Brittany Maynard suffers from stage 4 brain cancer, and on November 1, 2014 she plans on using Oregon’s assisted suicide laws to end her life. While there is much disagreement over euthanasia in the religious community, one Christian priest believes that Brittany needs compassion, not condemnation, for her decision.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, a terminally ill cancer patient named Kara Tippetts is publicly begging her to reconsider going for assisted suicide, claiming, “You have been told a lie. A horrible lie, that your dying will not be beautiful. That the suffering will be too great.” Maynard has publicly responded to critics by saying that she does not want to die.
“I don’t want to die. If anyone wants to hand me, like, a magical cure and save my life so that I can have children with my husband, you know, I will take them up on it. I think until anyone has walked a mile in my shoes and knows what they’re facing and has felt the — like, just bone-splitting headaches that I get sometimes, or the seizures, or the inability to speak, or the moments where I’m looking at my husband’s face and I can’t think of his name.”
Reverend “Father Tony” Medeiros is a 50-year-old rector of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in the Boston area. The Christian priest says he was inspired to create a Facebook page called “weluvbrittany” based upon hearing Brittany Maynard’s story.
“It was as if God had placed this beautiful person in front of me,” said Medeiros. “Her words, her story, Brittany was an inspiration that touched my heart. It struck a chord in me. Our life is time. It’s true of all our lives, is it not? I looked for a way to reach her, some way to let her know that she was not alone, that there were so many, many people praying for her, holding her in their hearts.”
According to the Boston Herald, Father Tony believes God has given Brittany free will “to do anything she wants. She can take those (life-ending) pills, or flush them down the toilet. It is completely up to her.” But he wants to support Brittany with hope and compassion, not judgment.
“[The Facebook page] is not a place to discuss thoughts about physician-assisted suicide, though that is a discussion we certainly must have,” said Medeiros. “Nor is it a place to get preachy, or cast any judgment on the decision Brittany has made. I want people to see Brittany as their wife, their daughter, their sister, their friend. And in a very fundamental way, I think she’s challenging each one of us to confront the question, are you praying for me, or yourself?”
The reason that many Christians oppose assisted suicide or euthanasia is because of the the idea that suicide is a sin which cannot be repented. In the fifth century, St. Augustine wrote one of Christianity’s first condemnations of suicide, and by the sixteenth century suicide had become a secular crime by which a person could be denied a Christian burial and even have their family’s belongings be confiscated. But Martin Luther noticeably changed the tone of the debate, and even discussed suicide prevention and combating depression in Christians.
But attitudes about assisted suicide have slowly changed in the Christian community. According to Gallup, back in 2005, 61 percent of Evangelical Christians supported euthanasia, while 32 percent approved of doctor-assisted suicide. In addition, 70 percent of Christians say they would want life support removed if they were in a vegetative state.