Faith

Poor Little Alfie Evans — His Case Should Be a Wake-Up Call for America

Power of the state is subverting the autonomy of the family in very dangerous instances, including this British baby's fight for life

A British toddler’s dire health crisis is tugging at the heartstrings of people all over the world — and even the pope has weighed in with an offer of help.

The sad story is also evidence of the dangers of any society’s being controlled by its government, in this case a life-and-death example of the helplessness of the individual.

Alfie Evans, just 23 months old, has been living in a coma for over a year after being struck by a mystery illness, The Sun of Britain reported. The boy was placed on life support at the Alder Hey Children’s Hospital in Liverpool, England, in December 2016.

After his admission there, his parents were told he wasn’t going to make it; but his tiny body fought the infection, and he started breathing on his own. He then caught another chest infection and had to go back on a ventilator, when he began having more chronic seizures.

The child is described as being in a “semi-vegetative state,” and doctors at Alder Hey have claimed it is in his best interest to stop mechanical ventilation, despite the wishes of his parents to continue treatment and give their child a fighting chance.

Little Alfie, by court order, has since had his life support withdrawn — because, according to the court, it was in “his best interests.” It was declared that Alfie Evans would die without the necessary life support; and the High Court determined that is exactly what should happen.

On Monday, a High Court judge dismissed a “last-ditch appeal” by the child’s parents to be given more time to mount a further challenge to a decision to end the toddler’s treatment, the U.K.’s Independent reported. This came even after the father said doctors were “gobsmacked” by the little tot’s continued breathing on his own — for nine hours — after the ventilator removal.

This was also despite the intervention of Pope Francis, who offered treatment in a Rome hospital. The actions of Alder Hey hospital, where Alfie Evans is being treated, have brought the entire medical profession “into disrepute” and are evidence of “medical tyranny,” according to a statement from the U.K.’s Medical Ethics Alliance.

American journalist Jonah Goldberg recently tweeted about the disturbing case, “What the hell’s wrong with Britain?” It was a question many have been asking in recent days as the case of Alfie Evans has sparked headlines around the globe.

A sick and beloved little boy whose parents’ rights have been trampled is but one example of the ever-expanding power of the state in British life: His case is not only one of medical tyranny, but of judicial and governmental tyranny. For many Americans, Britain is still the country of Downton Abbey, Churchill standing alone against the Nazis, and the famed British sense of humor: self-deprecatory, offbeat, and, yes, very often politically incorrect.

Related: Baby Charlie Gard’s Lasting Lesson: Human Life Matters

Or it used to be.

The Britain we increasingly hear about fines a man more than $1,000 for teaching his girlfriend’s pug to do a Nazi salute and posting it on YouTube. The British bobby, instead of patrolling the quiet lanes of England armed only with his wooden truncheon, is now assigned surveillance duty on Twitter to watch for “hate speech” — God forbid anyone post a joke the new controllers of thought deem inappropriate.

Christian street preachers in the United Kingdom are arrested for proclaiming biblical teaching on human sexuality and marriage; I know of one preacher who has been arrested 10 times and may face jail.

America should take note.

One Anglican cleric recently stated that, of all the Western European nations, it is Great Britain that is using the law most harshly to control religious expression. When I first read that, it was shocking — and seemed unbelievable. However, it is the power of the state that is infiltrating and controlling almost every aspect of people’s lives in the U.K., the latest example being little Alfie.

Tyranny can be defined as the unreasonable or arbitrary use of power or control. But who decides what is reasonable?

The promotion of the secularist agenda — in particular, with regard to human sexuality — is well-advanced in British schools. There are even serious concerns the government is going to intervene in the rights of home-schoolers, perhaps even banning parents from educating their children at home.

Tyranny can be defined as the unreasonable or arbitrary use of power or control. But who decides what is reasonable? It certainly seems arbitrary to allow Islamist hate preachers free range on British streets, but to arrest Christian preachers. The unholy alliance between secularists and Islamists had been inexplicable to me until I recently spoke with an Iraqi Christian who had experienced persecution for her faith.

She reminded me that the Islamist/secularist alliance is perfectly understandable. “They both have the same enemy,” she told me.

The great English writer and journalist G.K. Chesterton recognized, even in the early decades of the 20th century, the twofold danger: the attack on the family and the power of the state.

“If individuals have any hope of protecting their freedom, they must protect their family,” Chesterton wrote. “It is the state which destroys; it is nearly always the state which persecutes. It is the state that exterminates.”

He saw that the attack on the family and the necessity to resist the encroachment of the state into the very heart of it as the greatest danger — “Without the family,” he wrote, “we are helpless before the state.”

Alfie’s parents are suffering under this attack right now, and time is growing increasingly precious as they fight to save their son.

Related: Parental Rights Ignored in Teen Gender Case

Those “fighting for the First [Amendment]” in the United States should be very concerned about what is happening in the U.K. “What the hell’s wrong with Britain?” Goldberg asks. The family’s forced subservience to the state is apparently the answer.

And as Chesterton noted, “The law has become lawless; that is, it cannot see where law should stop.”

Perhaps this is the new definition of tyranny.

Fr. Benedict Kiely is a Catholic priest and founder of Nasarean.org, which is helping the persecuted Christians of the Middle East.

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