In Idaho, ‘Faith-Healing’ May Have Killed More Children Than We Ever Suspected

We’ve heard the stories of those poor children in Oregon who died after their parents, on account of their religious faith, refused to take them to doctors. The kids died from preventable causes because their health was put in God’s hands instead of the care of those who knew what they were doing. (And existed.)

15-month-old Ava Worthington. 16-year-old Neil Beagley. 8-month-old Alayna May Wyland. 9-hour-old David Hickman died that way.

And now, Dan Tilkin, a reporter at KATU in Oregon, tells us he went one state over, to Idaho, and stumbled upon several more children who were killed because of their parents’ neglect and faith.

A former member of the Followers of Christ [Church] advised [Tilkin] to go to Peaceful Valley [Cemetery] and look for two specific names.

He found them. He found many more.

Nearly a dozen more, in fact. Some of them died of pneumonia. (Pneumonia! In this day and age!) Tilkin even visited the parents of one of those kids, Rockwell Sevy. That encounter didn’t go so well:

“What I will talk to you about is the law,” Dan Sevy said. “I would like to remind you this country was founded on religious freedom, and on freedom in general. I would like to say, I picture freedom as a full object. It’s not like you take “a” freedom away. It’s that you chip at the entire thing. Freedom is freedom. Whenever you try to restrict any one person, then you’re chipping away at freedom. Yours and mine.”

That was that. Sevy didn’t want to talk any more about it.

“I told you I’m not going to do that,” he said. “You don’t understand the full story, and I’m not going to stand in front of a camera and give you the whole story. It’s just not going to happen. I see the way these things get edited out.

All I see is an aggressive campaign against Christianity in general, it’s amazing to me in this day and age where Muslims get soft pedaled and Christians are under attack. It just blows my mind.”

These families are almost all members of Followers of Christ churches, which teach that prayers, not doctors, fix your health problems.

So is there any way to fix this travesty? Yep. Oregon already did. They passed a law that removed faith-healing as a defense for parents whose kids die. God is no longer an excuse for their negligence.

Idaho, on the other hand, has no such law. As it stands,

The practice of a parent or guardian who chooses for his child treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone shall not for that reason alone be construed to have violated the duty of care to such child.

That’s just unacceptable. And it’s unlikely to change anytime soon, given that the Idaho House and Senate are dominated by Republicans.

I wouldn’t care so much if these parents were trying to heal themselves through prayer. But when they kill someone else because of their beliefs, they shouldn’t be let off the hook. God is not a “Get Out of Jail Free” card.

In the meantime, this Facebook group dedicated to the victims will just keep posting premature obituaries until Idaho politicians find the courage to take some action.

(Thanks to Gil for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • Miss_Beara

    I had pneumonia and was almost hospitalized when I was a baby. It was terrifying for my mom since babies and the elderly are most at risk for death from it. My mom did what a parent is suppose to do. I cannot imagine a parent letting their child die and at the same time they call it freedom. What about the rights of the child? I am guessing it won’t be much of a stretch saying that those Idaho republicans call themselves prolife.

    • kaydenpat

      It’s kind of ironic that these people are probably the most vocal anti-choice/”pro-life” Christianists out there. My parents had to take me to the hospital almost every night when I was young because of severe asthma. I cannot imagine a parent watching his/her child suffering and doing nothing but praying. There is no prohibition against medicine in the Bible.

  • Buckley

    I had Pneumonia at age 38. I was on life support and nearly died. You know what saved my life? My respiratory therapist father and all of the fantastic doctors who worked round the clock while I was in ICU for 8 days. Prayer was for those in the room, I was unconscious for 6 of those 8 days and did nothing to fight the pneumonia, just the meds and doctors.

    • Miss_Beara

      Wow. I had it again when I was 22 and I bet i would have been in your position if I would have listened to my completely inept doctor.

      • Buckley

        Glad you survived. I have a place in my heart for those who survived and died from Pneumonia when young. Not too long after I got out Brittany Murphy had died of it and it put into perspective my life and what I wanted out of my life from that point forward.

  • L.Long

    The Great Carlin sums is all up, as a fetus you are raved over and protected, once your born you are phucked!
    I really love these religious pro-fetus groups who try to convince us they are pro-life while killing their kids.

    • Miss_Beara

      But it is their “religious freedom!” And if you go against that you are anti Christian and persecuting them, completely leaving the welfare of the child out of the equation like they love to do with women and pregnancy.

      • wmdkitty

        Heh, “sanctity of life”, MY FURRY ASS!

