20/20: Portland, OR Cult OK to Let Children Die

I'm forwarding the following article for Garry:

Subject: 20/20: Portland, OR Cult OK to Let Children Die
From: "G. SCARFF" <garryls@earthlink.net>

On a 20/20 report tonite, Chris Wallace investigated the Followers of Christ Church located at: 19394 South Molalla Avenue, Oregon City, Oregon 97045-8978 (phone# 503-656-4541). Oregon City is a suburb south of Portland.

The Followers of Christ is a faith-healing church that does not believe in doctors. 20/20's question was: "Can Freedom of Religion go to far?? Should we be protecting the religion or the children?"

What is very disturbing about this church is that many children in the church has become ill, been injured or suffered other medical traumas, been allowed by their praying parents to suffer until the children died. The Portland Medical Examiner Larry Lewman said in most of the cases, had the children seen physicians, they would be alive today. The Church believes that if a suffers and dies, it is God's Will, and died they have, 18 children in the last decade. Several in the last 3 months. One case involved a 6 year old child with a hernia where 2/3 of his liver was swollen and infected. The parents chose to pray, refused medical treatment, and allowed the child to die a very excruciatingly painful death. Another child had a serious infection for 46 days before it died. In the case of one child that broke his arm, the parents yanked the bone back into place and put the arm into a splint without an attending doctor, medication or anesthesia. Neighbors of church members have observed and heard children screaming in pain.

Convenient to the Followers of Christ Church is an adjoining cemetary owned by the cult which hosts many of the burials of young children. One ex-member, Russ Briggs, had one son born prematurely, was prayed for until it's death 4.5 days later. Another one of his sons lived 12 days before he died. Briggs said that he was raised in the church and never considered hospitals or doctors to be an option, decisions which he now heavily regrets.

The show also focused on the recent death of Bo Phillips, a young child that suffered from complications of diabetes, developed a 104 fever, had labored breathing and ultimately died in great pain with 200 church members praying over him. When police responded, Clackamas County Detective Jeff Green interviewed the father and asked him why he allowed his child to suffer and die. The father's response: "It was my choice!"

Terry Gustafson, District Attorney for Clackamas County, Oregon has never charged any of the parents for the horrific abuse and deaths of these children. Why?? Oregon law prevents it, in her opinion. 40 states accepts the right of faith-healing parents to deny medical treatment to their children, except in the case of life-or-death.

Oregon is different. It is one of 6 states that gives parent's exemptions to offer faith-healing as an acceptable alternative to medical care for their children even when the result ends in death, or classified by police authorities as "homicide".

In classic cult fashion, church leaders send the children to public schools, but order their members not to associate or socialize with "outsiders" of the congregation, and to cut off families and loved ones that do not belong to the church.

Garry Scarff