Southern Religion

Children die of faith healing while we debate the law

At Get Religion, E.E. Evans writes:

If parents were sentenced and jailed for stupidity or poor medical care, there wouldn’t be room for most of the other criminals. And, as Terry also pointed out, you can’t stop faith-healing parents from having children.

Children are dying and will continue to die on the field of parental faith and neglect, deprived of any possibility of making an informed and independent decision.

Kara NeumannRemember Madeline Kara Neumann, 11, whose parents allowed her to die from an altogether treatable form of diabetes on March 23, 2008?

They lost one appeal and were sentenced this week. The father, Dale Neumann, and the mother, Leilani Neumann, received one month in prison once a year for six years and ten years probation. And their attorney says plan to appeal the sentence “because state law is not clear on the issue of spiritual treatment.”

Thus the legal debate continues, as does our collective leniency. Shawn Peters, a lecturer at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and an expert on religion and the law, told the New York Times:

The sentences tend to be halfway punishments where you have relatively mild penalties imposed on parents who are found to be legally guilty of having caused a child’s death. It underscores how uneasy we are both politically and culturally when it comes to regulating religious conduct even when the consequences are disastrous.


Regarding humanity and justice, however, Cornell law professor Sherry F. Colb wrote:

. . . There is no justification for child abuse and neglect, no matter how sincere the parent’s religious motivation. To take an example from the Bible, Abraham should not have prepared to kill his son Isaac, no matter what he believed the divine will to be. Though he may have “passed” the test of his faith, in other words, he would plainly fail the test of parenthood and of membership in any civilized modern community.


October 15, 2009 - Posted by | Crime, Religion | ,

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