In Idaho, religious freedom trumps the welfare of children

In Idaho, religious freedom trumps the welfare of children March 10, 2016

Last June we reported that a petition had been launched, calling on Idaho Governor ‘Butch’ Otter above to remove legal protections that allow faith-healing families to avoid prosecution if their beliefs result in children dying from lack of proper medical care.
Sadly, the petition set up by Linda Martin, attracted just 1,178 signatures, and this week Idaho lawmakers declined to change the law.

Instead, they approved a bill that would allow Bible study in science classes, thus proving that religion trumps everything in Idaho.
According to this report, Democrat State Representative John Gannon introduced a bill to remove the exemption in the child injury law for faith-healing parents, but Republican State Senator Lee Heider, head of the Senate Health and Welfare Committee, said he was never asked to set a hearing — and wouldn’t do so anyway.
Heider said it was too late in the session to set a hearing on the faith-healing bill, but he said he’s not likely to support a change to state law that he believes would prosecute parents for exercising their religious beliefs. Said Heider, who describes himself as “pro-life”:

I’m a First Amendment guy, and I believe in the First Amendment, which gives people freedom of religion.

Heider is reported here as saying:

I believe the law is pretty straightforward. We would encourage them to seek medical care, but we don’t force people to seek medical care – and whether it’s because they can’t afford it or, in this case, because of their heartfelt religious belief, we simply don’t do that.

Governor Otter, a Republican, said three weeks ago that he had asked House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill to appoint a work group to study the faith-healing exemption.
The issue has drawn attention in recent years through reporting on the deaths of numerous children in the Followers of Christ community in southwestern Idaho from preventable deaths such as pneumonia and food poisoning.
But Republican lawmakers haven’t been willing to do much to change a law that would compel religious parents to seek medical care for their children — even though evidence suggests that would save lives.

A doctor who practices in southwestern Idaho said changing the law could help parents who want to seek medical care overcome social pressure from their religious community, which he said happened when Oregon lawmakers removed that state’s exemption in 2011.
The “Bible-as-a-textbook”  bill was introduced by Republican State Senator Sheryl Nuxoll. It allows teachers to use the Bible as a reference book in public schools. She said:
The Bible is the document brought to North America by our nation’s first immigrants, used in our public schools, and is the foundation of our Judeo-Christian heritage. Some perceive the Bible to be central to only the Christian faith, but this is not true. It is referenced by Jews, Muslims, Christians and others.
Hat tip: Cali Ron

"I'm embarrassed to be a Catholic. The priest should know that the Bible tells us ..."

Exorcist plans counter-attack against witches cursing ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Cali Ron

    Not only are Idaho’s republican law makers not going to protect children’s lives from their parents religious delusions they are going to indoctrinate them in school class rooms with those same religious delusions. To think that the petition got only 1,178 signatures is damning proof of religion’s dangerous influence. Seems ironic to me , given the Heavy concentration of Mormons in Idaho who always espouse strong family values. They just love their children to death with their religion.

  • Jonjo

    What a great country. Good ‘ol US of A. Home of gun totin’redneck gung ho lard assed numbskull fuckwits.
    One Nation under God … under educated, over nourished and bound for oblivion. That a nation with such a fantastic record of glittering achievement is heading for oblivion is a testament to the stupefying rot that christianity delivers upon the credulous.
    Makes me proud not to be american

  • Oregon lawmakers removed that state’s exemption in 2011
    Often claimed, never true.
    In the late 1990s, after a series of articles in the Portland, Oregon newspaper ‘The Oregonian,’ Oregon State Representatives introduced HB 2494. This bill would have removed legal immunity from prosecution on charges of homicide, manslaughter, child abuse, neglect and the like when children were treated only by way of magic spells (sorry, I mean prayer) and not medical treatment. Cultist (sorry, I mean heartfelt religious believers) spoke against this proposed law, and a compromise was reached. Oregon House Bill 2494 does remove immunity by way of superstition from many criminal charges. But it DOES NOT remove immunity for felony murder or first degree manslaughter. That is, the worst forms of murder are still excusable if the claimant can demonstrate they acted under the orders of an invisible monster that lives in the sky.

