Parents’ Faith Kills Baby


Published: April 17, 2008

A couple in Oregon is being charged with second degree manslaughter for the death of their 15-month-old baby daughter. According to a recent article by ABC news, the couple, Carl and Raylene Worthington decided to pray for their daughter, Ava, instead of seeking medical attention to help her. Ava was suffering from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and a bacterial infection doctors believed could have been cured by antibiotics. The Worthington’s belong to the Christ Church, where there is said to be a record of choosing faith healing over medical methods.  The Christ Church is also linked to 20 other deaths caused by illnesses that were said to be curable as well.

Everyone is allowed to believe or follow whatever religion or idea he or she chooses; however, when those beliefs interfere with the law, there is bound to be consequences. Carl and Raylene are very much guilty of killing Ava; they, ultimately, let their daughter die. Deciding to pray for her and do nothing but hope that she would miraculously heal doesn’t seem logical. What sane parents, regardless of their religious beliefs, would just watch their child suffer from an illness when it is well known that there are many medications in this day and age that can treat these types of illnesses? The parents should have done something once they saw their daughter getting worse. As parents, it was their obligation to seek medical attention—not just sit there and hope that their faith would heal her.

According to the Child Abuse and Prevention Treatment Act (CAPTA), any harmful actions toward a child and/or neglect of the child is against the law. Every state in the United States has passed some kind of act that protects children, so situations like Ava’s can be prevented. The Worthingtons broke the law, even though they did not physically abuse or torture Ava. The fact that they did absolutely nothing at all to help her is just as bad.

I just can’t seem to understand how anyone would just hope or pray for a medical condition to get better.  Followers of the Christ Church strictly believe in the power of faith healing alone.  They are taught that doctors represent temptation and  going to see one is a sign of losing faith in God. Everyone is entitled to his or her own religious beliefs, but the Worthingtons endangered the life of their child, and this is unacceptable. If the Worthingtons  believed calling upon a higher being would cure their daughter, why didn’t they consider the fact that medicines and other treatments could have also been created by this higher being and that they were made for a reason?

In instances such as the Worthingtons, our right to freedom of religion is a tricky question. Everyone in the United States is permitted to follow any religion; I just think that many people seem to forget that you have freedom of religion as long as it’s within the boundaries of the law.  The law in this country should not be bent for anyone. What if some people believe human sacrifice is part of their religion? Should they be allowed to practice this act of murder? Religion shouldn’t override the law.