Bye Bye, Neumanns? April 28, 2008

Bye Bye, Neumanns?

Remember the parents who refused to give their 11-year-old daughter the medical attention she needed for her ketoacidosis? Instead they opted to pray for her healing? Then she died?

There is now a bit of potential retribution:

Marathon County District Attorney Jill Falstad announced at 1 p.m. at a press conference in Weston that Dale and Leilani Neumann each will be charged with second-degree reckless homicide, a charge that carries a punishment of up to 25 years in prison.


This guy is in support of the parents.

He scares the bejesus out of me.

While it is true that God created the world and all that is in it, including doctors, we must note: Jesus never sent anyone to a doctor or a hospital. Jesus offered healing by one means only! Healing was by faith. Yes, God created doctors but only to give man a choice between man’s ways — the doctor — or His way — faith! When we don’t have faith we need the doctor and it’s obvious that most want-to-be Christians need the doctors because they have no faith in God; their faith is in man. God created good and evil. Witchcraft can heal also. Should Christians also seek witches?

When the mark of the beast comes and you don’t take that chip in your hand and forehead you will not be able to pay for meds or doctors; then you will be deemed negligent and your children will be taken away.

The guy does make one good point, though:

Wisconsin law, Section 948.04 (6) states: “A person is NOT guilty of an offense under this section solely because he or she provides a child with treatment by spiritual means through prayer alone for healing…”

As far as I can tell, that law (PDF) is still in the books.

So is the law that says this regarding types of abuses (PDF):

EXCEPTION. Nothing in this section may be construed to mean that an individual at risk is abused solely because he or she consistently relies upon treatment by spiritual means through prayer for healing, in lieu of medical care, in accordance with his or her religious tradition.

So how can those laws be reconciled with the charges against the family?

The answer lies in the fact that the charges are for homicide, not neglect or abuse.

Here’s Falstad once more:

“Second-degree reckless homicide has two elements. The first element is that the defendant caused the death of another. The second element is that the defendant caused the death by criminally reckless conduct.”

“In this case that (criminally reckless) conduct was the failure to seek medical intervention. The failure to seek medical intervention created an unreasonable and substantial risk of death or great bodily harm to Kara and the Neumanns were aware of that risk.”

Because there was a death involved, Falstad said she had to consider homicide charges rather than neglect charges.

Medical science isn’t perfect. But it’s the best option we have. It certainly has better odds than prayer, which wouldn’t have helped the family’s daughter with her condition.

(via Dallas Morning News)

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  • sabrina

    That’s so sad. Usually children with juvenile diabetes are diagnosed because they go into ketoacidosis, you treat them with insulin and fluids and in two or three days they go home. I believe in religious freedom, but there has to be limits. The recent raid on the FLDS ranch and this story are definitely the limits. No child should go without medical attention, and no underage girl should be forced to marry and be raped by perverted old men 🙁

  • I’m glad the parents aren’t going scotch free, and that quote scares me a bit, but it’s nice to shed some light on what people actually believe so that hopefully we can start combating such thinking.

    On the other hand, I feel like as a society we’re too medicated and too quick to turn to medications to solve our problems. Sometimes it’s as simple as getting enough sleep, resting or doing something nonpharmacological. I used to toot the horn for western medicine, but now I’m a bit more skeptical esp. with big pharma (but at the same time I’m also skeptical of eastern medicine, but what about herbs? Can those cure small health issues like colds and possibly even cancer? I know it sounds silly, but I don’t want to believe everything that BIG PHARMA tells me).

    Who’d have thought that the Scientologists actually have a point (not many, but at least one).

    And I have a question about Scientologists. What’s up with their symbol? Is it a golden cross with rays coming off the center?

  • Jesus never sent anyone to a doctor or a hospital

    Exactly how many medical facilities were around 2000 years ago?

  • Ron in Houston

    I believe the defense of spiritual means only applies to child abuse/neglect.

    It’s probably not a defense to negligent homicide.

