It’s Tuesday again. Jesus says it’s time to die. This week we commemorate another life surrendered to stupidity:
On most days, Elizabeth Leach makes the short journey past the lakes, cornfields and old houses along East Backwater Road to the country cemetery in North Webster, Ind., where she buried her daughter and grandchild. Her pilgrimage goes unnoticed by most in the comfortably quaint town west of Fort Wayne, where cardboard signs advertise nightcrawlers and a big attraction is fishing at dozens of well-stocked lakes.
Most people have long forgotten the heyday of the Faith Assembly Church in nearby Wilmot, a now-defunct congregation of about 2,000. But Leach will never forget how her 24-year-old daughter, Alice, bled to death during childbirth on July 2, 1976.
Alice Leach wasn’t the first to die for believing in the doctrines taught by the Faith Assembly. Nor the last. More than 90 deaths in eight states — a majority of which were children or mothers in childbirth — were blamed on the faith-healing practices in that one church, according to child advocates and news reports.
Indiana includes some of the same immunities as Oregon law for faith-healing parents. But unlike Oregon, it does not include a religious shield for homicide. Indiana prosecutors eventually brought charges against one couple and the church’s leader. Efforts to prosecute those two highly publicized cases, coupled with the leader’s sudden death, discouraged faith-healing in Indiana. But Indiana legislators have chosen not to eliminate the religious immunities that make it difficult to prosecute faith-healing parents.
This sad tale, written by Mark Larabee for The Oregonian, additionally describes children neglected by their parents in favor of an invisible person they have neither seen nor heard. It is as though the Dark Ages never left us.
Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.