Faith healing couple pleads not guilty in death of their son

Religion News Blog — A couple from Carlton, WA pleaded not guilty today to charges of second-degree murder in the death of their 17-year-old son, Zachary Swezey.

Police say Zachary died because his parents failed to call for medical assistance, and relied on prayer instead.

They were released on their own recognizance. A trial date has been set for May 1.

Last February prosecutors chard Gregory P. Swezey, 47, and Garnet JaLea Swezey, 45, with second-degree murder. The charges came nearly three years after the teenage, 17, died of a ruptured appendix at their home on March 18, 2009.

The family belongs to the Church of the First Born, which believes in faith healing.

Okanogan County Sheriff’s detective Kreg Sloan says the couple was aware their son was seriously ill.

Charging documents indicate that Greg Swezey told investigators he knew 10 to 15 minutes before his son died that he was going to die.

He told detectives that he asked his son if he wanted to go to the hospital, and that Zachary declined. He also said he and his wife did not force their faith on their children.

The day before Zachary died church leader came to his home to pray with him and to annoint him with oil — a practice based on a passage from the Bible. (James 5:14-16)

A number of churches and more-or-less loosely-affiliated groups of churches in the USA use the name Church of The First Born. It is not immediately clear from the reports which specific church the Swezey’s are members of.

However, the vast majority of these churches have extremist teachings on the subject of faith healing, placing them outside the boundaries of the historic, Christian faith.

Theologically they should be considered cults of Christianity.

Research resources on faith healing
Faith healing couple pleads not guilty, The Wenatchee World
More news articles about faith healing

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Religion News Blog posted this on Tuesday March 6, 2012.
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