Religion Briefs An act of faith
Parents face prosecution for choosing prayer over antibiotics
OREGON CITY, Ore. — Prosecutors are reviewing the death of a 15-month-old girl who a medical examiner says could have been saved if she had been treated with antibiotics.
If prosecuted, the child’s parents would be the first members of Oregon City’s Followers of Christ group to face charges for failing to seek medical treatment for a gravely ill child.
“We are reviewing the case, and our investigation is progressing,” said Greg Horner, Clackamas County chief deputy district attorney. He did not release the parents’ names.
Dr. Christopher Young, a deputy state medical examiner, said that the baby, Ava Worthington, died March 2 at home from bacterial bronchial pneumonia and infection.
He said both conditions could have been prevented or treated with antibiotics. The child’s breathing was further compromised by a benign cyst that had never been medically addressed and could have been removed from her neck, Young said.
The Followers of Christ Church came to Oregon early in the 20th century. According to church tradition, when members become ill, fellow worshippers pray and anoint them with oil. Former members say those who seek modern medical remedies are ostracized.
Prosecutors could charge the baby’s parents under a law enacted in 1999 after several faith-healing deaths of children.
The statute eliminated Oregon’s “spiritual-healing defense” in cases of second-degree manslaughter, first- and second-degree criminal mistreatment and nonpayment of child support. Shrine vandalism case
SAN LUIS, Colo. — A criminal inquiry of three Mormon missionaries accused of defacing a Roman Catholic shrine was dropped after Catholic Bishop Arthur Tafoya sought forgiveness for the young men ahead of Easter.
Costilla County Cpl. Scott Powell said March 21 that the investigation had just gotten under way when Tafoya asked that charges not be pursued.
Photos posted on the Internet showed the trio at the Shrine of the Mexican Martyrs at the Chapel of All Saints, which stands on a butte overlooking San Luis.
The photos — taken in 2006 — show young men holding the broken head of a statue, preaching from the Book of Mormon at an altar and pretending to sacrifice one another.
The damage was only discovered this month, and officials from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints quickly issued an apology.
Tafoya, bishop of the Pueblo diocese, said Mormon officials apologized to him personally.
“I ask that we as Catholics, who believe in the forgiveness of Christ, will ourselves forgive, and pray for the young men who showed such a lack of tolerance and understanding,” Tafoya wrote in an Easter letter.
Kim Farah, a spokeswoman for the Latter-day Saints, said the church was pursuing its own sanctions against the missionaries.
The outdoor shrine is near the Sangre de Cristo Church overlooking San Luis, a small town 170 miles south of Denver. The damaged statue depicts Manuel Morales, president of Mexico’s National League for the Defense of Religious Liberty when he was executed in 1926 for refusing to recognize laws he considered anti-religious. Free tuition from church
MENOMONEE FALLS, Wis. — Zion Lutheran Church in the Milwaukee suburb of Menomonee Falls is offering to let families send their children to the church’s school for free whether or not they are members of the congregation.
Pastor Tim Lamkin says the congregation wants to do something to stimulate some enthusiasm and excitement for enrollment. Church members voted overwhelmingly to support the idea.
Lamkin says the school which offers 4-year-old kindergarten through eighth grade has 47 students, down from about 130 in the early 1990s.
Mark Bahr is principal of Lake Country Lutheran High School in Oconomowoc and vice chairman of the Association of Lutheran Secondary Schools. He says many parochial schools offer free or reduced tuition to members of their churches, but few if any have ever offered free tuition to nonmembers.