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.


#1 oldebabe (Guest) on Monday March 15, 2010 at 9:29am

A 16-month prison sentence hardly seems appropriate given the parents enabled the unnecessary death of a person, made more egregious by the fact it was their young son.

I could write a tome…

#2 J. (Guest) on Monday March 15, 2010 at 10:17am

If these parents who so cruelly prevented the medical care or their infant child to die can justify the tragic outcome as “God’s will” then their conviction and prison sentences are no less so. There are no lack of religious fanatics who go unpunished for the neglect of their children at the risk of their lives and well being.

#3 asanta on Monday March 15, 2010 at 9:47pm

As an RN, I know how painful that death must have been. They should have been convicted of torture.

#4 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Wednesday March 17, 2010 at 3:16pm

I wonder if you’ll ever get around to writing about two subjects.  First, the fact that by a large majority, religious people think that this form of child neglect should be illegal and those who are guilty of it should be punished.  Which is the reason that state legislatures,  populated largely by religious believers,  make it illegal to do so.

Second, that there have been many hospitals, clinics, many of the free or subsidized, founded and maintained by religious institutions, many of them in the past, and even today, supported by the donations of religious believers.

And maybe you can get to a third item, that a lot of this is as a RESULT of their religious belief.

That is, if you’re really interested in the topic of children and others being provided with health care and not just with anti-religious invective.  Call me skeptical that you’ll be taking up these aspects of this topic anytime soon.

#5 John Shook on Thursday March 18, 2010 at 6:46am

Replying to Anthony (#4),

I’ll gladly speak my mind on the topics you mention, right here.

Where is the outrage against faith healing, the outrage against parental neglect and murder of their children like this, coming from Christians?

Sorry, but we don’t see outpourings of support for judicial sentences like this one, from any Christian denominations or major leaders.

Sure, religions build hospitals and supply vast amounts amounts of charity. So do secular people and secular governments.

The silence from Christians is deafening. Christians won’t criticize each other over the crazy consequences of faith? That’s condemnation enough for me.

#6 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Thursday March 18, 2010 at 7:06am

Where is the outrage against faith healing, the outrage against parental neglect and murder of their children like this, coming from Christians?  John Shook

How do you think it became illegal in the first place if the majority of voters didn’t think it was wrong?  And the majority of those voters and the legislators, policemen, prosecutors, etc. who support and enforce those laws are religious. 

The silence of Christians is deafening?  How much louder does it get than making it a felony?  I think the problem is that you don’t want to consider it realistically because the reality of it doesn’t suit your ideology.

#7 Anthony McCarthy (Guest) on Thursday March 18, 2010 at 7:56am

I’ve spent about fifteen minutes searching the terms _religious child medical neglect” and am finding not only condemnations of it among mainline Christian denominations but also requirements to report signs of it to authorities, in some of those citing or implying that it was a religious duty to report it.

I don’t think you did your homework on this.  But, I’ve had to say the same thing to other anti-religious bloggers who’ve repeated the same old line on it.

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