  • mikespeir

    What breaks my hearts is that the Neumanns are victims themselves. They didn’t invent the religion. As with most people, it was handed to them. They don’t know any other way to see the world.

    Still, what do you do? You can’t let this issue go unanswered; this crime unpunished. However sincere the Neumanns are in their misplaced beliefs, they’re going to have to be made into examples. We just can’t tolerate this sort of thing.

  • Vincent

    Jesus did not send anyone to a doctor because a) he cured them himself, and b) there weren’t any doctors (and c- he probably never existed).

    I recommend anyone in Boston visit the mother church of the Church of Christ Science and see their museum. They give a good description of how Mary Eddy lived a crappy, pain filled life and doctors were no help. You learn that doctors were no help because medicine was crap back then. They were still bleeding people and amputating without anesthetic for chrissake. They didn’t have the germ theory of disease. Medical treatment didn’t work any better than thinking happy thoughts (a.k.a. praying).
    So it made sense that when she stopped going to doctors and prayed, and by chance happened to get better, she would credit the prayer for it.

    But now is not then. Now medical treatment VASTLY increases your chance of recovery from injury or disease. Go to a doctor you morons or people will die.

  • How do you even get through to these people? People who believe in
    faith and their God so blindly that they’re willing to put the lives
    of others at stake. These parents might think this death is God’s
    will, not a lack of insulin.

    I hope this example serves as an example for those considering a similar path…

  • Did he just say that medical science works, but true believers should risk letting their kids die at the negligent hands of god? This was a diabetic coma, the girl could have been treated if they got medical attention when she got her fever, or when her legs turned blue, or when she could no longer use the bathroom on her own, or when she finally passed out. I’m sorry, but even if “true belief” would heal my child I wouldn’t risk god deeming me unworthy.

    When your best defense is “I let my child die, so god will love me.” then basically you’ve confessed to negligent homicide. They admit medicine works, but didn’t use it because they wanted to gain favor with their imaginary god. They sacrificed their daughter to their god.

  • Wow. This guy actually thinks doctors are part of God’s mysterious plan to test the true believers? So anyone who goes to a doctor isn’t a True Believer?

  • Xeonicus

    I guess the Christian guy didn’t remember the saying: “God helps those who help themselves.” If there is snow on your side walk, you can’t pray it away, you gotta put your back into it. If your child is sick, you can’t pray it away, you gotta get off your butt and take them to a doctor. Prayer has as much to do with curing the sick as it does with getting that snow off your sidewalk.

  • Karen

    I guess the Christian guy didn’t remember the saying: “God helps those who help themselves.”

    That saying doesn’t come from the bible; I believe it’s from Poor Richard’s Almanac.

    Most fundamentalists repudiate that saying. In fact, I heard several preachers speak against it specifically back in the day. The idea that we would “rely on our own understanding” is a negative one in churches and sects that insist on making people helpless so they will trust god (and the church) for everything.

    Obviously, these people are from a fringe group. Most Christians, even strict fundamentalists, are fine with medical treatment. Of course, they’ll credit god if someone gets healed (rather than science or the doctors), but at least they’re okay with modern medicine.

  • Darryl

    This is one of those cases that raises an insoluble problem for freedom of religion. These folks were practicing their religion and the state did not prevent them; then they let their daughter die from ‘natural causes’ and the state wants to throw them in jail. What they did, they did out of faith, not some evil intent. This is the absurdity of setting aside reason for oneself while living in a society founded upon reason and law. When religion becomes overt it clashes with the state. This is why the fundamentalists are fated to fail.

  • I think it’s incredibly unfair for parents to indoctrinate their children with their own brand of religion. I guess they’re too afraid to let them make up their own minds when they’re old enough.

    Most parents of course believe that it is their duty and right to set their children on the “right path” in life. And that’s fine, it is their right but when it comes to life and death situations and these kids have no voices, I think Child Protective Services should step in. I know that CPS aren’t perfect in any way but the life of a child necessitates their involvement when the parents can’t think rationally.

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