Christian Science & Child Care

Examines conflict between freedom of religion (church’s refusal of medical care for children) & laws against child abuse/neglect.

Child abuse has engendered a set of case law that is intended to protect children from both abuse and neglect by their parents. These laws sometimes interfere with another legally protected activity, the free exercise of religion. Several legal cases in recent years have tested the limits of religious expression with reference to children, notably cases in which parents who do not believe in medicine have prevented their children from receiving medical treatment for religious reasons. The issue has become enmeshed with what might be called the larger parental rights movement which holds that all decisions regarding the welfare of children should be made by parents and not by government or the courts. What has developed in these cases is a conflict between the desire on the part of society to assert children’s rights and to protect children and the belief.

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