Yeah, I’m going to beat on that “What’s the harm in religious belief?” meme again. This time the harm befell a 15-month-old girl named Ava Worthington who died from a combination of a benign cystic hygroma on her neck that impeded her breathing and pneumonia. Both of her parents are on trial charged with criminal mistreatment and manslaughter for failing to provide their daughter with adequate medical care. When detectives asked the father why he didn’t take his baby girl to a doctor he gave them the following explanation:
“I don’t believe in them,” Carl Worthington said of doctors. “I believe in faith healing.”
Raylene Worthington said that her religious beliefs do not encompass medical care and that she would not have done anything different for her – daughter, who died at home of pneumonia, a blood infection and other complications.
Here’s what they did instead:
Ava’s father, who goes by Brent, his middle name, described what happened:
Ava came down with what appeared to be a cold or the flu on a Tuesday. By Saturday, her breathing became labored and the family turned to its traditional faith-healing rituals, praying, fasting, anointing the body with oil, administering diluted wine and laying on of hands.
By Sunday, Brent Worthington said he thought there was “a possibility” his daughter was so sick she could die. Then, after a final session of laying on of hands at about 5 p.m., “she perked up,” he said. She grabbed her bottle and “took some food.”
“She was peaceful; she was rested,” Worthington said.
She died two hours later. Suddenly their religious beliefs don’t seem so harmless anymore. Unfortunately the harm didn’t befall the people who held the beliefs, but to their innocent child. When you buy into your delusion so much that you abandon proven techniques for pointless rituals this is the result you end up with. The really sad part is that Worthington doesn’t think he’s done anything wrong:
Brent Worthington said that forgoing medical treatment is probably difficult for outsiders to understand. For him, medical treatment “is not a question. It’s not even thought.”
When the detectives told Worthington that the law requires a parent to provide adequate medical care, he said he had provided care.
“I did everything I could do for her,” Worthington said. “What I was doing was working,” he said. “She was getting relief.”
The fact that she’s dead in no way interferes with this man’s belief that what he was doing was working. Facts don’t tend to influence the delusional.
Believe whatever nonsense you want, pray all you want, but try to keep enough common sense in your head to take your kids to the doctor when they get sick. Otherwise don’t be surprised if you end up in jail for your idiocy.