What to do with an infant with breathing difficulties


Prosecutors claimed Shannon Hickman never sought prenatal care when she was pregnant with David, who was born two months early at his grandmother’s home and died less than nine hours later when he had trouble breathing. He was born with a bacterial infection and underdeveloped lungs.

Medical experts for the prosecution testified that the baby had a 99 percent chance of survival if his parents had sought medical care. But prosecutors claimed the couple never considered taking the baby to the hospital.

Was their face red, eh?

Actually no; they didn’t trip and fall and forget what you do with a sick infant, they omitted the trip to the hospital on purpose.

Dale and Shannon Hickman, both 26, are members of the Followers of Christ Church, which has a history of rejecting medical care for congregants’ children and relying instead on techniques such as prayer and anointing the sick with oils.

“Techniques” that don’t work.  “Techniques” that aren’t actually techniques.

Five other church members have been convicted in Clackamas County for crimes related to the rejection of medical care for their children, said Greg Horner, chief deputy district attorney.

It’s a mark of respect for God, you see – rejecting medical care for your children.

Dale Hickman testified that he didn’t call 911 once he realized his infant
son was ailing “because I was praying.” Shannon Hickman said that as a woman in the church, she must defer to her husband.

“That’s not my decision anyway,” she testified. “I think it’s God’s will
whatever happens.”

That’s a touching and illuminating example of the blessings of patriarchy. Remember Doug Phillips?

We’re not talking about Lord as in the Creator, but your earthly head. And one that you have to follow, even when he makes bad judgments. Are you ready to do the most vulnerable thing that a woman ever can do and submit yourself to a man, who you are going to have to follow in his faith, who is incredibly imperfect and is going to make mistakes? Can you do that? Can you call your husband ‘Lord’? If the answer is no, you shouldn’t get married. [Quiverfull p 3]

See? Shannon Hickman was doing the right thing. Her husband didn’t say “we have to take this baby to the hospital” because he was too busy praying, and that was a bad judgment, but she has to follow him because he is The Man, so her submissive act in letting her infant die of clogged lungs was a holy thing.


  1. says

    Why doesn’t this cross the line from “church” to “organized crime?” Child abuse is a crime. Presumably, conspiracy to commit child abuse is a crime. Aiding and abetting child abuse is a crime. So, why hasn’t this “church” been dissolved, and its leaders arraigned, under RICO?

  2. The Lorax says

    *shakes head*

    *walks away*

    … Whomever is here last, turn the lights off around the world when you leave.

  3. Kaintukee Bob says

    Obviously, I need to find religion! Think how much better life would be if my wife were completely subjugated to my will. There’d be no problem with poker nights, the game would always be on the TV, it’d be wonderful.

    I’m going to go tell her right now! (Please send flowers to the funeral)

    Wait…what? Women have thoughts and feelings? This is bullshit, obviously, the Book and teachings tell me so.

  4. Ken Pidcock says

    I’ve always thought that there should be a kind of Godwin’s law about how long it takes someone in an atheist comment thread to invoke heroin, but I’m gonna do it anyway.

    If that infant’s parents failed to take him to the hospital because his father was too damned high, everybody would recognize the father as a despicable human being. Well guess what? He was.

  5. F says

    I wonder how much of the “leave it in gawd’s hands” concept, especially when it is used on others, has more to do with not wanting to deal with the possible consequences of the baby (in this case) surviving but continuing to have medical issues when the baby almost certainly wouldn’t survive without medical attention.

  6. says

    @F (#6) — I’d bet quite a bit, after all, God only gives the disabled kids to people who “sinned” and need to be punished…


    Or, worse, telling us we’re a “blessing”, that somehow our disabilities are “part of God’s plan”. Hate that so. much.

  7. says

    A dear friend I grew up lost a sister as a teenager when she had hepatitis and their mother was convinced that God would heal her if it was His divine will, and so wouldn’t allow her to go to a doctor until it was too late.

    But putting the life and death of a child in God’s hands wasn’t the stance of their church; it was the mother’s own judgment, and — as became clear eventually — the mother was seriously mentally ill.

    It’s horrible that it happened, horrible that it’s happening still. But in the case in my neighborhood, nobody looked at how deranged the mother was; her appeal to religion excused her, apparently, from any kind of sanctions. This was probably 40 years ago, and there wasn’t any question of prosecution or even psychological evaluation (she refused psychological help to the end of her days, and often told my friend things like how it was a good thing she had talked God out of destroying the Earth last Tuesday).

    It’s clear that a there are a lot of religious nuts out there — people who are literally insane, but since they’re acting within the context of religion, their insane world views aren’t questioned. Very scary.

  8. says

    That is scary, Mary Ellen. Mental illness masked by religion, and so going undetected…I don’t think I’d thought of that in this context before.

    That’s actually a very deep issue – because the kind of mental illness that results in delusions would naturally mesh with religious beliefs if the delusions took that form. That’s one reason the polite convention of not treating religious beliefs as patently delusional is such a…risky (at best) habit.

  9. says


    Being over here in England, I don’t get all the news about American nutcases, but when I rather belatedly got in on the news about the guy who said the rapture would occur in May of this year, I wondered why the nice men in white coats didn’t haul him off to a padded room. Which they didn’t. There wasn’t even much of a hint of that around in the media.

    And that got me thinking about where the dividing line is between religious fervor and religious mania (though I’m not at all sure those are the correct terms).

    If somebody walks down a street in New York wearing a sandwich board sign saying “The End is Nigh” — as has been done in a zillion New Yorker cartoons, which is why I think this is a NY phenomenon, or at least a NY trope — we think “there goes a loony toon”. Newspapers do not report the loony guy’s opinion and TV news cameras have better things to film. But What’s-his-name, who I gather predicted the Rapture on other days when it didn’t happen as well, gets press, not put away.

    The difference may just be money. If you act like a wacko, then if you’re poor you’ll be insane, if you’re middle class you may disturbed or perhaps ill, but if you’re rich you’re just eccentric. So maybe Mr “If this is Thursday it must be the Rapture” has money backing him? I dunno. Pure speculation…

  10. H.H. says

    mefoley, the reason Camping’s predictions received media attention was the size of his congregation. One guy raving on a street corner can be dismissed as inconsequential. But one guy raving on radio and television while millions of followers tune in to hang on his every word? That’s more notable.

  11. Sili says

    I’m not too upset in this case. The trouble with this death is that it could have been a real child, but as it stands I can be no more upset by the death of an infant, than I can by an abortion.

    Had it been a real child that we had already invested in as a society, we should of course have intervened.

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