“Challenging Medical Authority: The Refusal of Treatment by Christian Scientists”
May, Larry. “Challenging Medical Authority: The Refusal of Treatment by Christian Scientists.” The Hastings Center Report 25, no. 1 (Jan–Feb 1995): 15–21.
May, a professor of philosophy at Washington University (St. Louis) when this article was published, approached the subject of medical authority and Christian Scientists’ opposition to medical treatment from a philosophical perspective. This kind of conflict can arise between groups in a pluralistic society. But, whereas consensus may not be possible, a compromise should be achievable if both groups change the way they socialize. May identifies at least one way both could reconsider their currently entrenched positions. For example, in an article published by the Christian Science Board of Directors in 1991, Christian Science officials affirm that when it comes to the care of children, Christian Scientists should “consider well their individual spiritual readiness, their own past experience and record, and the mental climate in which they live…” (17a, citing CSS, 7 October 1991, 25). Could they not get a diagnosis without church stigma, “even if just to determine one’s spiritual resources” (17b)? And instead of responding with contempt toward Christian Science practice, could the medical community be willing to allow adult Christian Scientists to pursue matters of health on their own terms? They could reframe the issue of Christian Science refusal of treatment, not as a struggle for authority, but simply a matter of conflicting beliefs.
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