As an Ex church member I am saddened for the little girl that had to give her life for her parents beliefs...She didn't have a choice and I am thankful that someone is finally noticing that this is child abuse.
The people at the Followers church are not bad people , just deceived. After leaving the church many years ago, I have found my way to a personal relationship with the true and only GOD, who is loving and who I believe would not be happy with the way the Followers interpret the bible to include faith healing.
If I remember correctly Ava's grandmother had a sister that died in childbirth...a lot of unnessary heartache for this family...
Let us not confuse the issues in this case. The Worthington case cannot be recklessly linked with the debate over the power of a state government to require such things as mandatory immunizations and then mingled with the broad concept of religious freedom. This is largely an issue of the rights of Ava Worthington and every other victim of the reckless and negligent practice of faith healing. Every individual who has been injured or killed by faith healing is the very direct victim of another individual?s blind faith in the supernatural (see: God, religion, prayer, etc.), namely the power of prayer and the foolish belief it will inspire some unknowable, abstract something to heal people through magic. In this way, it is a debate on responsible, moral behavior and the reasonable limits on religious freedom as dictated by the liberties of others, our society?s general moral code and its value of human life.
As we all well know, we are judged by our actions, not out intentions. And the actions, or inactions, of the Worthingtons were directly responsible for the death of their daughter Ava. Any truly moral society would defend Ava Worthington and hold her parents accountable for their actions, which were clearly wrought by their ignorant blind faith in the supernatural. On that account, I am very pleased to see that Oregon law is competent enough to hold them accountable for Ava?s death. Unfortunately, in the developing Madeline Neumann case in Wisconsin, state law may see fit to protect the reckless and lethal superstitious beliefs of the Neumanns, though I am hopeful it will not.
Blind faith in the supernatural (see again: God, religion, prayer, etc.) cannot not be allowed to be used as an affirmative defense for any species of injury or murder. To allow this is to willingly allow superstitious beliefs to trivialize our society?s system of law and our general code of morality. Quite simply, an individual?s right to be superstitious ends where the rights of others begin. Or more plainly, these rights end where they begin to harm others.
Ava Worthington had dangerous but very treatable illnesses and died because her parents were irresponsible and lacked sound moral judgment. The result of imposing their superstitious beliefs in the form of faith healing on their child was nothing less than lethal. They willingly took her rights to a long, happy life and treatment by reasonable medical means away from their daughter.
In the end, you can believe in any foolish things you want until such point as your beliefs harm others. The Worthingtons killed their 15- month-old child in this instance. To excuse this would be an outrage to reason and a perversion of the value of human life we claim to hold, not to mention a catastrophic failure of our society to protect those members in our society who are the most vulnerable.
- Alexander the Atheist
There is much with religion I personally find to be objectionable, actually all of it. However, we allow religious freedom in this country! Most religions are bigoted especially towards homosexuals and this is thoroughly tolerated. Woman have also been treated as submissive and unequal for centuries. This widespread religious vitriol is rarely challenged because its the mainstream.
These minority religions can't be treated differently even if their actions results in the loss of life, to treat them differently is discrimination. They truly believe their faith is god's will and their claims are hardly more unscientific then any other religions. Nor can their claims be disputed or challenged by our current standards of religious non-proof. If we want religious freedom then these are the results. The religious xenophobia from other religions is ironic and very, very pathetic.
I grew up in Oregon City, and knew many Followers when I was growing up. (We always called them "Kissers" I think because they inter-marry so much that they became kissing cousins?) My mother is a teacher in Oregon City, and has had two of her students lose younger siblings to juvenile diabetes.
I find it interesting that there has become such a false dichotomy in this area. I believe that faith can heal, but I also belive that a loving God expects us to do all in our power to heal ourselves as well. I don't think that availing ourselves of modern medicine means that we don't have faith, or that miracles can't happen, but it does mean that we are self-reliant.
My biggest concern with this debate is that it may push families who want to practice faith healing underground. I would hate to think that the children of Followers would be pulled out of public schools and then have no interaction with those outside their faith community. As someone who was raised LDS, I am aware of how the excommunicated members of the polygamous communities have been isolated, and the further abuse that happens to their children in those circumstances. I think that everything that can be done to keep the "mainstream" influences in the lives of my classmates children is a good idea.
