“Nightmare Would Not Be Too Strong a Term”
Life and Death in the Faith Tabernacle
This chapter examines the spiritual healing practices of a Philadelphia church, the Faith Tabernacle, and reviews the numerous legal cases that have resulted from deaths of children in the faith. Close scrutiny is paid to Commonwealth v. Nixon (Pennsylvania), a case involving two Faith Tabernacle parents who were prosecuted for manslaughter after their teenage daughter died from untreated diabetes. Several other analogous cases are detailed, among them Commonwealth v. Heilman (Pennsylvania), in which authorities prosecuted two Faith Tabernacle parents after their son, a hemophiliac, received no medical treatment for a small cut and slowly bled to death. This chapter also examines an outbreak of measles that killed five Faith Tabernacle children in Philadelphia in 1991. Close scrutiny of the epidemic and the public health issues it raised leads to a discussion of how states might intervene to protect the health of children endangered by spiritual healing practices.
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