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General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn


News Summaries from ICSA Periodicals

Faith Healing Couple Sentenced to Six Years, Suspended, in Death of Daughter
Dewayne and Maleta Schmidt, members of the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, in Morgantown, IN, have been sentenced to six years in prison for reckless homicide in the death of their new-born. They relied on prayer alone to cure their late daughter’s respiratory infection. Their church prefers faith healing to medical intervention but does not require members to shun physicians.[csr 4.3 2005]

Religious Beliefs Defense Denied
Dewayne and Maleta Schmidt, members of the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, have been found guilty of reckless homicide by a Johnson County (IN) jury in connection with the death of their newborn daughter two years ago. They relied on faith healing rather than medical intervention to help the struggling infant. Three other children from the church have died since 1999 for want of medical treatment. [csr 4.2 2005]

Superior Court 2 Judge Cynthia Emkes refused to allow the couple to present a defense based on religious beliefs. She restricted both the prosecutors’ presentation of evidence about the couple’s religion and witnesses’ testimony about the Schmidt’s beliefs. But attorneys were allowed to quiz potential jurors about their general religious views; the defense apparently hoped to get a sense of how jurors might evaluate the defendants and the evidence. The Indiana State Supreme Court ruled in 1986 that “The legislature has distinguished between child neglect, which results in serious bodily injury, and neglect which results in the child’s death. Prayer is not permitted as a defense when a caretaker engages in omissive conduct which results in a child’s death.”[csr 4.2 2005]

The Schmidts say that during their newborn’s 31 hours of life, the child seemed at times to respond to their prayers, sometimes looking pink and lively rather than always sick and gray. (Michael W. Hoskins, Daily Journal, Internet, 5/7, 11, 12/05) [csr 4.2 2005]

Parents Charged in Faith Healing Death
A Johnson County, IN, grand jury has decided that DeWayne and Maleta Schmidt, members of the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, should be charged with reckless homicide for relying on congregational prayer to cure their baby daughter, who died of a treatable infection shortly after birth. The death was the third among untreated children in the church. A leader of the congregation says the church doesn’t shun members who look for medical treatment, but that some followers believe seeking such help betrays weakness of faith. It is “felony neglect” in Indiana to deprive a child of medical care except when the inaction stems from religious belief. (Michael W. Hoskins, Daily Journal, Internet, 7/2/04) [csr 3.3 2004]

Parents Charged in Faith Healing Death
A Johnson County, IN, grand jury has decided that DeWayne and Maleta Schmidt, members of the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn, should be charged with reckless homicide for relying on congregational prayer to cure their baby daughter, who died of a treatable infection shortly after birth. The death was the third among untreated children in the church. A leader of the congregation says the church doesn’t shun members who look for medical treatment, but that some followers believe seeking such help betrays weakness of faith. It is “felony neglect” in Indiana to deprive a child of medical care except when the inaction stems from religious belief. (Michael W. Hoskins, Daily Journal, Internet, 7/2/04) [csr 3.2 2004 2004]

General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn - Supplemental News