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Religious Freedom & Social/Legal Responsibility

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The U.S. Constitution provides all Americans with the right to religious freedom and allows people to practice the religion of their choice. While this is usually not a point of contention, there are times when a person's religious rights can be challenged. When religion becomes a matter of life and death, there are many people who feel that religious beliefs can and should be restricted. For example, a number of religions rely only on the power of prayer and church sanctioned "healers" and do not allow the use of medicine or visits to doctors, even for lifesaving treatment.

Give your ideas on these items, regarding how the right to freedom of religion is handled in relation to providing compulsory medical treatment your state or area. Some ideas to discuss could include:

Are immunizations and/or physical examinations required for children to attend school, even if parents object on religious grounds?
Do all newborns have to receive customary metabolic testing, prophylactic eye drops, hearing tests, and Vitamin K injections?
Are there exemptions to the child abuse and neglect codes based on religion?
If lifesaving treatment must be rendered in order to save a child's life, will Child Protective Services be allowed to intervene, and to what degree?

Give an example of a situation where a child has failed to receive appropriate medical treatment and have died. Review what penalties, if any, were faced by the parents.

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Solution Summary

The solution provides an extensive narrative and discussion over the topic of religious freedom in relation to the US Constitution (see original problem). In particular, religius freedon and practical as well as social resonsibility is discussed in relation to healthcare and education of children. A case study is provided wherein religious practice caused the death of a child presenting details of the case and the social as well as legal right os children and the responsibility of parents vis-a-vis religious freedom. The solution follows the APA format and references are provided for expansion. A word version of the solution is attached for easy printing.

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Dear Student,
The solution below was written as a means to guide you, to give you ideas, give you perspective. This solution (APA-format)is concise and easy enough to grasp and understand - note that the articles provided are all web-based for easy access. The word file is attached for easy printing.

OTA 105878/Xenia Jones

Faith & Socialization

Religion and religious institutions are an integral/important part of society as faith-rooted beliefs inform values, mores, traditions and accepted ethics of an individual, his primary and secondary groups, his community, his culture. If beliefs are those set of premises that an individual holds to be true - then therefore one's philosophies, one's identity and manner of reacting and engaging with reality is judged by it. Beliefs of faith when held as absolute truth by its followers do not need proof to be established as truth. This harkens back to the time pre-Enlightenment with the circuit of knowledge was established by religion rather than by proof and reason. How come the peasants from the farthest reaches of Europe gave up everything to join the first Crusade? Why did they so blindly follow the commands of the Pope and their Monarchs to retake Jerusalem from the Muslims without question? How come they took the 'heavenly rewards' of their sacrifices to be well worth the killing, the hunger, the impossible journeys and misadventure? How come they did not question? Same goes for any religious zealot who fanatically looks at the 'commands' and 'holy books' of a particular faith, following it blindly without the exercise of reason, or more importantly, common sense and humanity? Well, such is zealotry and fanaticism that all who fall into this particular state do not question, they will never question. Instead they interpret and live strictly by the rules of that particular belief system no matter that in the greater society functioning in this manner seems deviant, unethical, even at times, immoral.

Christianity carved out the world and in search for converts Spain and Portugal started to explore the world to spread 'God's Word' in a long lasting contest for the favour of the then Papacy during the Age of exploration and discovery. This is why Latin America is highly Catholic with pockets of folk Christianity adopted by the natives. Same goes for the Philippines. Eventually when other European monarchies followed capped by the establishment of the British Empire, the Colonial European masters controlled their colonies via their militaries, their mercenaries, politics and the religion that they brought over. Religion meant control for some colonial power. This is how Spain held on to Mexico and the Philippines - the Parishes controlled each pueblo, each poblacion making it easy for Governor Generals to control the local populace. But faith changes lives and abandons reason for a perceived greater truth by the believer and for the radicalized, nothing can ever come before it. Muslim suicide bombers are in this state of belief. So do radical Christians, cult members and a huge number of pseudo religions and sects that have since come and gone taking lives and livelihood.

A Personal Experience

When I was little and living then in the Philippines, every time I got sick, my great- grandmother who was Filipino-Spanish would perform rituals she learned from her own native ancestors. She would have all sorts of paraphernalia laid out on the floor in a voodoo-like ceremony and I would be sat in the centre. I would be terrified to death at the trances she went into and the eventual animal sacrifice that happens in the end. But then after all the ...

Solution provided by:
  • MPhil/PhD (IP), Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • MA, Open University, Milton Keynes, UK
  • Certificate, Geva Ulpan (via Universita Tel Aviv)
  • BA, University of the Philippines
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