OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) — On the heels of my last article, the Oregonion newspaper reports the story of another couple in Oregon City, OR has been charged in the death of their child by ignoring modern medicine and relying on faith healing as a cure. They prayed over him and rubbed olive oil on their baby. Olive oil… For this egregious act of sheer negligent lunacy, Dale and Shannon Hickman were convicted of second-degree manslaughter. The charges should have been more serious. The twenty six year old couple are followers of Christ Church, which has a long and morbid history of rejecting medical care for the children of members. The cemetery is lined with tiny graves.
Five other church members have also been convicted for similar crimes for rejecting medical care for their kids, allowing them to die when sometimes even basic care could have saved them.
In Oregon, there is a mandatory minimum six year sentence for crimes like this, but thanks to a recently repealed religious exemption in state law that was in effect at time of the crime, the couple likely will face no more than a year and a half in jail. Adding insult to injury, Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Robert Herndon is allowing the Hickmans to remain free until their sentencing date on, of all days, Halloween.
Shannon Hickman declined prenatal care and her child was born with a bacterial infection. The baby died less than ten hours after birth from complications of the infection, as well as having underdeveloped lungs. If proper medical care were administered, the child would have had a ninety-nine percent chance of survival, according to expert medical testimony.
The Hickman’s never even considered taking their child to the hospital and the father gave the reason he never called 911 was because he was too busy praying. The mother didn’t call 911 because their church teaches that women in the church must defer to the husband, and she stated that it was her belief that, “I think it’s God’s will whatever happens.”
Last year, a judge sentenced Jeffrey and Marci Beagley each to serve 16 months in prison after being convicted of criminally negligent homicide in the 2008 death of their 16-year-old son Niel. He died of complications from a congenital urinary tract blockage, a condition that is normally treated very easily. He died because his parents relied on faith healing, even though Neil’s life was at stake.
An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children who died under the care of faith healers would most likely have survived if they had received medical care. Eighty-one percent of the deaths were caused by conditions that had a medical survival rate of 90%. Many die from the promotion of health by faith. Judge Steven Maurer stated, “The fact is, too many children have died unnecessarily – a graveyard full. This has to stop.”
This has to stop. No truer words have been spoken.