In the US state of Oregon there exists a fundamentalist Christian denomination knows as ‘Followers of Christ’. One of their core doctrines includes a reliance on prayer for healing of illnesses. So strict are they in enforcing this doctrine that they shun members who seek professional medical care. Apparently many children have died from otherwise treatable diseases because their parents refused to take them to hospital, opting instead to pray to ‘God’ for healing.

On February 2nd 2010 (yesterday), Jeff and Marci Beagley, who are both members of the Followers of Christ Church, were found guilty of criminally negligent homicide. According to the New York Times:

A couple who belong to a church whose members avoid medical care were found guilty of criminally negligent homicide for praying over their ill son instead of seeking medical help. Jeff and Marci Beagley’s 16-year-old son, Neil, died in 2008 of complications from a urinary tract blockage.

One of the things that led me towards atheism was that miracle healing claims – that are usually touted by believers as strong evidence of there being a ‘God’ – just don’t bear out upon scrutiny.

Many people have claimed that ‘God’ has healed them of various ailments. In Part 2, I will discuss in detail why I and most sensible people do not find such claims convincing.

In the meantime, regardless of whether you’re a believer or not, let’s encourage our sick to visit hospitals, and stick to their medication. It’s in cases like these where religious superstitions can be deadly.