I wonder if there is any education given to the parents about what is easily treatable. When I was a new parent, I called my mom to see what I should do when my child was sick. How does a parent in the Follower's of Christ community-which is a closed community-know when a simple cold or fever has turned into something more dangerous?
Are we going to prosecute all parents who mis-judge the need for medical care? People without health insurance often post-pone or avoid medical treatment. How do we guarentee that all children get the care that they need?
They found one way to remove themselves from the gene pool.
That's a good thing.
Perhaps it will also help clean the meme pool?
Scottmil, if the intolerance of a mainstream religion resulted in the death of a homosexual, the people responsible would be held accountable to the law. They are not getting special treatment.
As far as parents who are willing to gamble with their child's life against their faith, I think it is perfectly fair and reasonable that they should also be putting their own freedom to walk the earth into the same ante. Prosecute!
What an excessively overreaching and fallacious comparison!
As much as I abhor what they are doing, their motivation and intent is most definitely not what you are suggesting. To the parents they are not gambling with their child's life, they are following god's desires as they see them.
Withholding treatment is enormously different then intentionally causing harm to, most likely, a homosexual adult. Additionally this is their young child and the law allows the parents to indoctrinate a child in any faith and a lot of other things I may not agree with.
When religious zealots make decisions that result in a reduction of their numbers, it is thinning the herd. I don't have a problem with that at all.
In fact, it proves the theory of evolution.
I believe in the power of prayer and I believe that God answers prayers and one way God answsers prayer is in the form of doctors.
I was wondering how many families come to rely on prayer when they feel they can't afford health care. Is there any correlation between low-income and reliance on prayer for medical healing?
I think that freedom of religion is very important. However there is a difference between religion and a cult. A cult is defined as any group that is harmful to the members. I would not say that their religion is a cult, I would say that no one truly has a religion until they can decide for themselves.
The line between a "cult" and a mere "religion," is practically impossible to determine. One has to think the term cult was invented by the religious to criticize other religions that they found to be extreme. The catholic church certainly is a cult by definition, albeit a homogenized mainstream version; a cult nonetheless. It is pretty plausible to argue all religions are cults. They are just so commonplace that no one notices.
I am an attorney, mother, Christian and liberal. My husband and I have chosen to give birth to all three of our children at home and to treat our children, at times with only naturopathic medicine. We are behind, by choice, in our children's immunization. We make decisions based on scientific or lack of scientific evidence, treatment sucess and what is comfortable to us as parents. If something would have happened and a child were to have died during being born at home, how would a prosecutor know we had made a choice based on religion or not? Further, what is the percentage of children who die from infections recieved in a hospital versus infections not treated by antibiotics?
Had I just prayed for my one year old many years ago in order to heal her from a 104 temperature and her inablity to stand or walk as she had been doing since 9 months she would not have lived. I took her to the doctor immediately and she was admitted to the hospital. One knee was 2 inches bigger than the other one. She had a heart murmur. She had been a normal healthy infant until this incident. Her knee was tapped for fluid and it took three days to discover she had a staff infection that had settled in her knee. She had no cuts on her knee! She was in hospital for a week and on antibiotics for a month and her leg was placed in a cast from top to bottom. I was told to keep her off her feet. nearly impossible but I could put her in a playpen to limit her activity. At two weeks her cast was changed. She had it on another two weeks. I was told the staff could reoccur but it did not.
I'm over 60 and I remember my mother telling me that a neighbor, a member of the 7th Day Adventist, had refused to allow her son to be treated for Scarlet Fever. The Sherrif went into the home, took the boy to the hospital where he was treated with 1940's medications and survived.
The parents were no poor dirt farmers. The father had been a member of the Oregon Legislature for years. Not a political decision.
I have been an atheist for many years but I was raised in the Christian Science Church where my grandmother was a practitioner. It gave me a great respect for the power of belief and of faith.
But although my grandmother was a gifted healer she knew there were limits to it and that one of the biggest pitfalls was hubris - believing that your faith was an infallible source. A compassionate, responsible healer does not put people at risk, and there is no defense for withholding needed care.
