The Congregation of Universal Wisdom
Opposes Vaccination

Stephen Barrett, M.D.


The Congregation of Universal Wisdom asserts that injection of any medication or other man-made substance would violate the sanctity of the body. The organization is operated by Walter P. Schilling, D.C., who had said that is was incorporated in New Jersey in 1975 and in 2000 had a total membership of "4,423 Souls" in 24 states, with 2,427 members in New Jersey, 1,255 in Florida and 409 New York. To join, families must state the name and birth date of each family member and include a dated statement that they will aspire to live by the group's tenets. The "customary donation" for a family lifetime membership is $75.

The group's religious tenets (shown below) express fundamentalist chiropractic theory in religious terms. They say, for example, that "the ministry will be constituted by those sufficiently trained in the art, philosophy and theology of the laying on of hands to the vertebrae" and that "the laity . . . shall be composed of those seeking spiritual and physical health combined by unequivocal adherence to the principles of the Congregation and the laying on of hands on their vertebrae." They further state that the use of medication—whether by ingestion, injection, application, or inhalation—is a sacrilege.

In September 2000, the Syracuse Herald American reported that the mother of 5-year-old Victoria Turner was suing the local school district for denying her daughter's entrance into kindergarten. The lawsuit claimed that the district was violating the child's constitutional right to religious freedom. The mother stated that she belonged to the Congregation of Universal Wisdom, which preaches that injection of any medication or other man-made substance would violate the sanctity of the body. The school superintendent had determined that the mother's beliefs were sincere but not part of a legitimate religion—that a similar case in another school district had revealed that the Congregation of Universal Wisdom had been formed by a chiropractor, required no real training for its ministers, and did not provide religious services or other regular contacts with its members. Unfortunately, for both the child and the community, the court sided with the mother and ruled that her views were sufficiently religious to qualify for a religious exemption under New York State law.


TENETS OF THECONGREGATION OF UNIVERSAL WISDOM

Purpose

Healing

Laity

Sacrilege

Laity

Ministry

The Examination

The Meeting Places

Moral Obligation

This page was revised on March 10, 2015.

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