I’m no expert on the Nemenhah Band, the spiritual group to which Colleen Hauser belongs and whose teachings she cites in refusing chemotherapy for her cancer-stricken son.
But poking around their website, it seems to me the group actually gives members some flexibility in deciding whether to accept chemotherapy or non-natural treatments..
Article 15 of their Constitution (reprinted here) states, “The right of Community Members to choose their method and kind of medicine shall not be denied or abridged in any way and the Councils shall not enact any counsel that shall place one profession or modality of medicine over any other.”
The mission statement on their website invites those who believe “that Natural Healing comprises part of your Spiritual Orientation.” (My emphasis)
And most important, the leader of the group, has encouraged the woman to turn herself in. While defending her right to opt for natural treatment, Phillip R. (Cloudpiler) Landis, Elected Principal Medicine Chief, said in a statement released Thursday, “it is not the policy of the band or anywhere in our belief system to disregard an order from the judge and abscond with a young person that has been placed in the custody of the court, this is a capital crime and this is not the way to do it. ” (Full statement after the jump).
In an interview with KSPR TV, Landis said their members are sometimes allowed medical treatment. “Say your child falls out of a tree and his brain is hanging out. We’re not going to put plaster on there, go to the hospital and have the surgeon put your brain back in,” Landis said.
However, he said, their first principle is “do no harm,” and “They have a substance they want to pump into his body that they believe will kill him.”
Note that Landis says “they” — i.e. the Hausers — believe the substance will kill him. He’s not saying it’s a matter of doctrine within the Nemenhah religious order that they must turn down chemo. Now Colleen Hauser may, herself, believe that chemo will kill her child but I don’t see how she or her lawyers could argue that rejection of chemo is an inviolate part of Nemenhah religious belief system.
It is the official policy of the Nemenhah Band and Native American Traditional Organization to sustain and support the decisions of our members with regard to the use of or the choosing of natural medicine and natural medicine modalities. We believe these are gifts of the Spirit. In that we fully sustain and support Colleen and Danny Hauser in their decision to seek alternative modalities in treating cancer. Having said that we also must say that it is not the policy of the band or anywhere in our belief system to disregard an order from the judge and abscond with a young person that has been placed in the custody of the court, this is a capital crime and this is not the way to do it. Our counsel and our plea to Colleen is to come home. The judge has said he would cancel the warrant for your arrest. There are better ways to handle this, come home, bring that boy home.
Phillip R. (Cloudpiler) Landis,
Elected Principal Medicine Chief