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document updated 29 days ago, on Jun 25, 2024

Faith Assembly in Wilmot, Indiana and its pastor, Hobart Freeman

Faith Assembly taught a message of strict faith healing, that medical treatment should never be used, and the only way faith healing could fail is if someone wasn't a strong enough believer.

The leader, Hobart Freeman, was indicted on three felony counts by a grand jury, after a girl died from untreated kidney failure.

number of people who died

Experts can reasonably disagree about which deaths were mainly caused by Faith Assembly's faith healing practices.

deaths group criteria reference
52 people Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, 1983 (TODO) Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, 1983-05-02
88 people Fort Wayne News-Sentinel, 1984 (TODO) track it down from this
64 people Seth Asser and Rita Swan, 1998 minor children Asser and Swan (1998)
91 people ? the "Surviving Faith Assembly" author ? (TODO) (TODO)
40 people CDC and the Indiana State Board of Health, 1984 (TODO) Spence, Craig, T. S. Danielson, and Andrew M. Kaunitz (1984)
90 people ? (TODO) track down from here: "Authorities have said that as many as 90 deaths have occurred because the approximately 2,000 members of the Faith Assembly followed Freeman's preachings"

tertiary sources

Wikipedia

secondary sources

Washington Post

New York Times

Los Angeles Times

Chicago Tribune

Associated Press

United Press International

Fort Wayne News-Sentinel (paid archives)

Warsaw Times-Union

Kosciusko County Historical Society

The Oregonian, located in Portland, OR

The Christian Post

The News-Sun, located in Kendallville, IN

Star-News, located in Wilmington, NC

academic journal — Spence, Craig, T. S. Danielson, and Andrew M. Kaunitz. "The Faith Assembly: A Study of Perinatal and Maternal Mortality." Indiana Medicine: the Journal of the Indiana State Medical Association 77.3 (1984): 180-183. (full text)

academic journal — Malecha, Wayne F. "Faith healing exemptions to child protection laws: keeping the faith versus medical care for children." Journal of Legislation. 12 (1985): 243. (full text)

academic journal — Spence, C., and T. S. Danielson. "The Faith Assembly. A Follow-up Study of Faith Healing and Mortality." Indiana Medicine: the Journal of the Indiana State Medical Association 80.3 (1987): 238-240. (full text)

academic journal — Asser, Seth M., and Swan, Rita. "Child Fatalities From Religion-motivated Medical Neglect." Pediatrics 101.4 (1998): 625-629. (full text)

academic journal — Hughes, Richard A. "The Death of Children by Faith-Based Medical Neglect." Journal of Law and Religion 20.1 (2005): 247-265. doi:10.2307/4144687

book — "Handbook of Religion and Health", published by Oxford University Press in 2001, written by Harold Koenig, Dana King, and Verna B. Carson, page 67 [wikipedia]

book — "When Prayer Fails: Faith Healing, Children, and the Law", published by Oxford University Press in 2008, written by Shawn Francis Peters.

book — "Churches That Abuse", chapter 9 [pdf, pages 87-89] [html] [wikipedia]

book — "The Checkbook Bible: The Teaching of Hobart E. Freeman and Faith Assembly", written by Rodney J. Crowell, second edition 2012

secondary sources that focus on interviewing a former church member

Warsaw Times-Union

Worcester Magazine, located in Worcester, MA

Current Publishing, located in Carmel, IN

primary sources

Hobart Freeman

photos

Josh Wilson, former church member

Tom McLaughlin, former church member

Carol Boltz, former church member

members of Faith Assembly

(Much of this is copied from the book The Checkbook Bible by Rodney Crowell. Other info is cobbled together from forums. It doesn't always come from multiple independent sources, and should not be considered reliable.)

footnote about cause of death

It's surprisingly complicated to talk about a person's cause of death. Death certificates list both the underlying cause and the immediate cause of death, but there can be multiple causes in each category, and there can be medium-term causes too.

Let's say that a child had a congenital condition that meant she probably wouldn't live longer than 12 months, but medical negligence contributed to her dying after only 6 months. Is it reasonable to conclude that the church's faith healing was the main contributor to her death? Sometimes there's just no simple answer.

This is how there can be different estimates of the total number of deaths.

(links underlined in green are archival copies, often located at the archive.org or Google News Archive)

keywords:   Faith Assembly was previously known as the 'Glory Barn', and was located in various places including Claypool, Warsaw, Goshen, Kosciusko County, and Noble County — all located in Indiana.

My TODO for this document