Oregon parents arrested and charged with manslaughter in the faith healing death of their daughter are asking the court to exclude evidence of religious beliefs or practices during their trial.
According to police, the girl’s parents, Travis and Wenona Rossiter, withheld “necessary and adequate” medical attention from the 12-year-old girl, choosing prayer over modern medicine, with tragic consequence.
Their daughter, Syble Ann Marie Rossiter, died at the family home in Albany, Oregon, last year. The Medical Examiner reports the girl died from complications of Type 1 diabetes, a treatable medical condition.
In a court appearance last Friday the defense attorney for Wenona Rossiter said evidence of religious beliefs would be prejudicial, and should be excluded from the trial. While Travis Rossiter’s attorney said “My client is requesting he be tried for the actions of that day, not for his religious beliefs.”
Travis and Wenona Rossiter belong to the Church of the First Born. The church rejects modern medicine, believing that those who are sick should be prayed over and anointed with oil. The church teaches that if someone goes to a doctor for medical care, they are going against God.The church justifies their teaching with the Biblical verse James 5:14:
Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord.
The couple will be tried together, rather than separately, although a trial date has not yet been set.