Another Child Suffers at the Hands of Christian Parents July 28, 2010

Another Child Suffers at the Hands of Christian Parents

A major problem with religion is that it causes believers to accept nonsense over reality. Sometimes, it’s just silly. Other times, that can lead to disaster.

Take a look at what happened to 8-month-old Alayna May Wyland:

I don’t care if that makes you uncomfortable.

Keep reading:

The Wylands’ daughter, Alayna, had a small discoloration over her left eye when she was born.

The area started swelling and the fast-growing mass of blood vessels, known as a hemangioma, eventually caused her eye to shut, pushed the eyeball down and outward, and affected the eye socket, said Dr. Thomas Valvano, a pediatrician at Doernbecher Children’s Hospital at Oregon Health & Science University.

“This was medical neglect,” said Valvano, who testified at the hearing. Alayna could lose vision in her left eye and probably will need surgery, he said.

The worst part is that this may have been preventable had Alayna seen doctors.

But even if it was absolutely preventable, her parents, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, wouldn’t have cared.

The Wylands said they never considered getting medical attention for the growth and would not have if DHS had not intervened.

Attorneys for the Wylands said the couple weren’t given a chance to obtain medical care after DHS got involved in the case late last month and have been largely excluded from medical appointments.

[Deputy district attorney Colleen] Gilmartin asked Rebecca Wyland why she didn’t take Alayna to a doctor.

“Because I believe in God and put my faith in him,” she replied.

“If DHS never came into your lives … at what point would you have accessed medical care,” Gilmartin asked Timothy Wyland.

He did not answer the question directly and said he puts his faith in God. If his daughter did not improve, “that’s his will,” he said.

Why can’t it ever be God’s Will for the parents to suffer the same medical conditions as their helpless children…?

And take a wild guess where all this took place.

In Oregon, where Alayna’s parents were members of the Followers of Christ Church — home to other faith-based killers like the parents of Ava Worthington and Neil Beagley.

As Susan Nielsen of The Oregonian points out, there may be punishment in store for the parents:

Over the past three decades, more than 20 Oregon children whose parents belong to the Followers of Christ church have died of treatable illnesses, according to the state medical examiner’s office. Yet Oregon grants special leniency to faith-healing parents, singling them out favorably in state policy and protecting them from being charged with certain crimes.

In a 1999 compromise, the Oregon Legislature stripped away some of those legal protections but gave judges the authority to give lighter sentences to faith-healing parents. In recent years, Clackamas County authorities have successfully prosecuted two couples for the preventable deaths of their children. Things are moving in the right direction.

Still, Oregon remains a national outlier for its level of deference toward faith-based crime.

These parents are dangerous. They may not come to their senses until their daughter dies. And even that would be “god’s will” in their minds. That’s what their faith teaches them.

It’s not just mindless nonsense. It’s dangerous extremism.

Ugh… I hope they pay dearly for this.

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  • Bob

    Throw the parents in jail and withhold food and water. If it’s God’s Will they survive, they will, right?

  • mike andrews

    suffer the little children…

  • Enrys

    Throw them in for life without food and water.

  • Phebe

    Seems more like laziness. It’s easier to pray instead of seeking for medical help.

  • Mel

    Ditto, let’s see just how much “god” loves them when their basic needs are taken away.

  • But even if it was absolutely preventable, her parents, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, wouldn’t have cared.

    It’s worth noting that cases like these are frequently driven by a mix of fear (on the part of the parents), and enabling by their community/church. Remember the Daniel Hauser case?

    I certainly don’t think the parents (or their church) should get let of the hook here, but so far I’m still feeling more pity than disgust for the parents.

  • hippiefemme

    Why do I always read stories about how “God’s will” caused a horrible thing to happen because of someone else’s negligence? Why can’t I see a story that says “It was God’s will that we caught this problem in time” or “Thank God for modern medicine so that our little girl won’t be permanently impaired.” Granted, it takes credit away from the people who actually work hard to save lives and quality of lives, but at least there would be fewer of these tragic cases.

