Is it religion–or insanity–killing these kids?

I’m not one of those who thinks religious upbringing is necessarily tantamount to child abuse, but occasionally items pop up in the news that really make me think hard about how to separate “mere” religious belief from downright delusional behavior.

First up is Colleen Hauser, now on the run with her 13-year-old son who’s dying of cancer (and who can say they didn’t see this one coming?).  Hauser, along with her husband Anthony, are (theoretically) Roman Catholic, but also belong to Nemenhah Band, a group with Native American connections that believe in “natural” (read: ineffective) medical treatment.  Sorry, but you can’t treat Hodgkins’ lymphoma with vitamin supplements.  Anyway, a judge ordered them to let the boy be treated with chemotherapy, but now (apparently) it looks like the Hausers would rather let him die the old-fashioned way–by doing nothing and hoping for the best.

Meanwhile, the trial continues for Leilani Neumann, a mother who let her 11-year-old daughter die of diabetes, choosing to pray for her recovery rather than seek medical treatment.  From the Associated Press:

WAUSAU, Wis. – A woman who saw an 11-year-old girl just hours before she died says she was shocked by the girl’s condition but never considered advising the family to get her to a doctor.

Jennifer Peaslee testified Wednesday in the trial of Leilani Neumann, the girl’s mother.

Neumann is charged with second-degree reckless homicide for praying instead of seeking medical care for her daughter Madeline. The child died March 23, 2008, from untreated diabetes.

Peaslee said she saw Madeline that morning, lying unconscious on a bathroom floor. She said she knew the parents wouldn’t take her to a doctor because they believe the Lord can heal.

Peaslee said she prayed with the family and read Scriptures around the girl and left convinced God was going to heal the child.

Shouldn’t Peasleee be charged with being an accessory to murder (or whatever the charge would be called)?

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