Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=723402
 
 

Citations (2)



 


 



Taking Pierce Seriously: The Family, Religious Education, and Harm to Children


Richard W. Garnett


Notre Dame Law School


Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 76, pp. 109-46, 2000

Abstract:     
Many States exempt religious parents from prosecution, or limit their exposure to criminal liability, when their failure to seek medical care for their sick or injured children is motivated by religious belief. This paper explores the question what, if anything, the debate about these exemptions says about the state's authority to override parents' decisions about education, particularly religious education. If we accept, for example, that the state may in some cases require medical treatment for a child, over her parents' objections, to avoid serious injury or death, should it follow that it may regulate, or even forbid, a child's religious training or religious-school education to prevent an analogous, though perhaps less tangible, harm?

The Supreme Court famously proclaimed, in Pierce v. Society of Sisters, that parents enjoy a fundamental right to direct and control the education of their children, but do we really accept, or even understand, the premises, foundations, and implications of this pronouncement? Recent calls for a thicker liberalism and for the harnessing of education to create truly liberal citizens make it all the more important that we take Pierce seriously. And if we do, it is suggested that state functionaries, guided and restrained by a proper humility about their authority and competence, should override parents' educational decisions only to prevent harm, carefully defined, to a child. The problem is, how do we define harm. This paper proposes that the content of religious instruction, traditions, or beliefs should not be viewed as harmful in the sense necessary to justify government second-guessing or supervention of parents' decisions about such instruction. In a free society, one that values religious freedom, the state should not entertain, let alone enforce, a belief that children would be better off without religious faith.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 38

Keywords: parents' rights, religious education, Pierce

JEL Classification: K10

Accepted Paper Series


Download This Paper

Date posted: May 16, 2005  

Suggested Citation

Garnett, Richard W., Taking Pierce Seriously: The Family, Religious Education, and Harm to Children. Notre Dame Law Review, Vol. 76, pp. 109-46, 2000. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=723402

Contact Information

Richard W. Garnett (Contact Author)
Notre Dame Law School ( email )
Room 327
P.O. Box 780
Notre Dame, IN 46556-0780
United States
574-631-6981 (Phone)
574-631-4197 (Fax)
Feedback to SSRN


Paper statistics
Abstract Views: 6,206
Downloads: 251
Download Rank: 69,676
Citations:  2

© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.  FAQ   Terms of Use   Privacy Policy   Copyright   Contact Us
This page was processed by apollo1 in 0.344 seconds