Idaho legislative candidates weigh in on faith-healing child deaths

Idaho legislative candidates weigh in on faith-healing child deaths

Once a subject it seemed no one was talking about, candidates running for the Idaho House of Representatives in next week’s Republican primary are now saying just how they feel about so many children in their state dying from “faith-healing medical neglect.”

Due to the great work of child advocates, such as the nonprofit Protect Idaho Kids, many Idahoans are aware of this life-and-death issue. Tragically, religious exemptions in state laws permit parents who deny their children necessary medical care to avoid prosecution, even in cases of great suffering and death, as long as the parents claim they used only prayer as “treatment.” Learn more about the issue by going here.

With the primary happening on May 15, the Idaho Press-Tribune has posed this question to all candidates running for the state House of Representatives: Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

LEGISLATIVE HOPEFULS WEIGH IN

The answers are mixed. Some candidates have strong feelings one way or the other, while some apparently know little or nothing about the issue. One chose not to answer the question. Idaho’s gubernatorial candidates reflect a similar breakdown. We’ve categorized the candidates’ answers this way:

Pro-Child Protection. The candidate believes it’s wrong for children to suffer in this way and that the state should protect them from faith-healing medical neglect.

Anti-Child Protection. The candidate opposes the state protecting the health of children who are denied necessary medical care if their parents claim they used only prayer as “treatment.” (These candidates did not comment on the fact that Idaho currently does require parents who do not possess extreme beliefs about faith healing to provide their children needed medical care.)

Uncommitted. The candidate is ambivalent, offers no clear opinion, or doesn’t answer the question.

PRO-CHILD PROTECTION CANDIDATES

Kirk AdamsKirk Adams, Republican, age 54, Worldwide Account Manager at FedEx

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I support our basic right of Freedom of Religion but I can’t support the idea of letting a child suffer and die needlessly.

Scott Brock, Republican, age 50, small business owner, combat veteran

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I am against faith healing. Not 100% sure how I can stop it legislatively, but I would try.

Ryan Kerby, Republican, age 66, retired educator

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I have been in the middle on this tough question, but am now leaning more to the side of the children. It would again depend on the specific legislation. The suffering I hear about makes me sick. I am certainly glad my parents took me to the doctor/hospital rather than making me suffer and possibly die. I couldn’t possibly have let my kids suffer knowing there was help available. This whole thing is troublesome. This issue joins teen suicide and human trafficking as social issues I would really like to see some improvement over the next few years.

David Lincoln, Republican, age 62, retired as administrator of the Wilder Housing Authority

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I find the statistic disturbing. I respect the families and religious beliefs, but support children’s well being and opportunities for life. Faith Healing exemptions in ways, are discriminatory to the children involved. Parental accountability should be addressed.

ANTI-CHILD PROTECTION CANDIDATES

Zach Brooks, Republican, age 37, investor in real estate, mining, and vehicles

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I will address it by staying out of the personal lives of parents and their children and stand up to anyone who wants to lead us down the slippery slope of eroding religious and parental rights. I take my own children to the doctor, but I do not have the right to tell another parent that they have to do the same. If new legislation forced parents to take a child to the hospital, who will pay for the care? What happens if the child still dies after receiving care they were forced to receive? Will the parents be able to sue the State and/or the hospital for being forced to take their child in and then they lost them anyways? Are there any boundaries on what the State can do if it can force parents to take their child to the doctor? At what point will the parent have to take their child to the hospital; a runny nose and cough, just a cough, etc? We already have child neglect laws and adding more legislation, that will be impossible to enforce, will only make matters worse by likely affecting all parents, not just those of a particular faith.

Patti Anne Lodge, Republican, age 75, agri business owner, retired educator

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I personally believe in prayer and medical intervention but I cannot interfere with a parent’s right to worship as their faith and morals direct them. They have the Constitutional Right to Freedom of Religion. To prosecute faithful, caring, loving parents, who truly believe that the Lord heals his children is not for me to decide. I know these faithful people to be caring, loving family members who cherish their children and try to lead them to the Lord through their strong faith. I find it hard to criminalize parents who lose a child they love, nurse and nurture. The death of a child is a tragedy and for a family, an unbearable loss. As people become more knowledgeable of health care and by acquainting these parents to the various health care options including natural medicine, we will not interfere with their religious beliefs and prayer based healing efforts. Religious Rights and parental rights are important foundations that build strong and faithful families. I would encourage all folks to keep these families and children in their prayers. God and prayer works miracles and changes hearts and minds.