      • smrnda

        Apparently ‘freedom’ only exists if you are over 18 and it means total control over any minors in your charge. Sounds like a shitty idea.

  • Art_Vandelay

    “All I see is an aggressive campaign against Christianity in general, it’s amazing to me in this day and age where Muslims get soft pedaled and Christians are under attack. It just blows my mind.”

    After killing his child in the name of his deity and somehow not being in jail, is it really possible for this asshole to talk like this and still be completely unaware of what a terrible human being he is?

    • The Other Weirdo


      • Art_Vandelay

        There’s no chance that he just embraces being a cauldron of excrement?

        • Joshua Lee Johansson Johnson

          He’s a cauldron of excrement either way, whether he accepts it or not is the only matter of debate.

        • The Other Weirdo

          If it’s not killing children over some words printed in a book, it’s convincing children that tractors are more valuable than they are–children are replaceable, tractors are not, natch.

    • JenHeinser

      It’s because America’s religious are so OVERWHELMINGLY Christian, that we do not have arguments with Mosque’s and other church buildings/religions! We get pressed upon by CHRISTIANS. It’s geography. If we were in the Middle East, we atheists would be attacking Islam I guess!! I hate that argument too!!

      • Houndentenor

        This is just Christian Persecution Complex. when we criticize Muslims we are “racist” and when we criticize Christians we get “you wouldn’t dare say that about Muslims”. It’s all bullshit. If you don’t want to be criticized, stop doing these things.

    • C Peterson

      To me, a “terrible human being” is a person who knowingly does bad things, who knowingly violates their own ethical code, who chooses to be bad. Here we have something quite different- people who honestly consider themselves good, who genuinely feel they are doing the right thing by their own ethics and for the good of their children.

      Imagine the situation were different. What if we lived in a theocratic society, and you were forbidden by law to treat illness by any method except prayer? Former doctors still practiced secretly, but if you were caught using one, you faced prison. Would that deter you from seeking real medical treatment for your sick child?

      Do not misunderstand me. I am not attempting to justify the actions of these parents, not even remotely. Clearly, they represent a danger to their children. Clearly, society has an ethical obligation to try and protect those children. But the how of that doesn’t seem simple to me. Laws in a situation like this may provide no deterrent at all. At best, they offer a mechanism for justice (or revenge) after a child has already been injured or killed. What I’d like to know is how to intervene before somebody gets hurt.

      • David Kopp

        I’m not sure… there’s got to be a bit of social awareness in it, too. If my own ethical code included screwing over anyone that I could, that still makes me a terrible human being. No ethos is an island.

        I’m sure they THINK they’re being ethical, but that’s not always the same as actually being that way, and given the information they have access to and ignore, I’d class them as terrible human beings because they’re shirking their responsibilities to the rest of society that has helped make their lives possible.

        I would love to see way to intervene before anyone gets hurt, but in place of that, there should be a way to put them in jail so that nobody else can be hurt by their dangerous beliefs.

        • C Peterson

          We may have different ideas about what makes a person ethical or not. But it doesn’t matter. My point is that the fact that they THINK they are acting ethically would seem to require a different approach to the problem than simply creating laws requiring people to secure medical treatment for sick kids.

          • The Other Weirdo

            The solution is simple: start mocking anyone who believes it, start mocking anyone who passes laws just to appease a tiny and totally irrelevant little church, start mocking anyone who defends this practice. Start mocking, loudly and publicly, on every possible forum. It won’t happen overnight, but it’ll happen.

            • Houndentenor

              The problem with that is that they will scream persecution and the wider religious community will come to their defense.

              • C Peterson

                A few religious blowhards might, but not, I think, most of the religious community. This belief in avoiding doctors, with the result of dead kids, is too extreme, and doesn’t reflect the views of the vast majority of religious people. I don’t see much organized support from the religious opposing laws that hold parents responsible for failing to get medical help for their sick kids.

                Most religious people practice relatively harmless batshit, taking their kids to the doctor and then praying. They might credit their prayer with being what cures their kids, but that’s the extent of the craziness.

              • The Other Weirdo

                So? Then you break out the pictures of every device religious people have used in the past to persecute all those they didn’t agree with and show what real persecution is, the gorier the better. And then you mock them for the idiot attempts.

          • Jeff See

            Because there is no way to intervene on a daily basis, (which is what you would have to do in order to see to it that children, a: don’t need professional care, or, b: are getting the care they need), everything will be an ‘after the fact’ action. There’s no way to maintain a free society and, at the same time, stop something like this from occurring.

