Spiritual healing: no threat
One can't help but feel the passionate concern behind ethicist Arthur Caplan's declaration, "No child should die from the measles" (Other Voices, April 3). If only saying it could make it so! Unfortunately, his arguments against tolerance of those who have religious scruples about immunization were more reactive than reasoned.
The spread of measles is of concern to all. Only a small fraction of cases, however and only a small percentage of measles deaths have involved young people not immunized for religious reasons.
The recent tragedies in a group of religious families in Philadelphia are numbing, but so are other deaths in which immunization proved ineffective or caused adverse reactions.
The issue shouldn't be oversimplified. Measles isn't "completely preventable" with medical care. In a 1985 measles outbreak at a college for Christian Scientists the most serious in my own denomination's history the first of the three students who died had been immunized as a child. She died under hospital care. Those facts went unreported.
Religious groups seeking to be free of immunization requirements pose no statistical threat to others. Obviously, they have a special responsibility to respect their neighbors' welfare, scrupulously report suspected communicable disease and obey quarantines. For Christian Scientists, that's been church policy for decades because we've felt a basic Judeo-Christian ethic applies doing unto others as we would have them do unto us.
This ethic applies to the care of our own children, too. Whatever the controversy surrounding Christian Scientists' spiritual healing practice, its aim is healing, not harm. As parents, we don't wish to be naive about our children's health. No more than doctors can we claim a perfect healing record. But the healings we've seen of serious conditions have expanded our sense of both the protection prayer can provide and the love it requires.
Nathan A. Talbot
The writer is a member of the First Church of Christ, Scientist.
On April 22, the Maryland section of the American Society of Civil Engineers hosted a reception in the Governor's Mansion for the national board of directors of ASCE. Quite contrary to what I have read in your paper and heard from other news media, I found the restoration work to be done in excellent taste and the quality of workmanship and furnishings, mostly antiques, to be beyond reproach.
You first notice the outside the manicured lawns, flower beds and brick walkways. Inside, magnificent chandeliers, Oriental rugs and furniture are beautifully and functionally arranged. In his short address to the attendees, the governor noted that the restoration was done at no cost to the taxpayers of Maryland. It was accomplished with private donations and gifts.
I was happy and proud to show off our Governor's Mansion to this group of civil engineers and their spouses who came from as far away as Hawaii. My hat is off to the governor and Ms. Hilda Mae Snoops for the great legacy they have left this state.
Richard C. Hine
The writer is treasurer of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
In Bonnie Davis' letter to the Forum on April 25, a typographical error resulted in changing the meaning of a key sentence. In commenting on a news story which raised questions about the manner in which the Department of Social Services handled allegations of child abuse in a case involving a Frederick family, Ms. Davis described the case as "atypical," not "typical," as the printed version of her letter stated. We regret the error.
The Oliver Community Association continues to support the consideration of Dr. Samuel Banks as the new superintendent of Baltimore city public schools.
We agree that the candidates currently under consideration present impressive records of scholarship and professionalism, but we feel very strongly that Dr. Banks' record is as competitive as any of those candidates.
As the city's educational system prepares for innovative and far-reaching changes, it is imperative that the new superintendent be sensitive to the particular needs of the city of Baltimore.
The Oliver community has continued its commitment to identify and address the needs of our communities, and we feel very strongly that Dr. Banks will personify this type of commitment in service as city superintendent.
Hilton O. Bostick
The writer is president of the Oliver Community Association.