On not getting a doctor's note....

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2012/07/25 07:01 -04:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2012/07/25/10333206.aspx

The other day, Stephanie King asked me via the Suggestion Box:

I work for a company that provides transportation for people with disabilities and today, I spoke with an 87 year old disabled woman who was wondering where to turn to help in getting a disabled parking permit. She has been refused one, because as a Christian Scientist, going to a doctor or registered nurse, as required goes against her religious beliefs. This woman qualifies several other services as a disabled American, including para-transit in King County, because Metro doesn't require an MD or RN, she is clearly disabled and is not trying scam the state of Washington for a good parking space. She has provided all sorts of proof of her disability to the Dept of Licensing, but the refuse her. I feel this violates her right to religious freedom, by requiring her to do something against her beliefs just to get a tiny serive that she should be entitled to according to the American Disabilities Act! I suggested she call the ADA and the ACLU for assistance. But they both really seem to only like a big cause, rather than a little old lady on Vashon Island who just needs a parking permit for when her granddaughter takes her to the supermarket. But I am positive she is not the only one in this situation and sadly, and I am trying not to sound like a lunatic on a soapbox, but too many constitutional rights & liberties are violated every day. We need to protect everyone's, no matter how big or small they may seem. Any suggestions?

I spent some time thinking about this one, and I'll admit it is one I don't have a lot of experience with.

Though I have some experience with unreasononable laws. :-)

I'll fall back on the Medicine section of the Wikipedia article on Christian Science:

Many Christian Scientists use their healing system as their first choice for treatment over medicine, including drugs and surgery. They believe in following what they regard as the example of Jesus, bringing the real or ideal man more clearly into thought and consequently into human experience. Christian Scientists believe that Jesus was "the Wayshower", in perfect resonance with the Christ Consciousness, a proof by example of the divine method of healing sin, sickness and death. According to the Christian Science belief, there are no limits to the type of medical conditions that can be healed through prayer.
Mary Baker Eddy was critical of materialistic medicine, while admiring the humanity of medical practitioners. She wrote: "The materialistic doctor, though humane, is an artist who outlines his thought relative to disease, and then fills in his delineations with sketches from textbooks." However, the Christian Science Church does not generally or formally forbid the use of medicine by its members. Though Christian Scientists respect the work of medical practitioners, most of them prefer to use prayer and to rely on what they believe to be divine power. Christian Scientists who choose to rely on medical treatment for a specific problem normally give up Christian Science treatment for the period of treatment. This is because one treatment approaches healing from a material and the other from a spiritual perspective. Because the method of prayer includes denying the reality of matter and affirming the perfection of the individual – while medicine is used to fix matter and a person with a problem – these two means are seen as incompatible and indeed as tending to work against each other when used simultaneously. Most Christian Scientists are practical when it comes to using material aids such as vision correction, splints for broken bones, and dental services, and will use what seems appropriate at the time. However, numerous claims of healings of near- and far-sightedness, dental problems and broken bones have been reported in the periodicals published by the Church.
Mary Baker Eddy's views on this subject are as follows: "If Christian Scientists ever fail to receive aid from other Scientists – their brethren upon whom they may call – God will still guide them into the right use of temporary and eternal means." She also stated, "It is impossible to gain control over the body in any other way [divine Mind-Prayer]. On this fundamental point, timid conservatism is absolutely inadmissible. Only through radical reliance on Truth can scientific healing power be realized".

I imagine it would be difficult to claim that one cannot see a medical pracititioner if the Church doesnt forbid it. Seeing an MD or a DO or an RN to get the form signed seems akin to seeing an optometrist for glasses -- one is not going for a cure, one is simply getting a note signed to get a condition formally recognized.

For myself, I would never have been able to get my iBOT or most of the help I've been given for my multiple scelorsis without medicine, and I'll point out that Mary Baker Eddy herself counseled that Christian Scientists should obey the law(respecting quarantine, for example) and that sometimes Christian Scientists will be examined by a doctor for informational purposes, although she disapproved of physical diagnoses.

Therefore, my advice to her would be to get the form signed and move on -- the form being signed is not a rejection of beliefs as much as it is a recognition by the "medical tribe" -- and one that after five years can be renewed without needing to ever see a doctor again.

But if one simply feels that they canot do this, they should reach out to people in the Church for help on what to do -- no one should try to take on a burauceracy by themselves!

Joshua on 25 Jul 2012 9:29 AM:

There comes a point where the drones at the DMV need to use their brains.

cheong00 on 25 Jul 2012 8:08 PM:

That makes me wonder...

Most companies requires signed letter from doctor for claiming sick leave. Had she used her annual leave for sick days ever since she acquired that belief, or some other alternatives would also be accepted?

Azarien on 26 Jul 2012 2:36 AM:

I don't want to be intolerant, but if you tell yourself you'd never travel by boat nor plane, don't blame the world that you can't go to Hawaii...

Michael S. Kaplan on 26 Jul 2012 7:22 AM:

I was thinking similar thoughts @Azarien, but I wanted to give the benefit of the doubt....

herp on 11 Aug 2012 8:24 AM:

I don't mind being intolerant.  She should stop expecting special treatment for being a religious nutbar.

Matthew Slyman on 16 Apr 2013 10:05 AM:

As a Christian (not of the same sect), I find this amazing (particularly when the apostle Luke's profession was as a physician!) I suppose it's a great anodyne for the shame of not being able to afford one's medical bills in a country that doesn't have a national health service...

"It's against my religious beliefs to see a doctor!" — I don't want to do it anyway... People who teach nonsense like this do so much harm to their adherents (most importantly) and also to the broader reputation of religion!

Matthew Slyman on 16 Apr 2013 10:08 AM:

...I suppose also it's a great excuse for a church not to help its parishioners with their medical bills (but to give their minister a fat salary instead)...

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