Wausau, Wisconsin parents Dale and Leilani Neumann are charged with reckless homicide in the death of 11 year old daughter Madeline Kara Neumann. Kara died as parents refused medical treatment and prayed. Kara’s illness, a form of diabetes, was said to be medically treatable. Instead Kara’s parents chose to pray over her weakened body and read scripture as she she grew too weak to walk, talk or even eat.
Dale and Leilani Neumann, 47 and 41 respectively, claim that they are only guilty of expecting God to heal their daughter Kara; for putting their trust in God instead of medical wisdom. It may be easy to confuse the Neumann’s actions with those of Christian Scientists who refuse medical treatment based on religious beliefs. The key difference with the Neumann’s is their attitude toward God and His expected healing of Kara.
Dale Neumann says that he ‘never expected his daughter to die’. He says that he and his wife are guilty only of trusting God too much. From the way that Dale and Leilani spoke, they believed that their faith was being tested by God, like Abraham who was commanded to sacrifice his son Isaac. Here is the problem, ethically and scripturally. Because the Neumann’s expected Kara to live if they prayed hard enough, they evidently weren’t willing to accept God’s plan if He decided not to heal Kara. By praying and expecting a miracle, Dale and Leilani are putting God to the test. Dale and Leilani tried to tell God what to do and that’s not the way being a follower of Christ works. God tells us; we don’t tell him. Dale and Leilani were presumptuous and arrogant and tried to rely on their own good works (aka prayer and Bible reading) to heal their daughter.
I call my self a follower of Christ. I believe in the sanctity of human life from conception to natural death. If I say that I am believe that parents do not have the right to take the life of an unborn child or withhold medical treatment and life support from a dying person, I certainly can’t condone the taking of the life of a born child. True the parents did not cause the death of their child. But there are sins of omission as well as commission. In other words, we do wrong by committing sinful acts and omitting to do righteous acts. And since when does God not use doctors as his instruments? St. Luke, one of the four gospel writers was a physician and faithful follower of Our Lord. Dale and Leilani’s behavior goes beyond just poor judgement. And Kara and their other children have and will continure to pay the price.
Dale and Leilani Neumann are being charged with reckless homicide. They will spend six months in jail and ten years on probation, with the possibility of a 25 year prison sentence. 11 year old Kara was the youngest of their four children. The other children will be monitored by public health nurses to ensure that they receive proper health care in future.