Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

It’s now over a year since I started posting these, one each week. If a person were not cautious, a person would conclude that Jesus has an inordinate love for the young and helpless. He takes so many of them under his wing. A previous post marked the sacrifice of young Monica Johnson. Now I mark the passing of her sister:

“What seems to be happening is that the children are doing fine and then they take a turn for the worse very quickly,” said Robert Levenson, director of the Philadelphia Health Department’s division of disease control.

Indeed, after 9-year-old Monica Johnson died last Sunday, a health department doctor visited the other 11 children in the family and, while not permitted to conduct an actual physical exam, found no cause for alarm. But early this morning Monica’s 13-year-old sister, Tina-Louise, died.

Monica, Tina-Louise, plus 9-year-old Karen Still, all died in a measles outbreak associated with, and to the fault of, two fundamentalist Christian churches in Philadelphia in 1991. The New York Times reported then:

Measles and Faith Combine In 5 Deaths in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 15— Five children have died in a measles outbreak here in the last 10 days, all of them from families that belong to two fundamentalist churches that preach a reliance on prayer, not medical care, to cure disease.

The churches, the Faith Tabernacle Congregation and the First Century Gospel Church, each run their own schools, which together have about 350 students who have never been inoculated against measles or other diseases.

[Emphasis added]

I have chosen to dribble these deaths out one at a time, week upon week, every Tuesday morning, in order to drive home a point. This problem is not come and gone. It persists. On a daily basis people are using religion as a license to kill—their children. So long as I can obtain the name or death report of a child, or an adult, who has fallen victim to this cultural monstrosity, I will post the details on a Tuesday.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Poisonous spiders and poisonous snakes get our immediate attention, but nothing kills like Jesus, coupled with stupidity. It’s Tuesday again and another occasion to pay tribute to a martyr to Jesus:

The Faith Tabernacle Congregation, founded here in 1897, bases its beliefs on a strict interpretation of the Bible. Among its tenets is the avoidance of all medical and surgical practices; members believe that healing will come from God.

The other victim, Karen Still, 9, was pronounced dead on arrival Thursday at Albert Einstein Medical Center. Her parents told the police she had been vomiting for four days.

Charles Reinert, presiding elder of the church, has declined to comment to reporters but has been cooperating with inquiries of health officials.

State law requires immunization before a child enters school, but exceptions are made for religious or medical reasons.

That term, “religious exemption,” requires some explanation. It’s code for “license to kill.”

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Ruthless dictators come, and ruthless dictators go, but Jesus never sleeps. He is always present to welcome you into his arms, especially if you are young and helpless, and your parents are clueless. Today we honor Monica Johnson, just nine years old. She’s with Jesus now:

The most recent victim here, 9-year-old Monica Johnson, was pronounced dead on arrival Sunday at the Medical College of Pennsylvania. Police officers took her to the hospital after her parents called for help, saying she had difficulty breathing and had a rash.

Keep your young ones close to you, and cherish their lives. Jesus is at the door.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

They never do.

Tuesday again. Time for Jesus to take another young life. Only this was over a quarter of a century ago. Amazing how little changes:

In the early months of 1991, the nation was preoccupied with the Persian Gulf War, as the United States chased Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein from his dream of annexing Kuwait.

In Philadelphia, health and school officials were locked in battle too – against a major measles outbreak, and the deep religious convictions which fueled the spread of the virus.

Nine children would die, six of them associated with two fundamentalist churches which preach a reliance on prayer, not medical care, to cure disease.

Five of those children would die in 10 days.

This post honors the sacrifice little Jamie Jones made in the cause of what some claim to be religious freedom, actually a license to  kill. He is only one of several, and his death spurred his grandmother to push the Pennsylvania legislature to clamp down on religious exemptions. Little progress has been made since. The stupid is strong here.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

It’s Tuesday again, and Jesus has come to take another child:

Oregon: Faith-Healing Parents Investigated In Infant’s Death

Faith-healing kills: Infant dies after faith-healing parents in Oregon fail to get medical attention for their new-born daughter.

According to reports, Sheriff’s deputies are investigating an Oregon City couple whose infant daughter died of apparent breathing complications just hours after she was born earlier this month.

Sarah Mitchell, 24, gave birth to 2 girls at her parents’ home earlier this month. One of Mitchell’s daughters developed breathing complications and died a few hours later.

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you for not visiting our house when I  was born.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

Religion-WaitUntilYouAreDead

Here’s an update on a previous post. The consequences of false belief are sometimes spread around:

Alexandru Radita “lived and died very much alone,” a prosecutor noted Friday, moments after his parents were sentenced to life in prison for his murder.

Crown lawyer Susan Pepper said the fact there was no one in court to speak about the impact of the teenager’s death, save for a social worker who dealt with him eight years earlier, spoke volumes about his loneliness.

“It really highlights the degree of isolation that Alex lived in — he had no friends, or teachers, or support people, or doctors, or anyone,” Pepper said, after Emil and Rodica Radita were each convicted of first-degree murder in the boy’s death.

Justice Karen Horner accepted Pepper’s argument the parents intentionally neglected the 15-year-old for years, until he finally succumbed to bacterial sepsis related to starvation.

“Your actions in starving your son Alex to death are beyond comprehension,” Horner said, in ordering the couple to each serve a minimum 25 years without parole.

