A proposal in the state Legislature to remove an exemption from child abuse laws that protects faith-based healing has Christian Scientists raising objections.
Joe Farkas with the Christian Science Churches of Wisconsin worries the proposal is wide open to interpretation, in that permits a subjective determination of whether cultural or religious beliefs pose a specific danger to children. He says the bills lack of definitions could result in children being removed from homes where they’re not actually at risk, just because someone is biased against their beliefs.
The proposal from state Representative Terese Berceau (D-Madison) comes after the death of Kara Neumann, the 11-year-old Weston girl who died in 2008 from untreated diabetes. Neumann’s parents prayed for her, instead of seeking medical care. They were convicted of reckless homicide, but Berceau says Kara could have been saved if the law allowed child protection agencies to step in earlier. Under the current law, she says officials could only act after Kara was dead.
Farkas says the Neumanns were not Christian Scientists, but the bill goes directly after his faith. He says the proposal puts Christian Science beliefs at risk, even though they don’t stop members from seeking medical care.
The measure is before the Assembly Committee on Children and Families.