When Faith Healing Fails, Parents Face Wrath of Courts Instead

in Homicide, on

The parents of an 8-month-old prayed for their child when he was suffering from pneumonia, but their prayers were not answered. A few months after his death, the couple is now praying that they can return to their other children and continue to live according to their religious beliefs. Prosecutors are hoping for a different outcome.

This case is not from North Carolina. The issue of faith healing when children are concerned, however, could come up anywhere. It will be interesting to see if Raleigh’s justice system and religious leaders take a stand either way.

The couple has suffered two losses. In 2009, their 2-year-old died, also of pneumonia, and the couple was put on trial. A jury convicted them of involuntary manslaughter, and the court sentenced them to 10 years of probation. One of the terms of their probation was that they seek medical care if any of their children became ill.

Because they did not seek medical care for their 8-month-old when he was sick earlier this year, the court found them in violation of their probation and put them both in prison. And this time, prosecutors are charging each parent with third-degree murder.

At a recent hearing, each read a prepared statement to the court. The husband said that medicine ran counter to their religious beliefs and explained that they believe “in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil’s power.” For his wife, her religious beliefs meant that instead of seeking medical help she and her husband prayed and “ask[ed] to be healed the way that Jesus did when he was on Earth.”

Prosecutors say both boys languished for weeks before their deaths. But the defendants’ attorneys say that’s not true.

We’ll continue this in our next post.

Source: WVNS-TV 50, “Pair face murder trial in 2nd faith-healing death,” Maryclaire Dale (Associated Press), June 12, 2013