Do you advocate the converse: that we all be obliged to pay and otherwise remove the resources from healthy children, stunting their potential, to provide extreme care for readily preventable mistakes?
Hmmm: that pretty well describes the status quo, doesn't it? 8-(
The resources of the planet are not infinite.
A conservative choice allocates them wisely.
Children in faith healing homnes have had no rights. If a fetus has rights, shouldn't a child of any age have an advocate to go to? The law has no force if there is no one to advocate for children under 18.
Parents do not own their children and have a moral (and I would argue a legal) obligation to respect the inherent rights children have as persons. Those rights include the right to an open future, a future in which they can freely exercise all their rights as adults. That open future is jeopardized or denied when children are indoctrinated or otherwise negatively impacted by their parents' religious belief. As the U.S. Supreme Court famously held an adult has the right to make a religious martyr of themselves, but they don't have the right to make religious martyrs of their children. When it comes to medical care, or any other issue that has the potential to harm child or deny their rights, children's rights must trump parental rights.
Perry Bulwer - Canada
An article in the Oregonian about this case claimed that Followers used to take their children home from car wrecks rather than to the hospital, in order to heal (or not) at home.
I would have a great deal more sympathy for parents who don't believe in the power of antibiotics and modern surgery for their children, if they at the same time eschewed the power and convenience of 20th-century technology for themselves. What are these same Followers doing driving cars (and using electric appliances and air conditioning) while allowing their children to suffer?
Do they not have enough faith that they will be delivered to work every morning without relying on the temptations of the internal combustion engine?
I consider myself an expert, having been raised in a Christian Science home, and remembering my embarssment at being the only child in the class not getting the shots. One child asked me, "didn't my parents care what happened to me?" At age 80, I still am paying dearly for not having a broken back due to a serious skiing accident taken care of by physicians.
I think I have a solution. Have faith cure parents apply for a license that
would protect them from criminal charges. For that protection, they would have to agree to contact a specified medical worker if a child met certain
criteria: degree of pain (numerical) stated by the child, communicable diseases would be handled by their agreement to be out of public contact,
and other specific items. The agreement would be breached by failure. One
sentence should appear: We understand that in a serious situation, medicine,
according to our belief system, could not harm.
gordie albi - eugene
For those who think this "cleans the gene pool" or "thins the herd", and that it is a good thing, I have to say you are pretty sick in the head. We are talking about an innocent child who suffered and died. Your eugenics belong in another era.
My question is: If someone is willing to put the life of their child on the line, is the fact that they may get charged criminally really a deterrent? It seems to me that this would be seen as just one more obstacle posed by the "secular world" which "faith would have to overcome". It seems to me that those of us who think this is "abusive" behavior toward a child get comfort from the thought of "faith healing parents" being prosecuted, but from the inside of that belief system, it must seem somewhat irrelevant. These are parents who already have overcome ridicule and terrible consequences for their beliefs. If you are willing to put the life of your child on the line for your faith, it seems to me that a jail sentence is not likely to be further deterrent, but would emphasize the feelings of persecution and martyrdom already alive and well in marginalized religious communities.
Yes, criminal prosecution should be a deterrent. It is easy to gamble with someone else's life. Let's see how willing you are to gamble when your own freedom is at stake.
A caller to the show just said she used to be a member of that church. She left because while parents were not taking their kids to get immunized or for medical attention, these same parents didn't hesitate to go to an optometrist to get glasses or to a dentist to get their teeth fixed. That's pure hypocrisy.
I have a couple comments from the perspective of a former, yet sympathetic Christian Scientist.
1. Re: Rita Swan's comments--her characterizations of the religion are inaccurate. The church does not teach that you are cut off from God if you no longer have the assistance of a practicioner. This is a false statement. When I was still a practicing Christian Scientist, I decided to stop formal practioner care and have knee surgery at the age of 25. I was not excommunicated or denied access to church servies, the congregation or church literature.
2. Although I would choose to take my future child to a doctor, I do not think the State should force me. I should be allowed as a parent to choose what I think is best for my child. I haven't read this law, however, on the surface, it sounds like it has a strong bias in favor of Western medicine. Are Western medical doctors infallable? Do we prosecute parents if they have a "bad" doctor or if a child reacts to a medication and dies? I think not. This law sounds invasive, biased and like an affront to my personal freedom.
