Dying to Believe

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Religion-OsamaExcuseForMurder

It’s Tuesday again. That means somebody had to die. Whose death at the hands of religion do we honor this week, Larry? Why, it’s none other than Robyn Twitchell, who would have been 22 years old this year, but for religion:

In 1988, Massachusetts prosecutors charged David and Ginger Twitchell with manslaughter in the 1986 death of their two-year-old son Robyn. Robyn Twitchell died of a peritonitis caused by a bowel obstruction that medical professionals declared would have been easily correctable.

The Twitchells’ defense contended that the couple were within their First Amendment rights to treat their son’s illness with prayer and that Massachusetts had recognized this right in an exemption to the statute outlawing child neglect.

The Twitchells were convicted of involuntary manslaughter. They were sentenced to ten years probation and required to bring their remaining children to regular visits to a pediatrician. The conviction was overturned in 1993 by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court on a legal technicality. Robert Gittens, speaking for the prosecutors’ office commented, “the law is now clear: parents cannot sacrifice the lives of their children in the name of religious freedom.”

Glory, hallelujah, and praise be unto Jesus. Two more criminal parents were spared from the punishment they deserved by the grace of almighty God and by the ineptitude of a Massachusetts court. It is unfortunate such mercy was not extended to little Robyn:

It began with his constant screaming and vomiting. On the second day, his parents called the Christian Science worldwide public relations manager to see about getting Christian Science treatment instead of medical treatment. On the fourth day, a church “nurse” was force-feeding Robyn at his bedside. On the fifth day, Robyn was throwing up a brown goo and screaming so loudly in pain that neighbors had to close their windows to avoid hearing him. Finally, at the end of the fifth day, at age two, Robyn died of peritonitis, an abdominal infection, and a twisted bowel. His autopsy pictures show bright red chin and lips where the acid in his vomit had eaten away his skin. He was so dehydrated that his skin stayed up when pinched. Fifteen inches of his intestines were black because the blood supply had been cut off. The parents called 911 only after rigor mortis had set in.

What an inspiring and religiously uplifting scene this must have been to observe, as a young child screamed out the remaining days of his life to keep alive a two-thousand-year-old fable.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-FaithHealers

I post one of these every Tuesday. Don’t stop me. I’m on a roll. This week we honor Carl and Raylene Worthington, of Clackamas County in Oregon:

OREGON CITY, Ore. (CBS/AP) Their prayers to save their dying daughter went unanswered. But an Oregon jury has shown mercy on an Oregon couple on trial for using prayer instead of medicine in their failed attempt to save their 15-month-old girl.

Carl Worthington was convicted of criminal mistreatment Thursday, a misdemeanor punishable by no more than a year in jail. His wife, Raylene Worthington, walked free.

The couple had faced manslaughter and criminal mistreatment charges, the former carrying up to 10 years in jail.

The Worthingtons are members of a Followers of Christ, a small church that shuns conventional medicine in favor of faith healing. The couple was accused of using prayer and faith healing rituals such as “laying on of hands” instead of medicine to heal their increasingly ill child.

What is so heart-warming about this case is the love and concern shown by the parents and other church members, who gathered around to watch Ava Worthington die. I salute the jury for showing mercy in a situation where Jesus chose to show none. Little Ava is with Jesus now, actually dead.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-JesusNotDoineShit

I have been posting one of these every Tuesday for several months, and I am not about to run out. Thanks to all the deeply and sincerely religious parents out there who selflessly sacrifice their children so that I will be able to entertain you for another week. Special thanks this week go to Steve amd Ruth Shippy of Alberta Province in Canada:

The parents, Steve Paul Shippy, 44, and Ruth Anne Shippy, 37, are members of the Followers of Christ Church, said Crown Prosecutor Ian Frazer of Wetaskiwin, 50 miles south of Edmonton.

The Followers of Christ is a fundamentalist sect whose members put all their faith in the healing power of God, professing to refuse medical care to the point of death. There are Followers churches in Oregon City; Caldwell, Idaho; and Fairview, Okla., to name a few cities.

The Shippys, who live in the rural community of Rimbey, face charges of criminal negligence resulting in death and failing to provide the necessities of life for the Dec. 28, 1998, death of their son, Callahan Douglas Shippy, 14. A medical examiner ruled that the boy died of complications from diabetes, and other medical experts say the boy languished in ill health for two to four weeks before he died, Frazer said. Frazer said the Shippys have loose ties to a Followers congregation in Idaho and once lived there for several years beginning in 1984 after Canadian child welfare officials began investigating an injury to one of their children that went untreated.

And special thanks go to young Callahan. Your personal sacrifice is much appreciated.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-FaithHealingReligionKills

I post one of these each Tuesday. I have help. Significantly, help comes from the Christian Science community:

WHEN Thomas Jefferson described religious freedom as ”the most inalienable and sacred of all human rights,” he could not have imagined that the time would come when American citizens would be forced to pay ruinous damages for exercising it.

But that is the result of the Supreme Court’s decision last week not to review the case of McKown v. Lundman. That decision let stand a Minnesota Court of Appeals ruling upholding an award of $1.5 million to the father of 11-year-old Ian Lundman, who died in 1989 after his mother, stepfather, and a Christian Science practitioner tried to use prayer to heal his diabetes.

