CULT DEATH: Mother rejects doctor to put trust in God
West Australian, May 12, 2001 By Kristen Watts
A MOTHER-of-five in an extreme Christian fundamentalist movement is dead and her newborn baby is in hospital after she refused medical treatment. The 31-year-old woman was following Born in Zion principles that destiny should be controlled by God alone when she refused help at the unassisted home birth of her fifth child five weeks ago. She died three weeks later. The baby was taken eventually to Princess Margaret Hospital where he is being treated for a stomach disorder. Police and Family and Children's Services are investigating. The Coroner has not handed down a finding on the woman's death but has told a member of the family that the woman would have been in excruciating pain for the three weeks after the birth when she refused medical attention. It is understood her body was disfigured as a result of the medical complications.
The Born in Zion principles are preached by Carol Balizet, the American founder of the Home of Zion Ministries in Tampa, Florida. The dead woman's mother said her daughter had appeared seriously ill straight after the birth. She said her daughter had experienced difficulty in passing the placenta and had apparently lost a lot of blood. The woman's condition failed to improve and it was extremely distressing that she had refused to see a doctor. "I asked (her daughter) what would happen if she died and she said it would be God's will and she was adamant," the woman's mother said.
The woman and her husband were brought up as Pentecostal Christians and married about 11 years ago. The family left the Church about five years ago when the woman and her husband became interested in the Born in Zion movement. Her husband said his wife was not happy with the experience she had when giving birth to her first two children in hospital and opted to have her third child at home under the care of a midwife. But the midwife did not arrive in time and the baby was born unassisted. The woman's husband said his wife felt that because the first three babies had been born without incident, she would be capable of having another child without the help of a midwife.
Before she became pregnant with the couple's fourth child, which was born at home without complications, she began to investigate the teachings of Ms Balizet. Ms Balizet has interpreted the Bible to mean that humans should not interfere with the will of God. She claims birth is a chance for a woman to have a close encounter with God and that no doctor should be allowed to participate in the process. She believes that God will heal people if they pray to Him and there is no need for humans to interfere by taking medicine. Her teachings have been linked to a sect in Attleboro, Massachusetts, which is under criminal investigation into the deaths of two sect children. Ms Balizet made two trips to Perth and the woman met her on both occasions. Soon after learning about the Zion movement, the woman decided to turn her back on medical treatment. She refused to immunise her children and decided they should be taught at home. Her husband said he had been sceptical about Born in Zion at first but gradually came to appreciate his wife's point of view. He never thought she would encounter any problems during childbirth. When she got sick he was sure that she would be healed.
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