“Christian Science Spiritual Healing, the Law, and Public Opinion”
Richardson, James T. and John Dewitt. “Christian Science Spiritual Healing, the Law, and Public Opinion.” Journal of Church and State 34, no. 3 (1992): 549-62.
After briefly describing the evolution of state and federal laws regarding religious accommodations for spiritual health care treatment for children, the authors summarize six cases in the 1980s in which parents were prosecuted, and most convicted, for not providing medical care for their children who died under Christian Science spiritual treatment. They found ambiguity in state laws that appeared to allow for religious accommodations for medical treatment but that resulted in prosecutions if a minor died. Public opinion heavily favored religious choice for health care, but, as the prosecutions indicated, not for children. There was also ambiguity from the Church, which did not become a party in these cases but instead argued that the decision to use Christian Science treatment was individual on the part of the parents. Christian Science parents were left unsupported and vulnerable to charges of neglect. In 1991, the Church issued a statement explicitly stating that parents who chose not to use Christian Science care for their children should be supported and encouraged by other members of the church. These six cases forced the state and federal laws as well as the Church to clarify their positions regarding denial of, or allowances for, medical care for children.
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