            The difference is, by creating laws requiring people to seek medical care, you hold them liable. When enough of them are killed in gen. pop. in a prison system because they killed their child with prayer, it might lead to the next person thinking twice about using their religion in place of real medicine. That’s the best you can hope for.

            • C Peterson

              There’s no way to maintain a free society and, at the same time, stop something like this from occurring.

              I’m not sure about that. There is no such thing as a “free society”, only ones that find healthy balances between individual and public rights. A free society might require all kids to attend accredited schools. It might require all kids to see a licensed physician at least once a year. It might require all kids to be vaccinated. All of these could reasonably reduce the chance of a child falling victim to faith healing. None require a police state.

              • Jeff See

                Outside of having an invasive police state, or a state able to foretell your actions, then you’re not going to be able to stop stuff like this from happening. We can take our child out of school for an illness, currently, and it’s not like anyone follows up, until it’s been excessive. Even then, they simply mail letters. It takes forever for CPS to show up from that alone. A child can die from an acute infection within that time frame. What other exposures to other parts of society did those children not have, that allowed their deaths to occur, that others would have? Which ones could your ‘free’ country dictate? If you’re not bringing real punishment, for a real crime, then how do you deter the devoted, from the imaginary?

                Your idea of mandatory schooling is a very good one though, and for all sorts of reasons. Being able to potentially spot abuse, being among the more important, imo.

                • C Peterson

                  I agree you can’t completely solve the problem. But there are reasonable actions that can reduce it, which is all I suggested.

                • Jeff See

                  And I have to agree with you on that point, as well. I do think there are better ways to discover social ills, sooner; prior to dealing with the aftermaths of situations that have gone too far.

                  I only come from the viewpoint that a change in mind set is necessary. It has to go from one where there is a sense of justification, born of ‘rights’, among certain parts of the populace, to one where it becomes clear that jurisdictions will no longer allow, and will actively act against, abuses to the helpless, regardless of guise.

                  I suppose my own emotion injected a certain level of its own version of justification, in my desire to see offenses avenged by punitive means. Maybe if there was a remake of our current system, where we actually gain something from that level of punishment, and stop simply dumping money into people cages, it would seem more palatable, in the long term.

          • KMR

            Punishment can act as a powerful deterrent.

            • C Peterson

              Punishment can act as a powerful deterrent.

              It can, but when strong ethical beliefs are involved, I think it is unlikely to do so.

              I’m not arguing against laws, I’m simply exploring the question of how such tragedies can be prevented in the first place. I’m not very confident laws are effective at that.

              • KMR

                It won’t act as a deterrent right away. What I suspect would happen is as those practicing the religion saw more and more of their neighbors going to jail, the leadership would start having “epiphanies”. I think the religion would evolve in order to survive. It happened with the Mormons and polygamy, I believe it might be happening at the moment with evangelical Christianity and homosexuality, and I think it could happen with this particular sect also.

                • C Peterson

                  I hope you’re right. But we’re expecting people who are demonstrably irrational to act in a rational, predictable way.

                • KMR

                  Not all people obviously would change. We still have polygamists to this day and I’m pretty confident there will always be people who condemn homosexuals. But having laws against it would certainly cause all but the most rabid to gradually rethink their position. Anyway, we can’t know until laws are passed and that is certainly the place to start at least in our society. So yea for Oregon.

                • C Peterson

                  I think these laws already exist in a number of states. Because of different demographics, it can be hard to compare results, but an effort would at least be worthwhile. Do states with laws that don’t indemnify parents when their children are harmed by faith healing have fewer problems?

                • KMR

                  That’s a great question. Not sure if they’ve seen results yet. To my knowledge we’ve just started prosecuting the parents of these kids and perhaps it’s too soon for statistical studies. But I believe I’m going to start seeing if I can find any. It would be interesting reading.

                • KMR

                  This is the only thing I could find thus far and it’s from 2010. It does mention PR lip service from a Christian Scientist leader though.

                • KMR

                  And just because religious folks act irrationally doesn’t mean they aren’t predictable. Most are laughably predictable. So much so that it can be great fun to push their buttons if you are into that sort of thing ;) At any rate it’s their very predictability that makes me confident consistent laws will do quite a lot in this situation.

          • smrnda

            I don’t think this is that strong of an objection. People have an amazing capacity for rationalizing their actions. You can take a guy who shoots a rival drug dealer who will find a way to cast himself as the good guy. Very few people admit to acting unethically.

