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Forum to discuss religious-based medical neglect, faith healing

Do constitutional protections for religious liberty shield parents who fail to provide adequate medical treatment for their sick children? Are parents likewise shielded by state child-neglect faith laws that seem to include exemptions for healing practices? What purpose do prosecutions really serve when it's clear that many deeply religious parents harbor no fear of temporal punishment?

Peters offers a review of important legal cases in both England and America from the 19th century to the present day. He devotes special attention to cases involving Christian Science, the source of many religion-based medical neglect deaths, but also considers cases arising from the refusal of Jehovah's witnesses to allow blood transfusions or inoculations.

Individual cases dating back to the midth century illuminate not only the legal issues at stake but also the profound human drama of religion-based medical neglect of children. Based on a wide array of primary and secondary source materials - among them judicial opinions, trial transcripts, police and medical examiner reports, news accounts, personal interviews, and scholarly studies - this book explores efforts by the legal system to balance judicial protections for the religious liberty of faith-healers against the state's obligation to safeguard the rights of children.

Reagan University of California Press, Read preview Overview. Syrett University of North Carolina Press, Individual cases dating back to the midth century illuminate not only the legal issues at stake but also the profound human drama of religion-based medical neglect of children. Based on a wide array of primary and secondary source materials - among them judicial opinions, trial transcripts, police and medical examiner reports, news accounts, personal interviews, and scholarly studies - this book explores efforts by the legal system to balance judicial protections for the religious liberty of faith-healers against the state's obligation to safeguard the rights of children.

Read more Read less. Frequently bought together. Add both to Cart Add both to List. These items are shipped from and sold by different sellers. Show details. Ships from and sold by jcbbookseller. Ships from and sold by Amazon. FREE Shipping. Customers who bought this item also bought. Page 1 of 1 Start over Page 1 of 1. Fay Botham. Shawn Francis Peters. Review "What happens when strong commitments to religious freedom and child protection clash?

Numbers, University of Wisconsin-Madison "For more than a century, prosecutors have tried to bring to justice those who honestly believed that only God can heal, who rejected any recourse to doctors, and whose children died tragically and painfully as a result.


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Peters' wonderful narrative is scrupulously fair to both the faithful and the forces of law and medicine. This is a fascinating, thorough, and beautifully written story of the clash between the way of life of a religious minority, and the legal order of the society in which they lived.

Examining the history of how judges and juries have decided between parents' rights to religious freedom and their responsibility for medical neglect of their dead children, Peters argues that such extreme cases may be only the tip of the iceberg of religiously based rejection of medicine in the U. Historians of American culture will welcome this carefully balanced and well-researched history, and its portrayal of the enormous respect for religion that pervades the American judicial system.

In this way, he provides a vivid, almost anthropological account of the juridification of US Society. Peter's lucid examination of the cases makes for fascinating reading. Not of least importance, the young and vulnerable victims at the center of the heart-wrenching stories he relates should compel our concern with this topic. It is expertly written and will be of interest both to First Amendment scholars as well as to non-academic readers with an interest in religious liberties, the care of children and the law.

Faith Healing and the Law | Pew Research Center

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Trials for Parents Who Chose Faith Over Medicine

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  6. Please try again later. Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase. The theme of this book as well as the scope of the issues examined are spelled out in the first chapter: "Harrowing incidents of religion-based medical neglect - in which parents, adhering to the doctrines of their faiths, refuse to furnish medical care to their ailing children - are not unique to a single church or a particular geographical area.

    Since the late nineteenth century, this phenomenon has imperiled the youngest most vulnerable members of a variety of religious faiths in every region of the United States. These enable parents to argue that putting their faith in prayer is not a form of neglect but simply an alternative form of treatment. This approach adds an interesting dimension to longstanding debates among criminal law academics about the validity of the distinction between "omissions" and "acts" as well as contributing more obviously to family law concerns about the nature of parental responsibility.

    While the focus of the book is exclusively on the US, the federal nature of the constitution provides a rich "comparative" perspective, and Peters' accounts of the legal battles in numerous states present an incisive analysis of the extent to which the "universal" rights of parents and children are contingent on local politics and the power of lobbying.

    When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children and the Law

    In this way, he provides a vivid, almost anthropological account of the juridification of US society. At the same time, however, Peters' account is not neutral. His clear commitment and faith in the possibility of law as a "child-saving" project is framed by the limitations of a liberal legal paradigm within which children can be represented only as brutalised silent victims of individual parents and within which there is no mention of healthcare and poverty. Adopting a more critical perspective might have led him to question whether law kills more children than God.

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