The Body of Christ (Attleboro Sect)

A fundamentalist Christian cult whose rejection of medical care resulted in the death of an infant

Religion: Christianity
Denomination: Nondenominational
Founder: Roland Robidoux
Founded: 1982
Ended: 2000
Location: Attleboro, Massachusetts, United States

The Body of Christ, also known as the Attleboro Sect, was a controversial religious group based in Attleboro, Massachusetts. Founded in the 1970s by Roland Robidoux, the group was later led by his son, Jacques Robidoux. Initially part of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, they evolved into a more isolated community with extreme beliefs and practices​​​​.

Central to the group’s ideology was a literal interpretation of the Bible, including a strong emphasis on apocalyptic prophecies. They viewed modern medicine and governmental institutions with suspicion, opting instead for prayer and divine intervention for healing. This led them to reject even basic medical aids like eyeglasses, despite some members being near-sighted​​​​.

The sect maintained a highly centralized leadership structure with the Robidoux family exerting considerable control over its members. Their social practices included communal living and homeschooling, further isolating them from the broader society. Not actively seeking new members, they were largely insular, often only involving the extended family and a few close associates in their practices. The group planned to move to Maine, referred to as “Zion” within the sect, believing it to be a prophesied sanctuary​​.

One of the most notorious aspects of the sect was its strong stance against conventional medicine. This belief tragically came to the forefront during the starvation death of an infant, Samuel Robidoux, which led to significant legal and public scrutiny. The child died because the sect’s belief system dictated reliance on faith healing over medical intervention. Samuel’s death was particularly disturbing as it was the result of a prophecy received by one of the members, which stated that he should be fed only breast milk despite medical needs indicating otherwise​​​​.

The legal repercussions for the sect were significant. Jacques Robidoux, Samuel’s father, was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life without parole. Karen Robidoux, the mother, was acquitted of murder but found guilty of assault and battery due to the circumstances leading to Samuel’s death. Her case brought attention to the potential psychological and coercive aspects of life within such a secluded and controlling religious environment​​​​.

The sect’s extreme practices and the subsequent legal battles highlight the tension between religious freedoms and the protection of vulnerable members of such communities, especially children. The decline of The Body of Christ sect was accelerated by these incidents, with many members facing criminal charges and the group’s activities becoming increasingly scrutinized by law enforcement and child protective services​​.

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