By AT New Team, Dec. 18, 2014: The coroner in Calgary, Alberta, has made a determination that a baby boy of 14 months died a year ago because of malnutrition and a Staph infection. The baby was born outside a hospital and had not been taken to a doctor since birth and the couple gave the baby a “strict … belief-based … vegan” diet.
“The infection the boy died from would have been easily treatable with antibiotics had his parents brought him to medical attention,” wrote Benjamin Radford, a contributor on the Discovery Channel. The child “was not healthy enough to allow him to recover on his own.”
Jerome and Jennifer Clark were arrested last week for criminal negligence. Two older children were taken from them by child protection officers. They were identified in the news media as members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Global News, published in Canada, identified them as “radicalized members of the … Church” and quoted Pastor Randy Barber from the local Adventist church where they are members “they were seldom seen in recent years and [Barber] had no idea they had children.”
The couple was charged “after what police described as a long and complex investigation,” the Calgary Herald reported yesterday. “The parents took steps to conceal the condition of the infant from family members, police allege. The baby died the day after his admittance to hospital and police were immediately notified.” That occurred in late November 2013 and it has taken investigators and prosecutors a year to actually charge the couple.
The general societal increased focus on a healthy diet along with a wide range of ideas about what that means also increased the number of babies and children dying of starvation because of extreme diets enforced by their parents, reported The New York Times on May 21, 2007. But the Discovery Channel commented that the “Adventist Church is known for promoting a healthy life” and the extreme practices of this couple went beyond the teachings of the denomination.
A statement by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada confirmed that the Clarks are members of the Calgary Central Adventist Church but they have not attended for eight years. “We are saddened to learn of the tragic death of baby John Clark,” the statement began. “We extend our heartfelt condolences to family and friends who continue to grieve in this tragic situation.”
The Adventist Church has established a major position in delivery of health care over the years, operating some 450 hospitals and clinics around the world that provide physician services and are fully accredited. It has sought to discourage extreme diets and health concepts, focusing on evidence-based approaches to health education among members and the wider community. The majority of Adventists around the world are not vegetarians, furthermore vegans.
“Most congregations have at least one or two people for whom extreme ideas about diet or other health practices are really more important than the core doctrines of the Adventist faith,” a veteran pastor told Adventist Today. “This has been true since the denomination got started in the 1850s. You can see references to people like this in the writings of Ellen G. White.”
The Calgary Central Church has 1,000 members, with “about 200 kids … all happy and healthy,” stated Barber. There are 400 Adventist congregations in Canada with a total of about 80,000 adherents, including small children, non-members who attend regularly and inactive members.