The mother and stepfather are devout Christian Scientists, who, after Ian complained of stomach pains, began to pray for him, as their religion prescribes.

And that’s it for Ian Lundman, readers. Nothing says “wrapped in the arms of a loving Jesus” like six feet under.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-FaithHealingHospitalHell

I post one of these every Tuesday. I have lots of help:

The parents of a 22-month-old boy who died from blood loss last month after they failed to provide him with medical attention have been charged with involuntary manslaughter, police said yesterday.

Dean O. Heilman, 32, and his wife, Susan D., 34, members of Faith Tabernacle Congregation, a church that shuns medical treatment, were arrested Saturday. They also were charged with endangering the welfare of a child and conspiracy.

The child, Dean Michael Heilman, cut his right foot July 7 while playing in the backyard of the family’s Lawndale home in the 700 block of Longshore Avenue. The parents tried unsuccessfully to treat the injury themselves and did not contact medical authorities because of their religious beliefs, authorities said.

What is so heart warming about this and similar episodes is that parents are finding the fortitude to stand up against government oppression to protect their religious liberties. The Alliance Defending Freedom needs to be acknowledged for their efforts toward this cause.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-FaithHealingLasVegasStadium

I post one of these each Tuesday. Somebody please stop me:

The parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, were ordered to spend 30 days in jail each year for the next six years and were placed on 10 years’ probation. Mr. Neumann, 47, and Ms. Neumann, 41, who live in Weston, in central Wisconsin, had been convicted of second-degree reckless homicide in August.

Their daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, 11, died from untreated diabetes on March 23, 2008, the authorities said. When the girl became ill and could no longer walk or talk, her parents prayed for her instead of taking her to a doctor, prosecutors said.

Those who don’t think that religion kills need to talk to little Madeline. If only they could.

The good news from this 2009 news item was that Dale and Leilani Neumann planned to appeal, escaping altogether any consequences of their actions. The better news is that in 2013 their appeal was denied. Little Madeline would have been heartened.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-FaithHealingBabySavedByJesus

It’s the 21st century, and the human population continues to reap the benefits of Bronze Age wisdom. One of those benefits being an early and unpleasant death:

OKANOGAN, Wash. — A faith-healing Washington couple accused of being criminally responsible for their teenage son’s death for failing to call a doctor have been acquitted of second-degree murder charges.

The Wenatchee World reports that the Okanogan County Superior Court jury also acquitted JaLea Swezey of first-degree manslaughter on Monday night but couldn’t reach a verdict for Greg Swezey on that count.

After nine hours of deliberation, the jury could not reach a decision about either parent on a second-degree manslaughter count.

Zachery Swezey was 17 when he died at his Carlton home of a ruptured appendix in March 2009.

Jurors were told the couple belong to the Church of the First Born, which believes in faith healing. The Swezeys told investigators they thought their son had the flu. They also said the boy chose not to see a doctor.

If there is one bright light to come out of this tale of undying faith, it’s that Mr. and Mrs. Swezey will not be separated, allowing them to head back to the marriage bed to produce a new victim to replace the one they just dispensed with. Happy whoopee.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-PrayerHealingFacebook

I’ve been posting one of these each Tuesday. Regrettably, I don’t have to make them up:

An Oregon couple so devoted to spiritual healing they let their teenage son die in agony instead of getting medical help pled guilty in court on Tuesday and will receive probation.

Russel and Brandi Bellew, of Crewswell, Ore., tried to “pray away” 16-year-old Austin Sprout’s infection from a ruptured appendix in February. The faith healing didn’t work — he died a week and a half later, according to The Register-Guard.

Idaho first and Oregon second seem to lead the nation in this sickness. Religious murder, that is, not appendicitis. Appendicitis seems to respond to treatment. Religion apparently not so.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-WaitUntilYouAreDead

Tuesday again. It must be time for another one of these:

Last Monday, Hemant posted about Alex Radita, the son of apparent faith healers Emil and Rodica Radita. Alex, a life-long diabetic, died at age 15, weighing only 37 pounds, after his parents repeatedly refused to accept his medical diagnosis. The Calgary couple chose prayer over insulin.

We didn’t know for sure five days ago that the boy died because the parents preferred to pray over him rather than get him the medical care he needed, but in the course of their murder trial, that fact just got confirmed.

If I can take any consolation at all from this it is this happened in Canada and not in the United States of America. No consolation whatsoever for Alex.

Dying to Believe

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Religion-NotBelieveInMagic

Tuesday again. It must be time for another one of these:

Mariah Walton’s voice is quiet – her lungs have been wrecked by her illness, and her respirator doesn’t help. But her tone is resolute.

“Yes, I would like to see my parents prosecuted.”

Why?

“They deserve it.” She pauses. “And it might stop others.”

Mariah had a congenital heart defect that could have been treated. Instead, her parents, fundamentalist Mormons in northern Idaho, eschewed modern medicine and relied on faith and prayer. She had no birth certificate or social security number until she ultimately left home. Now her only recourse is a risky heart and lung transplant, at public expense.

It’s not just the believers who die.