Trial for faith-healing parents set to begin

Trial for faith-healing parents set to begin »Play Video
Rebecca and Tim Wyland. File photo.

Note: Some may find the photograph of 18-month-old Alayna Wyland difficult to look at.

OREGON, CITY, Ore. – Jury selection for two more members of the Followers of Christ Church is set to begin Tuesday, a day after the Oregon Senate passed a bill to crack down on faith-healing parents who don’t take their children to the doctor.

Tim and Rebecca Wyland are the third set of parents who belong to the Oregon City church who will stand trial for not getting their child medical attention.

The Wyland’s daughter, Alayna, has a growth on her left eye which doctors say was making her blind. She was put in temporary state custody last summer and her condition has improved with treatment. She is now 18 months old.

Tim Wyland, who is nearly 22 years older than his wife, had no comment for a reporter at his home outside Oregon City Monday.

A former member of the Followers of Christ, Myrna Cunningham, said she’s uncertain if a tougher law will convince members to take their children to the doctor.

"That’s really hard to say, because I know some of them are really die-hards," she said. "They’ll never change. It’s really too bad."

Cunningham’s family joined the Oregon City congregation after leaving another branch in Idaho.

Just last week, a KATU News investigation revealed the deaths of two more Followers of Christ children in Idaho where faith healing is still a legal defense.

The prosecution has said the Wylands told authorities they would not seek medical care for their daughter unless ordered.

Another trial is scheduled for September for another Followers of Christ couple. Their son lived less than a day.

A church insider told KATU News he lost his first wife, Monique, in 2006 at an early age of 38. She is buried at the church cemetery with dozens of other members who died young.

The bill that was passed by the Senate now waits for House approval. If it becomes law, it would drop faith healing as a legal defense in murder or manslaughter cases.

The bill is in direct response to the Followers of Christ. Several children have died in recent years of treatable conditions.