Seventh Day Adventist parents jailed for child’s death

Child dies from perfectly preventable condition because the parents thought it was a sin to go against God and seek medical attention.

Devoutly religious parents jailed after baby boy died from rickets – Yorkshire Post.

The parents of a five-month-old boy who died from rickets after they neglected his care because of their religious beliefs were jailed yesterday.

Nkosiyapha Kunene, 36, and his wife Virginia, 32, who admitted the manslaughter of their son Ndingeko, received three years and two years, three months’ imprisonment respectively.

Ndingeko was born on January 1, 2012 at Darent Valley Hospital, Dartford, and died in June 14 that year.

He was found to have been suffering from rickets resulting from severe vitamin D deficiency.

From the article, it appears that the couple knew their son was unwell for two months but because they are strict Seventh Day Adventists, they did not seek medical assistance. The mother wished to seek medical treatment but the husband concluded it would be a sin, only God heals.

According to this document [PDF] it is rare for these followers to have such extreme views. Most accept modern medicine. An estimated 35% of Adventists practice vegetarianism and will voluntarily abstain from alcohol, tobacco and caffeine. The child in this case suffered due to the extreme vegan diet.

While I’m relieved to see jail time, the core beliefs that kill children must be stemmed. Religious freedom DOES NOT trump the rights of the child to adequate medical care.

More from the Guardian:

The judge said he had heard evidence that the hospital also played a part in failing properly to advise the couple and prescribe vitamin D supplements, adding that a serious case review had been taking place and was due to report shortly. It was, according to Singh, to be hoped that all necessary inquiries will have been made by various authorities to establish that everything was done to protect the boy’s life that could reasonably have been done.

The Seventh-Day Adventist church has issued a statement stressing that church members should seek and listen to health advice.

  6 comments for “Seventh Day Adventist parents jailed for child’s death

  1. Roger
    February 28, 2014 at 10:11 PM

    To be fair, the article makes it clear that this father’s views were more extreme than the official position of that church. It’s not unusual for people with mental health problems to claim that their fantasies are justified by a church that is actually not in sympathy with them.

  2. Bonnie
    March 1, 2014 at 11:02 AM

    We see that often enough in the Catholic Church that we have a term for it – more Catholic than the Pope. I steer clear of those folks – no good comes from trying to reason with them.

  3. Chris Howard
    March 1, 2014 at 11:41 AM

    “Our personal cosmologies change to suit to our needs all the time. That is, if we’re lucky enough to live somewhere that’s legal. Our religious views, both as cultures and individuals, are sought and chosen to reinforce, justify and lend meaning to our pre-existing beliefs, not to alter them.”-Larry Womack

    In other words, no one ever says “I’m pretty sure Jesus/Muhammad/Satan is a Chevy guy, but as a Christian/Muslim/Satanist I’m going to drive a Ford.”

    This man made up his mind first, then rationalized it. In this case via a religious belief. It could have just as easily been a secular rational, but in this case it wasn’t.

    Womack is right on the money, with his quote. This father made a bad decision, but the underlying cognitive mechanism is the same for all of us.

    Sooner or later we’re all going to make a similar mistake, based on this underlying psychology. I just hope it isn’t so tragic.

  4. Roger
    March 1, 2014 at 11:18 PM

    The pattern by which we choose a point of view long before we know enough to justify it, and then confirm that view by irrational distortions seems nearly universal, and I don’t know anyone who gets free of it without hard work. Some people take it to a whole other level, though. They don’t just jump too soon, they seem to choose a weird position for some pre-existing reason.

  5. Chris Howard
    March 1, 2014 at 11:35 PM

    Very true, and I’m not sure why that is? It may be a reaction formation, or as simple as a strict adherence to a “strange” belief because it’s what ones parents believed? I dunno why some people, seem to, go WAY out of their way to adopt an out-there belief?

  6. justmk
    March 2, 2014 at 2:30 AM

    In the immortal words of Benjamin Franklin “this would be the best of all worlds if there were no religion in it”

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