Hat-tip to PZ for shining some light onto local idiocy. The basic story is an old one—family kills kid by refusing medical care for a curable condition. In this case, it’s a child with type I diabetes. This hits close to home for two reasons: I’m an internist, and my nephew is a type I diabetic, diagnosed at four years of age.

In the case above, an innocent child was killed by ignorance. Perhaps there is a preacher somewhere behind this murder. I’d like to know. The parents prayed for their ailing daughter, but “apparently didn’t have enough faith.” The child died of diabetic ketoacidosis—her death was likely slow and painful. No one would have confused her state for a minor problem.

I can’t tell you anything about the state of mind of these parents. I’m sure they loved their child. But whether they were delusional, or belonged to some Christian cult, they murdered their child just as sure as if they’d put a gun to her head.

There is no ethical principle that can be used to justify this behavior. Parental autonomy just isn’t important enough to justify murder.

Once upon a time, kids became diabetics, and either starved to death or died of ketoacidosis. Then insulin was discovered. People used it and lived. And people still believed in God. What is so different about this couple’s God, that It demanded a child’s life?

Nothing.

God did not come to their house, sit down for dinner, and tell them not to treat their child. God did not send a registered letter, or leave their name in the Bible with instructions to stay away from doctors. These are all human beliefs and human actions, and as such, are subject to human laws.

Comments

  1. #1 Suricou Raven
    March 26, 2008

    Information is limited, but there is no evidence of cultyness – not any specific cult anyway. It appears their religious belief in the power of faith was their own, and one on which they have been dependent for many years, refusing any medical treatment to trust instead in the power of prayer.

    The mother is, the last I heard, in a form of religious denial – she believes that her daughter can still be resurrected, if she just prays hard enough.

    I am surprised this isn’t more common – many christians pray for healing in additional to seeking medical aid, it shouldn’t be much of a leap to put all their trust in the prayer.

    One final detail. Under Wisconsin law, any parent who denies medical care to a seriously ill child is guilty of a crime (Child abuse or neglect, I am not sure which), with just two exceptions: One states that a parent may deny medical treatment in favor of any cultural healing practice, and the other says the same regarding Christian prayer (And only Christian prayer). Should another one of their children fall seriously ill this might happen again, but the state actually has a statute that says parents are allowed to withhold medical treatment from their children *EVEN IF THAT MEANS THE CHILD DIES* if they would perfer to trust in the power of prayer or mystic rituals – and that goes double for Christian prayer. Thus there is, and this is one situation where swearing is justified, absolutly fuck all that the state can do to protect the other three children.

  2. #2 PalMD
    March 26, 2008

    That is a fucking shame. It’s not that they parents aren’t suffering enough, but DAMN IT ALL, we can’t let parents kill their children.

  3. #3 PalMD
    March 26, 2008

    Oh, and as to the cult issue, I figure that unless they live in their own little box, whatever particular sect they belong to is a cult.

  4. #4 Anonymous
    March 26, 2008

    Scratch everything I wrote. Cultiness is confirmed – this is some recent writing by her mother:

    http://www.americaslastdays.com/?page=theyshall-leilani

  5. #5 Suricou Raven
    March 26, 2008

    Scratch everything I wrote. Cultiness is confirmed – this is some recent writing by her mother:

    http://www.americaslastdays.com/?page=theyshall-leilani

  6. #6 Elf Eye
    March 26, 2008

    Suricou Raven, I wandered around the web site for a while, and under Testimonies found this entry under Healings:

    Hello brethren. About a couple months ago, our truck was having strange wear on its tires. A Christian friend, who was a tire expert, concluded that there was a problem with the front-end of the vehicle. So we scheduled an appointment for the Toyota auto shop. After listening to David’s testimonies from his Wilderness DVD as well as other UBM testimonies, we decided to command the truck to be healed in the Name of Jesus. Well, soon after this prayer, the Lord reminded me about the appointment I had already made. So, our works needed to follow our faith. I called and cancelled the appointment. We considered it a done deal. Well, yesterday, our friend who originally looked at the tires said that the wear was now gone AND in fact there was smooth wear distribution on the tires. The Lord fixed the front-end perfectly! Our friend was praising the Lord too! What an awesome God we have!!!

