By: Robin Murray-o'hair Re: C.S. Church Let Off Hook CHRISTIAN SCIENCE CHURCH NOT LIABLE O

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By: Robin Murray-o'hair Re: C.S. Church Let Off Hook CHRISTIAN SCIENCE CHURCH NOT LIABLE On Monday, April 3, the Minnesota State Appeals Court ruled that the Christian Science Church is not liable for damages in the case of a diabetic boy who died because his mother withheld insulin from him. The boy was eleven at the time of his death. In the ruling, the court states that "The constitutional right to religious freedom includes the authority of churches to independently decide matters of faith and doctrine." The First Church of Christ, Scientist (better known as the Christian Science Church) teaches that illness is an illusion of the mind and that the only way to treat it is through prayer. Further, the court claimed, the church did not have "deliberate disregard" of the boy's rights and hence is not liable. And what of the eleven-year-old's constitutional right to live? The boy's father, Douglass Lundman, had sued the church and five members, who had treated the boy with prayer after he lapsed into a diabetic coma. In August 1993, a Hennepin County jury awarded Lundman $9 in punitive damages and $5.2 million compensatory damages from Kathleen and William McKnown (the boy's mother and step-father), the Christian Science Church, and several church representatives. A county judge later reduced the award to $1.5 million. The appeals court did uphold awards of compensatory damages against the mother, the stepfather, and two "practioners" who provided "spiritual treatment." The McKowns did not face manslaughter charges because of state laws protecting faith- killing parents. Source: AP, 4/4/95 * WCE 2.0/2394 * American Atheists Online at 512-302-0223

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