Oregon Parents Indicted In Faith-Healing Death

A grand jury in Clackamas County, Ore., has indicted an Oregon City couple who relied on faith healing to deal with their 15-month-old daughter’s respiratory ailment.

Ava Worthington died at home March 2 of pneumonia and a blood infection. Medical officials say both ailments could have been treated with antibiotics. The child’s parents, Carl Brent and Raylene Worthington, belong to the Followers of Christ Church, which practices faith healing.

In 1999, Oregon legislators passed a law that bans parents from treating seriously ill children with prayer alone. On March 28, a grand jury indicted Brent and Worthington on charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminal mistreatment.

Officials say that since the law was passed, police have intervened twice with parents who belong to the church. One case involved a child with a broken arm. The parents complied with the authorities’ requests and got medical treatment for the child.

“We haven’t seen any cases of significant medical neglect…until now,” Clackamas County Detective Jeff Green told the Portland Oregonian.

Members of the Followers of Christ Church, which broke away from a larger Pentecostal denomination in the 1930s, have refused to talk to reporters about the issue.