Religious Rights don’t extend to Murder

March 15, 2010

An Oregon judge sentenced two parents to 16 months in prison on March 8, for the death of their 16-year-old son. The crime was the criminally negligent homicide of 16-year-old Neil Beagley, who died in June 2008 because his parents preferred faith healing over medical treatment for his urinary tract obstruction.

The parents belong to the Followers of Christ Church, which has long history of child deaths from lack of medical care. The judge said that the parents committed a crime that "was a product of an unwillingness to respect the boundaries of freedom of expression."

If religions would at least practice the "right to life" they proclaim, these crimes shouldn't happen. Many religions often encourage believers to impose their view of what god wants on others, even to the point of murder. Fortunately, civilized societies try to protect the right to life and liberty of all, even those deemed by a religion as unworthy to live.

Reports on this sentence are at the Pew Forum and OregonLive.