“Defended by Lord Jehovah”
The Peculiar People in the British Courts
This chapter analyzes a series of influential (but heretofore largely unexamined) manslaughter and neglect cases involving a British spiritual healing sect known as the Peculiar People, whose adherents rejected conventional medicine and treated their children solely with prayer. As recounted here, throughout the late 19th and early 20th centuries, prosecutors responded to deaths of children in the sect by charging Peculiar People with manslaughter and neglect. Over time, the British courts developed a relatively consistent approach to these cases, generally rejecting claims that the religious liberty of parents would be violated if they were prosecuted for faith-based medical neglect. In addition to tracing the evolution of the British approach to such cases and its profound effect on the American courts in the early 20th century, this chapter details both the sincerity and the intransigence of spiritual healers.
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