Faith-Healing Parents Found Guilty of Killing Son

The whole story of Jeff and Marci Beagley and their son is tragic. They allowed their son to die of an inflammation of his urethra because they figured a god would cure him. Instead of taking him to a doctor for real help, they prayed… and sat back idly while he suffered.

At least there’s some justice. A jury found them guilty of criminally negligent homicide.

… The jury informed the Clackamas County Circuit Court of their decision Tuesday afternoon, after the two-week trial ended last Friday.

The couple was [scheduled] for sentencing on Feb. 18.

Hopefully, the sentencing here will be strict enough to send a message to other faith-healing parents: Prayer should never be the final answer when someone else’s life is on the line.

This is irresponsible parenting stemming from bad religion.

Alison Smith of JREF agrees:

It brightens my day to know that Jeff and Marci Beagley were found guilty by a jury of their peers. It gives me faith in humanity to know that they will pay for what, to us, is so obviously a crime. What disturbs me beyond measure is defense attorney Wayne Mackeson’s comments following the trial. He stated that the trial was never about Jeff and Marci’s religious beliefs, but was instead about the care that they provided as parents.

It would seem, to me, that in fact one followed the other.

When a perfectly acceptable solution is a phone call or short drive away, there’s no excuse to let a child die because you wanted to please a god. The law should recognize that and let the Beagleys take a hard fall for their criminal actions.

  • liz

    they’ll probably get like 5 years probation. =/

  • keddaw

    They are followers of an Abrahimic religion.

    Abraham, famous for a willingness to murder his son as commanded by voices in his head.

    The only surprise here is that fellow followers were willing to find them guilty.

  • kenneth

    It is time to finally send a message to these people: No more killing your kids because you hope that Zeus will intervene. Mythology is no replacement for a doctor and parents that feel it is, should -at the very least- lose all rights to their children!
    Ironically, in nearly every case of these disgusting type of parent, they are full supporters of laws regulating other peoples sexual activity, reproductive choices, or marriage. All the while claiming that their religion allows them to kill their children for the weakest of reasons.

  • J.R.

    This is a very sad case. At least justice is being done. It is sad to see how often faith can make someone blind to the suffering of others. When this happens you know something must be wrong!

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    This is one area where I have serious issues… the free exercise of religion in a free society vs the child’s right as an individual. This is why I don’t think children should be under religious law or influence, only adults who freely choose it… but its a touchy subject.

  • http://lagunatic.wordpress.com/ Lagunatic

    This whole thing (and other cases like it) make me so incredibly sad.
    I think about how they’d feel if they one day realized their beliefs are baseless (that god doesn’t exist). Ugh. Makes me sick to my stomach.
    I am glad they were found guilty, I grieve the death of their son, and my distaste for religion grows stronger.

  • Viggo the Carpathian

    Ha, they face 16 to 18 months… wow that is harsh

  • http://reanhouse.blogspot.com Sarah

    @Viggo the Carpathian: I get squeamish about the free exercise of religion in a free society. However, I 100% believe that a child’s right to safety and life supersedes any and all religious expression and/or freedom.

    (I’m in mother bear mode at the moment. Wait until I’ve had a few hours with my niece and nephew and I’ll be shouting that all kids should be gagged and bound until they’re 21 years old) jk btw about the binding and gagging thing.

  • David Appleton

    Sarah — One of my favorite old saws about raising children: “You spend the first two years of a child’s life teaching it to walk and talk, and the next sixteen trying to get it to sit down and shut up.”

  • 7fta

    This is the second go around for these idiots:

    “In a previous case, the Beagleys’ son-in-law was found guilty of criminal mistreatment in the death of his 15-month-old daughter from pneumonia. But the son-in-law and his wife were acquitted of manslaughter.”

    Monsters!

  • medussa

    Isn’t time to snip the men in this family, and tell them all they have lost the right to have kids, since they seem to be allowing them all to die??!! Ok, fix the women, too.
    They allowed their niece to die, they let their son die, they should be removed from any child care situation.

  • Richard Wade

    What puzzles me are the distinctions such people make about what physical problems warrant prayer as the one and only solution. When their child is dying in agony, all they do is pray, but they don’t use prayer as the single remedy when:

    They cut their finger.
    Their skin is turning red in the sun.
    Things look fuzzy when they read.
    They can’t fit into their jeans.
    They get a really bad toothache.

    These things are straight forward to them, so they either take care of it themselves, like with a bandage, a shirt, or a diet, or they go to an optometrist or a dentist. But if it involves a doctor, that’s somehow in a different category, and God has to handle it exclusively.