      • Art_Vandelay

        Oh I agree. Religion is the weapon of course and most of these faith-healing parents love their children just as much as anyone else but this this guy just seems to be completely void of anything that would resemble humility or remorse. He’s a free man that killed his child (I refuse to call this anything short of murder) and he has the audacity to bitch about his freedom being taken away? Horrible, horrible human being. Just a reprehensible piece of shit. I can’t overstate it.

      • CottonBlimp

        >>To me, a “terrible human being” is a person who knowingly does bad things

        That’s totally absurd. Even your average serial killer can rationalize their actions.

        How is it in any sense valuable to say that the only terrible people in the world are the ones aware and caring enough to feel guilt? Last night, I ignored a call from my mother because I just didn’t feel like talking and felt guilty about it all night. Apparently that makes me a worse person than Jack the Ripper.

        • C Peterson

          There is a difference between rationalizing actions and genuinely seeing them as ethical. There are a lot of studies of prison populations, and in fact, people who don’t meet the definition of sociopathic do know their actions were ethically wrong, even if they rationalize them in some way.

          • CottonBlimp

            Do you have a link to any info about these studies? I’m not being snarky, I’m genuinely curious and at a loss for how to Google it.

            • C Peterson

              I’ll look around. The ones I read most recently were from links following a discussion on this very forum, maybe a year ago. I don’t remember the topic that started it, though. The discussion evolved into ethics and clinical sociopathy.

      • kaydenpat

        Intervene by taking away sick children from parents who refuse to get medical treatment.

        • C Peterson

          Well, yes. To some extent we do that already. But where we have kids dying, it seems that nobody in a position to intervene is aware of the problem until it’s too late. So how do you figure out which kids are at risk without stepping too hard on everybody’s reasonable liberties? Personally, I consider the death of a few kids each year worthwhile if the alternative is some new branch of the government that provides continuous oversight of all parents. There has to be some reasonable middle ground, but I don’t know what it is (outside the few modest suggestions I made elsewhere in this discussion).

      • Houndentenor

        I understand and it’s a valid point.

        I sometimes think I was raised in a fundamentalist Christian home. And then I read these stories. We were a little off the deep end but these people are in outer space.

        You are right, we have a huge problem with what to do to intervene before the children die. Seeking justice after the fact is not good enough. but since it is unlikely that we could know that the children are sick before they die, I’m not sure what we could do unless we ask neighbors to rat them out to social workers? And I’m not sure there’s much they could do. I’d love to hear some reasonable ideas, but this is a big mess when people’s religion overcomes their common sense.

    • Cattleya1

      Absolutely! You must never have had to try to talk to one of these people. They just Believe. They ‘know’ that their faith in their god is right and even if their child or wife dies, it OK because they will go home to god… I am so glad I am retired and will never have to argue with one of these fuckwits again!

      • Houndentenor

        and if their children had been healed, miraculously or otherwise, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But they didn’t. There’s a flaw in this plan. Pray all you want but TAKE YOUR CHILDREN TO THE DOCTOR!!!

    • smrnda

      I’d like to object that Islam by no means is getting ‘soft-pedaled’ and Christians who are under attack in the US are under attack for very legitimate reasons.

      Also, who would worship this guy’s god? Looks like his god can’t even keep kids alive whereas doctors can. Some god.

    • Tiny Tim

      Medical Malpractice kills 100,000 people a year.

      A friends son died that way at Childrens Mercy in K.C.

      And the doctors are never prosecuted.

      • CottonBlimp

        Yeah, intentionally withholding available medical care from your children is EXACTLY the same as doctors making mistakes.

      • DavidMHart

        You wouldn’t be bringing that comment up here on this post unless you were trying to draw an equivalence. Are you trying to say that the problem of medical malpractice is so great that people are better, on average, not to take their children to a doctor when they are ill?

        If so, please cite your statistics – you will need to be able to show that the percentage of children whose parents don’t take them to a doctor when they are ill that survive whatever illnesses they have is greater than the percentage of children whose parents do take them to the doctor when they have illnesses of comparable severity who survive, after subtraction from that group the percentage who die of medical malpractice complications.

        And a quick google search will reveal that prosecutions for medical malpractice are rare, but certainly not unheard of. Even then, making a mistake in the attempt to provide medical treatment is not anything like as evil as deliberately refusing to get treatment for a child who will probably die if they don’t get treatment, and who will face a real but very very small risk of fatal negligence if they do.

