Prayer is neglect without the shame.

Another child has died because prayer doesn’t work.

Two faith healers who shunned modern medicine let their 16-year-old son die in agony rather than take him to hospital.

Russell and Brandi Bellew chose to ‘pray away’ their son’s burst appendix instead of getting him emergency help.

Their son, Austin Sprout, suffered with excruciating appendicitis for a week before he passed away, reported the Eugene Register-Guard.

However, Austin’s mum and dad escaped jail after reaching a plea deal with prosecutors.

Instead, they were put on probation for five years after pleading guilty to criminally negligent homicide.

They had been charged with second-degree manslaughter after authorities learned thatAustin’s death could have been prevented if his parents had simply taken him to the hospital.

The couple, who are in their late thirties and who had seven children before Austin’s death, are members of the General Assembly and the Church of the First Born in Cresswell, Oregon, which shuns modern medicine and teaches parishioners that faith healing and prayer will cure disease.

I will bet $100 that their beliefs won’t change one bit.

Bad intent was not their crime: they wanted their son to get well.  They didn’t want him to die.  Their crime was failing to be reasonable enough to make the elementary conclusion that medicine works and prayer does not, and their failure cost the child, not the perpetrators, his life.

It doesn’t matter how nice you are or how liberal your faith, if your position is that irrationality under the banner of faith is acceptable, you are wrong.  Period.  The same faith that lets you believe Jesus rose from the dead is what lets others believe that prayer heals the sick.  Irrationality is not only irresponsible when it kills someone just like drunk driving is not responsible just because you made it home safely.  If you are spreading the idea that unreason is acceptable or good, then you are gambling with our good intentions.

That boy didn’t have to die.  He didn’t!

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About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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