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Faith-heads face manslaughter charges after choosing prayer over medical care

AUSTIN SPROUT was 16 when he died last December after his parents chose prayer, rather medical care for an undisclosed illness he was suffering.

Austin Sprout. Click on pic for video report

Five years earlier, the Oregon teenager’s fundamentalist dad, Brian Sprout, met his Maker after refusing medical treatment for sepsis that set in after an injury sustained in a fall.

Austin’s parents, Brandi and Russel Bellew, who attend General Assembly and the Church of the First Born in Pleasant Hill, Cresswell, now face second-degree manslaughter charges – and this week six of their children were made wards of the state. But they may continue to care for their remaining children under a state-supervised “in-home safety plan”,Lane County Circuit Juvenile Court Judge Eveleen Henry ruled in a brief afternoon hearing.

Terms of that plan include the presence of a state-approved “safety provider,” immediate notification of the state Department of Human Services if any of the children has “medical symptoms, illness or injury” and calling 911 if any medical emergency arises.

The safety monitor, Del McCracken, is a fellow church member, but “believes in seeking medical care and advocates for the children to have medical care,” the plan states.

The children are a blended family, created when Brandi and Russel Bellew married after both were widowed.

Brian Sprout was the biological father of three of the six children placed in state custody.

Monday’s hearing was packed with more than two dozen relatives and supporters of Brandi and Russel Bellew. Many were fellow church members who bowed their heads and appeared to pray during the hearing.

During the hearing lawyer, Bob Schrank, representing the Bellews, challenged as unnecessary the state’s request that both parents undergo a comprehensive psychological exam.

But child protection caseworker Jennifer Long Perkins said the state had a solid basis for seeking the exams:

By no means are we suggesting that these parents are crazy. But we are asking the family to make a significant, life-changing decision about a practice (faith-healing) they have long upheld. We want a professional opinion that they are able to do that.

Judge Henry ordered the exams, but allowed the couple to delay them until their criminal case is resolved.

Hat tip. Angela K

20 Responses to “Faith-heads face manslaughter charges after choosing prayer over medical care”

  1. Ian says:

    Wasn’t it PT Barnum who said, ‘there’s one born every minute’? But why do they have to prove it?

  2. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Good to see them being prosecuted. It’s fine if they want to choose prayer over medical treatment for themselves, they are adults, but they have no right to put a childs life at risk.

  3. Trevor blake says:

    Here’s a funny thing. The bible clearly states that God’s eternal commandment is that when a woman is widowed, she is to marry her deceased husband’s brother. See Genesis 38:8-10, Matthew 5:18. These parents are willing to spit in God’s eye when it comes to who they have sex with, but will follow His beautiful perfect plan when it comes to watching their own children die. They aren’t crazy. Just stupid and evil.

  4. Stonyground says:

    According to the OP at least one of the deceased spouses died due to using prayer instead of medical treatment. The word ‘unteachable’ springs to mind.

  5. Matt Westwood says:

    I don’t care. Less stupid people in the world. Shame they spawned so many offspring though.

  6. AgentCormac says:

    Another life lost to the insanity of superstition.

  7. Stonyground says:

    @Matt Westwood
    I find your comment to be very callous. This child did nothing to deserve being born to such moronic parents, or to be sacrificed on the altar of their stupidity. The guy who, as an adult, chose to refuse medical treatment deserved to die, the boy definitely did not.

  8. Matt Westwood says:

    Callous, schmallous. Sorry, but I can’t be made to care about a bunch of benighted superstitious morons in the most technologically advanced nation on earth, victims of their own stupidity. All this story does is reinforce my own prejudices. Sorry, but I’m not moved to pity, I’m moved to contempt, and to a certain extent rage at such a waste of life.

    So apart from wring my hands and make puppy-whimpering noises, what are we supposed to do about such utter dumbfucks? Sorry, but the only response is ridicule. Yeah, sorry about the kids an’ all that, yada yada, but sorry, fuck ‘em. Let their fellow countrymen sort them out.

  9. Zanshin says:

    This is just Darwin in action. These people have the IQ of a stone and will eventually all die out, so in the end saving thousands in medical costs and also making the average IQ per capita higher by default.

  10. David says:

    My first reaction to this was great anger at the parents, but for them to do something like this they must either be insane or mentally deficient. They need to have their kids taken away from them and receive professional help.

  11. David says:

    “By no means are we suggesting that these parents are crazy.”

    But they CLEARLY are. As for the people supporting these parents, they should be utterly, utterly ashamed of themselves (either that or they are also insane). The fact is that anyone who let this happen or supports the parents in this should either be locked up or be given professional help.

