T Nation

Religious Freedom Run-a-Muck?

OKANOGAN â?? A pretrial ruling upholding a state law that allows faith healing for Christian Scientists but not other religions will go unchallenged now that Greg and JaLea Swezey agreed to plea deals, their lawyer says.

As members of the Church of the First Born, the Swezeys believe in faith healing. They were accused of failing to call a doctor while their 17-year-old son died of a ruptured appendix, and they prayed for him to get better.

Before their trial, Okanogan County Superior Court Judge Chris Culp declined to dismiss their case after their attorneys argued that they were not being treated equally under the law.

State law â?? RCW 9A.42.005 â?? allows treatment by a â??duly accredited Christian Science practitioner in lieu of medical careâ?? but does not include treatment by other church practitioners.

â??They never wanted to be the poster child for changing the law in Washington, even though the law begs to be changed,â?? said Omak attorney Douglas â??Gilâ?? Webber, who represented Greg Swezey.

The Swezeys were acquitted of second-degree murder after a four-day trial in mid-May, but the jury could not agree on whether the Carlton couple should be convicted of second-degree manslaughter.

On Thursday, rather than face a retrial on manslaughter charges, JaLea Swezey pleaded guilty to third-degree criminal mistreatment on Thursday, and Greg Swezey signed papers agreeing to plead guilty to the same crime after two years, if he follows court orders and commits no felonies during that time.

Webber said by signing a plea deal, the Swezeys gave up their right to appeal the judgeâ??s ruling.

â??Itâ??s a bizarre thing that that law is out there,â?? he added.

A spokesperson for the Christian Science Church previously declined to define what it means to be a duly accredited practitioner.

Rita Swan, president of CHILD Inc., a national nonprofit group to that works to protect children from abusive religious and cultural practices, said Christian Science practitioners are not medically trained. She said while they are required to report child abuse and neglect to the state, the state Department of Social and Health Services does not include them in their list of mandated child abuse reporters.

She said sheâ??s disappointed that attorneys for the Swezeys wonâ??t be appealing the ruling.

â??I understand they have to do whatâ??s in the best interest of their clients,â?? she said, adding, â??Maybe there will be enough publicity that it will motivate the legislature to change this.â??


TL;DR Kid’s appendix bursts, parents decide to call faith “healer” instead of a real doctor and the kid dies. Parents receive no jail time and there is actually a law that protects faith “healers.”

[quote] Washington state law RCW 9A.42.005:

The legislature finds that there is a significant need to protect children and dependent persons, including frail elder and vulnerable adults, from abuse and neglect by their parents, by persons entrusted with their physical custody, or by persons employed to provide them with the basic necessities of life. The legislature further finds that such abuse and neglect often takes the forms of either withholding from them the basic necessities of life, including food, water, shelter, clothing, and health care, or abandoning them, or both.

Therefore, it is the intent of the legislature that criminal penalties be imposed on those guilty of such abuse or neglect. It is the intent of the legislature that a person who, in good faith, is furnished Christian Science treatment by a duly accredited Christian Science practitioner in lieu of medical care is not considered deprived of medically necessary health care or abandoned. Prosecutions under this chapter shall be consistent with the rules of evidence, including hearsay, under law.

[/quote]

Personally all I could think about was the horrible agony this kid went through while his parents just stood there, closed their eyes and tried to pray away the pain.

The story is quite sad. I do find it strange that they call themselves “Christian Scientists”. I wonder which part of that name lets their 17 year old son die, and I wonder how you keep your faith after you go through something like that.

That’s idiotic that those morons didn’t call a doctor while their child was dying. If this is true, they deserve whatever punishment they get. Hopefully a very, very long prison sentence.

Now, my next statement in no way detracts from or diminishes the previous one in any manner whatsoever. That said:

What emptiness in your soul is it that you attempt to fill with this obsessive fixation of yours upon the “badness” of religion, and Christianity in particular?

Don’t you find it a little weird, dude, that YOU, post for post, start the majority of the religious threads on this board?

[quote]Cortes wrote:
That’s idiotic that those morons didn’t call a doctor while their child was dying. If this is true, they deserve whatever punishment they get. Hopefully a very, very long prison sentence. [/quote]

They didn’t even get jail time and they let their son die…

[quote]Cortes wrote:

Now, my next statement in no way detracts from or diminishes the previous one in any manner whatsoever. That said:

What emptiness in your soul is it that you attempt to fill with this obsessive fixation of yours upon the “badness” of religion, and Christianity in particular?

Don’t you find it a little weird, dude, that YOU, post for post, start the majority of the religious threads on this board?

[/quote]

I find it interesting how religion and politics intersect. If it weren’t for topics related to religion, I would barely participate in this forum. But thanks for sharing that you think I’m weird!

Now if you’re done here, maybe you could go bug the Australian kid who has a hard-on for Obama?

[quote]therajraj wrote:

[quote]Cortes wrote:
That’s idiotic that those morons didn’t call a doctor while their child was dying. If this is true, they deserve whatever punishment they get. Hopefully a very, very long prison sentence. [/quote]

They didn’t even get jail time and they let their son die…

[quote]Cortes wrote:

Now, my next statement in no way detracts from or diminishes the previous one in any manner whatsoever. That said:

What emptiness in your soul is it that you attempt to fill with this obsessive fixation of yours upon the “badness” of religion, and Christianity in particular?

