Couple who chose prayer over medical attention for their daughter are jailed

Couple who chose prayer over medical attention for their daughter are jailed October 8, 2009

A US couple who prayed rather than seeking medical attention for their dying daughter have been sentenced to six months in jail.
According to a BBC report, Dale and Leilani Neumann, of Wisconsin, could have received up to 25 years in prison over the 2008 death of Madeline Neumann, who was known as Kara.neumanns
The 11-year-old died of an undiagnosed but treatable form of diabetes.
Judge Vincent Howard ordered the couple to serve one month in jail each year for the next six years.
One parent will serve the term in March and the other in September.
The judge told the Neumanns this would give them time to:

Think about Kara and what God wants you to learn from this.

He added that they were:

Very good people, raising their family, who made a bad decision, a reckless decision.

He added:

God probably works through other people, some of them doctors.

In addition to the custodial sentence, the Neumanns were also put on 10 years’ probation, as part of which they must allow a nurse to examine their two youngest surviving children at least once every three months, and must immediately take their children to a doctor in case of any serious injuries.

Prosecutors said the couple had recklessly killed the youngest of their four children by ignoring clear symptoms of severe illness as she became too weak to speak, eat, drink or walk.
They said the couple had a legal duty to take their daughter to a doctor but had instead relied totally on prayer for healing.
Kara died on the floor of the family’s rural home as people surrounded her and prayed. The emergency services were only called after she stopped breathing.
In their defence, the parents said they believed healing came from God, and that they had not expected their daughter to die as they prayed for her.
Jay Kronenwetter, Mr Neumann’s lawyer, was asked in a BBC interview if he thought his client had got off lightly.

My client sees spiritual treatment as the proper medicine and I suspect the people who want harsher punishment see Western medicine as the proper medicine, I guess therein lies the difference. My clients just happen to have a belief that is very outside of our social norm.

The couple are appealing against their convictions.

"There may be a marketing opportunity here for the Vatican's Chile outpost. Why not, when ..."

World’s oldest living archbishop stands accused ..."
"Since you're in the UK and don't have quite as steady a diet of outrageous ..."

Trump’s ‘Chosen One’ remark unleashes derision ..."
"(Must have missed the /s.)"

Christian couple who ran a ‘gay ..."
"Ha. I have internet. They don't. True patriarchal authoritarian that I am. And you only ..."

Christian couple who ran a ‘gay ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!


TRENDING AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Frac

    If they'd appealed against their convictions in the first place, they wouldn't be murderers now.

  • gary

    Is he serious? one month each a year?
    This is clear infanticide as well.

  • Gordon

    He said they were good people, meanwhile they said they did nothing wrong and had no need to reform. Human sacrifice is what this was!

  • Brian Jordan

    Where there's a woo, there's a way. I've railed against imaginary medicine for years but never got too worried about it. Now, however, it seems that woo is to be made available on the NHS. Maybe that's why they're so keen on chaplains: in the land of woo, superstition is the king.
    http://www.dcscience.net/?p=2007

  • Freeminder

    That Judge should be struck off.
    A blatant case of infanticide, possibly murder. And they get six months spread over six years.
    Wonder if the judge is also a following of some invisible friend?
    And has been said too many times before:
    Nothing fails like prayer.
    How long before some right wing loony group pays for the appeal?

  • Greg Adams

    I read elsewhere that the state in which this crime was committed has a law specifically stating that parents who do exactly what they did are not committing a crime. The sentence is probably for reckless endangerment, which was the only crime they could prosecute….because of the law. I'm all for freedom of religion, but what's next: don't bother to feed the children because God will provide food? Don't bother to educate your children because God will teach them everything they need to know? Don't bother looking for a job because God will provide all the money you need, God will pay the bills, etc, etc, etc. At some point, it's no longer freedom of religion…it's insanity.