  12. Marky Mark says:

    “both parents undergo a comprehensive psychological exam.” As should all followers of bronze age stories of talking snakes and men who live in belly of a whale.

  13. go says:

    It’s funny, I have always noticed that these people never find it necessary to pray over dental caries for a cure, or pray for vision correction instead of using eyeglasses..

  14. Matt Westwood says:

    @go: Don’t be so sure of that. I used to hang about with a bunch of kids who could only be described as “progressive Christians”. They took the logical view: “If, as you tell us, prayer is effective, then why not use it?” and (to the horror of their pusillanimous elders) took the art form to its logical conclusion. I don’t have any first-hand knowledge of whether it ever worked, but it surely shook up the establishment.

  15. Stonyground says:

    @Matt Westwood
    You’ve left us dangling with that story, what was this logical conclusion that horrified the elders?

    I kind of get where you’re coming from with the sympathy fatigue for religious idiots and their hapless victims. Some people have no access to knowledge and are ignorant through no fault of their own. The wilfully ignorant are without excuse.

  16. barriejohn says:

    I knew many evangelical Christians in Britain who refused to have their children immunized for similar reasons. They also refused to take out insurance, on the basis that it demonstrated lack of trust in God, and also that if God desired to “touch” their lives (ie discipline them) it narrowed his options! Evidently Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, had to visit the dentist, and is reported to have asked for a painkiller. Her explanation for this was supposed to be that it was not the dentist who cured her toothache but her faith in him! I have been unable to locate an authoritative source for this story, but this is interesting:

    http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20110307063425AAbS1BT

  17. Matt Westwood says:

    The “logical conclusion” was that we should pray for God to cure medical conditions for which we have simple medical and/or prosthetic cures. In some cases they took on prayer challenges to get God to cure various cases of rather more serious things, like cancer and clinical depression and all sorts of other stuff. (I think they worked out that it was a waste of good energy to pray for mundane stuff like improvement to eyesight and curing of caries when there were more important and dramatic things to pray for.)

    In effect, they actually challenged the platitude that God answers prayer by actually trying it out by praying really hard. Intensely, loudly, shoutily, screamily, teenagerly, with spontaneous glossolalia – and the established religious community at the time had trouble adapting to this.

    The glossolalia was the thing. It was scary and exciting, but I had trouble joining in because I could not silence the little voice inside me saying: “This doesn’t make any scientific sense.” At one point I was prayed over myself (with my own willing consent) so as to be able to get past this mental stumbling block, but they gave up on me because it was clearly “my fault” that I couldn’t “speak in tongues”. Ultimately I found myself wondering whether the glossolalia was spontaneous and God-inspired, or whether it was a deliberate act of making-up-rubbish that was deliberately used in order to put across the appearance of being holy and out-there and hip-and-happening – but all I could produce myself was a variant on a theme that went “shit-fuck-bugger-cunt-wank” which had limited appeal in that circle.

    As for whether it worked or not I can not say with any certainty because around this time I lost interest and started spending more time at the local youth theatre.

    Even later in life I encountered various bunches of people who cut to the chase by actually performing rituals of “real magic” – no different from prayer to God except in the belief in the amount of control that could be exerted on the universe by an act of will.

    And I’m sorry, but my internal mental jury is still out on that one, having seen some seriously weird stuff happening that I still have not managed to explain away in a strictly materialistic interpretation. (Best I can come up with is the Isaac Bonewits view that everyone’s brainwaves all interlink in a great cosmic matrix of electromagnetism that pervades everything, which, as a hypothesis, still requires considerable experimental investigation.)

  18. 1859 says:

    ‘With a sick child with the pox, take the blood of a newly slaughtered chicken, mix with pig urine, and sprinkle over the sick child’s head and feet. Repeat 4 times a day. If on the third day the child has not risen, go fetch a priest to carry the child upside down around the house while singing the Psalms.If now the child has still not revived,whip its back with branches of hazel to drive out the evil and pray for forgivness….’
    Presumably these criminal parents still think this 250 year old ‘remedy’ is worth a try?

  19. terry says:

    These hypocrites are primitive, ridiculous and reprehensible there brain’s and eyes have glazed over so as not to recognize
    what they have done through indoctrination. Illness is the work of demons?
    Now that poor child is dead because of their fixed false beliefs, their delusion. Their indoctrination has been so thorough, neither their minds nor their human spirit will ever gain it’s well-being and freedom. In short they don’t have religion, religion has them.

  20. […] indoctrinated as a child and accepted into adulthood without question. Hence this article about a boy who needlessly died because his parents criminally decided that prayer was more important than seeking medical […]