Alot of folks around here have been following this story for quite some time. The Followers of Christ Church in Oregon City, OR (20 miles south of Portland) have a graveyard full of children. Because of them, Oregon changed the law in 1999 regarding the use of faith-healing as a religious freedom defense. From the article by Andy Parker of the Oregonian (emphases added):
The last time I wrote about the graveyard, in July, I mentioned that with the burial of 15-month-old Ava Worthington — the Beagley’s granddaughter — a fifth row of child graves had been started.
Jeff and Marci Beagley’s granddaughter, fifteen months old, died on March 2, 2008 at the Christian hands of their daughter and her husband, Carl and Raylene Worthington. Surrounded by praying adults, she suffered horribly while they anointed her with olive oil and performed the laying on of hands. Not one tried to help the tiny, under-developed girl and she died. Suffer, the little children:
Of the dozens of children buried in the Followers of Christ cemetery since the 1950s, at least 21 died from medically treatable conditions, according to a 1998 investigation by The Oregonian.
But the Worthingtons were the first members of their church to be prosecuted for failing to provide adequate medical care to their children.
Ava Pauline Worthington died at her parents home on March 2, 2008, surrounded by up to 200 family and friends who conducted faith-healing sessions in the days and hours preceding her death.
Now, Jeff and Marci Beagley have been found GUILTY of letting their 16-year-old son die an agonizing death from a treatable condition just three months later.
A Clackamas County jury sent a clear signal Tuesday that parents who rely solely on faith healing to treat their children face prison if a child dies.
Jeffrey and Marci Beagley were found guilty Tuesday of criminally negligent homicide in the death of their 16-year-old son, Neil. The boy died in June 2008 of complications from an undiagnosed congenital urinary blockage after his parents attempted to heal him with prayer, anointing with oil and laying on of hands.
They are the first members of Oregon City’s Followers of Christ church convicted of homicide in the congregation’s long history of children dying from from treatable medical conditions.
They have a daughter at home, now 16, and the State should remove her from the home immediately, but that is doubtful. Parents Jeff and Marci will probably get off with 18 months on probation. The glaring irony is that they depended on human doctors to defend them against first-degree murder charges in court, but they “don’t believe in doctors” to treat their children and save their lives.
They noted that Neil had limited contact with people outside his church who might have noticed health problems. He was home-schooled, and his social life did not extend beyond other church members.
Defense attorneys presented jurors with a picture of a typical hard-working suburban family whose lives blended daily with the secular world. They showed the jury family pictures and videos of Neil growing up and depicted the Beagleys as part of the mainstream and anything but isolated and clannish.
Three doctors testified for the defense, generally saying that Neil Beagley’s symptoms wouldn’t necessarily have appeared life-threatening.
In his closing argument, prosecutor Greg Horner noted that the Beagleys would not take their son to a physician but relied on medical experts to defend their actions.
It is “a rich irony,” Horner said.
I know that most christians, even the extreme ones, have more common sense than this. I know these parents did not intentionally murder their children; they didn’t mean to just stand around watching Neil Beagley writhe in agonizing pain. The church followers, brainwashed taught through generations, believe it to be a deadly sin to seek any kind of medical treatment; church members who do are shunned from the congregation and disowned by their families. They fear doctors more than they fear death from disease and neglect. This is a prime example of indoctrination and coercion — these poor kids had no choice, no chance. The only thing that could have saved them was not prayer and olive oil, but science — and responsible, thinking adults.
There is no invisible supernatural being to intervene, not even by “sending” a physician; prayers are unheard, no one is there to listen, no big Spirit to work magic. How far is too far when it comes to religious freedom?