-Camille Reyes, Portland
Regarding the comments of the physician who called in, I feel his discussion of choice refers only to the rights of the parents and ignores the legitimate rights of the child, who in many cases is not able to independently exercise his or her will and must be supported by the state in those circumstances. For instance, a parent who believes all humans should only have nine fingers in order to get into heaven cannot with impunity lop off their childrens' tenth digits. The state would step in and sanction such a parental choice. So too should the state step in, on behalf of the child's inherent right to choose - to choose health, to choose life - when the parents' choices threaten such fundamental rights.
If parents object to childhood vaccinations on religious grounds, and an unprotected child grows up to have a preventable condition that would not have occurred with proper vaccination, can the afflicted older child/adult later sue the parents for negligence? For example the Chickenpox vaccine can prevent later occurrence of shingles.
My question was asked on air, regarding the legal implications of parents who had taken the religious exemption to vaccinating their children. But my follow-up question which may be a bit off topic, (but I think is relevant) is that more people are using this exemption because of their fear of the unproven but highly publicized potential link between vaccines and autism. If a child in this situation were to die because of Measels or Smallpox, how culpable would THAT parent be... that parent that didn't necessarily have any strong religious belief, but rather a belief that vaccines are dangerous. How negligent are those parents and are they more culpable?
It seems to me that while the parents have religious freedom, the child does not. Religion is imposed on the child before she is old enough to use informed consent and judge for herself.
After a child reaches some suitable age like 18 or 21, he could be considered open to being preyed upon by religionists but before that the child ought to be given protection by the Grownups of the society.
I define Grownups as people old enough and mature enough that they no longer believe in imaginary supernatural beings, they have put aside their childish imaginary friends. Grownups have respect for human life and are really the only protection that children can depend on from the many predators trying to prey and/or pray on what Jesus called ?the least of these?.
Everytime something tragic like this happens the media goes overboard. What about the thousands of people who die at the hands of the medical profession. Doctors get sued not put in jail.
I was raised as a Christian Scientist and still attend a Christian Science church. I was never vaccinated as a youth and have had a healthy life with many healings. My children attend church but I have chosen to vaccinate them. I feel that prayer will always be my first choice in treating sickness and with prayer no ill effect can come from vaccines that may as some believe have harmfull effects ie..autism etc..
As a society the medical profession is a strong force. In my life I need a healthy balance and tend to try to see through the mental haze of sickness and death.
If a church had performed a human sacrifice on a child of the same age, we wouldn't be talking about whether or not it was behavior protected by the Constitution.
What these parents did is no different. By intentionally withholding medical treatment that would have almost certainly saved her life, they killed their child just as surely as if they had held a loaded gun to her head and pulled the trigger.
Perhaps this has been covered...I tuned in while in progress...
Are the medical histories of the parents admissible by the prosecution?
While visiting the B.R. hills in South India, I met doctors who are struggling to compromise the many angles of indigenous knowledge and modern science. One of the most provocative, obviously, is the question of medical treatment. A great deal of child deaths occur partly because of what a lot of "us," would call ignorance - not realizing that something that has "always been done," sometimes as religious ritual - is actually harmful. Doctors are working to cautiously tread the line of respect for threatened cultures, and respect for life, especially when a large portion of indigenous or ancient practices are more beneficial to health than the way in which many of us live.
I would say that respect for life usually wins out.
My point is, that we often think of tribal groups in the jungles of India as "primitive," or uncivilized, or worlds and ages away from us, in urban centers in the United States. But we should remember we are struggling with the same conflicts and boundaries.
I don't think prosecution is necessarily a helpful solution. It is usually education that makes a difference. I don't know the details of this latest case, but I have a strong feeling that the community surrounding those parents played a large part in influencing the parents and obscuring avenues of possible medical help.
I have no problem with faith healers killing off their children. But if they're not going to believe in science, please stop using electricity, refrigeration, driving a car, etc.
Please get in your cave with you and your kids and live like a proper luddite. But don't sit there and cherry pick what science you choose to "believe" in.
More power to 'em! It's called Natural Selection!
