Faith-Healing Church Linked to Several Deaths, Says Coroner

WISHTV-8/August 27, 2003

The Morgan County coroner wants a change in Indiana law. He says several people in his county have died when attempts at faith healing didn't work, but prosecutors have been unable to take any action.

The incidents are linked to the same Morgan County church that lost a baby last week. The Church of the Firstborn advocates prayer over medical intervention. A Johnson County couple that attends that church lost a sick baby last week when they brought in elders to pray rather than call a doctor.

Death certificates we looked at today show this is far from the first time that's happened.

Morgan County coroner Dan Downing showed News 8 files containing reports on several deaths there since 1992. What they have in common is a lack of medical intervention and the Church of the Firstborn.

Aspen Daniel died in December of 1998. "She was six days old at the time of her death and she died from dehydration and pneumonia," said Downing.

Bradley Hamm was 12 years old. "According to the parents, three to four hours prior to his death he'd went into what they described to be a coma state, and then they say that their religious belief is that no medication or doctors," said Downing.

Downing says another member of the church was 66 years old when he died, after lying in bed for months with no medical care.

Downing says something has to change. "I think that the cases overall are very sad, especially when we have the abilities known to man to take care of most of these cases that we've dealt with here in this county. And it would be much more advantageous for them across the board to seek medical care," he said.

Downing says he'd like prosecutors to be able to crack down more strongly in some cases on parents who don't provide medical care for their dying children. There is still no word on whether the couple whose baby died in Johnson County last week will face criminal charges.

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