  • Janina

    Even from a religious point of view this is ridiculous: If everything that happens is God’s will, then why does a treatment for this exist? Maybe he wants people to use it? :O If everything happens in His will, then the intervention from the DHS is also His will ^^

    We tell a joke over here, it goes something like this:
    A priest falls into a lake and is about to drown, so he prays to God for help. Just after he finished the first prayer, a firetruck comes by. When the firemen see the priest they get ready to rescue him, but he says: “No, don’t worry, I have faith in God, he will save me”. And he goes on praying. After the second prayer, another firetruck stops at the lake but he tells them the same as before. The whole thing happens a third time before the priest finally drowns. When he arrives in Heaven, he asks God: “Lord, I have always been so faithfull to You, why didn’t You save me?” God answers: “Oh boy, what more could I do then send you the firefighters THREE times?!”

  • Hybrid

    Once again Hemant, you just don’t get it.

    These parents have life figured out almost as well as the preist who drown the baby boy in your last post. What’s the problem with a baby suffering for a few moments, months, or even years when the prize is eternal bliss? Give them a parade, I say, they were trying to save their baby from the evil of this life and fast track her on over to the land of milk and … well, milk. We should put them in charge of national pediatric care standards, I say… who wouldn’t want their babies dieing in a state of grace as soon as possible?

  • Hitch

    But never forget that we cannot say that religions have something to do with child abuse.

    Oregon seriously needs to change their laws and up child protection/guardianship rules.

  • muggle

    the authority to give lighter sentences to faith-healing parents.

    What is that but blatant religious discrimination? The parents who neglect their baby because they’re praying instead of attending to baby should get the same exact sentence as the drug-addicted parents who neglect their baby because they’re too high to attend to them.

    And neither for the record should be parents but what can I say? There is no god.

  • abadidea

    Her mother doesn’t look like the brightest cookie in the shed. And that’s your dose of ad hominem for the day.

  • Steve

    How come religious freedom trumps “shall no law respecting an establishment of religion”?

    And for that matter, how can religious freedom possibly win over protecting the health of citizens and children? That’s some truly fucked up priorities there.

  • Moky

    Homeopathy is worse in my opinion. It’s bullshit medicine that is more accepted in society.

  • Kiteman

    Lock them up, and make sure the other inmates know what they did.

    As others have said, if it’s god’s will that they survive…

  • Lynn

    There are plenty of very devout people who recognize that if everything is God’s plan, then that includes medicine. The reason that these people do this is not faith; it is status. They gain status in their community (the church, yes, but that is their community) by demonstrating that they are so devout, they allow their children to become disfigured and even die.

    I am absolutely certain that many people in this kind of community pray that their child may develop a medical condition so that they, too, can gain status in the community by not having it treated. People are shit.

    But this isn’t a religious thing. There are plenty of ways to gain status in society that are completely secular and still detrimental. For example, there are plenty of deaf “advocates” or “activists” or whatever who are horrified that many parents would get their deaf child a cochlear implant. A child who gets one has a much lower status in the deaf community than a child whose parents refuse the implant. And the child suffers if the parents refuse, because the critical period for developing hearing in the brain is within the first couple of years — getting an implant at age 18 does almost nothing because the brain can’t wire itself for hearing by then.

    This is the nature of pack animals.

  • Stephen

    If everything that happens is gods will. Then surely a sucessfull treatment would be gods will?

    I also wonder if this viwe point is more common in USA comapred to countryies with univerisal health care systems. Due to concern about the possible cost of medical treatment it finaclly easier just to say its gods will.

    excuse my bad spelling.

  • You missed the best part of the story, Hemant. Baby Alayna’s father? He was married before he was married to her mother.

    His last wife? She died of breast cancer. Untreated, painful, horrible breast cancer.

    I don’t care how much religion these people have. They’re hateful disgusting monsters. They should be treated as such.

  • AKBadBoy

    I was raised in a faith based religion, when my youngest child became ill with pneumonia I prayed for him and sought no medical help. Then I started getting instructions from church members “do this, don’t do that” they were actually giving me advice from medical books they had read. I came to my senses and took my son the hospital, his recovery was almost overnight. These same people will accept food stamps, unemployment, social security, etc. The ignorance and indoctrination in these type of churches is the problem. I have known people who have died from things as simple as a sinus infection. I am glad to be away from this insanity and have raised my 3 sons to think for themselves and question everything.

