“By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice.”
This Easter Sunday, 11-year-old Kara Neumann of Weston, Wisconsin, died of diabetic ketoacidosis, a curable condition. While Kara was bedridden suffering waves of nausea and vomiting and excessive thirst and could not talk, her parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, knelt in prayer and refused to seek medical treatment.
Kara’s aunt called 911from California and told the dispatcher that her niece was severely ill and that, “We’ve been trying to get [Leilani] to take Kara to the hospital for a week, a few days now . . . but she is very religious and is refusing.”
When Kara stopped breathing, her father’s faith weakened and he dialed 911. Following the ambulance to the hospital, Leilani called the prayer elders of the Unleavened Bread Ministry, an online church that shuns medical intervention, and asked them to pray that the Lord would raise her daughter up. Kara was pronounced dead at the hospital. Predictably, there was no resurrection in Weston, Wisconsin this Easter Sunday.
Everest Metro Police Chief Dan Vergin, who is investigating the death, told reporters that the Neumanns are “not crazy.” He went on to explain, “They believed up to the time she stopped breathing that she was going to get better. They just thought it was a spiritual attack. They believed that if they prayed enough she would get better . . . they said it was the course of action they would take again.”
Kara’s three siblings are staying with relatives until the investigation is completed, but Chief Vergin assured reporters, “There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see.” Vergin is correct . . . sort of. Refusing life-saving medical care to their remaining children as “the course of action they would take again” is not child abuse, it is premeditated negligent homicide.
Unfortunately, the death of a child at the praying hands of religious parents is not uncommon and is sanctioned by state and federal religious exemption laws. Under Wisconsin law, parents cannot be accused of child abuse or negligent homicide if they fervently believed prayer was the best treatment for a disease or life-threatening condition.
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