An update on cult murder of diabetic girl

It had seemed at first that there would be no help for the living children of the killer parents in Wisconsin. But, in a fit of rational behavior, the authorities removed the remaining children from their parents care. I hate to see families broken up, but until the parents are deprogrammed, it simply isn’t safe for kids to live in that house.

The parents apparently have ties to the “Unleavened Bread Ministries”, who admit to eschewing medical care in favor of prayer. The cult has been unenthusiastic about claiming the family as members. As quoted by ABC news, David Ells, the cult leader of the “Matzoh Ministry” (at least, that should be their name, due to the alliteration):

“We are not commanded in scripture to send people to the doctor but to meet their needs through prayer and faith. As anyone here in the ministry will tell you, we are not against doctors for those who have their faith there and never condemn or restrict them in any way,” Eells writes. “But we know that the best one to trust in for healing is Jesus Christ. The foundation for receiving this benefit from Him is repentance and faith in His promises.”

So, unless they have somehow proven to themselves or their leader that their faith is strong, doctors are out.

According to Unleavened, these are “America’s last days.” It’s not surprising that an apocalyptic cult would focus more on death than life.

Unsurprisingly, the dead child was pulled out of public schools. Maybe home-schooling should raise a red flag for authorities. Or maybe these death-cults should be monitored more carefully. Or maybe we should make an example of the parents, and lock them up, although I’m not sure that would really help anyone.

It’s too bad their minister can’t be held responsible. But then, he probably speaks for God, so maybe the buck stops there.


  1. I’m so glad that something happened to the remaining kids. It’s neglect, plain and simple. I find it frightening and ominous that exceptions are made for religion.

  2. One of the writers (Luke) of the Gospel they so admire was a physician.

  3. Correction: No decision has been made to remove the children from the parent’s care. The investigation is ongoing. What happened here is that the children have been sent to live with relatives for a time – just while the investigation is underway, I imagine. To actually get the children put into someone else’s care requires a more involved legal procedure that has not been carried out, and could be difficult as the state has some laws that specificly except healing by prayer from child abuse/neglect laws.

    Have some shameless digg self-promotion: – its my own quite in-depth analysis of the situation.

  4. You know, I find it absolutely reprehensible that there is this kind of exception for child welfare in the U.S., I really do. As a parent and as a person, I cannot describe how this makes me feel. I am angry and disgusted. But this; Maybe home-schooling should raise a red flag for authorities. really kind of pissed me off.

    I have severe ADHD and so does my six year old son. Having found that rather than having a better handle on dealing with it, than was available to me, we have chosen to homeschool for the time being, through an online public school. My education was an abysmal failure, something that I am trying to make up for at thirty-two, with two children and a small business. As things were going and considering what I saw available in the school system as he gets older, I realized that it was going to cause as much problems for him, if not more.

    We do a lot to make up for the lack of exposure. He’s in counseling and goes to a play group that focuses on behavioral issues that were making his first semester of kindergarten such a problem. We go to various outings with other kids in the area who are in the online school. We go on outings with other children who are homeschooled. We have memberships to a few area museums and use them frequently. We do swimming classes. I do a storytime at our library a couple times a month and we try to make it to at least one a week. He’s made a few friends through these activities, more than he made in his attempt at kindergarten.

    He’s a smart kid and was top of his class at the actual academic aspects of kindergarten. The things that he knows about and his understanding of them is shocking sometimes. He loves having non-fiction read to him, especially science. He knows more about evolution and how our universe was formed, than I did when I left high school. Hell, much of what I know, I’ve learned along with him. He understands how our planet was formed and what it’s made of, than I did until I was ten or eleven.

    But his behavior was prohibitive. In part it was the teaching style, his teacher couldn’t be bothered to actually transition from task to task. It’s one thing not to provide some warning that time for one task is almost up, when your dealing with eight and nine year olds. But five year olds usually need some warning. But it was also a matter of him not dealing well with the time limitations on this task or that. When he’s working on perfecting his letter of the moment, he wants to work on it until he’s satisfied with his progress. Whatever he is supposed to be doing, he wants to take the time to actually accomplish his task. Not doing so really unhinges him and as this progresses throughout the day, compounding in the next task., because he lost time getting settled into it from the last.

