A judge is expected to decide this week whether to drop criminal charges in the faith healing death in the Wausau area. Dale and Lelani Neumann prayed rather than seeking medical attention for their 11-year-old daughter who was dying from untreated diabetes. The Weston couple were not members of any church but had some contact with an internet ministry.
Robert Glenn Howard , UW Associate Professor of Religious Studies, says the phenomenon of worshiping exclusively online is not unusual. He says it allows people to custom fit their worship by "picking" which community to belong to and communicate only with those who share their beliefs. Howard says the option is empowering to some as they perceive a greater engagement of religious expression than attending a "brick and mortar" church.
The Neumanns claim they acted according to their freedom of religion and that their second degree reckless homicide charges are unconstitutional.
Marathon County Judge Vincent Howard recently said that courts in two states threw out similar charges but courts in two other states let the issue to go trial.
UPDATE: Judge Howard has refused to drop charges against the Neumanns. In a 20-page ruling issued Monday, Howard said the First Amendment protects religious beliefs but not necessarily conduct, as parents still have a legal obligation to protect their kids