Should parents be punished because they believe in the healing power of prayer?

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Dale & Leilani Neumann’s daughter, Madeline Kara Neumann, 11, died from untreated diabetes on March 23, 2008, the authorities said. When the girl became ill and could no longer walk or talk, her parents prayed for her instead of taking her to a doctor, prosecutors said.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court is hearing the case of parents who prayed for their diabetic daughter instead of getting medical help.

Dale and Leilani Neumann were convicted of reckless homicide in 2009 after their 11-year-old daughter died from juvenile diabetes. Now the couple is asking the state supreme court to overturn their convictions.

They say they believed prayer would heal her and that if they took her to a doctor that would be “taking the glory away from God.”

Faith healing is protected under Wisconsin state law and under Louisiana law too, but prosecutors say that law does not apply in this case, because of the severity of the child’s illness.

Our Food for Thought Question: Should parents be punished if they deny a dying child medicine because they believe in the healing power of prayer?


  • Janet Heimlich

    No one should condemn a parent for what he or she BELIEVES. The question here is whether a parent's action or inaction leads to harm of a child. I am a researcher and author about religious child maltreatment. Pious individuals are convinced that a mother or father who harms a child through neglect due to such things as drug addiction or mental illness should be punished, but if the adult harms a child due to religious belief, he or she should escape punishment. States should not exempt these perpetrators. Abuse is abuse. Neglect is neglect. Child suffering is child suffering.

  • Kathy Brandon

    Parents have every right to raise their child according to their religious beliefs, right up to the point where the child's life is endangered. While parents have the right to make a decision NOT to seek medical care for themselves if they so choose, a child should be be allowed to receive necessary medical care until they are old enough and informed enough to choose for themselves whether to refuse medical intervention. All healing is ultimately in God's hands, whether He chooses to heal miraculously or through a doctor and modern medicine and technology. Religious people cannot have it both ways: they cannot claim protection for an unborn child, yet deny protection to a child who is already born.

  • stacy ward

    Parents should be able to parent the way they believe and choose but I do not condone a child being endangered because of a parents beliefs. No seeking medical care because you believe agianst it and putting your child in danger is not fair. A child should be aloud to choose their beliefs and path in life with the influence of their parents. Meaning if they are sick and choose medicine,don't deny them.

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