  • MelM

    Parents have an obligation (coming from the rights of children) to do something rational when it comes to child heath care. Going by whatever quack ideas they may hold doesn't satisfy the obligation in any way. In order to avoid a judge imposing his own quack ideas, there needs to be tests of "rational" created by legislatures.
    On top of starting out with an approach with no rational foundation, they continued to pray even when it was clear to any sane person that the prayers were not working. If doctors arn't any good, why did someone of the "prayer providers" call 911 after the child stopped breathing?
    Six months total in jail (one month a year) is hardly any punishment at all. I'd take a pile of novels and the time would pass very quickly.

  • MelM

    BTW, the idea that "God works through the doctors" is another loathsome fraudulent hack put out by the pious to cover the fact that they don't expect prayer healing to actually work. In order to save their religion, they steal the talent of the medical profession and all the scientists behind it and give the credit to their god.

  • The Judge in this case wants locking up as well – basically he has let these murdering nutters off. I feel sorry for the remaining three Neumann children who may yet suffer the same fate as their youngest sibling; and where are the child protection social services? Religion: an excuse for infanticide, genocide, torture, human rights abuse…….

  • Harvey

    I agree with Angela_K, everything about this story frightens me. The parents, the Judge, everyone involved. It is blatant neglect of a child and everyone gets off because they all believe in a supernatural being that may or may not be able to save people through the power of prayer. Sends a shiver down my spine!

  • I would exhort all readers to look up Mary Baker Eddy (founder of Christian Science – neither Christian nor science, of course!) on the internet. After suffering from toothache, and being unable to "cure" it by faith, she eventually had to seek treatment from a dentist. When she was accused of hypocrisy, her reply was that it was not the dentist who had cured her, but her FAITH in him that did the trick! (Echoes of the Catholic explanation of the way that "relics" work, anyone?) She taught that matter was illusory, and therefore was incapable of sensation, and that it was the "spirit" that was "real" (not really new ideas at all). When you have a toothache, she averred, the pain is in your "mind" (showing her complete lack of scientific understanding, unfortunately), and following treatment, it is your "mind", being aware of what has happened, that tells you that the "pain" is now gone! There's plenty about her on the net, though if you type in "mary baker eddy toothache" and read her answer to a question on the subject you will probably end up rolling round on the floor laughing at it!!

  • They can't see it. It was the total illogicality of it all that finally convinced me that it is all, frankly, bullshit!

  • Ivan the Terrible also "just happened to have a belief system that is very outside of our social norm"!

  • Har Davids

    Where did they find that judge? "Good people", "bad decision", blabla; you might be able to say that about anyone, even serial killers, but of course, these people have a 'god' who happens to be one.

  • mike

    Ian Huntley's missed a trick, obviously.
    "I thought god wouldn't let them drown in the bath!"
    "Oh right, sounds fair enough. If it's good enough for Tony Blair it's good enough for you"

  • Lurker111

    Almost makes one want to reconsider the topic of forced sterilization, doesn't it? 😛

  • andrea

    If they’d said they were witches and were praying to the goddess I doubt they would have got off so lightly.
    And still they maintain xtianity is under threat in the US!?!

  • Robert Stovold

    "My clients just happen to have a belief that is very outside of our social norm "
    Erm, no. It wasn't the fact that the beliefs were "very outside of our sociaL norm" that was the problem. It was the fact that their beliefs DIDN'T BLOODY WORK.

  • Robert Stovold

    Interesting to see the Catholic Church using "facts" from a publication called "The Christian Science Monitor" (Founder: Mary Baker Eddy) in their recent shameful attempts to play down the significance of paedophile priests, isn't it?
    Desperate times call for desperate measures….

  • At the very least, this is one of the worst cases of neglect for one of the least worthy purposes. This is horribly sick!

  • No nation should support this quackery as it has been proven time and time again to be totally ineffective. I am shocked and appalled at how these people abused their children and got off so very lightly.

  • Another victim of religious lunacy.

  • Absolutely. I do not get why it is that these people get off so lightly. The father was probably one of the "good ol' boys".

  • Plain and simple, this decision should be contested – no one should be allowed to get away with murder.

