Have you ever encountered a situation where you were told to solely believe in your prayers, and everything will end up well? That must have been the case with this couple who attended the Followers of Christ Church in Oregon. They have been charged with murder of their daughter earlier this week, after refusing to seek medical treatment for Gennifer Mitchell, preferring instead to rely on faith healing methods to get the job done. This certainly cut short the life of their prematurely born daughter, and it is a sad testimony for Christians worldwide.
Having been booked into the Clackamas County Jail after a week of grand jury testimony, 24 year old Sarah Elaine Mitchell her 21 year old husband, Travis Lee Mitchell, have been charged with murder and first-degree criminal mistreatment in the incident on March 5 that resulted in the death of their daughter Gennifer Mitchell.
The church that they attended, the Followers of Christ Church, had sent an elder to contact the county medical examiner’s office in order to report the death. However, what was strange in the case was this: no one from the family or church members present actually made the effort to dial 911 when Gennifer began to develop breathing problems that was certainly life threatening, and eventually, caused her to suffocate and die an early death.
Once Gennifer’s death was reported, her twin sister, Evelyn, was sent to the OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital for further treatment. An autopsy was performed to rule out any foul play, and in the autopsy report, it was discovered that Gennifer failed to make it after experiencing complications after her premature birth, which would include lung problems that eventually reduced the amount of oxygen required for her to live. In other words, her bloodstream had not enough oxygen to sustain her.
According to The Oregonian, “Child deaths have plagued the church for years. Members believe the sick will be anointed by elders and that their faith will heal all ailments. Death, if it comes, is God’s will, they believe.”
Needless to say, the church itself had a pattern of child deaths which eventually caused the Oregon Legislature to get rid of spiritual treatment as a form of defense when it comes to homicide charges, and rightly so. After all, who in their right mind, interpreting the Scriptures in the proper manner, would actually go ahead and leave such a potentially deadly fate of their children to chance? God has given us a thinking brain for good reason, and the advance of medical science should never be an excuse to fall back on when it comes to praying for healing. In fact, healing can arrive in the form of modern medicine.
Unfortunately, removal of spiritual treatment as a defense for homicide charges have not come soon enough. Sarah Mitchell’s sister and brother-in-law, Shannon and Dale Hickman, are currently in the slammer because they are serving prison sentences for the death of their infant son that happened in 2009. KOIN reported, “Sarah and Shannon’s father, Walter Matthew White, is believed to be a direct descendant of Walter White, the founder of the Followers of Christ Church congregation.”
What do you think of such practices? Should it be outlawed across the world? Do take note that faith healing is not limited to just Christianity, but you will find similar instances in other faiths as well throughout the world. Unfortunately, the death of common sense has not been largely mourned by the world over, and it is highly likely that such an event will happen again in the future.