    So we took him out. We have nothing against sending him to school. Indeed unless things change drastically, we are planning on putting him on ADHD meds when he is older, as I understand that aside from helping with control and concentration problems, studies are showing that people with ADHD who are medicated for it as teens, have less issues with the substance abuse common to persons with ADHD (including myself). I would also prefer that he integrate into a regular school by high school, preferably in middle school. The only problem with that I foresee, is that he will probably be too far ahead, as he has expressed interest in working on first grade this summer. We decided to let him make the pace, as long as he’s keeping up.

    Living in Portland makes for less religious fundies and I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find that few of the other homeschooling parents are doing it because their alty fundies. Most of the other families that we encounter in homeschooling, are doing it for similar reasons to our own. There is a lot of ADD/ADHD, a few autistic kids and a number with a range of mental health issues. Al in all, it has been beneficial all around, as we get exposed to other parents dealing with similar issues to our own and often help each other out with new discipline and focusing tools. I also have the pleasure of dealing with other parents who also deal with ADHD themselves, which has been huge.

    So no, homeschooling most certainly is not a red flag. Many of us do it because we feel it is best for our kids, not to indoctrinate them.

    Apologies for the rather overlong digression. I am really glad that you are writing here and think you make a fine addition. I am just tired of the assumption that homeschoolers just do it to indoctrinate and shelter their kids from evilution learnin. A damn good many of us do it for very different reasons.

  5. ssjessiechan

    Hmm. Wait. So… the parents say the kid died because they didn’t have enough faith. The ministry says doctors are only for those who have enough faith. So… their faith isn’t good enough for a doctor, but God only chooses to heal those with faith, so anyone without enough faith is sentenced to death. Conversely, those WITH faith are healed through their access to doctors. Is this a slip of logic or some freaky way to winnow out the stupid?

    DuWayne, I absolutely agree with you and support your decision to give your child the environmental guidance he needs. I myself know people who would have done better with the correct schooling, rather than a system that sidelines people with alternative learning modalities, much less genuine learning and behavioural problems. The disturbing thing is though, that there are plenty of people who have been deprived of public education because it is TOO informative. While home schooling is certainly nothing to be forbidden, I wish there were a way to prevent the mental as well as physical child abuse perpetrated by these folks.

    At least in the US we don’t have to give taxpayer money to religious schools. *shudder* Well, notwithstanding all this recent “Academic Freedom” nonsense.

  6. i’ve been following this too, PalMD. and unlike ADHD mom+son i agree, homeschooling should be a flag.

    I hope the parents get something they deserve. i hope the laws in that state get overturned.

    seriously this insanity is starting to get a little too prominent.

    Fuck them.

  7. When I say “red flag”, I mean maybe there should be someone who at least peaks in on home-schooled kids. I’m sure there are plenty of legit homeschoolers out there, but I do wonder how often families pull kids to hide abuse or cult membership, etc.

  8. Blind Watchmaker

    Just like psychics and other Flim-Flam artists, when it doesn’t work, blame the victim/patient/customer. “Not enough faith”, “it doesn’t work in the presence of a skeptic”, etc. We’ve heard it all before.

    The sad part is that these people will continue on with this insanity because the perpetrators continue to blame the victims for the failures.

  9. Thanks, Blind, and welcome to the new digs!

  10. genewitch –

    Actually that’s ADHD dad.

    And why exactly should we all get harassment from law enforcement, because some nuts have special rights?

    PalMD –

    When I say “red flag”, I mean maybe there should be someone who at least peaks in on home-schooled kids.

    I agree that more oversight would be prefferable. But the biggest problem is religious (and philosophical, to avoid calling alties cultist) exemptions, pure and simple. I wouldn’t mind seeing laws governing homeschooling get more balls to them, requiring regular evaluations that kids who go to public schools are required to have. But saying that what we are doing for our child should make us automatically suspect is a bit much. It’s rather like saying that we are guilty until we prove otherwise.

