Pastor Rowland Foster has been charged in the faith-healing death of his granddaughter, 2-year-old Ella Foster, according to reports.
Ella was found dead on her couch in November after her parents refused to take her to the doctor for pneumonia. The family is part of Faith Tabernacle Church in Pennsylvania, which practices faith healing. That is, church members will not seek any form of medical treatment for themselves or their families, choosing to rely on faith instead.
“He was well aware of the fact that this child was in need of medical treatment and he never reported it, nor do I believe that he ever had the intention to report it,” Berks County District Attorney John Adams said.
A forensic pathologist told investigators Ella would have had a 95 percent chance of surviving if she had been given a routine course of antibiotics. But Jonathan Foster told police “it would be frowned upon and against their religion” to have taken Ella to a doctor, ABC reports.
“Our laws recognize that you have a duty to care for your child’s health and welfare, and we cannot justify a parent not seeking health care for their children when their children are ill,” Adams said.
The Fosters, including Rowland’s son Jonathan, believe Ella’s death was part of God’s will.
“Any illness or injuries that occur within their lives are considered acts of God, and they leave all of their faith in God to keep them safe, healthy and debt-free,” Jonathan told courts after Ella’s death in November. He and his wife were also charged in her death.
The Fosters’ case is not the first of its kind.