Faith healers promise to disobey any new law that would protect children.
Faith healers in Idaho say they will disobey any new law that would end a religious exemption for medical care and force religious families to seek medical treatment for sick or injured children.
Idaho legislators are once again considering measures that would repeal or modify a religious shield law that protects parents who deny their children medical care if the parents claim to be acting out of religious faith.
Currently, when a child dies in Idaho due to lack of medical care, faith healing parents are not held accountable. Idaho statute 18-1501 protects practitioners of faith healing. It reads:
The practice of a parent or guardian who chooses for his child treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone shall not for that reason alone be construed to have violated the duty of care to such child.
In effect, the law allows parents to martyr their children for their faith, choosing prayer over modern medicine without fear of legal consequence.
Last week a legislative working group considering a repeal of the faith healing exemption heard testimony from legal experts, child welfare workers, and faith healers, including members of the notorious Followers of Christ Church.
The Followers of Christ Church is a notorious collection of small and secretive Christian fundamentalist congregations that make a habit of watching their children die rather than seek medical attention. The church teaches that modern medicine should be shunned in favor of prayer. The consequences of church doctrine have been tragic: the preventable deaths of many innocent children.
The church preaches faith-healing and rejects modern medicine in favor of prayer and other spiritual practices such as anointing the sick with oil. The church is notorious for allowing sick children to suffer and even die rather than seeking medical attention.
Dan Sevy, supported by a half dozen other Followers of Christ church members, defended his faith healing beliefs in front of the legislative working group last week, as reported by The Spokesman-Review.
Sevy began his testimony by saying:
Suffering is real. It’s real all over the world and it’s real right here and it’s real personally. And there’s no greater suffering than one that is personal to oneself, whether it be himself or his children, and I as a parent find the suffering of my children far greater than my own. … None of us wants to see anybody suffer. If you do, there’s something wrong with you.
We believe that pharmaceuticals and medicine is a product from Satan. Proof can be found in one of the lost books of Enoch.
Sevy said he equates medicine to “witchcraft and sorcery,” declaring:
Those who imbibe in those things will not attain a home in heaven. That is our belief. We use it to condemn no one but ourselves. Like I said, we respect your choice and your belief, and hope the very best for you . … We do disagree with medicine and believe that it puts our very eternal lives in jeopardy.
Sevy warned that even if the law is changed, it would not change the practice of faith healing:
Our goal is eternity, it isn’t here. Our goal is not suffering. … If the statute is changed, I’ll not change anything I do.
Last March, a bill that would have protected children from faith healing parents in Idaho was killed by Republican lawmakers.
Bottom line: In Idaho, children die of easily treatable illness, because parents can martyr their children for their faith, choosing prayer over modern medicine without fear of legal consequence. This is wrong. Children should not be made to suffer and die for their parents ignorance and religious superstition. By failing to act, Idaho Republicans put children at risk.