Followers of Christ
With membership of less than 2,000, the church has attracted controversy for its practices of faith healing and the alleged shunning of members who violate church doctrine, including those who seek medical care. Church members and at least one politician (Idaho state Senator Lee Heider) have argued that parents should have the right to select whatever methods of healing they deem appropriate for their children and that public policies requiring the use of conventional medicine over faith healing constitute a violation of freedom of religion.
The Followers of Christ church was founded in Chanute, Kansas, by Marion Reece (sometimes spelled Riess), rooted in Holiness and Pentecostal traditions. The church moved to Ringwood, Oklahoma, in the 1890s, where leadership passed to Elder John Marshall Morris, who was the father of Marion Morris. Marion Morris led the Ringwood, Oklahoma, branch of the church until his death in 1988.
During the 1920s, Charlie Smith (the founder's brother-in-law) and George White began missions in California. George White's nephew Walter White became a minister in the church. Walter moved to Oregon City, Oregon, in the 1940s, after a dispute with other ministers. White and his congregation built a house of worship on Molalla Avenue in Oregon City, then a largely rural timber and farming community, now a suburb of Portland. He was a fiery speaker and maintained tight control over his congregation. White died in 1969, and the church has functioned without a minister since that time. The elders associated with White had also died by the early 1990s, and the leaderless Oregon community became more isolated and inward-focused, and ceased recruitment of new members.
Estimates of the Oregon church's membership in 2008 ranged from 1,200 to 1,500. The Followers of Christ also have congregations in Oklahoma and California, and local communities operate independently of Followers of Christ churches in other areas.
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