“Government Endorsement of Living on a Prayer”
Dose, Ashley. “Government Endorsement of Living on a Prayer.” Journal of Legal Medicine 30, no. 1 (2009): 515–28.
Dose’s article is a legal argument opposing the religious exemption from medical care for very sick children. Based on her study of the Swan case, she argues that the government should not endorse spiritual treatment through religious exemptions. Dose focuses her study on the Religion Clauses of the First Amendment. First, “the exemptions are not mandated by the Free Exercise Clause…, and second, the exemptions are not a permissible accommodation of religion under the Establishment Clause” (518). Furthermore, the “exemptions may still be found unconstitutional under Justice O’Connor’s ‘endorsement’ test” (519), because they convey a message of government endorsement of religion—which is part of the root problem. Exemptions encourage parents to delay seeking medical treatment. This is the type of endorsement forbidden by the Establishment Clause. However, compliance with the Establishment Clause is more difficult to prove than the Free Exercise question, because it is confusing and inconsistent, failing to establish a single standard. Dose concludes that “because the perceived endorsement of spiritual treatment actually causes the harm that child abuse statutes seek to remedy, religious exemptions from the duty to provide medical treatment to children should be stricken from state statutes on the grounds that they violate the Establishment Clause” (528).
Print ISSN: 0194-7648
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