Dale Hickman and Shannon Hickman had a baby son who was born prematurely and who died shortly after birth. You probably shouldn't feel sorry for them, though, because their newborn son had a 99.9 chance of survival if they had only gotten him to a hospital. Instead they had the birth at home and decided to pray over the boy instead of seeking medical help. When he turned blue and gasped for breath, no one did anything to assist -- they just kept praying. So he died gasping and the parents were brought up on criminal charges.
Dale and Shannon Hickman were sentenced to 75 months in prison, which is only the minimum and probably far too little for what amounts to cold-blooded murder. But it was a faith-based murder, and that's why they have so many supporters who wanted to see them freed entirely. You see, it's not really a crime if you are acting from a "sincerely held religious belief."
Prosecutor Mike Regan took a hard line on the couple, seeking a maximum of six years. He hammered on both the Hickmans and the church, saying the couple continually resisted negotiations with prosecutors because "they did not think they did anything wrong."
Regan railed at the version of events presented by defense during the trial, when they argued the couple knew nothing was wrong until about fifteen minutes before his death. "Are these an arrogant and stubborn group of martyrs with no contrition whatsoever?" he asked.
A message needed to be sent to the church, Regan said. Child abuse for any motive, he said, is still child abuse.
"These generally are good, decent, law-abiding folks, except in this one narrow area of their lives," Regan said. "One (area) where they have told us stubbornly - and arrogantly, if I may - that 'We are not going to change.'"
"The law of civil society demands that they change," he continued. "It demands that we sent a message to all of them that whether you believe this or not in Oregon, you cannot act upon that belief."
Regan said he was loathe to use the cliché of asking the judge to "send a message," but said he thought it was necessary. Using an exaggerated analogy of a pagan group that sacrifices children in the woods, he asked Herndon how the effect of that groups differs from the situation at hand.
"The only thing different in the effect is that we have a religious group sacrificing children's lives, year after year, decade after decade," he said. "In order to stop that effect, we have to do something."
Source: Oregon Live
Basic decency and morality also require that this church change. Putting their "faith" before the lives of infants isn't acceptable. They are free to be martyrs for their faith and to die for what they believe, but they aren't free to cause the death of others for the sake of what they believe. They killed that infant just as surely as if they had put a pillow over his face and smothered him.
One interesting facet of the trial was how the defense team for Shannon Hickman tried to get extra leniency for her because of a second aspect of her faith: they believe that the woman must follow the orders of the husband at all times, no matter what. So it still amounted to a faith-based defense of callous, murderous behavior and it wasn't accepted either.
Dale Hickman and [John Neidig, Shannon Hickman's attorney] seemed to ask the judge for even more special consideration for Shannon Hickman. Neidig, her attorney, said she did not have as many chances to call for help: in their church, the decisions are made by the husband.
"That is a function of their religion, a religious practice," Neidig insisted. "The husband is the head of the household, like Christ is the head of the church." ...
Shannon Hickman said even if she had wanted to call 9-1-1 she was powerless to act because her church calls for wives to submit to their husband's decisions -- to do otherwise is a sin.
Regardless of her views, jurors said she still had parental responsibility.
If "just following orders" didn't work at Nuremberg, it shouldn't work in American courts either. Shannon Hickman voluntarily adopted an ideology where she could pretend to be relieved of moral accountability for her actions but the court needed to show her that this was just a fantasy -- just as much of a fantasy as the rest of her religion. You don't get freed of moral and legal responsibility simply because you think there is a god which requires you to blindly obey the orders of someone else.
Some of the most damning testimony came from the Hickmans and their relatives -- all lifelong members of the Followers of Christ.
The church witnesses exhibited "a fatalistic attitude all the way," Fleming said.
Prosecutors said David Hickman's fate was sealed when he took his first breath. The boy -- a great-great grandson of church founder Walter White -- would never have received medical treatment, regardless of his condition. They said he was born into a family bound to the belief that life-and-death decisions were a test of faith. God, not doctors, would determine who survives and who succumbs -- even when an illness is treatable by medicine or a minor medical procedure.
That point was made clear by Lavona Keith, a church midwife and Shannon Hickman's aunt. "It wasn't God's will for David to live," she told jurors. ...
Source: Oregon Live
Funny, but I haven't seen any "pro-life" organizations come out to oppose the actions of churches like this. I haven't seen any "pro-life" organizations lobbying for an end to the laws which have allowed faith-healing churches like this to continue killing children. It's only the secular authorities which have acted on their own to put a halt to the abuses -- though too slowly.
If Shannon Hickman had had an abortion, the "pro-life" groups would have opposed that. Once the baby was born, though, she could let it gasp, struggle, and die without those groups raising a peep of protest. Why, if the are "pro-life"? What happened to all those attempts to equate abortion with infanticide? This is one of just many examples which demonstrate that "pro-life" is a misnomer. It's all and only about eliminating choices for women; the fate of the children they have is irrelevant.