OREGON CITY — A Clackamas County judge ruled Thursday that a couple who belong to a church that embraces faith healing must surrender their child for failing to provide medical care.
Circuit Judge Douglas V. Van Dyk gave the state temporary custody of the child and ordered medical treatment as directed by doctors at Oregon Health & Science University.Faith HealingThe term ‘faith healing’ refers to healing that occurs supernaturally — as the result of prayer rather than the use of medicines or the involvement of physicians or other medical care.But while faith healings do take place today just as they did in the early Christian church, the teachings of some churches, movements and individuals on this subject amount to spiritual abuse.Legitimate churches and movements do not equal using drugs or receiving proper medical attention with unbelief, insufficient faith, or otherwise sinning against God.Research resources on faith healingCommentary/resources by ReligionNewsBlog.com
The age and medical condition of the child were not disclosed.
Timothy J. Wyland, 44,and Rebecca J. Wyland, 23,of Beavercreek appeared in court without an attorney. The couple, members of the Followers of Christ church, seemed stunned by events and close to tears.
The 1,200-member Followers of Christ church has received extensive media attention in recent years. The church rejects secular medicine and relies on faith-healing rituals — laying on of hands, anointing with oil, prayer and fasting — to treat illnesses.
At least a dozen Followers of Christ members attended Thursday’s hearing, including Carl Worthington, who was convicted last summer of criminal mistreatment for failing to provide adequate medical care to his fatally ill 15-month-old daughter.
Worthington served two months in jail. His wife, Raylene, was acquitted.
In a separate case in February, Jeffrey and Marci Beagley, who are the parents of Raylene Worthington, were found guilty of criminally negligent homicide in the death of their teenage son. Neil Beagley died of complications from an untreated urinary blockage. His parents were sentenced to 16 months in prison.
The Wyland case is unusual because the authorities intervened before a child died.
Over the past 30 years, more than 20 children of church members have died of preventable or curable illnesses.
Among the dead in the church’s cemetery is Tim Wyland’s first wife Monique. She died at the age of 38 from what former church members said was untreated breast cancer.
What kind of illness the child suffers from has not been released and the district attorney’s office declined to comment on the case or how the case came to the attention of child welfare workers.
Last April, Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote pledged to work with church members to try and change their policies regarding doctor visits.
He also said he would prosecute parents for failing to give their children medical care if necessary.