  • littlejohn

    How could this happen? The mother LOOKS so intelligent, what with the mouth-breathing and all.

  • Korou

    It sounds like it’s the church that needs to be punished as well.

    This is horrifying.

  • Aj


    It’s not about status in the community for the deaf. It’s sometimes about pride and what they perceive as equal perception of worth from society, but that’s demanding equal status from outside the deaf community not from within. I don’t agree with them, but that’s different to how you describe it, and certainly different to the faith “healers”.

    It’s also about language and culture, which is something that a hearing person is not going to be tuned into as a deaf person would. That’s not artificial, it’s inevitable and not detrimental, it happens in all societies, that outsiders to a language and culture are less able to participate in society.

    I accept their point that some with cochlear implants may never be able to fully participate in hearing or deaf culture, and that some efforts to fix deafness border on unhealthy supremacy, but it works both ways with at least two deaf parents asking to destroy their child’s hearing. Both of these types are sick, but thankfully there’s not plenty of them.

    On these faith healers, it’s not really about believing in miraculous healing, it’s about seeing disease as punishment for sins, and not intefering with “God’s will”. This is clearly a case of batshit beliefs, it’s because they have faith. You may have a point about status on why they have that faith. Consider that the social pressure to have this faith is extremely strong from a very young age. It’s not calculated, they don’t wish illness on their children, but they’re clearly shits for not caring enough for their child’s suffering.

  • Yes, this picture does make me uncomfortable. I still think i will print it out and carry it in my wallet to pull out whenever anyone argues “what harm does religion do?” I agree with the general consensus above. If a person does terrible things to their children by overt act or neglect because the voices in their head tell them to, the state takes the children away and puts the parent(s) in a mental institution, right? If that same person does the same thing due to the ‘will of god’ how are they any less criminally negligent or any less mentally unfit to be parents?

  • beckster

    I have known two small babies with this same medical issue. It can be easily treated with a simple outpatient procedure, but ignoring it can be very costly. The child should be taken from the parents and the parents should be in jail.

  • JrzyGirl

    My maternal grandmother was a Christian Scientist and died of untreated breast cancer the day I was born. Fat lot of good prayer did for her.

  • I like Bob’s suggestion:

    Throw the parents in jail and withhold food and water. If it’s God’s Will they survive, they will, right?

    If God is protecting them, they surely will live without any health issues.

    I wonder why God is ignoring the child? Why would a just God hate a child?

    Sheesh… how can normal, logical people think like this?

  • Hazor

    Oregon’s laws need fixing. Faith-related crimes should not receive special treatment. These parents should receive prison time, and the church leadership seriously needs to be charged with instigating all of these things. Not that it would do much good, as they would say that it also was God’s Will and that they were simply being persecuted, and they’d go as martyrs. Bah.

    My little brother developed a hemangioma in a lung when he was about 15. Fortunately, my missionary parents are mildly more sensible and think God’s Will includes modern medicine, and thus he’s still alive to talk about it.

  • Staceyjw

    Did you know……
    This is the mans second wife- guess what happened to the first one?

    She died of breast cancer because she refused to seek medical care. She put her trust in god and bet her life on faith- and lost.

    I can’t believe this guy sat and watched her die, and I really can’t imagine a woman that would marry him knowing this!!!! (I know, he’s probably considered “full of faith” and a “strong man of god”- desirable traits for nut jobs)

    You would think the church members would get a clue after SO MANY DEATHS, and other such incidents.

    Since the church wont, the state needs to wake up and stop these people from killing or maiming any more kids.

    These so called parents saw the growth, and anointed it with oil while praying, after wiping off the flowing pus.How you could let your kid suffer is beyond me, but they were prepared to let her go blind or worse! They need jail AND deprogramming.

    What an awful story!

  • anatman

    I was born with a hemangioma. It was on the side of my head. I looked like one of those bald bulgy brained veiny cliche aliens. Fortunately, my parents were not religious fanatics. A simple procedure fixed me right up. I really hope that poor child is given a new home with sane people.