  • Cali Ron

    Trevor Blake: I was under the impression the state had. Good to know. Unfortunately it’s not good for children.

  • barriejohn

    Jim Jones held “heartfelt religious beliefs”, so I guess he did nothing wrong either.

  • Laura Roberts

    I love how they think it’s perfectly normal and natural not to seek medical care for children because parents can’t afford it. These assholes come from a dark, stinking, dank and perverse cesspool.
    Sorry, I’m too angry to be more eloquent.

  • Angela_K

    An atheist’s child dies because he/she refuses medical help = manslaughter and the religious crow how awful us non-cultists are.
    A cultist does the same as the above but say they prayed = no charges and the usual “gawd’s plan” nonsense being spouted by the delusional.
    “..Bible used as a reference book in science classes” They may as well any other book of fiction such as “Winnie the Pooh”that contains better examples of Philosophy.

  • 1859

    Free to practice your religion – sure. But if those ‘practices’ puts anyone at risk – especially children – then surely this particular ‘freedom’ ends? What would the state of Idaho say about the sexual abuse of children if it was deemed by religious believers to be an essential part of their religion? Would they be ‘free’ to do this? Putting children’s’ mental and physical health at risk, for whatever reason, is unacceptable (unless, of course, your main motive is really to perpetuate the same nonsense you yourself believe in).

  • AgentCormac

    Faith healing is a contradiction in terms. Faith doesn’t heal anything – rather, it is the cause of division, sectarianism, terrorism and war.
    And if one single person can show me incontrovertible evidence of faith or prayer directly affecting the wellbeing of anybody I will gladly eat my hat.

  • L.Long

    Well there is some point to their faith healing. We sceptiks like to think we know everything that is proper. This same case looked at in the 1800’s, medical science would have said that the kid should have his blood drown and his humours balanced. Which would have killed him. So the act of doing nothing (prayer, homeopathy) would have been better. So how is this brain washed couple suppose to know what is best??
    Their abilities as parents should be stopped…sterilize them they should not have kids!!
    But the real crime is the awful education system in ‘merica, and their dimwitted xtian(religious) privilege!!!

  • Newspaniard

    I read in the NSS newsletter this morning where christian run schools are being encouraged to take over secular ones and these latter not being given an alternative. British schools will soon be catching up (down) to the USA model.

  • H3r3tic

    “I’m a First Amendment guy, and I believe in the First Amendment, which gives people freedom of religion.” The unspoken context being, “so long as it’s MY religion. Lets see him argue First Amendment rights when a devout Rastafarian gets arrested for smoking weed.

  • Cali Ron

    1859: “What would the state of Idaho say about the sexual abuse of children if it was deemed by religious believers to be an essential part of their religion?” Good question. In conservative dominated states like Utah religion can trump reality. Example: The state law against polygamy has just been ruled unconstitutional ( so technically it’s no longer illegal even though bigamy still is. Would be curious to known the religious affiliation of the judge.
    Since when does freedom of religion give anyone the right to break laws or let your children die needlessly? It really makes my blood boil when children suffer and die because someone’s religious delusion becomes so ingrained it overcomes common sense. Can somebody please slap some sense into people like this?

  • Peter Sykes

    “Ignorance might be bliss for the ignorant, but for the rest of us, it’s a fucking pain in the ass.” – Ricky Gervais

  • Vanity Unfair

    “I’m a First Amendment guy, and I believe in the First Amendment, which gives people freedom of religion.”
    That’s not quite true, Senator. No freedom is absolute. See the ninth amendment.
    Amendment IX
    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.
    Section 1.
    All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
    All persons includes children and privileges include access to proper health care. Children need your protection. There are laws about that. As a lawmaker you should know better.
    The eleventh amendment prevents my doing anything legal about this.

  • I am not very surprised. I know Catholics and Protestants who are still devoted to Christianity despite knowing that Jesus endorsed the murdering by stoning of innocent people. They have an empathy problem when people suffer. They help those who suffer not because they value those people but because they feel God commands it. So it is about God not human suffering.