Lori Shewmaker, Republican, age 41, licensed Insurance professional

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

My God, isn’t it horrible when someone dies?! Especially when it is an innocent child. This is a totally emotional issue, and I agree, its tragic! I operate with the principle of the use of logic, sensibilities, critical thinking, and considering facts in reality, NOT emotions, (which have NO IQ) when planning for legislation that impacts hundreds of thousands of people. Lets show the math, its quite conclusive. 183 deaths have happened while faith healing, since this law enacted in 1972, that is 3.97 deaths a year for 46 years. According to the ITD fatal crash analysis, 694 teens died driving, in just a SINGLE year, 2016. Cars are killing our young people at a much higher rate, and its costing us billions. We don’t hear outcries to stop vulnerable kids from being driven around, or driving themselves in these expensive, dangerous rolling death traps… So, therefore, I have come to the conclusion that this is ultimately a freedom/rights issue. I would work to maintain the right for the parent to NOT be forced to use a type of service because I think they should, or because YOU think they should.

Scott Syme, Republican, age 63, realtor, retired military, farmer

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I am not for punishing the parents of a child who dies because of faith healing by prosecuting them. They love their children as much as I did mine. I am open to solutions working with the faith healing community.

UNCOMMITTED CANDIDATES

Gary Collins, Republican, age 75, insurance agency owner

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

There have been some good hearings and discussions in the House of Representatives on this problem, there has not been any legislation proposed yet, but i feel there may be some movement next year. This is a hard issue, because of what our constitution guarantees.

Josh Gibbons, Republican, age 30, vice-president of the Idaho Political Prisoners Foundation

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

[No answer]

Kathryn Ralstin, Republican, age 49, daycare worker

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

Don’t want to take parent’s rights away, but the children have a right to a safe environment.

Tammy Nichols, Republican, age 42, property management business owner

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I would need to look into what the actual issue is. Any legislation, I would need to look at to see what it would be stating, is it constitutional, is it necessary, and what impact would it have on those who live in Idaho, as well as on their parental rights?

Lorrie L. Richins, Republican, age 51, personal and family empowerment coach

Answer to the question, Canyon County experiences the highest rate of child deaths due to faith healing in the state. How will you address it?

I understand that this is a most unfortunate situation and has complex variables to consider. Freedom of religion, however, is a fundamental right written into our constitution and should be honored as such. Legislation regarding this matter could potentially compromise parental rights beyond just this particular issue as many laws have unintended consequences. Nevertheless, I consider all life of great value and would, of course, take very seriously any bill that could appropriately address this problem.

Would you like to tell Idaho legislators how you feel about this issue? Email them by clicking here.

4 Comments on "Idaho legislative candidates weigh in on faith-healing child deaths"

  • Brien Doyle says

    Any mention of, and use of, and claims by ‘religions’ MUST be accompanied by evidence to prove the validity and veracity of those claims by the religions ie if they claim a god then they Must prove that their god exists.

  • Religion covers a broad range of entities from snake handlers to compassionate people concerned for the health and well-being of everyone of every age. I think and believe that the health and welfare of children is far, far more important than any religious beliefs of parents. Separation of church and state does not let us by laws separate beliefs of different people or evaluate them, but there is no doubt or hesitation about the health and welfare of children of all ages! I respect the love of parents expressed in efforts for the welfare of their children, but never hurting or causing pain or suffering of their children.

    • Rev. Yeaman, thank you for your wise and compassionate words and for you continuing support for the CFFP. we are grateful.

  • As a naturopath, I wonder why faith-based parents choose to use only prayer when Jesus and his disciples waited on, adored, and relieved the sick with various treatments (therapeuo). That wasn’t just anointing with olive oil. That included a number of medicinally expressed essential oils, herbs, massage, hot and cold applications – those were the medicines of the day. Many of them worked and in the original language Jesus used them.

    If you click on the link in this article, you can see the number of times Jesus worked in therapeuo.

    https://www.cwgministries.org/blogs/three-new-testament-words-healing

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