        • Houndentenor

          I also don’t know the details of the anecdotal case that was mentioned. it’s possible that there was malpractice. It’s also possible that the doctor did what he could for the patient who died anyway. We have no way of knowing based on this scant evidence.

      • Houndentenor

        Do you have a source for that statistic?

        Medical malpractice is a serious problem. It has little to nothing to do with the topic at hand.

      • Spuddie

        Doctors don’t get prosecuted for malpractice, they get sued.

        Medical treatment saves millions of lives a year. Faith healing never saved anyone and killed many.
        Anyone against medical treatment is a moron. Anyone who withholds vital medical treatment from their children deserves prison.

        • Altus Pienaar

          Call me a moron but I think you have not being paying much attention!
          In hind sight we cannot always be sure the doctor would have been able to save these lives in any case! Don’t pretend that modern medicine is always the answer.
          Modern medicine is equally responsible for many deaths and continue today to condemn millions through false information and its corporate agenda of making money rather than being a humanitarian process.
          Please don’t think for one second that I am making the case for the crazy religious bullshit of the above article but don’t pretend that the alternative is all that heavenly!

          • Spuddie

            “Call me a moron…”

            OK you’re a moron. Got that out of the way.

            Given the choice between modern medicine and its alternative, doing nothing useful, modern medicine will always be the best choice. It may be messy, it isn’t perfect, but there are no options worth considering.

            Modern medicine can always use a bit more regulation in the pharmaceutical and orthotic marketing department and in combating provider based fraud. But by and large it the benefits outweigh the your concerns here.

            All forms of woo: faith healing, alternative medicine, homeopathy have zero chance of success. They are literally no better than doing nothing. In the cases of potentially life threatening conditions, unlike modern medicine, it is absolutely guaranteed to kill you.

            Anecdote but it illustrates my point. Both Steve Jobs and a cousin of mine suffered from pancreatic cancer. It is almost impossible to diagnose in a timely manner.

            My cousin was given 6 months to live. He went through as much medical treatment as his insurance and savings as an insurance salesman could handle. Steve Jobs, one of the richest men on the planet, resorted to alternative medicine. Jobs is dead. My cousin is still very much alive 3 years after his diagnosis. (The doctors were wrong in a good way)

    • Houndentenor

      I would be just as outraged if these were Muslim Children (sorry, Dr. Dawkins) I mean children of Muslim parents. This isn’t attacking Christians. Most Christians would take their child to the doctor under these circumstances. The vast majority in fact. So this isn’t about Christians. This is about negligent homicide.

    • Blah

      The blame lies with free-market health care primarily. There’s no need for placebo substitute goods when people can get the real deal.

  • Dirk

    Can’t he see that the Muslims are outbreeding good Christians like him with their diabolic “science”?

  • Peter

    This story is horrifying. We get called assholes and are told that we are going to “burn in hell.” And this shit happens.
    This hurts, no idea how this is legal

  • Dustin Williams

    I live in Boise and have visited the Peaceful Valley Cemetery. The graves are mostly infants, children, and young women in ways that resemble a cemetery from the turn of the last century. As Hemant pointed out, the state government is completely controlled by Republicans and it will be very difficult, if not possible to get this law changed.

    • Buckley

      The fact that in 2013 that it looks like a Cemetery from the 1800′s is indicative of what were are up against. I’ve done lots of genealogy research for my family and been through many a cemetery and as I look at those graves I wonder the pain and heartache that these families have been through and I bet there were quite a few that prayed for a day when there would be a medicine that would have saved them. Here in 2013 we have that and these people are as backwards as 3rd world people.

      • Houndentenor

        Here is my concern going forward. The moderate and liberal religious people are raising children who tend to be less religious. Meanwhile the fundamentalists are having tons of children and become more and more extremist. If you think the social and political divide in our country is bad now, give it another 20 years.

        • Buckley

          Possibly, but the one thing that I see as leading to more and more agnostic-atheist is the internet and open access to knowledge. I see a large correlation between knowledge expansion and no longer believing. This is only the beginning and it will take time. i do believe that the religious will continue in some form for quite some time, but they will also become more desperate and act out in more dangerous ways before their religions are as irrelevant as Ra and Osiris.

    • smrnda

      This seems to be what makes the difference. Oregon is a very secular state, which is probably why the laws there are so different.

  • ShoeUnited

    You say it’s dominated by Republicans, but more importantly, it’s dominated by Mormons. Good old boys in Chriss need to stick together don’tcha know?

