This is our archive of news items tagged Faith Healing.

 memo You'll find articles about that subject in each of the items listed, even if the term does not necessarily occur within the headlines or descriptive text.

Couple sentenced to 10 years in daughter’s faith healing death

An Albany, Oregon couple who believes in faith healing were sentenced to 10 years in prison on Friday in the death of Syble Rossiter, their 12-year-old daughter.

The girl died of diabetes complications in February 2013 after her parents withheld treatment in favor of prayer.

Travis and Wenona Rossiter, who still have two minor children, belong to the Church of the First Born — part of an informally organized religious denomination which embraces an extreme, unbiblical view of faith healing.

At their trial, the couple claimed they thought their daughter — who went through severe weight loss and appeared emaciated before she died — merely had the flu.

Last November a jury found both Wenona and Travis Rossiter guilty of manslaughter in the first and second degree.

Church of the First Born

Since 1976, at least 82 children linked to the Church of the First Born have died from a lack of medical treatment, says Child Healthcare is a Legal Duty — an organization that lobbies against state laws that protect parents who choose faith healing over modern medicine.

The unnecessary deaths have resulted in a number of criminal prosecutions.

The church says it does allow members to seek medical aid, but former members explain that those who do so tend to be shunned. Seeking medical aid is considered to be a sign of ‘weak faith’ or even sinning against God by not trusting him for healing.

Followers believe that if someone they prayed for does die, it was God’s will.

When district attorney Keith Stein asked Wenona Rossiter, “Do you believe that it was God’s will for Syble to die?,” she replied, “Yes.”

Oregon Law Regarding Faith Healing

Largely in response to a series of preventable ‘faith-healing’ deaths at a similar denomination, Followers of Christ Church, the Oregon legislature changed the law regarding faith healing.

House Bill 2721, which went into law June 9, 2011, allows parents to treat their children through prayer as long as they do not have life-threatening conditions. However, it eliminates reliance on spiritual treatment as defense to certain crimes in which the victim is under 18 years of age. Effectively it means a reliance on faith healing can no longer be used as a defense against manslaughter charges.

After the sentencing, Mark Heslinga, Wenona Rossiter’s counsel, told the press that the judge did not want to apply the 10-year prison sentence, but that he felt constrained by Measure 11, Oregon’s mandatory minimum sentencing law.

Tim Felling, Travis Rossiter’s attorney, said the sentence would be appealed.

Has Ebola scared away the faith healers?

Ebola Epidemic: Where are the Faith Healers?

Nigerian skeptic Leo Igwe wonders where all the faith healers have gone now that they are sorely needed:
Benny Hinn

As the governments of West Africa struggle to contain the spread of the Ebola virus, I am wondering where all the men and women of God who claim they can heal the sick and who conduct faith healing sessions in countries across the region are?

Where are all the continent’s miracle workers, now that people desperately need healing; where are the anointed men and women of God, now governments urgently need to contain the spread of Ebola? …

A disease that requires you to put your healing powers to test is here. Where are Africans who believe in miracles and in divine healing and who flaunt this belief as a mark of piety and godliness?

Faith healing is preached and practiced in most African churches, often resulting in fantastic claims of healings and even resurrections from the death — usually without so much as a shred of evidence.

Interestingly, when the Ebola virus first appeared in Nigeria this summer, the country’s health officials contacted megachurch pastor Temitope Balogun (TB) Joshua, whose claims of prophecies and healing miracles have spread throughout the continent.

Why? As Christianity Today explains, people flock to Nigeria from all over Africa to visit Joshua’s Synagogue Church of All Nations (SCOAN), which boasts 50,000 weekly worshipers.

So the Lagos State health minister visited SCOAN and asked Joshua to publicly discourage Ebola victims in Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone—where the highly contagious virus has killed more than 3,000 people—from seeking his healing.

Joshua obliged and issued a warning: “What makes you a good citizen makes you a good Christian. … Obey the law of your land by not crossing the borders of your nation with Ebola virus.”

He then airlifted more than 4,000 bottles of anointing water to Sierra Leone, explaining that it contained the power of God and could heal Ebola.

It doesn’t look like Nigeria’s health officials put much stock in TB Joshua’s faith healing claims. Sure enough, there are no reports of healings associated with his anointing water either.

Joshua, one of the richest preachers in Nigeria, is currently also in trouble over the September 12 collapse of a 6-storey guesthouse on his Lagos-based church property. Reportedly 116 people died in the accident.

Investigators say that two storeys had recently been added to the building without reinforcement of the building’s foundations. Joshua, however, claimed that at the time of the collapse a small airplane had circled over the building four times, and that this airplane may have had something to do with the building’s destruction, an event he viewed as a possible attack on himself.

A coroner has now threatened Joshua with arrest if he failed to testify at an inquest into the deaths of 116 people at his church.

Kidnapped and Tortured by Islamic Extremists

What’s it like to be kidnapped and held captive by Islamic extremists? American journalist Theo Padnos has written a stunning account of the 22 months he spent imprisoned by Al Qaeda-linked terrorists in Syria.

It is both sad and scary to read how some men can engage in prayer one moment, and torture another human in the next one.

China’s intensive anti-cult campaign also targets Christians

Last June five members of the Church of Almighty God beat a woman to death in a McDonald’s restaurant after she rejected their attempts to recruit her.

Also known as Eastern Lightning, theologically the movement is a cult of Christianity — meaning that its doctrines place it outside the boundaries of the Christian faith.

To wit, among other things the movement preaches that Jesus has risen in the shape of a 40-something Chinese woman named Yang Xiangbin, also sometimes known as Lightning Deng.

Sociologically the Church of the Almighty is a cult as well.

Two of the group’s members who took part in the attack were sentenced to death, and since June over 1,000 followers have been arrested.

But as reported by The Telegraph,

members of China’s “house church” movement – an officially illegal but generally tolerated community made up of tens of millions of Christians – claim their members have also been caught up in the police action.

Authorities were “using the crackdown on cults as an opportunity to crack down on house churches,” said one Christian leader from Guizhou province, who asked not to be named. Other Christian leaders said they believed poorly trained police were targeting orthodox congregations they had confused with potentially dangerous cults.

Since the anti-cult crackdown began, there has been a spike in reports of raids on house churches spanning at least nine provinces or regions.

This does not come as a surprise, really, since China has a long history of cracking down on the house church movement, often referring to it as a ‘cult.’

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Religion News Briefs: Warren Jeffs, Fred Phelps, Catherine Schaible …

Newspapers Jailed FLDS cult leader Warren Jeffs is hospitalized. A mother convicted together with her husband for the faith healing death of their young son starts her prison sentence.

Also: Fred Phelps, the founder the Westboro Baptist Church is near death (and was reportedly excommunicated from the hate group).

Plus: Pilgrims are drawn to a glowing Virgin Mary statue . And more…. [Read more...]

Idaho’s faith healing exemption targeted following child deaths

Followers of Christ church, Marsing, Idaho An ongoing series of preventable deaths among children of parents who belong to a religious sect, have prompted an Idaho lawmaker to draft a bill that addresses how the state deals with the issue of faith healing when minors are involved.

In 2011 the State of Oregon passed a similar bill in response to numerous child deaths at the same church. [Read more...]