UPLAND – A small religious movement under attack for its followers’ devotion to faith healing and corporal punishment has backed away from those controversial tenets.
The Church of God Restoration will allow members to bring sick children to medical doctors and encourage parents to discipline children without violence, said its founder, the Rev. Daniel Layne.
“We want to show sensitivity to these issues,” he said.
Followers of the fundamentalist church have long embraced prayer as the sole method for treatment of illness and used physical discipline on their children.
Church adherents Richard and Agnes Wiebe of Rancho Cucamonga are facing trial on charges of involuntary manslaughter and child abuse in the death of their daughter from treatable meningitis last year
Church elders crafted a statement last week in response to the publicity generated by the Wiebe case and the removal of seven children from the home of an Aylmer, Canada couple amid allegations of excessive spanking and paddling.
Among other things, the statement says the ministry shall allow parents of seriously ill children to seek “medical means for the child according to the law of the land.”
Another section of the statement advises members to explore alternatives to spanking.
The church’s approximately 400 members nationwide have fended off criticism and claims of child endangerment from law enforcement officials since the sect’s founding in 1989.