A husband and wife in Oregon City have been brought before a court charged with child abuse after they attempted to rely on faith to heal their young child instead of seeking the medical attention properly required.Timothy Wyland and his wife Rebecca are both followers of an unorthodox Christian sect called The Followers of Christ, which rejects modern medicines. The parents refused to take their baby daughter to see a doctor as a tumor grew on her face, preferring to anoint her with oils and lay their hands on her.
The tumor, known as a hemangioma, was left untreated for so long that as Alayna turned six-month-old it had grown to the size of a baseball. The tumor continued to grow to the extent that it threatened baby Alaynas eyesight, as it started pushing her eyeball out of its socket.
The case was brought to the attention of local authorities, who have now placed Alayna in foster care and have ensured she has receiving the best treatment for the tumor and consequential eyesight complications.
Timothy Wyland, 44, and wife Rebecca, 24, are now standing trial for criminal mistreatment and could go to prison for up to five years.
Members of the Followers of Christ sect have been involved in similar incidents in the past, with local newspaper The Oregonian claiming in 1998 that up to 21 children belonging to the sect had died from easily curable health issues.
In 1999 a jury found Followers of Christ member Carl Worthington guilty of criminal mistreatment in the death of his 15-month-old daughter. That was the first conviction handed down under a 1999 state law passed to protect the children of parents who believe in treating illness solely through faith healing.
The Worthingtons were the first members of the sect to be prosecuted for failing to provide adequate medical care to their children.
The Followers of Christ was founded in the 1890s in Kansas but later moved its base to Oregon City in the 1940s.