Tag Archives: Faith Healing

Faith-healing Oregon Parents Have Manslaughter Conviction Upheld

An Oregon couple who refused to take their premature newborn to a hospital, and instead prayed over him as he died, have had their manslaughter conviction upheld by the Oregon Supreme Court.

From the New York Daily News:

In their failed plea to the Oregon Supreme Court, the Hickmans claimed that the state had the burden to prove the couple knew their religious beliefs would cause the death of their child.

The state Supreme Court’s decision recounted the minimal steps the Hickmans took to try to save the baby. If they had taken David to a hospital, there is a 99 percent chance he would have survived, a doctor testified at the trial.

“Dale ran into the room where one of his aunts was holding David and anointed David’s head with olive oil and began to pray,” the Oct. 8 state Supreme Court decision read. “He noticed that David was taking short breaths, was minimally responsive, and was lighter in color, so he took David into the bedroom where Shannon still lay. At that point, it was ‘in the back of [DALE’S] mind’ that David would not survive. He sat in a chair by the bed, held David in his arms, and prayed.”

The main cause of David’s death was staphylococcus pneumonia, the coroner said.

During the trial, both parents testified that “they would not have done anything differently.”

Read the full article here.

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal of Gay Conversion Therapy Ban

The Hill reports on a significant development regarding gay conversion therapy bans:

The Supreme Court has decided not to consider New Jersey’s ban on gay conversion therapy.

The high court rejected a case Monday challenging a law Gov. Chris Christie (R) passed in August 2013 prohibiting state-licensed counselors from offering therapy services that try to change a minor’s sexual orientation.

Licensed therapists Tara King and Ronald Newman appealed the New Jersey Circuit Court of Appeals decision to uphold the state ban. They argue New Jersey’s law violates their state and federal rights to free speech and freedom of religion under the First Amendment.

On behalf of their minor clients, King and Newman further argued that New Jersey’s law interferes with clients’ rights to determine their own sexual identity and parents’ fundamental right to direct the upbringing of their children.
In the opinion, Judge Freda Wolfson said the New Jersey law regulates conduct, not speech. There is “no indication in the record that religion was a motivating factor for passing the law,” she added.

“From its plain language, the law does not seek to target or burden religious practices or beliefs,” she wrote. “Rather, it bars all licensed mental health providers from engaging in [conversion therapy] with minors, regardless of whether that provider or the minor seeking [conversion therapy] is motivated by religion or motivated by any other purpose.”

Keep reading here.

Law and Medicine: Pediatric Faith Healing

Writing for the American Medical Association’s Journal of Ethics, Kevin Abbott analyzes several cases which illustrate various approaches to clashes between religion and state law, concluding:

It is a well-established principle that constitutionally protected religious freedoms are not absolute, and the government is willing to narrowly limit such freedoms to the extent necessary to protect the welfare of its children.

You can read the entire article here.