    I am probably being oversensitive about it, but we have taken a lot of heat and had many assumptions made about our motivations for homeschooling. In the last decade or so, homeschooling has expanded far beyond the realms of religious nuttery. While I would hesitate to say the non-religious homeschooling is in the majority now, we are not far from catching up with the nutters.

    It is just frustrating to run into the stigma that we do, as we rely heavily on others in the community to make this work. For the most part homeschool parents rely on each other, but we also try to provide a diverse range of social opportunities for our kids, outside a relatively small community. It really sucks when parents find out your child is homeschooled and are suddenly reluctant to have their kids interact with your own. Not so much for our part, but trying to explain this to a six year old really sucks ass.

  11. PalMD said…
    Maybe home-schooling should raise a red flag for authorities.

    Glad to see a somewhat spirited discussion of that . . .’sobering’ thought.

    While my children were not ‘home-schooled’, I am certainly aware of more than a few who are.

    Believe it or not, many home-schoolers do so for the more focused instruction and discipline possible in the home as contrasted to that available in our local school system. The proof is in the pudding, as they say. Many exceed the best that public education produces.


    Headline reads:
    “Faith-Healing Parents Charged in Baby’s Death
    Doctors say Toddler’s Death Could Have Been Prevented With Antibiotics”

    My first reaction was, “Finally, they are going to start prosecuting these dumbasses for their stupidity.” Then, the realization of what I had just said, hit me. Can we really make it a crime to be a dumbass? And, if we do, where do we draw the line? Just exactly how ignorant do you have to be for it to be considered criminal?

    No answers from over here, just questions to ponder…

  13. As a homeschooling mom with 11 years experience, I think that homeschooling should be a red flag.

    Abuse and neglect occur everywhere but at least in a school setting there are more “eyes” on the children and the children themselves begin to realize that there are other ways of doing things. It was my SIL’s 1st or 2nd grade teacher who first noticed that my SIL was presenting signs of diabetes. (My in-laws would have gotten treatment for my SIL even if she hadn’t been in school, it’s just that the teacher and the school nurse had experience with this kind of thing and my in-laws didn’t)

    I can’t imagine, should those parents ever come out of their delusional state, how awful it would feel to know that I caused the death of my child.

  14. Bill, that’s a tough one and one that really does disturb me. I daresay that there really isn’t a definitive line and every time I have tried to start a conversation about it, most people feel exactly like you. The balancing of parental autonomy and the rights of the minor is complicated enough. When you throw health into the equation, it gets even more complex, because it isn’t really hard to find an “expert” to support parental decisions, in the case of alties. With the religious, you put another complexity into the mix that really screws it all up.

    I think that one answer that really isn’t unreasonable, would be to get rid of many of the exceptions that the religious are allowed. I am all for respecting the rights of others to their beliefs, but when it is killing kids, it’s just not acceptable.

    Ok, so this will be my last foray into derailing this thread with the homeschooling remark.

    I take the phrase “red flag” to imply more than you possibly meant. For certain, it’s different than what Brook reads it to be.

    When someone says something should be a red flag for authorities, it implies to me that they think those committing that action are worthy of special investigation from the authorities.

    I am all for requiring that homeschooled kids be seen by people from the local school system for regular, face to face evaluations. Not just academic testing, but social evaluations as well. I would even argue that regular counseling sessions would be an acceptable requirement, something similar to what we do with our son.

    All that this would do, is, in conjunction with a decent education at home, provide a child with much of what kids who go to school get, aside from curricular studies. Nearly all the kids that we deal with, go through much of what we do. There are ample opportunities for people with an obligation to report suspected abuse, to spend time with our child. What should be a “red flag” is people who avoid those situations altogether.

    This really run into the territory of “no easy answers, no clear line” that encompasses issues of parental autonomy, versus the rights of the minor. I also think that our difference here is a semantic one. Again, I apologize for the digression.

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