17 Sep 2008

Sect believes in the mind over illnesses

Toronto Sun - September 16, 2008

by Sharon Lem | Sun Media

The parents who were arrested in a dispute over their malnourished infant are members of a sect that believes illness is all in the mind, which can be used to cure the body.
The 9-month-old's parents were charged with obstruction of justice after a dispute at Sick Kids when the 22-year-old mom refused to hand over the infant to doctors and left the hospital with the baby.
The Moorish Science Temple of America was founded in 1913 by Timothy Drew in Newark, N.J. Many of its practices were derived from Muslim observances and the group was a forerunner of the Black Muslim movement.
Drew's central teaching is that blacks were Moorish, of Muslim origin. He advocated a return to Islam as the only means of redemption from racial oppression. The sect also believes African Americans are sovereign Moroccan nationals.
"It's not strange because you have to understand black people in America did not have full citizenship rights until 1965," said Prof. Edward Curtis, of Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis.
He's published books on African American Islam among blacks and the Moorish Science Temple.
"They believe in herbs and healing techniques through natural means. They also believe sickness is the matter of the mind and the mind can be used to heal the body," Curtis said.
"Often why this person would not be a monster or hate their baby is because they sincerely believe other forms of healing are possible," he said.
"They don't believe they have to adhere by the laws of Canada because they are citizens of another country -- Morocco," Curtis said.
"You have to understand the distrust is part of a deep history of a lack of political rights for people of African American descent, but it is also of abuse of black bodies by the medical establishment," he said.
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