    • Dustin Williams

      Mormons and Pentecostals. We could possibly get the Mormons to support removing the faith healing exemption, but Pentecostals would be a different story.

  • VKMinge

    I find it sad that conservatives want to chip away at the freedom to choose an abortion or even the morning after pill, but once that baby is born they are done protecting that child’s life. They don’t care if a mother is in mortal peril while carrying the child, they don’t care if the child will receive proper nutrition through government programs if the parents can’t afford to provide for a baby they didn’t want, they don’t care if the child has a poor education or no health insurance and they don’t care if the parents watch that child die from preventable diseases….just as long at that (unwanted) child is not killed before it even has a real consciousness.

  • Nada Surf

    It’s always gross to see people who try to live like the bible prescribes. I prefer my christians to be in name only. You know atheist who call themselves christians because they can’t be bothered to read the bible and find out how stupid it is.

    • kaydenpat

      Nothing in the Bible prohibits Christians from using modern medicine. Obviously millions of Christians go to medical doctors, take prescription medicine and go to hospitals for treatment.
      I wonder if this “faith healing” is an American thing since I cannot imagine other Western countries would allow people to let their children die in the name of religious doctrine.

  • Fentwin

    (fingers crossed, I know nothing when it comes to “code”)

    edit; nvm….so, how do you “code” to insert a cartoon?

    • Feminerd

      I believe if you just copy/paste the link, the cartoon will show up.

      • Fentwin

        Thanks, thats so simple I feel silly for having to ask. :)

  • Leanne Gray

    I’ve never understood the theological basis for the faith healing nonsense. So they don’t want to use modern medicine because it interferes in God’s plan, or reflects a lack of faith. Seriously, if your God is so impotent that you can get in his way with vaccines and antibiotics, what exactly are you worshipping?

    • The Other Weirdo
    • Anat

      Some anti-vaccers worry about the mercury in the vaccines (they don’t care it is no longer there, but never mind). They are wrong. Vaccines are made of iron chariots (Judges 1:19).

  • cyb pauli

    Sooo if I kill someone using an axe, I’m an axe-murderer.
    Buuut if I kill someone with faith, I’m a faith-healer.

    God bless Amurika.

    • Miss_Beara

      So if I have an abortion, I am a child killer
      If I have a sick child and use prayer instead of medicine and she dies, I am exercising my freedom of religion.

      God Bless Muricka’ indeed.

      • Tiny Tim

        No, you are a child killer in both cases.

        But if the doctor screws up and kills your kid, his insurance company pays some money…sometimes…and he has to take some extra classes.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          It’s sad that you’re actually too stupid to know what a child is.

        • marshmallow

          You’re an idiot.

    • Greg G.

      That’s too true to be funny but I’m stealing it anyway because it makes a good point.

    • Tiny Tim

      And if doctors kill 100,000 people a year through Malpractive, they should get more money for more training.

      Hand some convictions for manslaughter!

      That would clean up the mess.

      You have a better chance of dying in a hospital screw up than a car wreck or criminal act…combined.

      • Greg G.

        You are assuming that if every patient had optimal care they would have survived. If a person is very ill, they are admitted, if not, they are treated as an out-patient so obviously the patients are not in perfect health. Sometimes the doctor is in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation. If they wait for tests to confirm the diagnosis, the patient may be too far gone to save, so they may have to treat without certainty, so a percentage of the time they will be wrong.

      • CottonBlimp

        Bro, seriously, how often do you make mistakes at your job? Now, is your job as hectic and stressful as a doctor’s or a surgeon’s?

        Final question: how easy do you think it would be to find a surgeon willing to perform a difficult, dangerous, but necessary operation with the threat of jailtime hanging over their heads?

      • kaydenpat

        Statistics to back up your claim?

      • Spuddie

        Do you have anything to say about faith healing?

        If you don’t STFU. Your little diatribes about the medical profession are irrelevant then.

        False dichotomy and false equivalence are piss poor arguments.

  • more compost

    Friendly Atheist, you need to do something about your ads. It is unacceptable for the ad to start blaring loudly when I do nothing to start it. I don’t mouse over it, I don’t look at it, I DEFINITELY don’t click on it. I am scrolling through facebook, clicking on the links I want to read, then suddenly a very loud advertisement begins to roar out into my room. I look, and search, and try to find where it is coming from.

    It is coming from your page! Ridiculous! Fix this now!

    • wmdkitty

      Dude, AdBlockPlus.

