Faith kills another child

In what god must clearly imagine to be a lesson of some sort, an American couple in Wisconsin have been given jail terms for allowing their child to die. Instead of seeking medical care for her, they prayed while the child became to ill to speak or walk.

The girl, known as Kara, died on the floor of the family’s rural Weston home as people surrounded her and prayed. Someone finally called the emergency services after she stopped breathing.

The judge ordered the couple to serve one month in jail each year for six years so the parents can “think about Kara and what God wants you to learn from this”. One parent would serve the term in March and the other in September.

One month per year? For six years? That’s 6 months in total, which seems a pitifully weak sentence for killing your daughter through believing in ceiling cats. Of course, they will suffer pain and guilt. But many murderers suffer that too, and have to spend 20 years in jail. If I believed that my wife was having an affair, and killed her “lover”, I’d get more than 6 months, even if I was wrong about the affair, as these parents were wrong about god swooping down (or whatever she’s meant to do) and saving Kara. And if there was never any evidence that I was right about the affair, you’d understand if the judge sent me for psychiatric observation after I fabricated or imagined the relevant evidence. In any sort of context, this is a ridiculous sentence, which (in its relative leniency) serves only to condone the actions of the parents. Judicial systems should be ideology-neutral as far as is possible, and a case like this treated like any other manslaughter case, where you’d expect to see a far more punitive sentence handed down.

The parents say that “they never expected their daughter to die”. What the hell did they expect? Even within their belief system, do they have any sort of regular experience of prayer saving dying people? I thought not. But then, they wouldn’t count those (non)experiences, because they are too busy switching off any thought processes which get in the way of their relationships with their imaginary friend.

By Jacques Rousseau

Jacques Rousseau teaches critical thinking and ethics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa, and is the founder and director of the Free Society Institute, a non-profit organisation promoting secular humanism and scientific reasoning.