Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Faith Over Medicine

I found this article at Richard Dawkins.net and I was completely floored. I can’t believe these sort of things still happen in the united States. It’s disgusting and dangerous to say the least.

To sum up the article, the parents of Kara Neumann belong to a church that believes that god alone has the ability to heal the sick. So when Kara grew so weak she couldn’t talk or walk, he parents decided to pray instead of taking her to the doctor.


She died.
Kara Neumann, 11, had grown so weak that she could not walk or speak. Her parents, who believe that God alone has the ability to heal the sick, prayed for her recovery but did not take her to a doctor.

After an aunt from California called the sheriff’s department here, frantically pleading that the sick child be rescued, an ambulance arrived at the Neumann’s rural home on the outskirts of Wausau and rushed Kara to the hospital. She was pronounced dead on arrival.

The county coroner ruled that she had died from diabetic ketoacidosis resulting from undiagnosed and untreated juvenile diabetes. The condition occurs when the body fails to produce insulin, which leads to severe dehydration and impairment of muscle, lung and heart function.

“Basically everything stops,” said Dr. Louis Philipson, who directs the diabetes center at the University of Chicago Medical Center, explaining what occurs in patients who do not know or “are in denial that they have diabetes.”

The fucked up part is that this isn’t as that uncommon of an occurrence. Rita Swan, of Children’s Health Care Is a Legal Duty, estimates the number to be around 300 children deaths in the last 25 years. That’s about one a month.
About a month after Kara’s death last March, the Marathon County state attorney, Jill Falstad, brought charges of reckless endangerment against her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann. Despite the Neumanns’ claim that the charges violated their constitutional right to religious freedom, Judge Vincent Howard of Marathon County Circuit Court ordered Ms. Neumann to stand trial on May 14, and Mr. Neumann on June 23. If convicted, each faces up to 25 years in prison.

“The free exercise clause of the First Amendment protects religious belief,” the judge wrote in his ruling, “but not necessarily conduct.”

Wisconsin law, he noted, exempts a parent or guardian who treats a child with only prayer from being criminally charged with neglecting child welfare laws, but only “as long as a condition is not life threatening.” Kara’s parents, Judge Howard wrote, “were very well aware of her deteriorating medical condition.”

About 300 children have died in the United States in the last 25 years after medical care was withheld on religious grounds, said Rita Swan, executive director of Children’s Health Care Is a Legal Duty, a group based in Iowa that advocates punishment for parents who do not seek medical help when their children need it. Criminal codes in 30 states, including Wisconsin, provide some form of protection for practitioners of faith healing in cases of child neglect and other matters, protection that Ms. Swan’s group opposes.

In the last year, two other sets of parents, both in Oregon, were criminally charged because they had not sought medical care for their children on the ground that to do so would have violated their belief in faith healing. One couple were charged with manslaughter in the death of their 15-month-old daughter, who died of pneumonia last March. The other couple were charged with criminally negligent homicide in the death of their 16-year-old son, who died from complications of a urinary tract infection that was severely painful and easily treatable.

“Many types of abuses of children are motivated by rigid belief systems,” including severe corporal punishment, said Ms. Swan, a former Christian Scientist whose 16-month-old son, Matthew, died after she postponed taking him to a hospital for treatment of what proved to be meningitis. “We learned the hard way.”

I wonder if people still think it’s so crazy that Richard Dawkins believes it can be harmful to children to be raised extremely religious.
The Neumanns are known locally as followers of an online faith outreach group called Unleavened Bread Ministries, run by a preacher, David Eells. The site shares stories of faith healing and talks about the end of the world.

An essay on the site signed Pastor Bob states that the Bible calls for healing by faith alone. “Jesus never sent anyone to a doctor or a hospital,” the essay says. “Jesus offered healing by one means only! Healing was by faith.”

A link from the site, helptheneumanns.com, asserts that the couple is being persecuted and “charged with the crime of praying.” The site also allows people to contribute to a legal fund for the Neumanns.

In the small town of Weston, many people shake their heads with dismay when Kara Neumann is mentioned. Tammy Klemp, 41, who works behind the counter at a convenience store here, said she disagreed with the Neumanns’ passive response to their daughter’s illness but said she was not sure they should go to prison.

“I’ve got mixed feelings,” Ms. Klemp said. “It’s just such a terribly sad case.”

Chris Goebel, 30, a shipping department worker for a window maker, said many people in the area felt strongly that the parents should be punished.

“That little girl wasn’t old enough to make the decision about going to a doctor,” Mr. Goebel said. “And now, because some religious extremists went too far, she’s gone.”

How can you have mixed feelings about this? We are talking about the death of a child, not what your favorite ice cream flavor is.

And how dare these people and their church try to claim they are being persecuted because they pray. I went to their website and it’s full of so much b.s. I wanted to hit someone.

What about this little girl’s freedom? On the website they claim that this is what Kara would have wanted, but I’m pretty sure most people wouldn't want to die of extreme dehydration while their blood turns into acid.

I guess this just comes down to what’s important to us as a nation. The harmful and ridiculous actions we’ve allowed to hide behind the cloak of “religious freedom” or our children.


  1. The sad fact it Religion and Freedom are mutually exclusive in America.

    You cant be free and Religious. This is a terrible case, i dont understand the way of thinking, i would try absolutly everything to make my child better. Even things that i would normaly not use or think about like chinese cures.

    You guys have to wars against religious extremeism going on and i would say the lesser known one is the most important.

  2. You would think it would be obvious just by looking around at the world that God's not that into answering prayers. He seems like a hands-off kind of manager to me. If you believe in God at all, it seems to me like he tends to favor those folks who can take care of themselves and aren't always whining and asking him for stuff. Personally, I think he washed his hands of human beings a long time ago.

  3. I've never quite understood that philosophy. God, the Universe, Allah...whatever...helps those who help themsevels. We wouldn't have brains and the ability to practice medicine if we weren't supposed to use them.


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