“Defending Child Medical Neglect: Christian Science Persuasive Rhetoric”
Young, Beth Rapp. “Defending Child Medical Neglect: Christian Science Persuasive Rhetoric.” Rhetoric Review 20, no. 3–4 (2001): 268–92.
The thesis of Young’s article is that the rhetoric used in support of accommodations for medical exemptions must be exceptionally persuasive. Interestingly, just as society called for increasingly protective laws safeguarding children (when the article was written in 2001), these new exemptions from the requirement of medical care for seriously ill children increased—probably due to the lobbyists for the Christian Science Church (known as Committees on Publication). Since the majority of public statements about these exemptions were made by these lobbyists, this article analyzes the Christian Science rhetoric in its arguments in favor of these exemptions. Young found that the chief means of persuasion by the Church is its identification with two powerful ideas in Christian Science culture: science and religion. Even though they are “generally considered opposites, and it is a common tactic to discredit one by calling it the other” (273), the Church heightens public identification by joining the two terms. Thus the Church rhetoric makes it more likely that both Christian Scientists and nonbelievers will find common ground and common interests. The Church also identifies itself with original Christianity, “achieving a similar effect when they define attacks on child-abuse exemptions as bigoted attacks on Christianity itself” (284).
Print ISSN: 0735-0198
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