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A lesser sentence for the faithful.

"In the past 25 years, hundreds of children are believed to have died in the United States after faith-healing parents forbade medical attention to end their sickness or protect their lives. When minors die from a lack of parental care, it is usually a matter of criminal neglect and is often tried as murder. However, when parents say the neglect was an article of faith, courts routinely hand down lighter sentences. While faithful neglect makes for a poor criminal defense, it is surprisingly effective in achieving more lenient sentencing, in which judges appear to render less unto Caesar and more unto God.

This disparate treatment was evident last month in Wisconsin, a state with an exemption for faith-based neglect under its child abuse laws. Leilani and Dale Neumann were sentenced for allowing their 11-year-old daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, to die in 2008 from an undiagnosed but treatable form of diabetes. The Neumanns are affiliated with a faith-healing church called Unleavened Bread Ministries and continued to pray with other members while Madeline died. They could have received 25 years in prison. Instead, the court emphasized their religious rationale and gave them each six months in jail (to be served one month a year) and 10 years’ probation."

Do you think it's fair for parents to get a lesser sentence after their children die from "faith based neglect"?


Asked by clarity333 at 11:24 AM on Mar. 31, 2011 in Religious Debate

Level 22 (13,098 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (52)
  • I think in order to be fair to every single person in every situation possible, our judicial system would have be EXTREMELY complicated, even to the point of it being beyond human comprehension. In other words, perfect justice is not possible. We will never achieve it. People will always get punished for things they didn't do or didn't intend to do no matter how many exceptions we make.

    Answer by metalcowgirl34 at 4:46 PM on Apr. 1, 2011

  • I don't know. My feelings say that the crime is the same. Of course, my church believes in doctors so it's easy for me.

    But then, what's the difference between that and the people on this site who have home births because it's natural/safer, who refuse fetal monitoring and c-sections because they aren't necessary, or who refuse a vaccine or use diet/natural cures, who have chicken pox parties. If their child died, they would say they made those decisions because they felt it was right and everything they read and believed agreed with them. Yes, they did it for the best, but there you go. Beliefs, against medical authority. Are those all crimes? What reasons are OK to go against authority and what aren't?

    It's hard to pin down. That one case clearly looks like a tragic crime to me, but other cases where parents think they're doing the best thing going against advice are regularly lauded. Hmmm... interesting to think about.

    Answer by Tracys2 at 11:40 AM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • Nope, its wrong. Who in God's name could sit and watch their child die knowing there is something they can do to stop it?!

    Answer by yesmaam at 11:27 AM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • The question I always have for people on this subject - would you be as bloodthirsty if the parents were agnostic and the refused treatment was something that made their child sicker than the illness ever was to begin with? Until someone makes a license to parent, parents need the right to parent their children without fear.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 11:34 AM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • I'm a little confused here. If the treatment was refused, how could it make their child sicker than the illness? Are you trying to make an anti-vax case, or do you mean something like refusing aggressive chemotherapy for a child with terminal cancer?

    What I'm saying is there are a lot of situations where parents refuse treatment or don't get treatment - poor with no insurance, terminal illness, treatment by alternate methods like diet or other therapy. There are cases like Tracy pointed out - home births, VBAC, natural, med-free childbirth. These are all situations where parents refuse treatment, with or without consulting a doctor first. The only time people seem to get a bug up their ass about it is when religion is involved. I seriously doubt any of those same people would be out protesting to get prison sentences for women who have complications during a home birth.

    Answer by NotPanicking at 12:07 PM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • I remember that. Those folks lived near me.
    The judicial system is too afraid to take on religion. I say thats BS! If a child dies by any means because you didn't get them medical help,I say they get the book thrown at them,religious or not!

    Answer by butterflyblue19 at 11:28 AM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • Absolutely NOT I think regardless of Faith you do the crime you pay the time PERIOD !

    Answer by christinahenry at 11:28 AM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • No. For me, it is even worse. Most of us, as parents, have an unfaltering drive to protect and help our children, irrespective of outsode influences. When you sacrifice your child to "fit in" with a social group, it is almost worse for me.

    How many of us Mamas would do that?

    I don't know about the rest of you, but I couldn't physically or emotionally "let" or "stand for" my child suffering. When someone tries to get in the way of me helping my child, they have something else coming!

    Answer by ImaginationMama at 11:30 AM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • It's very wrong. They deserve the same punishment as anyone else.

    In addition, I think that the religious groups that promote faith healing instead of legitimate medical treatment should also be held liable when the crap they spew results in the death of a minor child. It's not unlike the "war on drugs" in that sense - you have to go after the pushers, not just the junkies.

    Answer by Eek_a_Geek at 11:35 AM on Mar. 31, 2011

  • Renee . . that bothers me too. I have actually heard parents saying that if their unvaccinated child were to get mumps, they could easliy treat it with "herbs". Just as bad.

    Answer by ImaginationMama at 11:35 AM on Mar. 31, 2011