Idaho lawmaker tackles faith healing after child deaths

Associated Press & KBOI News, Idaho/January 16, 2014

Boise, Idaho -- After child deaths from treatable conditions, an Idaho lawmaker aims to follow Oregon's lead and require parents get medical help for children suffering from potentially fatal conditions even if their religion opposes it.

Since 2009, child members of the Followers of Christ in southwestern Idaho have died of causes that could have been treated by a doctor, according to autopsy reports.

The church, with members in Idaho, California and Oregon, relies on faith healing to help sick members.

KBOI 2News first brought you this story a couple years ago and now state lawmakers say because of our report, they're working to do something about it.

Democratic Rep. John Gannon of Boise says Idaho's current faith-healing exemptions should be updated.

"The physical condition of a child, in particular, is paramount," Gannon told KBOI 2News. "It supersedes philosophies and ideas."

He's got backing from Linda Martin, an Oregon woman who left the church decades ago.

"These children do need protection, and they have the right to grow up to be adults," Martin said.

However, there's already resistance from lawmakers including Republican Rep. Christy Perry, of Nampa, who fears this would trample parental rights and religious freedoms.

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