A Christian couple, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland have been convicted of neglect, after they relied on faith healing instead of taking their baby daughter Alayna to a doctor.
Under state-ordered medical care, the condition has now improved, but her parents have been convicted in Oregon of felony criminal mistreatment.
Alayna was born in December 2009 and developed the blood vessels that covered her left eye and threatened her vision. But her parents belong to unorthodox Oregon City congregation the Followers of Christ, which relies on faith healing. They relied on prayer, anointing her with oil and laying hands on her. It is ‘against’ their religious code to visit a state doctor.
Clackamas County sheriff’s deputy Emile Burley testified in May that went to see the family for check up at their home in June 2010, and instantly noticed a ‘large bulging area’ on Alayna’s left eye.
It was the size of a golf ball, maybe a little larger
Photos shown in court suggest at one point that it was as big as a baseball.
Around 20 supporters from their church were in court to hear the verdict, made by the jury in an hour, and sentencing was set for June 24. They are expected to receive probation or some jail time, although the maximum jail sentence for first-degree criminal mistreatment is five years.
The Wylands are the third couple from the same church to have been prosecuted by Clackamas County in just two years. The Followers of Christ was founded in the 1890s in Kansas but moved to Oregon City in the 1940s. The sect believes that the power of prayer and the laying on of hands where ministers lay their hands on believers while praying can cure illnesses. It is probable some followers secretly visit traditional doctors – but if found out, they are likely to find themselves excommunicated.
This is a terrible story. I firmly believe in the power of prayer and believe that people can be physically healed through prayer. But would I cut my nose off to spite my face and not seek medical treatment at the same time? Of course I wouldn’t! No where in the Bible does it say that we shouldn’t seek medical help from doctors. Indeed, it may be through a doctor that a prayer for healing is answered! You may remember my post on Derren Brown who showed how ‘faith healing’ can be twisted and dangerous. This is a typical example of that. It’s a shame, because faith healing DOES work – I firmly believe it. But the only stories that are ever in the press are of the ‘Christian Crackpot’ who decides to twist a God-given gift into something that’s hideous and horrendously dangerous.