    If Mr. Beagley fell and shattered his leg, would he just pray, would he try to push the jagged bone shards back inside, or would he go to the E.R.?

  • Barbara H.

    It does make sense that the family was convicted. Their negligence of medications led their child to his death, or did it? How do we know, ourselves, that this was the factor the medicine that killed the child? What if it was God and he decided not to save the child, instead guide him towards a different direction?
    In the logical standpoint, yes it makes absolute sense that the family must remain “grounded” and take in consideration many factors of curing their child. Ignoring medication that might have saved the child was not a smart move on the medical and logical standpoint, but these people brought a different medicine toward their child. This family brought their faith and believed that God would save their child. The child died, but that does not necessarily bring forth that their attempt was wrong. Maybe God chose not to save the child. If that was the case, should the family really be punished? Because they did attempt to heal their child, their medicine was did not consist of a chemical composition, however, but spiritual. So they did try to heal their child, didn’t they? So should they be convicted for negligence, when they really did not ignore the medical needs of their child, but just reacted to them differently than society would prefer them to?
    This is a difficult topic for me to even find a place in. Logically, I believe the family should have given the child drugs, then again how am I to decide what form of medicine the family should take? If they believe God will save their child, should society interfere with their religion in that way? Does the government have the power to decide where religious beliefs have no place in society?
    In conclusion, I myself don’t know where to stand. The arguments from both sides are difficult to counter, being a believer in God. Yet, if everyone would put their problems for God to solve, the society’s order would go amuck.

  • http://yamipirogoeth.blogspot.com/ Sakura

    While their son’s death was tragic, I do hope the judge does hand down the harshest sentence possible, like Hemant said, to essentially make them an example to others who believe in Faith Healing.

  • muggle

    “What disturbs me beyond measure is defense attorney Wayne Mackeson’s comments following the trial. He stated that the trial was never about Jeff and Marci’s religious beliefs, but was instead about the care that they provided as parents.”

    Actually, I would agree with Mr. Mackeson. This is why his clients got convicted. Where he and I part company is that he seems to think their religion should be a defense and, therefore, got them off the hook.

    In other words, the totally improper care they took of their child got them convicted. Take religion out of the question. If some dumb fuck was treating their child’s gushing, gaping wound with a bandaid and they bled to death, they’d be prosecuted for negligent homicide. Why should this be any different?

    @ Viggo: so do you think that human sacrifice shouldn’t be prosecuted? That is what we are talking about here.

  • kenneth

    Barbara-
    I’m stunned that you feel, should you have a car wreck and lie bleeding on the ground, that it is perfectly ok for the emt to urinate on you until you bleed out. It is after all, just another medical treatment…
    PRAYER FAILS at a higher rate than drinking more water for almost every disease. The reason is simple: either there is no god or he cares not the least bit for humans.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Beth

    Barbara–

    SO MANY LOGIC FLAWS! I hardly know where to start.

    Did you really just suggest that god “guided” the child in a different direction? Wow.

    How do we know that medicine would have saved him? Because science says so. Medicine has saved many other people with equivalent or worse problems than an inflamed urethra. Like kenneth says, medicine is evidence-based, prayer fails.

    And I don’t give a flying fuck about society interfering with these people’s religion. I don’t care that they practiced it, but they allowed that religion to cloud their ability to care for a child. And he died as a result. If they wanted to do it to themselves, then good riddance. But in praying rather than seeking real medical help, they needlessly ended a life. Just because there *might* be a god is absolutely no excuse to allow people to harm one another.

  • gwen

    Why weren’t they convict of torture? That is a very painful and miserable way to die. I can’t understand how anyone can believe a ‘god’ would want someone to hurt that much in ‘his’ name…

  • Brandon

    Maybe they prayed because they don’t have healthcare. Palin 2012. No, just kidding. Those parents should spend the rest of their lives in prison.

  • chris

    Will this ruling have any effect on the (now in limbo) health-care bills that mandate insurance companies reimburse faith healers?

  • muggle

    Actually, Chris, that part was already shot down. The clause was removed before this happened.

  • Barbara H.

    Well then beth and kenneth, don’t you both think you’re almighty?
    kenneth: How does the emt peeing on my while I’m bleeding relate at all to the topic at hand? Your radical comments show that you cannot at all answer my simple questions asked and are used you’re stupid examples to put a point across that doesn’t even exist.

    beth: how do i have any logic flaws? Remember, this is belief, not right or wrong. If you can’t answer my questions maturely, then I have no interest in listening to your childish answers.

    Both of you, grow up. Answer my questions or don’t, just leave the immature behavior for the playground.

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