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Parents in Faith-Healing Case Never Considered Calling a Doctor

Oregon City, Oregon – Carl and Raylene Worthington told detectives that they never considered calling a doctor, even as their 15-month-old daughter deteriorated and died.
“I don’t believe in them,” Carl Worthington said of doctors. “I believe in faith healing.”
Raylene Worthington said that her religious beliefs do not encompass medical care and that she would not have done anything different for her daughter, who died at home of pneumonia, a blood infection and other complications.
In Clackamas County Circuit Court on Wednesday (July 1), prosecutors played videotaped police interviews with the Worthingtons, who are accused of criminal mistreatment and manslaughter for failing to provide medical care for their daughter. Ava Worthington died March 2, 2008, after her parents and other members of the Followers of Christ tried to treat her with faith healing.
Ava’s father, who goes by Brent, his middle name, said Ava came down with what appeared to be a cold or the flu. Within days, her breathing became labored and the family turned to its traditional faith-healing rituals, praying, fasting, anointing the body with oil, administering diluted wine and laying on of hands.
Brent Worthington said he thought there was “a possibility” his daughter was so sick she could die. Then, after a final session of laying on of hands, “she perked up,” he said. She grabbed her bottle and “took some food.”
Two hours later Ava was dead.
Brent Worthington told detectives no one in his immediate family has ever been to a doctor or used prescription or over-the-counter medicine.
“It’s not something we believe in.”
Asked if she would have taken Ava to a doctor if she knew her child was dying, Raylene Worthington said, “I don’t know.”
Brent Worthington said that forgoing medical treatment is probably difficult for outsiders to understand. For him, medical treatment “is not a question. It’s not even thought.”
When the detectives told Worthington that the law requires a parent to provide adequate medical care, he said he had provided care.
“I did everything I could do for her,” Worthington said. “What I was doing was working,” he said. “She was getting relief.”
Dr. Christopher Young, the deputy state medical examiner who conducted the girl’s autopsy, testified that “the absence of action led to her death.”
By Steve Mayes
Religion News Service
Copyright 2009 Religion News Service. All rights reserved. No part of this transmission may be distributed or reproduced without written permission.

  • nnmns

    They need to have any children of theirs taken away from them for the children’s safety and they need to be fixed so they don’t have more children. And that’s whether or not they are convicted. They just are not fit to be parents since they have clearly irrational views of protecting children’s health.
    Would you want someone driving who doesn’t believe in using brakes, ever? No you’d protect the public by preventing that person from driving. Protect children by insuring these people never care for children again.

  • Henrietta22

    And there is a whole Church that they are members in that believe the same way they do, and probably pockets of other Churches all through America. I hope that they are given time in prison and made to take Brain-Wash lessons aimed at removing beliefs that harm children and other people. This is so far removed from attacking religious beliefs it’s disgusting. The children should be taken away from all of them if they can’t understand they have no right to sacrifice their children for their fanatical beliefs.

  • pagansister

    Those folks are just plain scary. Never thought of going to a doctor? A child is suffering and they never “thought” of taking her to a doctor? Guess the kid had lived long enough…so “GOD” took her?? Give me a break…she was a baby who couldn’t do anything for her self, while her so called parents mouthed prayers to the air, so something or being might use his/her wonderful powers and keep her alive!? Guess the thought they were torturing her didn’t enter their feeble minds? I’m sorry, it just makes me so angry that any person claiming to be “parents” could do that. They don’t deserve to be called parents. Religion isn’t a license to neglect a child. It’s child abuse, plain and simple. I really hope the jury sees it that way…how could they claim that religious freedom in this country allows child abuse? I agree, nnmns, they need to remove any other children from the family…convicted or not.

  • jestrfyl

    They have limited God, and that is a big time sin. They have determined that they can test God’s power, and that is a big time sin. They have chosen to ignore whole sections of the Bible, and that is a violation of what they say they stand for. Maybe if they took a minute to think the whole thing through, rather than disallowing God’s gift of intelligence (Ooh, saying “No thanks” to God is a, well you know) sets themselves up as their own demi-gods.
    I am sad for them, sorry for the death of this child and all others who have died for the same excuses, and worried for the people who are trying this case.

  • Your Name

    Fruitcakes…now homicidal fruitcakes.

  • Your Name

    Simple question:
    How should we regard atheist parents who act the same way and allow their child to die, and are sincerely devastated by it, but their explanation is “No, it has nothing to do with God or the Bible, because we don’t believe in any of that nonsense. But we do believe that modern medicine is a fraud, and we will not participate in perpetuating a fraud.”
    If atheist parents are criminally responsible for letting their child die, so are the Bible-besotted parents in this tragic story. Both sets of parents withheld medical care because they “don’t believe in it” and the only difference is that the reason for that stance is religious in one case but not in the other. If we treat these cases as different, then we are negating the 14th Amendment, for we are saying that the law does NOT apply equally to religious people and non-religious people.

  • Heretic_for_Christ

    Sorry — forgot to identify myself as the author of the preceding comment, beginning “Simple question.”

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