Sunday, March 30, 2008

Flat-earth parents kill child by act of omission

Acts of omission, when we could have acted to prevent a bad from happening at comparably low (or no) cost to ourselves, are arguably as morally reprehensible as if we had actively brought about the bad in question.

A bunch of religious nutters have killed their sick daughter thru an act of omission. Here's what happened, according to a report published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, '11-year-old Madeline Kara Neumann died of diabetic ketoacidosis, a treatable though serious condition of type 1 diabetes in which acid builds up in the blood.' Why did she die? Well, she died due to an act of omission. Madeline's parents chose to pray for her recovery while shunning the idea of taking her simply to a doctor. So, while the parents and their nuttish church friends were busily organising prayer festivals (they requested fellow church goers to join their prayers while their daughter was dying), the teenager died a preventable death.

The Neumann's belong to an evangelical church that happens to subscribe to the view that God heals us and that if God doesn't heal us, it's our turn to hit the coffin.

'It was Sunday at 2:33 p.m. when Everest Metro Police said they first learned of the girl's condition. A call came into the dispatch center from a family relative who lived in California, said Police Chief Dan Vergin. Vergin said the relative notified authorities "that the child was ill, and due to religious reasons the family would not take the child to the hospital". Officers were dispatched to the home, and a second call - this time from the family's residence - was placed to 911, Vergin said. The caller said the girl was not breathing and did not have a pulse, Vergin said. Officers and emergency service personnel went into the house and found the girl in a family-room area lying on a futon mattress on the floor, Vergin said. "The mother and father were praying over her at that time," Vergin said.

According to doctors the girls would have been sick for about 6 months or so. The mother who, jointly with her husband prayed her daughter to death asked that the family be left alone in their grief.

I hope that nobody is going to leave them alone and that, after successful criminal proceedings, she and her praying husband will be locked up behind bars, where they're welcome to continue to pray for further miracles. Tis is all the more necessary as there is no insight on the parents side in their miserable failure to protect their daughter's life. Report the Milwaukee paper, 'They said it was the course of action they would take again," Vergin said. "They firmly believe even if they had taken her to a doctor, if this was the time God had chosen for her to die, she would die regardless of medical interference. This is not their defense, they aren't crazy people," Vergin added.

Savior that last sentence. Because these weirdos add 'God' to an otherwise ridiculous statement, some people seem to think they're not crazy. Just substitute 'flying spaghetti monster' for 'God', and ask yourself whether we would find that any more reasonable. After all, as some would say, it's possible that there's a God out there, but then, it could also be a flying spaghetti monster. In fact, the evidence for the existence of an all-powerful, omniscient, and 'good' flying spaghetti monster is as strong as that for the existence of God. For instance, there is an image (see top-left). So, it is possible that it exists and runs the universe!

Surely if the parents had explained their act of omission to consult a doctor with the suggestion that they're waiting for the flying spaghetti monster to heal their daughter we would have declared them insane. Why is there a special rule for that equally elusive thing called 'God'?


  1. Ach, du liebes Gottchen! Lovely post, Udo. (Clara)

  2. I absolutely agree. Religion should not be given this elevated status. The fact Mr. and Ms. Neumann subscribe to a peculiarly widespread fairytale is no defence for filicide. Here’s an interesting/funny/relevant website:

  3. I've written pretty extensively on the legal and ethical issues raised by these kinds of cases (including in book recently published by Oxford University Press). And, since I'm based at UW-Madison, I've commented on the Neumann case specifically in a number of different forums (including CNN).

    I won't drone on here, but if you're interested in learning more about the Neumann case (and the analogous Worthington case in Oregon), you might check out my "Religious Convictions" blog at:


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