As two important responses to human suffering, religion and medicine are bound to intersect. Occasionally the values of secular medicine and those of religion conflict. Beliefs can shape patient values and treatment decisions in ways that physicians do not understand. Likewise, caregiver beliefs can conflict with the obligations of the profession, as sometimes seen in physician exercise of conscientious objection to particular medical services. This month's issue explores confrontations between religion and medicine and suggests how health care professionals can to respond to them effectively.
Thirty states have exceptions to child-neglect laws that provide shelter from misdemeanor violations for parents who treat their children through prayer in accord with the beliefs of a recognized religion.