Monday, January 19, 2009

Should parents who pray their children to death be exempt from the law?

The state of Wisconsin has a law that exempts parents who pray their children to death from prosecution for child neglect and abuse.

Christian Scientists in Wisconsin want to revise the law in order to exempt their faith-healing practices, too.

The parents of the late Madelina Kara Neumann are not members of any organized religion nor are they members of a church. But they "believe" the Bible, by God, and God says he's the source of healing.

So, "naturally," when their daughter, a diabetic, became sick last Spring, they did not take her to a doctor like normal parents, but rather they prayed. For weeks. Then little Madeline died - of treatable diabetes.

Dale and Leilani, though, weren't all that worried. They figured she would be resurrected.

Dale and Leilani Neumann were charged with second-degree manslaughter. I am not sure as to the disposition of their case at this time.

Wisconsin does have a law dealing with child neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin wackos who put this law together ensured it contained a provision exempting those engaged in faith-healing practices.

State legislators are looking at revising that law, and members of the Christian Science Church are just too eager to help. That's not a good thing. Christian Science believes that everything is Spirit and matter is an illusion; thus it denies the reality of sickness and death.

The state judiciary committee has been working with one Joe Farkas, a lobbyist for the Christian Science Church, to develop a bill that would cover Christian Scientist concerns. A legislative staff member said, "We're working on legislation that would clarify the statute to protect the civil right to prayer and healing and protect children."

This legislation would, said Eric Peterson, get rid of the current exemption for faith healing. In it's place, the new law would "create a legal mechanism known as an 'affirmative defense' that would require anyone attempting to use spiritual or faith healing as a legal defense to follow a "standard of medical care' that Peterson claimed had been established by the courts. The bill itself would provide no guidelines for what this standard of medical care would mean."


No "standard of medical care" has been determined by the courts. All this new bill does is confuse the issue, which seems to be what the Christian Scientists want to do. The Christian Science Church, which, as a matter of policy practices "spiritual" healing, has lobbied, often with considerable success, to be exempted from the various state laws concerning neglect and abuse.

If the Neumann's spend a few years in jail, that would jeopardize the Christian Science position. No wonder they want to change the law.

The problem is that the change they are pushing for will not protect children, it will only protect the Christian Science Church.

Of course. Let us pray.

There's more here.


moleboy said...

Letting the Christian Scientist have any hand in this is like letting Enron guys write accounting and auditing laws.
I think we've come to agree that, in this society, the state has a vested interest in protecting children from their parents. I don't see why this is any different than, say, parents medicating their kid with perscription drugs that don't come from a doctor.
We'd yank those kids out so fast...

Bob Poris said...

Isn’t it wonderful that children and adults will die if God does not respond favorably and in a timely manner to prayers for a sick person? What if God is busy elsewhere, like Darfur or perhaps a huge problem somewhere in the world and simply missed the prayer?

I think it would be easy to cover up the murder of unwanted sick people. If that is what the legislature wants, I am afraid that is what the people will get. Every once in awhile we read of some child dying from a curable disease because the parents honestly believed their prayers would work or God wanted the child. Blaming God seems to be ok for them.

I call it child abuse or murder but I do not accept their teachings. Do we have the right to interfere with their belief? How absolute should religious belief be in our society? What is next, ritual sacrifice of people; burning witches at the stake; a new Inquisition; trial by drowning? They were all done at some time as acceptable Christian practices in the world. I think some other religions also had some practices we would not like. Should they be denied the right to do their thing? Who is to judge?

Jacob said...

Moleboy...thanks for the comment. I'm constantly amazed at the stupidity that rears its ugly head in our governmental agencies.

Common sense and reason are too often replaced by magic and religious witchcraft.

I checked out your blog. Great work. I've got it bookmarked!


Anonymous said...

Please go to a Christian Sscience Reading Room and read the articles of healing and testimony before you lump CS into the vat. Sometimes we have failures, but they don't deserve to be condemned any more that the efforts of an MD to save a patient. After reading and honest thought you will understand.
Sincerely, Marsha

Jacob said...

Hi Marsha,

Thanks for writing. I have read some Christian Science literature. I was not convinced. While there may be cases of spontaneous healing which are yet to be explained medically, faith healing has never been proven scientifically.

For parents to deliberate fail to obtain adequate medical attention for a child who subsequently dies is beyond reprehensible and those parents should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

There should be no "exemptions" for faith healing!

There is simply no excuse to defer medical treatment in favor of magic and superstition.



moleboy said...

Re: the Jacob/Marsha exchange.
Its one thing to say "Hey, it looks like faith healing works and so, given (how horrible the treatment, low rate of success, whatever) of the scientific approach, I am chosing to pray".
I consider that insane, but I can work with that. Years of chemo, for example, can seem completely unacceptable.
It is another thing entirely to have a child with a completely treatable and manageable condition and still to turn to magic.

Good to meet you, Jacob. I'll be a constant pest, I suspect ;)

Bob Poris said...

If one child died when a doctor could have saved his life that is a tragedy. My older brother and I are alive because my mother called specialists in, when we were very sick as small children. It took an oxygen tent and medicine to save my brother and a shot of adrenalin to the heart to save me.

Jacob said...

And good to meet you, Moleboy...pester away!


Beth said...

Thanks for calling attention to this important issue. You might be interested in joining this organization that seeks to overturn these exemptions. You'd be shocked to learn how many ways religious parents are allowed "get out of jail free" cards.

Also, Marsha, peer-reviewed medical studies pretty much demolish any claim that CS is effective. For example, a study in Pediatrics looked at preventable child deaths--the author Seth Asser called religious neglect "Jonestown in slow motion." And a JAMA paper examined CS longevity and concluded that CSs live significantly shorter lives than average, despite the fact that CSs don't smoke or drink alcohol. If CS were so effective, you'd expect them to live at least a normal lifespan. There's a bibliography at that CHILD site I linked above.

Adults are free to choose ineffective treatments for themselves, but they shouldn't be allowed to sacrifice children to their beliefs.

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