    So, God heals hives, hay fever, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and uneven tire wear. Amazing. Just. Amazing.

  7. #7 Kagehi
    March 26, 2008

    Didn’t need to be confirmed Suricou. Is it a cult:

    1. Follows silly rituals that don’t do anything – check.
    2. Has a large organized following of people that deny reality in favor of the dogma – check.
    3. Is not a member of the primary religion of the time – double check.

    Why is number 3 true? Well, lets put it this way. Recently my cousin was called into court for some BS that involved his ex and his kid. He had to fill out, as part of the paperwork, which “race” he belonged to. The options where: Caucasian and Hispanic. Not kidding you, in Arizona, you are apparently either white, or belong in Mexico… This is Christianity in a nut shell. You are either Christian or you are not **period**. So, there is no “prevailing” belief system that these, or any of the rest of them, can all claim to belong to, any more than a African American, American Indian or Chinese all fit in “Hispanic”. If someone claims “Christianity”, then there are hundreds of thousands of *different* kinds of that, and every one of them think everyone else is the cult, with no recognized authority (the state can’t be such, and you know damn well the churches are not all going to vote for one branch to be that authority), so by definition, if you are not in the “main” branch, which is impossible, you must be in a cult.

    Now, if your definition of cult is, “They have even crazier ideas than *mine*!”, well… I don’t think any such group has much of a leg to stand on with that one either. ;) lol

  8. #8 Crudely Wrott
    March 27, 2008

    PalMD:
    “Oh, and as to the cult issue, I figure that unless they live in their own little box, whatever particular sect they belong to is a cult.”

    In a cult as small as one family, some die.

    The saddest lesson is the excuse given by the parents. They must otherwise be considered functional adults by those who know them; or am I presuming too much?

  9. #9 Julie Stahlhut
    March 27, 2008

    That story just kicked me in the gut. In general, I have some sympathy for the idea that, (for example) a 16-year-old with a terminal illness should have some say, along with the parents, in whether to continue treatment. But there’s no gray area here. A child with a completely treatable illness instead died slowly, and in obvious pain, because of her parents’ delusions.

    Something has to be done here. As a society, we allow parents room to discipline their children, but when a parent beats a child to the point of death or severe injury, it becomes a case for both the criminal justice system and the child welfare authorities. These people should be held completely accountable for their daughter’s death, and their other children should be under some real adult supervision.

    I’d also bet that if these parents had tried to cure their daughter with herbs or crystals instead of Christian prayers, the authorities would be right on top of them with very few questions asked.

  10. #10 genewitch
    March 27, 2008

    “Jesus, whose faith was perfect, gave healing to anyone who had faith and still does”
    the press release about the girl who died

    hey PalMD, correct me if i am wrong, but would the girl have died in the span of 2 or 3 days of being sick, or a month like the news said?

    another quote:
    “We know that the doctors do the best they can with what they have and we do not condemn them. We would like the same consideration.”

    Fuck. these. people. slowly.

  11. #11 Joe
    March 27, 2008

    Several years ago, there was a story about a couple who killed their son by praying over a curable infection. Then they killed their daughter, who had type-1 diabetes. Paraphrasing, they said the bible tells them to take the most seriously ill to be anointed by a church leader.

    The reporter asked a theologian who confirmed those instructions, and added “But nowhere does it say do not take the child to a doctor.”

  12. #12 Suricou Raven
    March 28, 2008

    “They must otherwise be considered functional adults by those who know them; or am I presuming too much?”

    Other way round. Look at the church. Consider they homeschool. I think that this particular church is a very introverted community – it is not that they are considered functional adults by those who know them, but rather that they refuse to know people who are not equally deluded.

  13. #13 Inquisitive Raven
    March 30, 2008

    Kagehi: That’s why I like the Advanced Bonewits Cult Danger Evaluation Frame for assessing such things. It focuses on authoritarianism, not specific beliefs. One could argue with his assessing sexual issues only with non-tantric groups, but the rest makes a lot of sense.

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