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When Prayer FailsFaith Healing, Children, and the Law$
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Shawn Francis Peters

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780195306354

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306354.001.0001

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“The Horriblest Thing I Ever Saw”

“The Horriblest Thing I Ever Saw”

Early Religion-Based Medical-Neglect Cases in the United States

Chapter:
(p.67) 4 “The Horriblest Thing I Ever Saw”
Source:
When Prayer Fails
Author(s):

Shawn Francis Peters

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195306354.003.0004

This chapter reviews relevant American religion-based medical-neglect cases from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when cases relating to faith healing and children began appearing in courts on this side of the Atlantic. A careful study of these prosecutions shows how American judges and juries tentatively followed the leads of their counterparts in England, endeavoring to develop coherent and consistent approaches to balancing protections for religious liberty against the state's duty to safeguard children's welfare. It also reveals how the maturation of medical science in the late 19th century created tensions between spiritual healers and a nascent professional establishment eager to regulate medical practice. Illustrative and noteworthy cases discussed in this chapter include those of John Alexander Dowie and Frank Sanford, who was the leader of a religious colony in Maine known as Shiloh.

Keywords:   Frank Sanford, John Alexander Dowie, Shiloh, children's welfare

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