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20:18 GMT +3 hours20 December 2014
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Baby Dies After Parents Trade Hospital For Church After Crash

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A couple in Russia face jail after their religious zeal compelled them to drive their child, injured in a car crash, to church for an urgent baptism rather than to hospital.

MOSCOW, November 25 (RIA Novosti) – A couple in Russia face jail after their religious zeal compelled them to drive their child, injured in a car crash, to church for an urgent baptism rather than to hospital.

The two-month-old infant was dead by the time it was delivered into the hands of the priest, Fontanka.ru news website said Sunday.

The boy sustained a brain injury in a minor crash in St. Petersburg on Saturday despite being in a child safety seat, the report said.

The worried parents sped him up to the church because “otherwise he would be denied the Kingdom of Heaven,” investigators cited them as saying, Fontanka.ru reported.

Now the two parents, both in their forties, are being investigated for “failure to assist a person in danger,” punishable with up to a year in prison.

City police confirmed the boy’s death, but gave no details.

“This is superstition, not religion,” an Orthodox Church spokesman told Fontanka.ru. “They should have gone to the hospital, it’s only human.”

“A psychiatric ward is the best temple for such people,” an unidentified Investigative Committee official was cited as saying.

Religious sentiment is on the rise of Russia, where 83 percent of the population described themselves as believers as of 2012, according to pollster Levada. In 1991, that figure was just 24 percent.

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St. Petersburg