An additional news item recounts the false belief behind this tragedy:

‘They knew he was dying’: Canadian parents who starved their diabetic son, 15, to death and prayed for two hours rather than call 911 when they found him not breathing get life in prison

The time to have been concerned about young Alexandru would have been when it was first noticed his parents weighed their religious convictions above his well being.

I do one of these every Tuesday. Who is going to be the next to die to  believe?

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

religion-faithhealingprayer

Readers, it’s not only Jesus who allows children to die from neglect. The parents of Seth Johnson believed they knew more about medicine than the doctors:

MINNEAPOLIS – A Minnesota couple face child neglect charges following the March death of their 7-year-old son, whom officials say died of pancreatitis without medical attention because his parents had “issues going to doctors,” reports CBS Minnesota.

CBS News additionally reported the Johnsons relied on prayer when young Seth’s behavior began to change for the worse. They were concerned that doctors would treat the child with medications:

In the days before Seth’s death, his parents were out of town for a wedding, leaving their son in the care of an older sibling. The night they returned, the Johnsons found their son hardly moving and said he didn’t react when they “prayed for his health.”

Jesus could not be contacted for comment.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

religion-faithhealinghealthrobbers

The willingness of people to suspend sound judgment in favor of belief has boundless consequences, only one of which is death. Faith healers, such as Oral Roberts, have played on this character defect to devastating consequences. Stephen Barrett and William T. Jarvis in their book The Health Robbers chronicled egregious examples, including this:

In 1983, Roberts announced, “God has called this ministry to declare war on cancer and dread diseases…. We must believe that a cure for cancer can be found through a supernatural manifestation from God and medical research.” In 1987, Roberts told his followers that God had ordered him to raise $8 million for scholarships at Oral Roberts Medical School and would “call him home” unless he did so. He obtained the money, but the appeal set off a storm of protest from television executives and religious leaders. Roberts had envisioned that his center would attract large numbers of devout Christians from across the country. But in 1989 he announced that unfilled beds—a problem from the beginning—had forced him to close the school and shut down his hospital. At its peak, the 777-bed facility had only 148 inpatients.

Stephen Barrett. The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America (Consumer Health Library) (Kindle Locations 4513-4517). Kindle Edition.

The above is from Chapter 24 of the book, dealing with faith healing.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

religion-faithhealinghealthrobbers

It’s Tuesday again, the day we commemorate those who have died or suffered through the consequences of belief. This topic typically, but not always, touches on faith healing, the reliance on prayer over science-based medicine. Searching for something of significance, I came across this:

Mary Vonderscher of Burbank, California, thought faith healing worked. She felt cured of cancer of the spine, she said, even though doctors had thought her case was hopeless. Appearing on an Oral Roberts TV spectacular in mid- 1955, Mrs. Vonderscher gave a glowing testimonial. In January, 1956, relatives of hers in Indiana saw a re-run of this program-just three days before traveling to California for her funeral. Wanda Beach, another believer, was a thirty-seven-year-old diabetic from Detroit. In 1959, after telephoning her mother that Roberts had “completely pletely cured” her, she threw away her insulin. And died.

Stephen Barrett. The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America (Consumer Health Library) (Kindle Locations 4488-4491). Kindle Edition.

Those are the opening paragraphs of Chapter 24 of a book by Stephen Barrett and William T. Jarvis. It’s titled The Health Robbers: A Close Look at Quackery in America, and I obtained a copy of the Kindle edition.

I had the good fortune to meet Dr. Barrett 21 years ago when he was in Dallas to  participate in the taping of a TV special on supernatural stuff. It’s one of the topics of interest to The North Texas Skeptics. One of the NTS technical  advisors is Tim Gorski, M.D., at the time head of the DFW Council Against Health Fraud. Stephen Barrett is founder of the national organization, and Jarvis is the current president.

I will be reviewing the book later this year, but in the meantime this column will carry some interesting case studies from Chapter 24.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Dying to Believe

Some more of the same

religon-faithhealinggodincontrol

As promised, it’s Tuesday again:

OREGON CITY – A Clackamas County jury spent one hour deliberating Tuesday before unanimously finding an Oregon City couple guilty of felony criminal mistreatment for treating their infant daughter with faith-healing rather than taking her to a doctor.

Timothy and Rebecca Wyland face up to five years in prison but are likely to receive probation and possibly some time in jail. They will be sentenced June 24.

As the verdict was read, Timothy Wyland slipped his arm around his wife’s waist, and the couple stoically faced the judge. The Wylands made no comment after the proceedings. They walked out of the courtroom surrounded by supporters from their church, some of them sobbing.

I am suspecting the supporters were sobbing over the horrible mistreatment Timothy and Rebecca Wyland had received in the American justice system, which had deprived them of their religious right to  mistreat their child.

The details of the case are heartbreaking. The couple’s daughter was born  in 2009 with a birthmark that eventually formed a hemangioma, a growth of blood vessels, above her eye. The growth resulted in loss of vision in the eye.

Unlike other stories featured in  this column, this one has a happy ending, if you can call it that. Young Alayna Wyland was removed from her parent’s custody and given medical treatment. She did not die. This is small  consolation,  considering previous cases involved two children who died.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on  your soul.