Bat Shit Crazy

Fourth of a series

Photo from

Photo from

The photo above is from a story I reported on over two years ago:

Before delving deeper, here is some background. Prior to the early 20th century human life expectancy was considerably shorter than now. The Wikipedia entry shows life expectancy for “Early Modern Britain” at 25 to 40 years. For “Early 20th Century” the number is 30 years. I recall a number of 39 years for life expectancy in the United States at the beginning of the 20th century. World human life expectancy as of 2010 was 67.2, again from Wikipedia.

So, what’s happened? Science has happened. About 150 years ago people began to apply science to the study and practice of medicine. We recognized that many fatal human diseases are caused by micro-organisms, and we started washing our hands, and surgeons started working in a sterile environment. We also discovered anti-microbial drugs. We discovered additional means for preserving health and human life. People who would have routinely died from a disease in 1900 are now expected to recover from the same disease. But only if they receive treatment.

Somehow, in some places, and with some people the word did not get through. Human illness is attributable to natural causes only. A remedy, if there is one, can come only from natural processes. To act in another manner is to invite tragedy, even death:

Faith-Healing Parents Jailed After Second Child’s Death

@edockterman Feb. 19, 2014

Two young children died after parents refused to treat them with medicine

A Pennsylvania mother and father who believe in faith-healing were sent to jail Wednesday for causing the death of their young, sick child by refusing to take him to the doctor. It was the second of Herbert and Catherine Schaible’s children to die under their care.

“You’ve killed two of your children…not God, not your church, not religious devotion — you,” Philadelphia Judge Benjamin Lerner told the couple, as he sentenced them to between three and a half and seven years behind bars. The Schaibles pled no contest to third-degree murder in their eight-month-old son Brandon’s death last year from pneumonia.

The state of Oregon appears to be a magnet for this brand of bat shit crazy. A few weeks ago the State Supreme Court upheld the conviction of Dale and Shannon Hickman in the negligent homicide of their newborn:


10.14.15 12:15 AM ET

Church’s ‘Faith Healing’ Killed This Baby

Oregon’s Followers of Christ Church doesn’t believe in traditional medical care, and it’s killing their children.

“And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up,” reads James 5:15.

It is an instruction that Dale and Shannon Hickman, members of the Oregon-based Followers of Christ Church, took too literally when they decided not to take their premature newborn son David to a hospital, despite the fact that he weighed less than 4 pounds and was in “obvious distress,” according to doctors who later reviewed the couple’s home video footage.

The Followers of Christ believe in faith healing and do not seek traditional forms of medical care. That belief did not help David, who died of staphylococcus pneumonia within nine hours of his birth, as the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office later determined. If the Hickmans had phoned 911 as soon as their son was born, one state doctor estimated that he “would have had a 99 percent chance of survival.” David would be preschool age today.

I can’t get past this without thinking that if the Hickmans had enlisted medical help, not only would David Shannon be alive today, but his parents would be reminding him that The Lord healed him.

My experience is that bat shit crazy reliably parades in the disguise of religious freedom. It should not be a license to kill.


“A bill that would protect children from faith healing parents has been killed by Republican lawmakers in Idaho.”

2 thoughts on “Bat Shit Crazy

  1. Pingback: Stupidity on Stilts | Skeptical Analysis

  2. Pingback: Bat Shit Crazy | Skeptical Analysis

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