Christian pastor charged in child death after rejecting medical treatment

A fundamentalist Christian pastor in Pennsylvania who has been telling his congregation to trust God alone for healing has been charged in connection with the death of a child from a preventable disease.

(WIKIMEDIA COMMONS / Josidaniel)World largest church auditorium, Faith Tabernacle. 27 October 2005.

Two-year-old Ella Foster would have recovered from pneumonia if only her parents had sought medical care for her. Instead, they asked Faith Tabernacle Congregation pastor Rowland Foster to anoint their daughter, who died of the illness in November, the New Haven Register details.

For Jonathan Foster, Ella's father, his daughter's death was because of "God's will." The child's parents were charged with involuntary manslaughter and are set to face trial. Earlier this month, Rev. Foster was also charged with a felony in connection with the case and under a state law which requires ministers, teachers, and other individuals to report incidents of child abuse to the authorities.

Dozens of children whose parents are affiliated with Faith Tabernacle have died from treatable illnesses because the adults refused to provide medical care for their sick children because of their faith. There are also parents who have been charged of manslaughter in connection with these child deaths.

Cathleen Palm of the Center for Children's Justice in Pennsylvania said the case is a turning point in such a situation. The publication notes that no leader of the Faith Tabernacle has faced charges before. Palm hopes that the case will pave the way for measures that would lead to the prosecution of parents who do not seek the needed medical care for their children because of their religious belief.

Rev. Foster will face court for his preliminary hearing next month. A large number of Faith Tabernacle congregants is expected to show up to witness the upcoming hearing.

Ella's case is not an isolated one. For almost a hundred years now, members of the Faith Tabernacle church in Lebanon have been clinging to their belief that God alone is the source of healing, Lebanon Daily News reports.

Although similar child deaths have occurred in the past, Ella's death propelled the congregation to the spotlight just recently. Despite the charges against Rev. Foster, who is also the child's grandfather, the members of the fundamentalist Christian congregation remain fiercely loyal to their belief that prevents them from seeking modern treatment for illnesses.