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News Treatment through prayer

  1. Aug 25, 2013 #1
    I remembered a case where a girl died of diabetes complications because her parents chose to pray instead of take her to the hospital.
    I just looked it up to see what kind of punishment the parents received, and it's pathetic.
    Wis. court upholds convictions of parents who prayed for dying girl instead of going to doctor | Star Tribune

    If I'm reading correctly, they only have to serve 1 month a year for 6 years? They're killers and they're insane. They need to be locked away forever.

    Apparently it's legal to pray for your child to get better while they're rotting away without any medical treatment. That is dark ages stupidity, and it boggles my mind that the law respects that in the year 2013.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 25, 2013 #2


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    While it is criminal and abhorrent that children are allowed to suffer and die, let's remember to keep it about the legal issues and avoid general religion so that we don't have to close the thread.
  4. Aug 25, 2013 #3
    The case as an anecdote does seem to have a light sentence imposed upon the parents, but you would have to compare that with other cases where the parents could be negligent through waiting too long to enter a sick child into professional medical care. Professional medical care, by the way, does not always save the sick and dying, although the chances of recovery are well improved. If the child does die at a hospital does one then lay criminal charges upon the doctors and staff for not providing the proper treatment or diagnosis, so there has to be some sort of common sense layout in the legal framework that would apply to all citizens and not just directly pointed at certain nutcakes that nake very bad decisions.

    In this case the defense of using religious prayer to save the individual rather than using medical care was tossed out as not being a buffer against immunity from criminal prosecution, only against abuse charges. Do note that the decisions was 6-1 so what was the (1) person thinking. I agree that innocence, ie a child's innocence, is no thoughtful way to conduct oneself when they are in a leagal guardians care. What I mean is that there should be more diligence from the guardian caring for an innocent child, than the care to an individual who has legal responsibility of decision.
  5. Aug 25, 2013 #4


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    I see some correlation...
  6. Aug 25, 2013 #5
    I'd bet any parent who waited until their child was so sick that they couldn't walk, talk, or eat, before they took them to the hospital would go to prison. That is regardless of the reason they waited (other than waiting for prayer to work, apparently). This law seems like a special case where negligent nutcases have a loophole.

    If someone was crazy and decided to treat their deathly ill child with something ridiculous, like feeding them newspaper, that person would go to prison, or at least be locked up for a very long time in a mental institution. But the law apparently favors one crazy method over another, and that makes no sense.
  7. Aug 25, 2013 #6


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    Anything that endangers the well being of another individual should not be allowed, for any reason, I don't care what the excuse is. IMO.
  8. Aug 25, 2013 #7


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    It is unfortunate that our lawmakers do not share your sanity.

    I understand that lawmakers have to tread carefully around the constitutional right to freedom of religion but that right should not trump the right of an individual's well-being, especially in the case of a minor.
  9. Aug 25, 2013 #8
    I agree. No sense. I think it said in there that some states have taken the prayer statute off its law books, if I read that correctly, eliminating an ill conceived exemption for a certain class of people.
    Speaking of crazy methods, what about homepathy and herbal remedies. One is totally useless, and the other does not have quality control.
  10. Aug 25, 2013 #9


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    Religious freedom will never give you the right to shoot others. It is possible to restrict religious freedom - and this is done all the time where it is necessary. The ill child is just another case.
  11. Aug 25, 2013 #10


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    I'm going to play devil's advocate here because I think this deserves a richer discussion than it might otherwise get.

    The choice of punishment should be based on what the objective of the punishment is. If you send them to jail for 30 years, the next time somebody refuses to treat their child because of religious reasons do you really think they're going to budge because you say "Hey the last time someone did this they spent thirty in the slammer". Possibly, but it seems unlikely - these people are fervent in their beliefs and I think more likely to view themselves as a martyr for their religion than to be scared into treating their child's illness. And it's unlikely the parents are going to feel worse about going to jail than they already do about losing their child, so the retributive point of view falls a bit flat.

    I think it's difficult to try to understand the point of view of a parent who would do something like this (I certainly can't), and this makes it easier to demonize them. But if you try to look at it from their point of view - they had a sick kid, and genuinely thought praying to god would save that child. And then they lost their child and their god failed them - it sounds more like a tragedy than a criminal act.

    If you really just think they're really batshit insane, we typically don't criminalize that behavior (well, the system might fail on that point but I think most people would agree that it's better to minimize this)- if a person has a mental disorder that causes them to be a threat to society then we take away rights for the purposes of removing that threat, but not for the purposes of punishing them for having a mental disorder. I'm just spitballing at this point but not allowing them to have children would fit the concept better than throwing them in jail for this if you literally think they're crazy.

    The other possibility is that you think they're just incredibly ignorant about the way that the world works. This is also something we don't typically want to criminalize. It's similar to the argument over whether to remove children from their parents if they become dangerously obese. The parents are incredibly ignorant about what a healthy diet is, but criminalizing that ignorance isn't a good way to go about it and so typically even the proponents of removing the child from the home don't say the parents should be prosecuted for their nutritional failure.

    The last thing to consider is how unevenly this kind of religious prosecution will be applied. Many people consider male circumcision to be genital mutilation, but there is never a discussion about whether it is OK to do it for religious purposes in this country, and the only real reason is because it's something that is understood culturally. If it had never been done before and some wacky new age cult started going around lopping off bits of their children's penises, there is no way they would avoid being prosecuted. You can only imagine the outrage that would occur if a parent told their child they couldn't eat for 24 hours as punishment for being bad, but as long as you tell them they can't eat because god doesn't want them to it becomes OK. Again, if that was a cult introducing fasting for the first time they'd probably all be in jail for child abuse, but because we've been doing it as a race for thousands of years it's OK. If the only reason that denying medical treatment to a child is considered child abuse and neglect is because most people don't do it, but other instances of abuse and neglect are considered OK for religious purposes because a large enough minority of the population follows that religion, then a stronger argument needs to be made for why one instance is not allowed and the other is
  12. Aug 25, 2013 #11
    This reminds me of the Exorcism of Emily Rose.
  13. Aug 25, 2013 #12
    I agree the sentence is too soft, but on the other hand it wasn't an intentional neglect. They're so brainwashed that they really thought she could be healed like that.
  14. Aug 26, 2013 #13
    Hmmm.... going to a doctor is akin to worshipping an idol?
    How in the name of Einstein's mythical socks is going to a lawyer fine, then?
    Monosynaptic Cretins....#&!##?$
  15. Aug 26, 2013 #14


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    IMO any parent that causes significant harm to their child (through action or inaction) should be guilty of child abuse. If this means taking the child away from temporarily or permanently as well as legal action then so be it.
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