  • Hidden

    People like this bug me so much. Prayer doesn't do crap. It gives you hope, maybe has you look only for the good stuff and not the bad, but it is mostly your brain. If you think hard enough, your brain can make up false imagery. Like pregnancies- If you're really convinced you're pregnant, you can actually show symptoms. Granted, there won't be a kid in your womb, but you get the idea.
    If prayer is 'so effective', why aren't people winning the lottery and why aren't cancer patients being cured after their prayers?? I'm not against religious people, but they need to be rational and start looking at the facts, y'know, like, "Hm. It's been months of prayer and it seems my daughter is getting worse. Maybe I should do to the doctor and get her checked out."

  • The Christian Science Monitor is a well-respected newspaper in America (mainly online now). I believe it still has connections to the Church, but does not carry evangelistic material. (There used to be a sort of "thought for the day" when it was a daily, but I'm not sure whether that continues.) It's reporting is very reliable.

  • Debbie

    Remember, people made this decision, NOT GOD!! So don't judge them too hard. Pray for the parents to make better decisions and learn what the bible really says. God is NOT against doctors or medications.

  • JGR

    When some Christian Organisation are refusing to take on same sex adoption, it smacks of hypocrisy that some Christians would rather see a child die than seek medical help. Who would make the best guardians, fundamentalist Christians or people who have the interest of the child at heart?.

  • quedula

    You've heard from him quite recently then?

  • Debbie. Prayer doesn't work. Prayer is bullshit. What good could praying possibly do?

  • GNG

    The judge clearly does believe and therefore should never have been allowed to preside in this case. Look at what he said:
    " Think about Kara and what God wants you to learn from this."
    "God probably works through other people, some of them doctors."
    This is totally outrageous! I can't believe that these people got off so lightly. Once again, children are the victims of religious looneys. Disgraceful.
    Godless not gormless

  • Well, Debbie, here's what the Bible REALLY says! "Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up" (James 5:14-15.) Maybe these stupid twats forgot to call for the ELDERS! Maybe they should have been imprisoned for THAT!!

  • "God is NOT against doctors or medications." You have this in writing do you, or was it the voices?

  • GNG

    Typical repuslive garbage from the brainless! Don't you care about what happened to this little girl? Doesn't it bother you that your god didn't step in to help her when she really needed it? If you really believe in god and his mercy and kindness, don't you think he might have intervened in this case?
    This little girl was abused and let down by her parents and other adults around her, all of whom presumably believed in your god. It was time for god to show a little mercy for a change. A chance to show he exists. Unsurprisingly, he didn't do anything for the simple reason that non existance is a major impediment to achieving anything.
    Try to learn something from this Debbie. Either god is imaginary or he just doesn't give a shit about believers abusing others. I'd go for the former. It makes a lot of sense.
    Godless not gormless

  • GNG

    Very telling barrie. Well done. It's good to see that your years of belief are now a great asset in your more enlightened times.
    Godless not gormless

  • I know erstwhile intelligent people who believe every word of this, GNG. They still visit the doctor, though! (If there is one thing that I cannot bear, it is hypocrisy!!)

  • All religion is a form of brainwashing and self-hypnosis, Hidden</i. This became increasingly clear to me when I was an evangelical. Just look at prayers (especially chanted and recited), hymns and psalms, and "meditation", not to mention, of course, very emotional, impassioned "sermons". They even admit themselves that prayer has more of an effect on the person praying than anything else, which seems to be to be an admission of the fact! And rituals too, in all religions, help to condition the minds of "believers". It's all an enormous "con"!!

  • All religion is a form of brainwashing and self-hypnosis, Hidden. This became increasingly clear to me when I was an evangelical. Just look at prayers (especially chanted and recited), hymns and psalms, and "meditation", not to mention, of course, very emotional, impassioned "sermons". They even admit themselves that prayer has more of an effect on the person praying than anything else, which seems to be to be an admission of the fact! And rituals too, in all religions, help to condition the minds of "believers". It's all an enormous "con"!!

  • Lyle

    Basically the courts are finding that the Bible is fraudulent with the multiple claims of healing through prayer and faith, and anyone who believes the claims is unfit to reproduce.

  • The child was healed–she was taken away from our "imperfect, fallen" world into the Kingdom of Heaven by God. She is already risen up and is "Dancing with the Stars" in the stars…

  • DMH

    And how many times have you tried it?