Apologetics Research Resources on General Assembly Church of the First Born
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General Assembly Church of the First Born

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The General Assembly Church of the First Born is a group of churches whose faith healing practices violate Biblical teachings on the subject. The church's doctrines and practices on this issue constitute a form of spiritual abuse.

The problem with this church's approach is evident from these news items (see additional reports in the news articles database and more recent items at Religion News Blog):

A couple whose 13-year-old daughter died from diabetes and gangrene after they refused to allow medical treatment, citing their religious beliefs, were sentenced to 20 years probation.

A judge Thursday spared Colleen and Randy Bates prison time but ordered them to provide medical insurance for their remaining 12 children and have the children see doctors whenever necessary.

Mesa District Court Judge Amanda Bailey also ordered the parents to each do 1,300 hours of community service, 100 hours for each year of their daughter Amanda's life.

Amanda's death led to changes in Colorado law to make it easier to prosecute parents who withhold medical treatment from their children. The Legislature in March passed a bill that removed a religious exemption from the felony child-abuse statutes.
Source: Colorado Couple Sentenced to Probation, AP, Nov. 9, 2001
In a courtroom packed with members of their church, a couple whose daughter died because they relied on prayer instead of medical help were sentenced Thursday to 20 years' probation.

Colleen and Randy Bates, members of the General Assembly and Church of the First Born, escaped jail time in large part because of the need to care for their 12 children, District Judge Amanda Bailey said.

Bailey also ordered a strict schedule of home visits by county nurses who are to monitor the health of the children, a first-aid course for the parents and 1,300 hours of community service for each parent.

Mesa County District Attorney Frank Daniels had sought 90 days of jail time for each of the Bateses, but he ultimately agreed to the unusually long probation term and medical safeguards for the children.

Daniels said he has grown weary of child deaths connected to members of the Church of the First Born.

''Their church believes in faith healing, to call for the elders if anyone is sick,'' Daniels said. ''We've lost three children from this small church in the last three years. In each case, 911 wasn't called until the child was dead.''
Source: Pair get probation for death, Denver Rocky Mountain News, Nov. 9, 2001
Amanda Bates' death of complications from diabetes last week has been classified a homicide because the 13-year-old died as a direct result of medical treatment being withheld by her parents.

The determination Monday by the Mesa County coroner, Dr. Rob Kurtzman, opens the door to the possible prosecution of her parents, Randy and Colleen Bates, and other members of General Assembly Church of the First Born, a centuries-old Christian sect that does not believe in medical treatments. A homicide is when a person directly or indirectly causes the death of another person.
Source: Infection death ruled homicide, Denver Post, Feb. 13, 2001
For the third time in two years, Mesa County authorities are investigating the death of a child whose parents belong to a church that believes illnesses and injuries should be treated with prayer rather than medical care. Amanda Bates, 13, is the latest child of members of the General Assembly Church of the First Born to die after medical care apparently was withheld for a life-threatening illness.
Source: Death of teen in sect probed, Denver Post, Feb. 7, 2001
Authorities were investigating the death of a 2-day-old boy whose parents belong to a religious group that does not believe in medical intervention for illnesses.

It was the second time in less than two years that a child has died in the care of parents who are members of General Assembly Church of the First Born. Six other children in the church have died after medical treatment was withheld.

In Aug. 2003, the church was in the news again:

A Johnson County infant less than 2 days old died Tuesday at her parents’ home of a treatable infection, after her parents failed to seek medical treatment during or following her birth.

Parents of Rhiana Rose Schmidt, the deceased infant, are members of a Morgantown-area church that advocates faith healing instead of medical intervention.

The Johnson County Sheriff’s Department and the county coroner are investigating the death. Preliminary autopsy reports show the girl died of puerperal sepsis, a general infection acquired at birth and typically treated with antibiotics.

The infant’s death was the third such death involving untreated children at the General Assembly and Church of the Firstborn.
Source: Infant dies after parents reject aid, The Daily Journal (USA), Aug. 23, 2003

News Articles Database

Database of archived news items on this subject
(Includes items added between Oct. 25, 1999 and Jan. 31, 2002. See about this database)

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See Also

» Faith Healing
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About this page:
General Assembly Church of the First Born
First posted: Jul. 22, 1996
Last Updated: Dec. 28, 2011
Editor: Anton Hein
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