Just law ought to respect wide variation in the exercise of conscience whether based in religious belief or not, but not when that exercise of conscience results directly in harm to innocents. The duty that justice imposes on all of us is to not thwart others in their pursuit of good lives. Toward children, owing to their special dependency status, a positve duty to act benevolently attends. "Reasonable person" standards apply.
To take this onto a whole different track -- what about parents that are ignorant about proper nutrition and feed their children copious amounts of high-fructose-corn-syrup-containing soft drinks coupled with saturated-fat-laden potato chips, pizza, and mac' and cheese? These parents are literally GIVING their children diabetes? Can they be declared unfit if their child suffers a shortened life-span due to associated health conditions? If the child doesn't develop diabetes at a young age, their long term health may be adversely affected -- probably beyond the statute of limitations for prosecution, but seriously: Should the state step in and tell parents to stop feeding their kids crap?
It's a simple case of public health.
This is an easy case: only the crap-peddlers benefit from choosing crappy diets.
The kids, and to a less-direct extent, everyone else would be better off if they (we) ate healthier diets.
If I understand what was just said you can escape wearing a bicycle helmet by declaring a religious belief? Do you really believe that the contact of a skull with a cement curb will not destroy or severely damage that skull and the person? Today the US Armed Forces lose far more young men to these 4 wheeler cycles and dune buggies than to hostile fire. These young men forget they aren't wearing 60 pounds of armor and special helmets. They die!
What about me, the driver? If I accidently hit or am hit by a cyclist who is not wearing a helmet and they suffer damage or death because of THEIR religion what about me? I would find that accident something to follow me the rest of my life. Both the guilt of hitting, or even being hit by the cyclist and the anger that the idiot wasn't wearing common safety gear.
A simple search with Google finds several plausible articles which say that
your statement about armed forces and ATVs is a fabrication.
The Consumer Product Safety Commission is one source, but look at several. It's quick.
Unless you suppose that a soldier who dies while or after riding in a Humvee should be chalked up to the vehicle's fault.
There may be a truth lurking somewhere in what you say (and I even agree with some of it), but your credibility is blown.
The relgious fundamendalist are inconsistent in their belief that the government should not interfer in parents' decisions about the life and health of their children.
When it comes to abortion, they belive that the government should interfer to protect the life of the "innocent child" before it is born, but not afterwards.
Completely true. However, we shouldn't let their hypocrisy be a justification for ours. Perhaps we can teach the faithful something by our clear thinking and moral objectivity. There is a small, small possibility that our lack of bias might garner some respect from the faithful towards the "non-believers" who are defending their rights with nothing to gain. I guess you could call my hope - blind faith.
Let's really focus on the issue here: Should conduct toward a child that would otherwise be considered criminal abuse or neglect be expressly allowed by the state because the parents believe it is required by their religion?
Faith healing is the hard question here, because everyone assumes that the parents are acting in good faith and trying to care for their child in the way they believe is right. But, you have to be consistent across a wide variety of situations and draw the logical conclusions of the laws you advocate.
Assume for a moment that parents of different religions take actions, on the basis of their truly held beliefs:
1. They circumcise their 12 year old daugther, having her labia and clitoris removed in a procedure without anesthetic.
2. They withhold all food and drink from their five year old son for weeks.
3. They beat their children with weighted whips, to the point where they are permanently scarred.
4. They have their early teenage child sexually "initiated" by a relative.
5. They intentionally and ritually sacrifice the life of their child in order to save his or her soul.
Logically, none of these circumstances are ANY different from the faith healing question. We may question the motives and sincerity of the parents in some of the situations more than others, but should the courts be in the business of determining the legitimacy of someone's faith?
A fundamental precept of the separation of church and state is that the state should not be in the business of determining which religious belief is right and which is wrong. What often gets lost is that this is more for the protection of the church than the protection of the state. Does any religion really want the courts to examine the validity and legitimacy of its deeply held tenets?
People of faith cannot have it both ways. If they want the state to stay out of their personal religious decisions and observations, they they MUST be subject to the same standards of conduct regarding the protection of children.
1. No one should be neglected or abused!! With that said,
2. Freedom of choice is a human right here in the US. Little by little our freedom of choice is being taken away. The whole premise behind ?free choice? is just that ?choices?. It is our responsibility to educate ourselves about our options and then use our best judgment- for us and for those we are responsible for. If any organization or government comes in and tells us that we have one option or less then every option, then our right to choose is taken away.
