March 26, 2008

If You Are Going to Pray Instead of Getting Medical Treatment for Your Child

PZ Myers notes on Pharyngula yet another one of those tragic stories that appear every so often of a family that decides to pray ver a sick child instead of getting needed medical treatment. In this case, the child was an 11 year old girl who developed diabetes and, because of what I and any sane person would consider atrocious parental neglect, ultimately died of ketoacidosis. The condition could have been easily treated and the kid could be alive.

Police: Family prayed instead of getting medical aid for girl who died

An 11-year-old girl died after her parents prayed for healing rather than seek medical help for a treatable form of diabetes, police said Tuesday...

Vergin said an autopsy determined the girl died from diabetic ketoacidosis, an ailment that left her with too little insulin in her body, and she had probably been ill for about 30 days, suffering symptoms like nausea, vomiting, excessive thirst, loss of appetite and weakness.

The girl's parents, Dale and Leilani Neumann, attributed the death to "apparently they didn't have enough faith," the police chief said.

They believed the key to healing "was it was better to keep praying. Call more people to help pray," he said.

The mother believes the girl could still be resurrected, the police chief said...

Officers went to the home after one of the girl's relatives in California called police to check on her, Vergin said. She was taken to a hospital where she was pronounced dead.

The relative was fearful the girl was "extremely ill, dire," Vergin said.

The girl has three siblings, ranging in age from 13 to 16, the police chief said.

"They are still in the home," he said. "There is no reason to remove them. There is no abuse or signs of abuse that we can see..."
Isn't that last part appealing? The kid was already dead when police got to the house. Mom was probably praying over the body for resurrection, not satisfied by this most horrible of empirical tests that her refusal to face reality and reliance upon mumbo-jumbo was what killed her daughter in the first place. There are still two other minors in the home, but somehow there's no sign of abuse here and so no need to remove those minors. If this isn't abuse, how about neglect? How about manslaughter, for that matter?

Still, I realize that there are people in this country who disagree with my point of view, so let's assume for a moment that the parents were right. Their faith simply wasn't strong enough to save their daughter's life. If you're a fundamentalist parent contemplating praying over a critically ill child instead of getting them medical treatment, how do you know if your faith is strong enough before you turn your offspring into worm-food?

Lucky you, finding Hyphoid Logic today! I have a simple test you can take.

First, you'll need a handgun. A .22 will do, but I suggest using a snub-nosed .44 if you can get one.

Now, find a quiet room and sit with your back against a wall. Pray just as hard as you can. When you feel all prayed out, make sure you've taken the safety off and put the muzzle of the gun in your mouth. Make sure that the barrel is pointed up, toward your cranium. We have to be sure.

Pull the trigger.

If you can't pull the trigger, you know that your faith isn't strong enough. If you don't know wth certainty that God is going to stop that bullet from blowing your head off, there's no way your prayers are going to save your kid.

If you do pull the trigger and note a sudden proliferation of brain and skull fragments in your vicinity, congratulations! You've just been diagnosed with the sin of pride. Your faith wasn't strong enough, even though you thought it was. God hasn't stopped the bullet. You're dead and have likely stopped reading this. Good luck seeking pardon in the afterlife or whatever it is that happens to people who pray themselves to death. You may at least rest assured that your child will get appropriate medical attention when the authorities show up to investigate the death scene.

If and only if you pull the trigger and hear the gun discharge but are still alive and uninjured afterward may you deny medical attention to your child and instead rely on prayer for a cure. You have staked your life on the strength of your faith and passed the test. You can do whatever you want; if your faith can stop that bullet, it can also cure the child.

If you think this all sounds completely stupid — and I agree that it does — then you MUST take your child for medical treatment. Those unwilling to take this test but who still deny treatment are nothing but murderers if that child dies based on your willingness to risk his or her life but not your own.

The appropriate place for Dale and Leilani Neumann, the parents in this article, is prison. Religion is not an excuse for criminally negligent homicide.

Sphere: Related Content