Indiana law and a couple’s faith in the power of God and Indiana law will clash head-on this week in a Johnson County courtroom.

Dewayne Schmidt, 36, and his wife, Maleta Schmidt, 30, are facing a single charge each of reckless homicide in the August 2003 death of their daughter, Rhianna Rose Schmidt. She died from sepsis two days after birth.

Jury selection began Friday in Johnson Superior Court 2 with Judge Cynthia Emkes presiding. Opening statements in the trial are scheduled for Tuesday.

Prosecutor Lance Hamner said he has struggled with the case.

“This is one of the most tragic cases we’ve ever seen,” he said. “Usually, we’re dealing with people who are cruel or who don’t care about their children. Here, we have the opposite — a loving family who did care for their daughter very much. However, parents have a duty to seek medical attention when their child’s condition is life-threatening, as it was here.”

The Schmidts told investigators they relied on God to heal their daughter, said Johnson County Sheriff’s Detective Lt. Mike McElwain.

Yet another case that could be used to make fun of people of a religious conviction, but there are a lot of real issues here to be examined. Okay, a quagmire of other issues to wade through. I probably have no business posting opinions on topics like this. I’m not exactly a strongly opinionated person when it comes to politics. However, once again, there’s been a running discussion about it on my message board about this.

[Partly because it struck so close to home. As was shared with me, several of us are acquainted with someone who came from a family much like this one. They had grown up in a loving Christian home, on of those conservative, fundamentalist kind of homes that take Biblical doctrines to the point of legalism. However, one of their siblings got sick and died pretty suddenly, leading their parents to be arrested. Obviously, it decimated their family. Most all of the members of the family eventually dropped out of church life and into all manner of trouble. In fact, only one person in the family now is a practicing Christian.]

As a Christian, I have my beliefs and no threat by government (I would hope) would deter me from them; but I’d like to believe they are spiritually and Biblically informed (which, I’d be willing to bet that this family would say theirs are). However, we also have a brain. If I’m sick, I go see a doctor. I don’t know about this family, but often people of similar convictions have no problem getting eyeglasses or seeing a dentist.

And as a parent, if I see my child sick, I’m praying. Not only am I praying, but I’m praying on the way to the doctor. Look, if I’m on fire, don’t pray that the skies will open up and God puts me out. Put me out! You acting might be God’s action/answer to that prayer. I know that God can heal people without doctors and medicine, but I think he also uses those things to heal.

And to be honest, though no one seems to point this out, we’re all going to die. Eventually that prayer to be healed is not going to get answered.

On the flip side, there is also the tension of figuring out where “freedom of religion” ends and the law (the institutions we’ve set up to govern us) begins. In the name of “freedom of religion”, people can go too far, and someone has to put their foot down. Yes, this gets weighed against the fact that there are times when God’s law trumps man.

The rub of the matter is that to allow a child, who’s done nothing wrong, who’s just barely been born, to die, when there is help available, is wrong. Your religious convictions, for you, is one thing. But the baby–any child, for that matter–hasn’t made an informed decision for themselves regarding their belief in God. (I hate to break it to Sunday School teachers, but you can get kids to parrot any prayer, if only for the sake of them gaining your approval. I’m not saying that some of those prayers aren’t genuine, but you have to keep this in mind.)

Do I think the government is the best judge of right and wrong? Have you seen our government in action lately? However, just because authority can be abused, doesn’t mean that we can willy-nilly ignore authority. Government has its place. The law has its place. And there are people, no matter how sincere in their beliefs, who may make poor decisions such that someone in authority over them has to step in and re-make it for them. For the sake of what’s in society’s interest. This is a tenuous argument, since it risks the majority abusing this power not that this country’s had its share of that.

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Comment on this bit of rantus interruptus anyway you want (I don’t know where you’re reading it from) or just do so at my message board.