Lawmakers Prepare to Crack Down on Faith Healing After Multiple Child Deaths

Will using faith healing exclusively soon be illegal?
Will using faith healing exclusively soon be illegal? (Public Domain)

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Lawmakers think it's fine if you want to pray for your child's healing, but not if it costs the child his life.

Idaho lawmakers are reportedly crafting a bill that would prohibit exclusive faith healing if the child's life is in danger.

"The goal is, it's not to punish the parents but to protect the children," Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill said

The legislation would reportedly alter the state code to include an imminent death caveat.

Currently, the code 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."

Democrat Rep. John Gannon crafted a bill to amend the section to read: "unless such practice creates an imminent risk or permanent physical harm or death." 

According to the Boise Weekly, many of the child deaths from the last century stem from the group Followers of Christ.

"They believe that medicine is a temptation from Satan, and to give in is to give in to that temptation," former member Linda Martin said. "They also believe to give in is for people of weak faith or no faith. People of the world are seen as tempted." 

The BW reports child death numbers are difficult to track because the group doesn't report when a child dies.

However, Children's Healthcare Is a Legal Duty maintains a database of more than 200 child graves in Followers of Christ cemeteries. In the largest, Peaceful Valley Cemetery, 204 of the 592 graves belong to minor children. Of the graves dating from 2002 to 2013, 35 percent belong to minor children of stillbirths—that's more than 10 times the number of deaths among minor children and stillbirths statewide, BW reports.

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