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Wisconsin Faith-Healing Case May Set Precedent

Faith-Healing Case Goes to State Supreme Court

In 2008, Wisconsin 11-year-old Madeline “Kara” Neumann died after her parents prayed for her recovery but did not take her to see a doctor. Before her death, Kara’s father saw that she looked dehydrated and so he recommended using Pedialyte. However, her mother said that would “take glory from God.” The autopsy found that Kara had a treatable form of diabetes.

Journalists covered the trial of her parents (see the original comprehensive New York Times article here), which has now moved up to the state Supreme Court of Wisconsin (see article here).

In the original court case, Judge Vincent Howard of Marathon County Circuit Court said

Kara Neumann, a Wisconsin 11-year-old, died after her parents prayed for her but did not see a doctor.

that “The free exercise clause of the First Amendment protects religious belief but not necessarily conduct.” That is, a family has freedom to believe whatever they wish, but First Amendment privileges do not excuse the harming of another person.

In their arguments, the Neumanns claim that the Wisconsin law which allows parents to use faith healing as a defense in abuse and neglect cases should also be allowed in negligent homicide cases. The appellate court statement says that “people who wish to follow the law must be able to discern the boundary between what is legal and illegal.”

This state Supreme Court case may well set a precedent for how judges rule in future faith-healing cases which involve the death of a minor.

Related Posts:

The Death of Faith
Faith Healing? Trust in God, but See a Doctor

2 comments on “Wisconsin Faith-Healing Case May Set Precedent

  1. […] Wisconsin that went to the Supreme Court. It’s a year old article (from 2012, which you can read here), about a faith healing case from 2008 where 11-year-old Madeline “Kara” Neumann died after her […]

  2. […] Sadly, similar stories occur too often in churches around the country. The case above could fit any number of modern scenarios, including the recent death of Faith Shalom Pursely in Wells, Texas (see related post here), and that of Madeline “Kara” Neumann in Wisconsin (see related post here). […]

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