Idaho Republican Leader: Religious Parents Shouldn’t Be Punished for Letting Their Kids Die

Idaho is one of only six states in the country where you can escape charges of negligent homicide, manslaughter, or capital murder as long as it happened as an exercise of your religion.

So if your child dies, for example, because your Christian Science faith prevented you from taking her to a doctor, you won’t be punished. Idaho is the only state of those six where children have actually lost their lives as a result of their parents’ religious beliefs.

That’s why it’s so important for the laws to change. When children die due to the extreme dictates of their parents’ faith, those parents need to be sent to jail. Religion should never be used as a Get Out of Jail Free card.

Your prayers won't help her.

Your prayers won’t help her.

State Rep. John Gannon, a Democrat, understands that. He filed a bill — one he’s filed before — that would remove the “faith-healing” exemption from the law.

But State Sen. Lee Heider, a Republican who heads up the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, says he won’t even be discussing it because of a technicality (which really just provides a cover for his actual reason):

[Gannon] dropped off a bill three weeks ago to remove the exemption in the child injury law for faith-healing parents in cases where there is an imminent risk to their child of permanent physical harm or death.

Heider said Thursday, though, that Gannon never asked him to set a hearing and it’s too late in the session now.

“I would say the time has pretty well run out,” Heider said.

Heider said he would not carry the bill himself, viewing it as prosecuting people for exercising their religious beliefs.

“I’m a First Amendment guy,” Heider said. “And I believe in the First Amendment, which gives people freedom of religion.”

Heider claims to be pro-life. So he wants to punish women who have abortions, while letting religious parents off the hook even when their children die of preventable causes.

He added that the pressure to pass Gannon’s bill has mostly come from people outside the state:

“It is not Idahoans that are interested in bringing the legislation forward”

Oh. Then I guess those dead kids had it coming.

Republicans: They’re all about life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness… and if that means letting children suffer because their irresponsible parents decided God was testing their faith, so be it.

Gannon, by the way, says Heider is full of it:

Gannon, who first brought a bill to change the law in 2014 but has been unable to get a hearing, said he had been in contact with Heider since dropping off the bill.

“He could have scheduled the hearing any time he wanted to,” Gannon said.

So a bill that would punish negligent parents who hide behind a cloak of religion has been delayed yet again because protecting harmful religious beliefs is more important to Idaho Republicans than protecting the lives of children.

Pro-life my ass.

(via Raw Story. Thanks to Randy for the link)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.


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