Idaho congressman and candidate for governor Raul Labrador insists that faith healing parents have the right to deny their children medical care.
Speaking at a televised debate held earlier this week between the major GOP candidates for governor, Rep. Labrador defended faith healing parents, and said if elected governor he would not try to change the state’s faith-healing exemption that allows parents to deny children medical treatment without fear of criminal prosecution.
When asked about the state’s faith healing exemption Labrador said:
I would not change it. I believe in religious liberty. We believe in freedom. I would not interfere with a parent’s right to make a decision like that. I believe that they get to decide.
In other words, according to Labrador and people who think like him, children are the property of parents, and can be denied such basic rights as medical care if it serves the religious superstition of their parents.
In fact, Idaho is known as the the faith healing state, the state where religious extremists go when they want to deny their children access to modern medicine in favor of prayer and religious superstition.
Currently a religious shield law protects parents who claim to be acting out of religious faith, so 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.
Idaho Republicans like Labrador are protecting Christian extremists like the Followers of Christ Church, 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, and 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.
Bottom line: Idaho Congressman and candidate for governor Raul Labrador has no problem with faith healing parents allowing their children to suffer and die in the name of religious freedom, and if elected governor he will do nothing to repeal the state’s faith healing exemption.