We are concerned with the persistent unsubstantiated headlines of the Belfast Telegraph. Yesterday’s headline “my cancer was driven out by prayer” has tipped many over the edge.
This front page article is a slap in the face of the many skilled doctors of the Royal Victoria hospital, who worked so hard to save Rachelle, and unsympathetic and upsetting to those who have lost loved ones to cancer. It is also dangerous and irresponsible to send out the message that prayer cures cancer, when there is absolutely not one shred of supporting evidence. It isn’t just a hypothetical danger that parents may dispense with healthcare and opt solely for prayer – it has actually happened.
The Belfast Telegraph has an absolute right to freedom of expression. However, as one of the largest readerships in Northern Ireland, it also has a responsibility to maintain the highest journalistic integrity.
ISPO clause 1 part 3 clearly states “the press, while free to be partisan, must distinguish clearly between comment, conjecture and fact”. Given the reaction on social media, this is arguably not the case.
Atheist NI believe in an ethical, rational and secular Northern Ireland.
Atheist NI chairperson.