Faith Healing Couple Loses Custody Of Baby

child rights

Child Abuse or Faith Healing?

I’m all for religious freedom except when someone’s safety is endangered — especially if it involves the safety of a child.

I was disturbed to read about the Oregon couple who did not seek professional medical attention for their 10-month-old baby because of their faith healing practice. Their baby is now facing blindness in one eye.

The Oregon Department of Human Services won custody yesterday of little Alayna Wayland. Her parents, Timothy and Rebecca Wyland, have been charged with first degree criminal mistreatment for failing to provide adequate care according to CBS News.

The state has had temporary custody of the baby since July. She was initially placed in foster care. But last month, under a court order, Alayna was returned to her parents under medical supervision.

Yesterday’s ruling gives the state the right to act on the girl’s behalf and make sure she gets the treatment she needs.

Most states have exceptions in their child neglect and abuse statutes for parents who practice faith healing a belief that religious faith can heal.  Oregon is one of the only states to restrict that exemption.

Still, for some, this case is an issue of religious freedom. Rebecca Wyland’s attorney has accused the Oregon Department of Human Services of persecuting the Wylands.

What do you think? Do parents have the right to refuse medical treatment for their child if it is against their religious beliefs? It’s a controversial question that is sure to receive national attention in the months leading up to the Wyland’s trial in January.

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photo: Picasa/Janos

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