“Withholding Medical Care for Religious Reasons”
Flowers, Ronald B. “Withholding Medical Care for Religious Reasons.” Journal of Religion and Health 23, no. 4 (1984): 268–82.
Flowers surveys the beliefs of a few religious groups that refuse medical care and how they interface with the law and the U.S. Constitution. He examines the groups’ underlying assumptions, the Bible passages they cite to validate their practices, and the complex legal, religious and moral issues they evoke. For example, Flowers asks whether a religious group’s exemption from mandatory medical care violates the Establishment Clause in giving preferential treatment to a particular religion over others; or whether their exemption honors the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment in supplying the group the opportunity to practice spiritual healing which the law normally would otherwise take away. Included are specific examples of how the Christian Science Church has argued its own cases for exemption, and the Court’s need to seek a balance between the Establishment and Free Exercise clauses. In some cases, the Christian Science Church would cite examples of courts and legislatures providing religious exemptions (such as granting conscientious objector status for those objecting to military service) claiming that these exemptions, as well as their own exemption from child-neglect laws, “show government sensitivity to minority religions without showing any favoritism to them” (278).
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