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Dale Neumann let his daughter die

Dale and Leilani Neumann There’s been a lot written in the atheist and skeptic blogospheres lately about Dale Neumann, who killed his 11-year-old daughter Madeline by refusing to take her to the doctor, instead choosing to pray for her recovery. He’s been charged with second-degree reckless homocide (back in March of 2003) for his daughter’s death from undiagnosed diabetes. Madeline’s mother, Leilani, has already been convicted of second-degree reckless homicide and faces up to 25 years in prison, according to an MSNBC article.

On Thursday the July 30th, He was the last person to testify in his trial, stating that he felt that he couldn’t take his daughter to the doctor without disobeying God. He evidently read from the bible during his testimony, preaching to the jury about his faith and God’s ability to heal.

Dale Neumann said, “Who am I to predict death when death is an appointed time for all of us?”

From the MSNBC article

Dale Neumann told the jury he didn’t seek medical help for his child because “I can’t do that because Biblically, I cannot find that is the way people are healed.”

He added: “If I go to the doctor, I am putting the doctor before God. I am not believing what he said he would do.”

[…]

Prosecutors say he should have taken the girl to a hospital because she couldn’t walk, talk, eat or speak.

Instead, Madeline died on the floor of the family’s rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed.

Prosecutors say that she couldn’t walk, talk, eat, or speak and should have been taken to a doctor. Lynn Wilde, who testified in Newmann’s defense, said that she thought Madeline had the flu and that she looked a little pale and was weak. She also made noises and moved her head.

Wilde, a loyal member of Neumann’s Bible study group, testified for the defense as Neumann’s attorney tried to show the father didn’t know how ill his daughter was. Wilde said the five adults and three other children at the home prayed and took communion in an effort to heal the girl. She went home and took a nap, expecting the Neumanns to call later and say Madeline was fine and walking again.

“I believe in the power of prayer,” Wilde testified.

Madeline died about two hours later, whereupon someone called 911.

Two points come to mind. First, the instantaneous one, is that both parents should be locked up for murder. Neither should get off on an insanity plea, though, in my opinion, they are both clearly insane… also negligent, abusive, ignorant, and immoral. Their daughter would probably still be alive had they sought medical treatment when she exhibited symptoms. She would have had an even better chance had she received regular checkups prior to developing outward symptoms.

That’s the point that most of the blog entries I’ve read have emphasized and I agree.

The other point that came to mind (and some blogs have probably brought this up, too) is that, if other religious people believed what they profess to believe, they would all do the same thing that the Neumanns did. If they believe in a god who is all-powerful, loving, and benevolent, who can heal the sick and perform miracles, who created the very universe by simply willing it to be so, who listens to and answers prayers… then why would they do anything other than pray for their sick loved ones?

Lynn Wilde said, “I believe in the power of prayer.” How many other religious believers make the same statement of belief? How many profess to believe it absolutely? Yet how many of them act as if they believe it absolutely? I doubt the numbers are very large.

Most people take sick children to the doctor. Most people go to the doctor themselves when symptoms indicate something serious. Most people take pain medication when they have a headache. Most people behave in a rational way that has nothing to do with believing in an all-powerful, loving deity… despite any claims to religious belief they may profess.

So I have to conclude that, when people actually act on their professed religious beliefs… when they trust in the “power of prayer” and their benevolent, loving deity to do what’s right for their children… when they refuse to get professional medical treatment for serious health conditions, instead choosing to do nothing but pray… when they put their full trust in their almighty god to save them… people die and they get convicted of murder.

They should be convicted, but it underscores my point… that most people who claim to be devout religious believers and who claim to put their full trust in their god really aren’t and really don’t. They put their trust in other people… doctors, nurses, firemen, policemen, engineers, scientists, teachers… friends.

That’s where the trust really belongs, anyway.

One Comment

  1. Nick says:

    See, the problem is that God is not falsifiable in the Christian’s mind. Since God is sovereign, that leaves him the option of responding to prayer. Regardless of what he does, he is still “answering” the prayer. So even though they prayed for healing, i guess God just decided they werent faithful enough so he didnt heal the little girl. Or was it because he has a greater purpose that will be fulfilled if she dies?..!
    This is what Christians tell eachother to make it all better. The problem is that a little girl died because they believed something ridiculous. If they want ot pray for healing, they should do it for their own self when they get sick, but not put other people in jeopardy because of their belief.

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