Relationships Between Religious Characteristics and Response to Legal Action Against Parents Who Choose Faith Healing Practices for Their Children

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Abstract

Individuals’ religious characteristics (e.g., orthodox beliefs) are related to support for legal actions (e.g., the death penalty). The current study explores whether or not orthodoxy, fundamentalism, intrinsic religiosity, quest, and immanence are related to support for legal actions against parents who refuse medical treatment for their children in favor of faith healing. Participants read 6 scenarios, which varied factors such as the child’s ailment and the type of treatment that would be required, and indicated support for legal actions against parents who used faith healing. Greater support for legal actions was positively associated with fundamentalism, evangelism, and immanence, and negatively associated with quest. Also, individuals supported legal action against parents more when the child’s illness was considered curable rather than incurable, suggesting that the effectiveness of traditional medicine might relate to support for punishment. Results are the first step in explaining how religious characteristics relate to attitudes toward faith healing.

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