Dying to Believe

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

Dying to Believe

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It’s a deadly game. Which is going to come first? Am I going to run out of Tuesdays? This Tuesday we honor young Josef Smith of Mableton, Tennessee.

The father of Josef Smith said his family was “really scared” of the 8-year-old son he and his wife Sonya Smith are accused of murdering, according to testimony from a Cobb County police officer Wednesday.

Sgt. Steven Gaynor said Smith told him a day after the boy’s death in October 2003 his son acted as if he were possessed by the devil.

“I pictured it like ‘The Exorcist,’ ” said Gaynor, who testified that Joseph Smith told him the boy was capable of acts and deeds not consistent with an 8-year-old. The father said his son would often speak in a frightening tone, telling his parents, “I am Legion, soldier of the devil.”

Joseph and Sonya Smith, of Mableton, each face one count of murder, three counts of felony murder, five counts of first-degree child cruelty, three counts of aggravated assault and two counts of false imprisonment.

Jurors were shown autopsy photos of Josef that displayed numerous bruises and abrasions all over his body.

Jesus is not finished with you. Tuesday will roll around again in seven days. Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on your soul.

Dying to Believe

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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.

Dying to Believe

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It’s Tuesday again. Jesus says it’s time to die:

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.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.

Dying to Believe

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It’s Tuesday again, and there is another report of death due to stupidity. We will never run out of Tuesdays:

4-year-old Natali Joy Mudd was found dead by detectives in her own home, with a tumor in her eye that was almost as big as the rest of her head. At the horrific scene, a police sergeant found horizontal trails of blood along the walls of the house. The trails matched the height of the girl’s head. Natali had apparently been leaning against the wall as she dragged herself from room to room, blinded, trying to find a way to freedom, before the tumor killed her. (Stauth 2013)

Natali’s parents belonged to the Faith Assembly Church, a Pentecostal offshoot. They didn’t believe in medical care, and they were not prosecuted because Indiana had strict religious shield laws. Two years later, Natali’s five-year-old sister died from an untreated tumor in her stomach the size of a basketball.

This CSICOP posting notes that Natali’s parents were not prosecuted because of an Indiana law that protect parents who murder their children, provided the killing is in accordance with a sincere religious conviction. We should all be so well protected.

Keep reading. And may Jesus have mercy on our souls.