      • eonL5

        x 1,000,000. Been using it for years. I’m sad for sites that deserve to earn money for ads, but until ad servers (and no, it’s not Hemant who decides what ads show up) start doing a better job policing the dreck they cause to show up, I’ll keep using it.

        BUT… no AdBlock Plus for Kindles. Sadness ensues.

    • Gehennah

      Generally speaking, you don’t get the determine exactly what ads are being put on your page. Now if you actually knew the specific ad that was doing it, then he could ban that specific ad, possibly the company’s ads from his site.

      But a simpler solution (although I really hate doing it) is adblock. I know most of their money comes form advertising, and I think adblock negates that, but if the ad companies weren’t allowing banners that play sounds, or expand half way across the screen (or constantly played commercials on youtube) then I’d have no problem with ads.

    • Artor

      The Adblocker addon works great. I pretty much don’t see ads on the internet anymore. If you’ve been on the internet for more than a few weeks, you should know that blog owners don’t get to pick what ads are hosted on their page. Complaining to Hemant makes you look ignorant & whiny. Get the Adblocker and stop complaining.

    • Hemant Mehta

      Please take a screenshot if it happens again and let me know? We’ll make sure those ads don’t show up on the site!

  • wmdkitty

    “You don’t understand the full story, and I’m not going to stand in front of a camera and give you the whole story. It’s just not going to happen. I see the way these things get edited out.”

    So what’s the “full story”, then? ‘Cause it looks pretty damn simple from here — you deliberately withheld medical care from a child, resulting in that child’s death.

  • Mick

    I wouldn’t care so much if these parents were trying to heal themselves through prayer. But when they kill someone else because of their beliefs, they shouldn’t be let off the hook.
    Killing “someone else” is the whole point of the exercise:

    Control freaks strive to get themselves into a position where they can decide who lives and who dies. It’s a power usually reserved for the gods so they feel quite important when victims die at their command.

    David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Marshall Applewhite got their kicks by having large numbers of people under their control. Gangsters enjoy their control by killing people at random in drive-by shootings (the randomness is part of the deal – the only reason the victim died is because the gangster decided they should die).

    Suburban control freaks, however, usually don’t have the courage to do a hands-on killing so they resort to withholding medical assistance from family members (the only people over whom they have control).

    They don’t care if the victim lives or dies. The important thing is that whatever happens it is the result of a conscious decision made by the control freak. It puts the control freak right up there beside god himself; deciding who lives and who dies.

    • Gehennah

      The even shittier thing, is when the kids die, the church still blames the parents, but instead of blaming them for being shitty parents for not taking their children to the doctor, its because they were not spiritual enough.

      It’s pretty pathetic.

  • Feral Dog

    If my family was faith healers, this would have happened to us:

    -Oldest sister has chronic, severe asthma which required high doses of steroids as a small child just to manage it. She probably would have died of an asthma attack.
    -I had recurring ear infections to the point I have mild-to-moderate hearing loss, plus several bouts of pneumonia, hypersensitivity to touch and poor fine motor skills. Except for the hearing loss, I no longer have these problems. This would not be the case if we prayed.
    -Younger sister has Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, which required several surgeries to prevent permanent disability (affected growth plates of hip & knee). She would not be capable of walking, and would not even have been able to sit in a wheelchair comfortably.
    -Youngest sister has always struggled with hypoglycemia (we aren’t sure of the cause). She would probably have died, she did have blood sugar drops that hospitalized her on at least three occasions.

    We have ways of fixing ourselves. Faith healing is cruelty.

    • Tiny Tim

      Actually, you sound like genetically inferior people.

      And I suppose you are reproducing more of the same.

      • Feral Dog

        At risk of giving you any credibility:
        Actually, except for the Younger Sister (Legg-Calve-Perthes has no known cause), our health issues are strongly or even directly linked to maternal smoking (in the case of Oldest Sister’s asthma, my developmental problems, and Youngest Sister’s hypoglecemia) and exposure to secondhand smoke (my constant ear infections, and probably didn’t help Older Sister’s asthma).

        While we cannot conclusively ‘prove’ mom smoked while pregnant… Well, she’s been a 2-pack-a-day smoker since she was 12, smoked in the car and house with us, always sat in the smoking section before smoking in restaurants was banned, etc… I’d say it’s a safe bet she did.

        But thanks for assuming genetics are the only possible reason for a house full of sick kids. It really makes you seem like an intelligent and thoughtful person.

      • marshmallow

        I hate typing on my phone but I just have to. You are an asshat.

      • Spuddie

        Do you worry that sunlight will burn you or turn you to stone?

