Jail time for parents who chose prayer over medicine

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While their 11-year-old daughter Madeline lay dying, Dale and Leilani Neumann huddled around her in prayer. Though her health had been visibly deteriorating for some time, it wasn’t until after the child took her last breath that her parents called for medical help. The Wisconsin couple, who were sentenced to serve one month in jail every year for the next six years this week, explained that they didn’t seek medical help earlier because they’d hoped that God would intervene and save their child.

Madeline, who was known by the nickname Kara, died of a treatable form of diabetes in March 2008. Prior to her demise, the child was unable to walk, eat or drink, but even in the face of her obviously serious illness her parents chose to pray for her recovery instead of taking her to a doctor. The couple has three other children, who they will now be required to bring to a nurse at least every three months for regular check ups as part of their sentence, which includes 10 years’ probation.

During their sentencing, the Neumanns said they did not regret entrusting their daughter’s care to their faith instead of a physician, and said they were good loving parents who were being wrongly portrayed as religious fanatics. “I do not regret trusting truly in the Lord for my daughter’s health,” Leilani Neumann said, according to the Associated Press. Judge Vincent Howard, of the Marathon County Circuit Court, told the parents that some would view their behavior as a decision to martyr their daughter for their religion. “God probably works through other people, some of them doctors.”