a child with a chronic illness called it “unbelievable that any parent would think a 4-year-old is able to understand or make a decision on life.” The mother criticized Snow for asking leading questions, adding that Snow’s write-up of her experience telling her daughter she should choose death “sickens” her.

But Snow later explained that her four-year-old absolutely is capable of making this difficult and very adult decision for herself. “She’s scared of dying, but has, to me, demonstrated adequate knowledge of what death is. (J: ‘When you die, you don’t do anything. You don’t think.’),” Snow wrote. “She hasn’t changed her mind about going back to the hospital, and she knows that this means she’ll go to heaven by herself. If she gets sick, we’ll ask her again, and we’ll honor her wishes.”

“Very clearly, my 4-year-old daughter was telling me that getting more time at home with her family was not worth the pain of going to the hospital again. I made sure she understood that going to heaven meant dying and leaving this Earth,” Snow added. “And I told her that it also meant leaving her family for a while, but we would join her later. Did she still want to skip the hospital and go to heaven? She did.”

But, of course she would rather fly with angels and have tea parties with God and her great grandmother than be here on Earth. Many healthy Christians would prefer to just go to Heaven tomorrow — just look at all those eagerly awaiting the Rapture.

Whether or not adults should be able to make such decisions for themselves is up for debate, and many factors would need to be taken into consideration: the person’s mental stability, the severity of the illness, and other factors that vary from case to case. There is not a single circumstance in which a four-year-old, especially one who has been so thoroughly brainwashed, should be considered competent to make such a decision. Since mom was the one performing the aforementioned brainwashing, it is probably not a good idea to consider her competent to make such a decision. She clearly has no capability to figure things out from a medical perspective rather than one based on fanciful stories from a compilation of faerie tales.

“This doesn’t sit well with me. It makes me nervous,” Bioethicist Art Caplan said after reading Snow’s blog posts. “I think a 4-year-old might be capable of deciding what music to hear or what picture book they might want to read. But I think there’s zero chance a 4-year-old can understand the concept of death. That kind of thinking doesn’t really develop until around age 9 or 10.”

There are many arguments for allowing Julianna’s life to end from a medical perspective. Doctors and nurses familiar with her case have all expressed doubt that they can pull her from death’s door again. In fact, if her mother had discussed things with her from a medical perspective, it might even be viewed as “kind” to allow Julianna to spend the rest of her days at home without seeking further treatment.

Unfortunately, Snow allowed her religion to take over, and any such decision would be tainted by mythical tales of eternal paradise, angels, and long-lost family. There is nothing kind about filling a child’s head full of bullshit and urging her to end her life based on the stories you tell her. Nothing at all.


Featured Image via The Mighty