The Oregon Faith Report - Faith News from Oregon

Oregon faith healers plead guilty to negligent homicide

October 9, 2012

by Michal Ann McArthur

Last December, Austin Sprout, 16, of Creswell, Oregon, died of a burst appendix because his parents did not seek medical help for him. On September 18,  Russel and Brandi Bellew (his biological mother) pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and were sentenced to five years’ probation. The family belongs to the General Assembly and Church of the First Born, a religious group that practices faith healing as taught in James 5:14-16. Rather than seeking medical treatment for their son, they anointed him with oil and prayed over him. Shortly thereafter, he died.

Austin’s uncle, Shawn Sprout, also a member of the Church of the Firstborn, told KVAL News he thought Austin’s death was God’s will. “It’s what we live for. We live to die so we can go to heaven.”

KVAL News reported that the Oregon legislature changed the law in 201l so that a person can no longer use faith-based healing as a defense against manslaughter charges.

Rick Ross, an expert on cults, told ABC News that this group believes that seeking medical help is going “against God.” Those who do seek medical help are considered to be weak in faith.

According to ABC News, last year, another Oregon couple, Dale and Shannon Hickman, also members of this church, failed to get medical attention for their premature infant. He, too, died. This couple was sentenced to 75 months in prison.

You can read the full story here:

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Discuss this article

Williams October 9, 2012

Good to know.

McArthur October 9, 2012

I didn’t realize this church existed before I read this article.

ggg October 9, 2012

Sorry…people may not like it but the Constitution of the United States says directly that the State CANNOT interfere with religious practice of citizens:

Amendment I
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…

too bad for the kid, but it is a stretch to make the case that the state has a compelling interest sufficient to overturn a specified RIGHT of the people.

Viking December 17, 2014

“…the Constitution of the United States says directly that the State CANNOT interfere with religious practice of citizens…”

No, it doesn’t. That’s not what it says, or intended, at all.

Historical truth – the newly formed government body (the assembly of men who were drafting the policy documents) were all previous subjects of the King of England and Great Britain rule. Which mandates an official religion. Which depended on who the ruling authority was at any given moment. Which monarch favored which religion and the leaders of it.

The intention for America was freedom from tyranny. To have no state religion. To separate religious leadership from government leadership. For each citizen to be able to practice the religion of their own choosing. That matters of personal spirituality would not overlap with government, law, policy-making and politics.

That’s what the constitution says.

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