Sunday, July 06, 2008

Faith healing and the law

An intriguing legal battle in Oregon brings together health, religion, faith healing, and the interests of the parents versus the interest of the state.

"...Ava Worthington, died at home March 2 from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and a blood infection. Both conditions could have been treated with antibiotics, according to Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner.

"The Followers of Christ, a non-denominational congregation with roots in the 19th-century Pentecostal movement, came under state scrutiny in the late 1990s after several church children died from medically treatable conditions. The deaths prompted the Oregon Legislature to remove religious shield laws for parents who treat gravely ill children solely with prayer, setting the stage for the Worthington case." --
Child's death tests Oregon law on faith healing

"Tuesday's death of 16-year-old Neil Beagley, however, may not be a crime because Oregon law allows minors 14 and older to decide for themselves whether to accept medical treatment." --
Teenager from faith-healing family dies in Oregon


clinch64 said...

It is so tragic indeed when a group will twist a certain passage of Scripture to give them a license so to speak, to endure suffering and even death.

Have you ever noticed that the very same ones who espouse this philosophy, will not think twice about going to a dentist or an optometrist. It seems this inconsistency makles their whole platform null and void.

I read of a study conducted some years back to determine percentages of illnesses and ailments among different religions and denominations. What group do you think was at the top of the list? The Pentecostal/Holiness branch.

R. L. Vaughn said...

I am in agreement with you concerning the inconsistencies among this movement and the Scriptures about prayer and healing wrongly-divided.

But I am also troubled by a state that will criminalize a family's choice of medical treatment. If a family takes their child to the doctor and that child dies, everything is okay. But if a family takes their child to someone for prayer and that child dies, then they face prison time. While I may not agree with their decision, I have a tough time regarding this as some kind of child abuse. And what if a family chooses some alternative treatment such as herbs or something new that is unproven?

It would also be interesting to compare the state of Oregon's view of abortion -- death of child in womb because of abortion, fine; death of birthed child because prayer didn't work, illegal?? According to the (pro-abortion) abortion facts web site, there were 14,079 abortions in Oregon in 1995. (13,392 in 1994; 12,961 in 1993; I have a sneaking suspicion that deaths from abortion is a bigger problem that deaths from not getting a doctor because of a belief in prayer only).

R. L. Vaughn said...

That should be "I have a sneaking suspicion that deaths from abortion is a bigger problem THAN deaths from not getting a doctor because of a belief in prayer only."

clinch64 said...

Robert, The Oregon law allowing 14 year olds to accept or refuse medical treatment got me to thinking further.

How can the judicial system determine when an individual is mature or capable enough to make a decision as to whether they live or die? There are so many factors involved such as upbringing, living environment,education,etc. While I believe this law should be honored until changed, who is to say that the same individual a year later would have made a different decision?

I am afraid that our nation has become so secularized that the courts do not really see prayer as an alternative in this case. They probably saw this as a case of neglect instead of an alternative treatment to medical attention.

Of course society's attitudes and perceptions change also. Some now almost view it strange if an individual is not seeing a physician or taking something on a regular basis. This certainly was not the case among many in times past. If I am not mistaken, I had a grandmother who did not visit a doctor's office for about 45 years. When she finally did, she was told she must have surgery or her chances for survival were slim. She opted not to. We respected her decision and never questioned it. Sure enough, she passed away about a year and a half later. I guess it really boils down to the context of the situation. She had no regrets.

R. L. Vaughn said...

Your comments definitely give us something to think about. I have always found myself somewhat conflicted on this issue.