        Is this movie a documentary about your existence?

  • Mr. Pantaloons

    This really shouldn’t still be legal, by any stretch of the imagination.

    “Parents may be free to become martyrs themselves. But it does not follow they are free, in identical circumstances, to make martyrs of their children.” – Supreme Court Justice Wiley Rutledge, Prince v. Massachusetts

    Too bad the religious Reich is only enamored with freedom when it entails their so-called “right” to jeopardize the well-being of others.

  • Randay

    Nobody seems to have mentioned the merit of reporter Dan Tilkin doing his job well. Things like this should be on national news, but I am aware that there aren’t many Tilkins on national media.

  • kaydenpat

    Child endangerment in the guise of Christian doctrine. Why do politicians allow this to happen? If these parents were non-Christian/religious, could they get away with withholding medical treatment from their children?

    • wmdkitty

      Pffft. No, of course they wouldn’t get away with it! But these “good” “god-fearing” white folks? Hey, yeah, go ahead, kill your kid, just say it was “God’s will”, and you’ll get sympathy.

  • grasshoppa

    For those of us who live in the religious crotch of the Nation (ideeho) this is old (and tragic) news. This State ranks high in Woo Woo and one of the lowest in education and human rights.

  • Altus Pienaar

    I always hear these stories of miraculous healings but I still need to see the evidence! This story highlights the idea that we should rather call them miraculous killings!

  • redharry

    And they have the nerve to ask us “But where do you get your morality from, Mr. Skeptic?”

  • Blah

    Any rational individual knows that the blame for the deaths from faith healing primarily lies on the government. The fact is, when there is no universal health care, people will seek substitute goods, even when those substitutes are not actually substitutes. If everyone had actual health care, people would go to doctors, not faith healers – it’s economics.

    • Captain Cassidy

      To a certain extent I think you’re quite right. When I look at societies where there’s a big presence of snake-oil and huckster “cures,” it’s generally going to be societies with less of a safety net. That doesn’t mean that countries like Canada or Australia don’t have some of that nonsense too, just that I perceive they suffer from it way less. As a society’s dysfunction wanes, religiosity goes down–we know that. I bet reliance on “faith healing” wanes along with other forms of religiosity. I do love my adopted state, but my affection for its natural beauty and kindhearted people doesn’t blind me to reality: Idaho has a *lot* of poor people and a really dysfunctional society. I saw a state report that said that something like one in six of people in my state fall in for multi-level marketing scams, and Idaho is well-known as a haven for both neo-Nazi/white supremacist weirdos and religious nuts. As someone else has mentioned, we also have a lot of folks on minimum wage and really bad education and healthcare systems. Our state government is dominated by zealots, misogynists, and science-deniers, so I don’t reckon any of that will change anytime soon.

      I truly believe that once this ACA stuff starts getting ironed out, we’ll see less of this faith healing stuff. Children deserve so much better than this craziness.

  • Davo

    If you’re a parent and you have taken or have considered taking a sick child to a faith healer, you should give your child up for adoption immediately.

  • Ogre Magi

    I utterly despise christians

  • Silent Cries

    I would like to put a few things to rest. This is my life story. The people here are my family. I lived this life for years. These people honestly think they are right in watching a child take its last breath with out so much as CPR. It is ok to have children who die one right after the other because it is God’s will.They feel pain and grieve just like the rest of us. I feel every adult has a right to believe in anything. That does not give them the right to cause death or injury to another human being. If laws are passed most of the people of this faith will comply. They are taught to obey the laws of the land. A few will ignore the laws and still allow this to go on. That is why the law needs to prosecute those who do not comply. By passing laws and giving children access to medical care it will show some of the kids a way out of the stronghold this faith has had on their families for generations. My hope in coming forward is to maybe save a few kids from a life of abuse. No one helped me when I was a child. I can’t turn a blind eye to the hurt any longer. I have heard all the comments from uncaring people who feel these kids have no worth or value. I hope our society as a whole does not feel that way. It is time to stop fighting, put differences aside and make this world safer for all of our children.There are many christian people, atheists and people of other beliefs who have joined me to put an end to this.

  • Liz Heywood

    At this moment, there is a religious legal defense to charges of medical child neglect in over 30 US states. Oregon’s exemption was ended by the hard work of many including Rita Swan of CHILD Inc (Children’s Healthcare Is A Legal Duty) & Dan Tilkin of KATU. Support CHILD & find out what the laws are in your state. Support the Child-Friendly Faith Project.

    Outrage isn’t enough.