Don’t you find it a little weird, dude, that YOU, post for post, start the majority of the religious threads on this board?

[/quote]

I find it interesting how religion and politics intersect. If it weren’t for topics related to religion, I would barely participate in this forum. But thanks for sharing that you think I’m weird!

[/quote]

Oh, I’m sure the feeling is mutual.

[quote]BrianHanson wrote:
The story is quite sad. I do find it strange that they call themselves “Christian Scientists”. I wonder which part of that name lets their 17 year old son die, and I wonder how you keep your faith after you go through something like that. [/quote]

I wonder how someone can declare that they are Christian and believe in abortion and homosexual marriage. So you see there are plenty of things that some will just never understand.

Granted therajraj is an odd dude. But beyond that most of the religious threads are begun by atheists.

And if that is not a cry for help I don’t know what is.

[quote]therajraj wrote:
They didn’t even get jail time and they let their son die…
[/quote]

If he had died under a doctor’s care should the doctor go to jail?

First off isn’t christian scientist a bit of an oxymoron? But seriously, even as someone who is about as anti-religious as possible, I believe stongly in freedom of religion, we are all entitled to our own beliefs. But when religious beliefs cause the death of another person, especially a minor whose well being the parents are responsible for, the safety of the child overides religous freedom. Making an arguement for their innocence would be like saying the christians who killed abortion doctors were just expressing thier religious freedom or the same with muslim fundamentalits who suicide bomb. Although more extreme, they are similar situations.
Also I believe that a few years ago their was a similar case in which parents let their young daughter die of untreated type one diabetes because they prayed instead of taking her to the doctor, and they were found guilty (of what the exact charges were I don’t remember).

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

[quote]therajraj wrote:
They didn’t even get jail time and they let their son die…
[/quote]

If he had died under a doctor’s care should the doctor go to jail?
[/quote]

To answer your question: it really depends on the circumstances.

Now setting that aside for a second, you do know that appendectomies have an extremely high success rate right?

[quote]ZEB wrote:

[quote]BrianHanson wrote:
The story is quite sad. I do find it strange that they call themselves “Christian Scientists”. I wonder which part of that name lets their 17 year old son die, and I wonder how you keep your faith after you go through something like that. [/quote]

I wonder how someone can declare that they are Christian and believe in abortion and homosexual marriage. So you see there are plenty of things that some will just never understand.[/quote]

You don’t understand much ZEB, it is a character flaw. Churches change rules all the time, I am a patient man…

They should have taken him to a doctor then prayed God would help doctor help him. Why on earth would anyone believe God gave us the tools to help ourselves but expects us not to use them? I don’t really care to encourage a “bash Christian Science” thread, but this is one case where I really do agree that Christians did something idiotic. We have all this great stuff that is morally neutral. Use it for good. Having it sit there while a child dies has just got to be more evil than using the stuff to save him. Good grief.

[quote]therajraj wrote:
To answer your question: it really depends on the circumstances.

Now setting that aside for a second, you do know that appendectomies have an extremely high success rate right?
[/quote]

So the parents should go to jail because doctors have figured out how to remove “nonfunctional” tissue?

[quote]therajraj wrote:
Personally all I could think about was the horrible agony this kid went through while his parents just stood there, closed their eyes and tried to pray away the pain.[/quote]

They should be prosecuted. That’s not religious freedom run amok, that’ stupid people doing stupid shit.
God is probably telling them “Take him to the hospital dumbass, that’s why they are there.”

[quote]pat wrote:

[quote]therajraj wrote:
Personally all I could think about was the horrible agony this kid went through while his parents just stood there, closed their eyes and tried to pray away the pain.[/quote]

They should be prosecuted. That’s not religious freedom run amok, that’ stupid people doing stupid shit.
God is probably telling them “Take him to the hospital dumbass, that’s why they are there.”[/quote]

I was just about to write “run amok” because the pedant in me just couldn’t take it anymore.

Thanks Pat. (^_~)

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

[quote]therajraj wrote:
To answer your question: it really depends on the circumstances.

Now setting that aside for a second, you do know that appendectomies have an extremely high success rate right?
[/quote]

So the parents should go to jail because doctors have figured out how to remove “nonfunctional” tissue?
[/quote]

Huh?

I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. If you disagree with my position, tell me what you disagree with and why.

[quote]pat wrote:

That’s not religious freedom run amok[/quote]

Here is what I’m trying to get at: there is a law that specifically protects people from being liable if they call upon a Christian Science faith healer.

Read what I quoted and especially what I bolded in the OP.

[quote]therajraj wrote:

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:

[quote]therajraj wrote:
To answer your question: it really depends on the circumstances.

Now setting that aside for a second, you do know that appendectomies have an extremely high success rate right?
[/quote]

So the parents should go to jail because doctors have figured out how to remove “nonfunctional” tissue?
[/quote]

Huh?

I’m not sure what you’re trying to say. If you disagree with my position, tell me what you disagree with and why.[/quote]

I am just trying to pin down an ethical basis for sending these parents to jail.

When do parents become “criminally negligent”?

Lifticus,

probably when they let their minor child die by denying him medical treatment.