At the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, we saw more than 200 children in our emergency department and admitted about 40. Children would come in, covered in rashes, squinting in the bright light (a side effect caused by eye irritation), struggling to breathe and often extremely dehydrated. It was like being in a war zone. When I asked their parents why they had done what they had done, they all had the same answer: “Jesus was my doctor.”

It seems to me that if religion teaches us anything, it’s to care about our children, to keep them safe. Independent of whether one believes in Jesus, or that the four Gospels are an accurate account of what he said and did, you have to be impressed by the figure described. At the time of Jesus, around 4 B.C. to 30 A.D., child abuse was the “crying vice” of the Roman Empire. Infanticide and abandonment were common. Children were property, no different from slaves. But Jesus stood up for children. In Matthew 25:40, he said, “Verily, I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of my brethren ye have done it unto me” — a quote that could be emblazoned onto the entranceway of every children’s hospital in the world…

Parents shouldn’t be allowed to martyr their children — or in this case, those with whom their children have come in contact. Religious exemptions to vaccination are a contradiction in terms. In the good name of all religions, they should be eliminated.