JOHN HOWARD AND PRISON REFORM
"Terry Carlson, in his 1990 biographical tract on Howard, remarks:
'Howard's detailed proposals for improvements were designed to enhance the physical and mental health of the prisoners and the security and order of the prison. His recommendations pertaining to such matters as the prison location, plan and furnishings, the provision of adequate water supply, and prisoner's diet promoted hygiene and physical health. Recommendations concerning the quality of prison personnel, rules related to the maintenance of standards of health and order and an independent system of inspection, reflect the need for prison personnel to set a moral example.'"
"John Howard, Prison Reformer," Wikipedia. <http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=John_Howard_%28prison_reformer&action=edit> (27 Dec. 2006).
HOWARD'S VIEWS ON RELIGION
"In his major work The State of the Prisons in England and Wales (1777), John Howard insists strongly on the importance of religious services and education in prisons: "A Chaplain is necessary here in every view. - To reform prisoners, or to make them better as to their morals, should always be the leading view in every house of correction, and their earnings should only be a secondary object. As rational and immortal beings we owe this to them...."
Schmid, Muriel, "The eye of God: Religious Beliefs and Punishment in Early Nineteenth-Century Prison Reform." Theology Today <http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3664/is_200301/ai_n9199677> (28 January, 2007).
"There can be no question that John Howard merits the accolade of being the father of prison reform."
"Non-conformist, devout and narrow-minded in adherence to his own interpretations of Christian doctrine, he could nonetheless be tolerant and catholic to those who held different theological views. As long as they were involved in good works to combat human suffering and wickedness, they were accepted. "
"Biography of John Howard," John Howard Society Web Site. <http://www.johnhoward.ca/bio.htm> (27 Dec. 2006).
THE IMPROVED TREATMENT OF MENTAL PATIENTS
Philippe Pinel and John Tuke are considered to be the pioneers in humanizing the treatment of mental patients in mental institution. Before Pinel and Tuke, other caring people invested time and energy into serving the mentally ill. They were the ones who were the true roots of reform.
"The Irish Saint Dympna, a distant and misty figure, with her martyrdom inspired a millenary tradition of family and community care for the mentally ill at Geel, in Belgium. She is the Catholic patron of the mentally afflicted."
"The French Saint Vincent de Paul, a powerful leader, took care of the insane and the poor in gentle ways; worked for reforms in hospitals, education, delinquency, and penology; founded religious orders dedicated to the sick; and set in motion the hospitals of La Salpêtrière and Le Bicêtre."
"The Portuguese-Spaniard Saint John of God, a humble shepherd, a marginal soldier, an ignorant construction worker, and a modest salesman of books, has had more relevance to psychiatry than has Dympna, the martyr, or Vincent de Paul, the social reformer. No other saint has had more practical and sustained influence on hospital psychiatry than he, and it is a mystery of sorts that his name still awaits the distinguished place of honor it so richly deserves."
Rumbaut, R. D., "Saints and Psychiatry, " Journal of Religion and Health, Springer Netherlands, Volume 15, Number 1, January, 1976. <http://www.springerlink.com/content/jr35261865124618> (29 January, 2007).
"The first humane impulse of any considerable importance in this field seems to have been aroused in America. In the year 1751 certain members of the Society of Friends founded a small hospital for the insane, on better principles, in Pennsylvania. To use the language of its founders, it was intended ``as a good work, acceptable to God.'' Twenty years later Virginia established a similar asylum, and gradually others appeared in other colonies."
Dickson White, Andrew, A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1898. "http://www.cscs.umich.edu/~crshalizi/White/insanity/pinel.html, (30 Dec. 2006).
PHILIPPE PINEL, AND WILLIAM TUKE
Philippe Pinel: It is hard to determine the religious views of this very humane and caring man. No doubt he deviated from the previously held view that serious mental illness was the work of demons. Yet, his advocacy for humane treatment was by no means new, as seen above.
William Tuke: "A similar (Humane) regime of care was advocated by William Tuke at the York Retreat founded in England in 1792 with Quaker assistance. Along with removing mechanical restraint whenever possible, Tuke emphasized humanitarian treament of the patients, as well as farm work, recreation, exercise, ample food and an atmosphere of religious sentiment in keeping with the Quaker foundations of the Retreat."
"History of the Brandon Mental Health Centre." <http://www.hillmanweb.com/bmhc/introtxt.html> (30 Dec. 2006).
"An English Quaker Named William Tuke (1732-1819) ...founded the York Retreat, where about 30 patients lived as part of a small community in quiet country houses and engaged in a combination of rest, talk, manual work. The efforts of the York Retreat centered around minimizing restraints and cultivating rationality and moral strength."
"Moral treatment," Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_treatment> (30 Dec. 2006).
AFTER PINEL AND TUKE...
"Did the actions of the conscientious objectors (COs) in exposing conditions at institutions during and immediately after World War II make a difference in America’s care and treatment of people with mental illness and mental retardation? The answer to this question is most certainly "Yes," but it is difficult to say how much of a difference they made."
"Disability Studies for Teachers," CHP Center on Human Policy. <http://www.disabilitystudiesforteachers.org/files/COS_DIFFERENCE.pdf> (17 April, 2007).
"During World War II many Mennonite conscientious objectors worked in mental hospitals in lieu of military service, and saw the need for a level of care based on individual dignity and recognition that we are all created in the image of God. They discovered that many of their patients could be moved toward wholeness through simple caring and genuine love. In the years that followed the war, Mennonite churches established mental health centers for the purpose of assuring excellence in treatment for their own people and for the broader community. "
"Kings View Behavioral Health System, Company History." <http://www.kingsview.org> (17 April, 2007).
THE ABOLITION OF CAPITAL PUNISHMENT
The first philosopher who wrote eloquently against the inhumanity of capital punishment was the Italian, Cesare Beccaria, who was a strong believer in the Christian God. The following quote extracted from his very influential work, Of Crimes and Punishments, shows, unequivocally, that he was a believer.
"In short, others have imagined, that the greatness of the sin should aggravate the crime. But the fallacy of this opinion will appear on the slightest consideration of the relations between man and man, and between God and man. The relations between man and man are relations of equality. Necessity alone hath produced, from the opposition of private passions and interests, the idea of public utility, which is the foundation of human justice. The other are relations of dependence, between an imperfect creature and his Creator, the most perfect of beings, who has reserved to himself the sole right of being both lawgiver and judge; for he alone can, without injustice, be, at the same time, both one and the other. If he hath decreed eternal punishments for those who disobey his will, shall an insect dare to put himself in the place of divine justice, or pretend to punish for the Almighty, who is himself all sufficient, who cannot receive impressions of pleasure or pain, and who alone, of all other beings, acts without being acted upon? The degree of sin depends on the malignity of the heart, which is impenetrable to finite beings. How then can the degree of sin serve as a standard to determine the degree of crimes? If that were admitted, men may punish when God pardons, and pardon when God condemns; and thus act in opposition to the Supreme Being."
Beccaria, Cesare, Of Crimes and Punishments, Chapter 7.
<http://www.la.utexas.edu/research/poltheory/beccaria/delitti/delitti.c07.html> (28 January, 2007).
PS. There are Christians on both sides of the capital punishment camp. This site is not attempting to render a judgment on this issue , but to simply discredit atheists' false assertions.