Idaho Republicans back bill protecting faith-healing parents

Idaho Republicans back bill protecting faith-healing parents February 24, 2015

Idaho Republicans abandon children, and support legislation that would codify protections for faith-healing parents, ensuring that faith-healing parents who choose prayer over modern medicine are protected from prosecution, even when their actions lead to the death of their children.

A bill to codify parental rights in Idaho passed the House State Affairs Committee Friday. The bill, sponsored by Republican lawmaker Janet Trujillo, declares parents have a “fundamental right to make decisions concerning the care, custody, education and control of their children,” effectively making children the property of parents.

Trujillo said:

“We’re not changing the law in the eyes of the court. We are merely codifying what the court already said.”

Trujillo is right. The sad fact is, currently under Idaho state law, if a child dies or is abused a parent can’t be found guilty if they are practicing faith-healing. The new legislation would, among other things, prohibit lawmakers from repealing this religious exemptions

The Child Friendly Faith Project reports the legislation would thwart lawmakers’ efforts to protect children from abuse, as well as educational and medical neglect. More specifically, this bill could:

  • prohibit lawmakers from repealing religious “faith healing” exemptions
  • prohibit social workers from removing parents from the home who are harming children
  • prohibit parents from suing former spouses for custody in cases of abuse
  • prohibit school districts from offering students a well-rounded education
  • prohibit parents from having visitation rights with children under the care of legal guardians

However, Rep. Christy Perry (R) says faith-healing parents have a First Amendment right to deny medical care to their children on religious grounds, arguing that they are perhaps more comfortable confronting the death of their children.

Perry said:

“Children do die. I’m not trying to sound callous, but (reformers) want to act as if death is an anomaly. But it’s not — it’s a way of life.”

Perry, apparently trying to justify the hideous act of allowing a child to die due to lack of medical attention, said:

“They are comforted by the fact that they know their child is in heaven. If I want to let my child be with God, why is that wrong?”

Perry’s words are perverse and despicable. To allow a child to die so as to be with an imaginary god is beyond abuse, it is madness.

Perry also questioned the motives of faith-healing reformers, trotting out the tired and discredited notion that Christians are being persecuted, asking:

“Is it really because these children are dying more so than other children, or is this really about an attack on a religion you don’t agree with?”

Most Idaho Democrats oppose the legislation protecting faith-healing parents who allow their children to suffer and die rather than seek medical attention. For example, State Rep. John Gannon (D-Boise) wants to narrow the loophole to permit prosecution of parents who rely on faith-healing “whenever a child’s medical condition may cause death or permanent disability.”

Child advocate Marci A. Hamilton sums up the dismal situation for children in Idaho:

“Idaho has become a destination for believers who use faith only to treat illness and whose children, therefore, die in stunningly large numbers from easily treatable illnesses. The state’s religious exemption for medical neglect and its extreme religious liberty statute make Idaho a haven for parents who would martyr their children for their faith. This is not what the Framers intended or what the First Amendment requires. The blood of these children is on the hands of the state legislators who continue to fail to make Idaho a safe haven for its children because of irrational deference to parents and faith.”

Last year Idaho Republicans killed a bill designed to protect children from faith-healing parents.

faith healing law

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