More Faith-Healing Death Panels

Members of the Followers of Christ church in Oregon City, Oregon don’t seem to like babies… an unusually high rate of them are dying, and all of these deaths are preventable.

According to Myrna Cunningham, a former church member:

Mothers and their newborns in an Oregon City church that practices faith healing routinely died during or shortly after birth because medical help was not sought…

And why wasn’t medical help sought?

Because church members were too busy praying for the unborn children to care about getting real help.

And then those children died.

Even more damning is this excerpt about Dr. Larry Lewman, who works with the state’s medical examiner’s office:

Lewman studied the church in the late 1990s when three children died in a short amount of time.

“There were also during that period –- it wasn’t publicized much -– four perfectly healthy mothers, pregnant, who died during child birth from puerperal sepsis. That’s an infection that doesn’t even occur today,” Lewman said. “You read about it in the textbooks from the 1910s –- the pre-antibiotic era. None of these women should have died — three of their children died. It was all perfectly treatable, and they literally suffered for days.”

This is all preventable by seeking proper medical help. But children are dying because of irresponsible parents who thinking prayers and anointment with oil are more important than, well, science.

If Oregon City sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the home of Raylene and Carl Brent Worthington. Their daughter Ava died because of their negligence. Both parents were found not guilty of second-degree manslaughter, though the father was convicted of “criminal mistreatment.”

Maybe these incidents will get potential jurors to take faith-healings more seriously. Of course all these parents and church-members mentioned want what’s best for the child. But as the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Their intentions hurt the child and what they actively avoid — medical help — is what’s best for them.

Pro-life Christians who bend over backwards for the rights of the unborn should be up in arms over all of this. Where are their statements condemning these parents?

Reader Jaysen says something I haven’t been able to verify yet, but it only makes the church look worse:

News from a few folks who used to attend the church and some who have family in the church spoke out about the church requiring all members to give $5k to help the Worthington’s legal defense. Those who could not pay were to take out personal loans, and those who didn’t were shunned from the church.

Getting out of that church doesn’t sound like a bad option at all.

  • muggle

    If it’s true, I’m amazed they didn’t lose half their congregation. The other half naively think the same will occur when they need the lawyers for the same reason. God will provide is akin to relying on him for medical care and birth control.

    It’s time they start prosecuting for these negligent homicides. After all, freedom of religion doesn’t extend to human sacrifice.

  • Amy G

    I’m not a big fan of doctors, but I do think that it’s necessary sometimes, especially when you’re dealing with such serious things as pregnancy. These stories are so sad. How do they know that God doesn’t want people to have medicine?

  • jemand

    how old were these mothers? Is this also a case of getting married incredibly young as well as denying medical care?

  • http://redheadedskeptic.com Laura

    I always found it interesting that pro-lifers are more than willing to let the majority of their embryos die through IVF procedures as long as they just try to implant them. You HAVE to know that most embryos don’t implant, but that’s okay as long as you don’t destroy them! It’s really not that much different from this or abortion. And here it’s okay just because they prayed. It’s ridiculous.

  • Jeff

    You don’t even have to get out of the first chapter of Genesis to know that this is wrong: http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/gen/1.html#28

    I guess the church doesn’t need to bother with the Old Testament, since they’re Pentecostal (according to Wiki).

  • AnonyMouse

    I’m glad to see the fundies in Oregon getting attention, but I’d really like to see them start cracking down on these guys in other states. I belong(ed) to another sect of the Followers of Christ, and despite their repeated insistence that God has miraculously healed a number of their followers, it has been my observation that the largest portion of them die – usually of treatable causes.

  • http://cycleninja.blogspot.com Paul Lundgren

    There’s a petition out on the Net to remove religious exemptions for medical care from the new HR 3200 bill. I came by it by reading “Angie the Anti-Theist.” The blogger, Angie Jackson, is a faith-healing cult survivor herself. Go read her. She’s great.

  • Squidlet

    The thing is, they believe God will punish them if they seek medical attention. To their way of thinking, it’s better for them and their children to die than risk eternal damnation. After all, what’s a few days/weeks/months/years of suffering compared to eternal torture?