3. Cults and many other organizations operate through a system of fear and control. Taking away our options and limiting our choices. Sometimes we walk into those situations blindly; giving our personal right to choose over to another and letting them or the organization make the decision for us. Sometimes we are brainwashed to believe these ideas at a very young age or even as adults. Our past experiences highly influence our naivety. Since there are so many people with different beliefs and opinions free will complicates life, but fear and control take away our free will to choose.
4. Conventional medicine, natural/alternative medicine, faith?.
I believe more laws take away free choice and our free will as humans. I believe everyone should be educated and seek out education for any situation they are faced with; then use their best judgment to find a solution. I do not want my right to seek out alternative medicine, my right to seek the help of a medical doctor or my right to pray to be taken away!!
Go to IAHF.com to find out more
"3. Cults and many other organizations operate through a system of fear and control."
Over the past twenty years or so I?ve come to realize that King Solomon was a genius with his ?spare the rod and spoil the child? attitudes. Remember, a king has to keep control of his subjects through fear, intimidation, and beatings. The genius of Solomon was in getting parents to turn against their own children and do the evil work for the king. The kids are beaten down into fearful submission before they even have a chance to learn and know about personal responsibility and freedom.
A more modern version of this was when Jay Gould, an early twentieth century industrialist, said ?I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half?. Or Bush/Cheney now paying some Iraqis to kill the other Iraqis who oppose Bush/Cheney.
King Solomon perpetrated what is probably the greatest and most monstrous ongoing child abuse in history, turning parents against their own babies! And his teachings still hold sway in the world today.
I suspect that an awful lot of peoples psychological dysfunction can be traced back to a childhood influenced by the attitudes represented by ?spare the rod and spoil the child? and ?put the fear in them early?. Depression, giving up, sneakiness, etc.
And that version of religion is completely unsuitable for a democracy of ?government of the people, by the people, and for the people?, in which the people need courage to speak their piece and demand their rights as part of the process of governing themselves.
Babies are born with incredible courage and I think it is right to try and preserve and encourage that little light of courage into adulthood.
This is a tricky issue. I was married to a fundamentalist macrobiotic man who did not believe in medical care for my postpartum depression. Neither did he want to participate in birth control or help with the childrearing. I had enough strength to leave after two kids, but when I heard about the woman who drowned all her kids serval years back I felt compassion as she too was not allowed by her husband to choose birth control or medication. My ex is not a religious person but came from an abusive family, as I did, and wanted to please his brother. He did not research any of our decisions but relied on his brother's approval. I was raised by a controlling father.
You would not think that this family was fundamentalist or abusive in any way if you went to a gathering; they repartee about Miles Davis, Cole Porter, Buddhism, and sustainability. My ex and his brothers are leaders in the Green Movement.
Could you have legislated for me to not be controlled by him or for him to not be controlled by his brother? I think not. I think that people who follow such movements are afraid and if we do not address sexism and abuse in the culture it will not matter what laws you make or how you shame the parents.
It's so easy to say what someone "should" do when we have not walked in their shoes.
I have no problem with faith healing, the power of prayer and all that. but why is there such a seperation of god and medicine. doctors have the abilities they have due to god granting them the knowledge and skill to help god heal. maybe disease is caused by the devil and he wants the childrens souls. why would a loving god put helpfull things like pennicillian, aspirin and other things that come from nature and therefore from god and then help the doctors to find them to help people. if it were not for doctors and medicine babies would not servive. the bible says we should have dominion over the earth. does that not include using the products of nature and the knowledge god gave us.
A misplaced faith here is put in allopathic medicine as a path to health. There is no scientific justification for making A.M.A.-approved medicine a legal standard of care for children. In the light of the growing body of research demonstrating that vaccinations cause a sometimes deadly chain of autoimmune reactions that include autism and a whole spectrum of pediatric epidemics, forcing anyone (especially a child) to get a vaccination should be seen as a criminal act. One has to ponder the economic power of the pharmaceutical industry to force its dangerous products on free people under the color of law. M.D.s are not educated in medical school, they are indoctrinated into a belief system that many never escape.
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