  • Don Rose

    Mouth-breathing mommy nearly killed, but did manage to half-blind her daughter, in the name of gawd. Not that I would ever wish any ill toward an innocent child, but maybe some of these bloodlines are better off ending.

  • gwen

    I guess ‘god’ doesn’t take care of cavities, because I’ll just bet they visit the dentist for a toothache, and he doesn’t correct your vision, because I have seen some of these idiots wearing glasses.

  • Jessica

    Those parents should be ashamed of themselves Look around God is not here! Those parents should have taken care of there baby, why is it that religious nuts are aloud to get away with that stuff! this is no more then a religious cult abusing children someone needs to step in and take care of these poor babies that are abused by these type of people.

  • Child abuse, pure and simple.

    Say it with me—all together now: Beliefs have consequences.

  • Just how ignorant can people be?

  • That picture made me cry. How could they do that to a little baby?

    What fucking scum.

  • kumquatwriter

    @Moky, I agree with you on alternative medicine. There is no difference whatsoever between “trusting in god” and “trusting your body” if it means you don’t go see a doctor. I feel the same way about the whole homebirth movement, to be honest, but that’s a rant for another time.

    As an Oregonian, this is hard to read about. It’s always hard to read about; I love my state and I’m proud to live here. I am proud of how progressive we often are.

    Yes, we have our share of right-wing cliches; we have some hardcore Christians, we have plenty of militants, survivalists, separatists, etc. We also have a LOT of hippies. And a lot of the time, everyone pretty much does their own thing and gets along pretty well.

    Thing is, it seems (to me) that the legislature protecting the faith-healers in our state is trying to come from the right place. One thing most us do have in common (the right wingers et al and the hippies) is a very live-and-let live philosophy.

    That doesn’t make it right; good intentions hold about as much water as thought crimes.

    We need to hold parents accountable for their actions, no matter what their beliefs. Protecting them because they thought it was “god” instead of “faeries” or whatever is twisted at best.

    This whole thing just makes me ill.

  • Dan W

    I feel sorry for the child who will probably have vision problems for the rest of her life because of her parent’s ridiculous beliefs. The parents, on the other hand? Fuck ’em. Let them rot in prison for doing such harm to their child, all because of their fundie religious beliefs.

  • JD

    Thankfully, the religious that go this far with faith are actually few and far between in the US. I don’t think this particular problem is widespread in the US. While I do believe this happens more than we hear about, all the stores of parental medical neglect due to this kind of superstition that I’ve seen come out of a single church of maybe 100 people if you go by a common church size. I suppose you have the Jehovah’s Witnesses, but they don’t go anywhere nearly this far, the limit of their delusion seems to be to not accept body parts and blood, other medical care seems to be accepted. And they too are a relatively obscure sect.

  • DAZ

    The belief that some cosmic fish producing Jewish Zombie can make you live forever if you symbolically eat his flesh and drink his blood and telepathically tell him that you accept him as your master, so he can remove an evil f…orce from your soul that is present because a rib-woman was convinced by a talking snake to eat from a magical tree. AND if you ask him telepathically to heal your children, no doctors are necessary!?
    Makes prefect sense.

  • Manksteve

    I think that comparing home birthing with alternative Medicine is unfair as home births have been shown to have some big advantages over giving birth in hospital.

    I suspect what your referring too is not home birthing itself where a mid wife would be present and hospital assistance a quick journey away, but free births where no assistance is available.

  • kumquatwriter

    @Manksteve: As long as MANA (Midwives Alliance of North America) refuses to release it’s own safety data to the public, and with regards to the recently published Wax homebirth study demonstrating that homebirth has triple the neonatal fatality rate as hospital birth, I am not comfortable with homebirth. Many of my dearest friends have had them, and all have had wonderful outcomes, and I chose to support them in their choices. I am not against women who have homebirths, I am against midwives and advocates who push faulty and often deliberately misleading safety data. One source that can serve as a handy starting point (though she’s pretty brash) is the Skeptical OB ( I don’t agree with her on everything, but she does regularly provide links to peer-reviewed journals and the actual studies most blogs just quote out of context.

    Honestly, I get much more hostility by being against homebirth than I do for being Atheist. Again I must say, I am NOT sitting in judgment of other women who choose to birth at home. I wish they had more and better data available to them, but I respect their choices. I wish more people (particularly advocates) were willing to discuss this topic–but I get just as much (if not more) anger and refusal to hear my input as I do on the occasions I’ve tried to discuss evolution vs. “Intelligent Design.”

    Also, and I don’t know if this matters, I am 7 months pregnant.

    Freebirthing (by choice) on the other hand I am wholly against on the same page as the “god will heal our baby.”

  • Bertram Cabot, Jr.

    And just as you blame all Christians for this, I BLAME YOU for the ATHEIST DOCTOR who killed my dad with his arrogant medical malpractice.


  • mechanoid

    @Bertram Cabot, Jr.

    I BLAME YOU for the ATHEIST DOCTOR who killed my dad with his arrogant medical malpractice.

    The real problem here is that the Follower’s of Christ withhold necessary medical care in the Name of God.

    Unless your doctor “killed in the name of ATHEISM”, your rage and grief are misplaced.

    I suggest some grief counseling, and/or anger management classes. Good luck to you.

  • Elena Villarreal

    @ hippiefemme

    People say things like “It was God’s will that we caught this problem in time,” or “Thank God for modern medicine so that our little girl won’t be permanently impaired,” all the time. They’re just less noteworthy.

  • AnonyMouse

    Lynn wrote,

    “I am absolutely certain that many people in this kind of community pray that their child may develop a medical condition so that they, too, can gain status in the community by not having it treated. People are shit.”

    I am an ex-Follower who despises nearly everything about their death-cult, and this made me sick. You know nothing about these people. Yes, they are brainwashed. Yes, they neglect their children (among other things) in the name of God. But they do love their children, and when things like this happen it causes them tremendous pain. You have to understand their situation. They have been told from the time they were tiny children that if they took themselves or their loved ones to a doctor, they risked going to a lake of fire to be tortured for eternity. FOR. FUCKING. ETERNITY. Even if they don’t completely believe it, even if it kills them to watch their children and siblings and spouses suffer, they are not willing to risk that consequence.

    Even if you take that away – even if you go with the ones who might be willing to risk it – there’s the social stigma. Taking the child to a doctor renders you a sinner – dirty, not worth being associated with. People avoid you, give you looks in church, warn their children about you.

    That is wrong and selfish, and I would never say otherwise. But it is an extremely difficult choice and they would NEVER ask to be forced to make it.

    All of the states where these people live – Oregon is NOT the only one that lets them get away with this neglect – need to illegalize religion-fueled child abuse. Their Bible tells them that they are relieved from guilt if the law requires them to seek medical attention. They’ll go down kicking and screaming, but they’ll be over it in a couple of generations.

  • R. L. Helm

    Okay I may be the odd man out here.
    The assumption seems to be here (by the title of the article and most comments) that faith is somehow the problem. I don’t know of any christian who would allow a child to be neglected in this manner. The truth is anyone can follow ignorant and dangerous advice fueled by fear.
    Are we to assume that there are no stupid parents who are athiests? It seems to me that this is more a cult than a legitimate faith.

  • Jason Hernandez

    its really sad that atheists like this take the extreme example and then apply it to the whole. These are not Christians because not Christian would allow that to happen to their child. Just because people say they are Chrisian does not mean that they are. I just wonder where this anger against religion comes from. You can point out the same examples for atrocities commited by atheists but I wouldn’t say that all atheists are evil. You should come up with some actually defensable arguements against religion instead of strawmen.

  • This is just neglect.

    I have religious parents and a hemangioma … but I received proper care for it though.

    These people just use religion to make excuses.

  • Verimius

    @Jason Hernandez

    You’re using the no true Scotsman fallacy (look it up).

  • Hankmoore94

    I know it’s hard for you,but just because the doctor was an atheist or whatever doesn’t mean atheist are like that.

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