With the close of the Idaho legislature, more children will die

With the close of the Idaho legislature, more children will die

ID legislature

We’re sorry to report that yet another year has gone by in which the Idaho legislature has refused to help children who are getting extremely ill, suffering disability, and dying—all due to lawmakers fiercely clinging to a twisted belief in “religious freedom.”

As you may know, Idaho is home to the Followers of Christ church, which hates and fears doctors so much—and believes so strongly in the power of prayer—that they provide sick children, no matter how ill, with no medical care. Currently, more children die of “faith healing” medical neglect in Idaho than in any other state, because in Idaho, the laws protect parents who commit these abuses from being prosecuted.

This also means that infants struggling for breath at birth are not taken to the hospital. Elementary-school children who have diabetes are refused insulin until they get dehydrated, enter a comatose state, and die. And teenagers risk dying from infection when a simple prescription for antibiotics could cure them.

Of course, for every child who dies, there are untold numbers of others who suffer every day with discomfort, pain, and permanent disability. (Think about these kids the next time you reach for an over-the-counter remedy for a headache, back pain, or menstrual cramps.)

Some progress was made this session. For the first time, lawmakers allowed a bill to have a hearing. SB1182 was far from perfect, but at least it marked an interest among legislators to do something, and members of the public got to speak on behalf of children who have died or are at risk of religious medical neglect.

Also, thanks to the work of tireless child advocates, such as Protect Idaho Kids (which held a vigil at the Capitol for children who have died and are at risk for “faith-healing” medical neglect), Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty (CHILD), and local religious leaders, there was lots of media attention paid to this issue. I wrote a number of op-eds in local papers on behalf of the Child-Friendly Faith Project.

Can we count on you to help save the lives of these kids? The next legislative session isn’t until next January, but the time to act is now. The most important thing you can do is to donate to Protect Idaho Kids and write to legislators in Idaho. You can do all of this from PIK’s website.

Are Idaho lawmakers ready to legalize all religiously motivated child abuse?

Are Idaho lawmakers ready to legalize all religiously motivated child abuse?

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As Idaho legislators consider a bill that would protect children from egregious “faith healing” medical neglect, some have a lot to say about religious freedom.

Sen. Lee Heider, who chairs the Sen. Health and Welfare Committee, has repeatedly stated that he opposes a bill that would make it illegal for adults to deny children necessary medical care for religious reasons.

“I don’t find fault in the fact that, because of their religious beliefs, we should prosecute them if a child dies. You know, it’s a first amendment right, the freedom of religion.”

“I think everybody cares about the health of children,” Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter told the media, “but we also have to remember the very first amendment to our Constitution. . . . No. 1 was religion. . . . I think it’s important to remember that they didn’t do ‘em alphabetically.”

Given this allegiance to protecting people’s right to freedom of religion, I wonder if legislators would support the legalization of all parenting decisions made in the name of faith that also jeopardize children’s health and safety. Read More »

An open letter to the people of Idaho

An open letter to the people of Idaho

Lauren in creekMany Idahoans are clear on where they stand on the issue of “faith healing” medical neglect.

There are those who believe that the state has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of its children, including those who are being raised by parents or guardians with extreme beliefs about faith healing. And there are those who believe that religious freedom is so critically important, that parents who religiously oppose medical care may refuse to take their child to a doctor even if it means that child suffers, becomes very sick or permanently disabled, or dies.

But I’m not directing this blog post to either of those groups. Rather, I’m speaking to the undecided, those who aren’t sure which camp they’re in, because they believe in both freedom of religion and a child’s right to be protected from abuse and neglect. Read More »

What is #ProjectIdaho?

What is #ProjectIdaho?

Too many children in Idaho are dying from “faith healing” medical neglect.

It’s time the state did something to stop it.

The Child-Friendly Faith Project doesn’t get involved in politics too oftenexcept when it comes to Idaho. Why? Because Idaho’s laws fail to protect the health of children who are raised in families and communities that deny their sons and daughters medical care for religious reasons.

As a result, many children are suffering and even dying from such treatable conditions as infection and diabetes.

Why? Because in Idaho, it’s legal for parents or guardians to deny a child needed medical care if they claim it’s for religious reasons. Even if that child suffers. Even if that child becomes permanently disabled. Even if that child dies. Read More »

Unity of Austin becomes Charter Member of the CFFP

Unity of Austin becomes Charter Member of the CFFP

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We are honored to designate Unity of Austin as a Charter Member of the Child-Friendly Faith Project. The church recently achieved this status after participating in a self-paced discussion series, the first phase of our Child-Friendly Faith Communities Designation Program.

The curriculum, which is specially designed for faith communities, offers tools that help participants learn and talk about such topics as child development, maltreatment, and protection in an environment that is private and safe. A member of the faith community is chosen to facilitate the discussions, following a five-module study guide developed by the CFFP. Read More »

“Parents rights” advocates have scored a victory now that Idaho has passed House Bill 113. But what does it mean for Idaho’s children?

“Parents rights” advocates have scored a victory now that Idaho has passed House Bill 113. But what does it mean for Idaho’s children?

shadow familyOn April 2, Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter signed into law House Bill 113 known as the “parents rights” bill. It will become law on July 1 of this year.

The bill was one of many similar pieces of legislation being lobbied around the country by the Home School Legal Defense Association, whose mission is to “preserve and advance the fundamental, God-given, constitutional right of parents and others legally responsible for their children to direct their education.”

According to the HSLDA, the law doesn’t give parents more rights, it just codifies them, a necessary step say proponents who are convinced that the courts are beginning to strip them away. In announcing its victory, HSLDA stated on its website: “You don’t have any more rights now than you did before. But the rights you already have by virtue of being a parent are now far safer.”

The lobbying group is particularly worried that government is interfering with parents’ ability to make decisions about their children’s education. According to HSLDA’s website parentalrights.org, “It is no accident, no coincidence. And it’s not just your imagination. There really is a steady trend by the government and the courts to remove the influence of parents from the public schools.”

Read More »

We’re off to a great start in 2015!

We’re off to a great start in 2015!

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The Child-Friendly Faith Project is excited about the new year!

Looking back, we accomplished a lot in 2014. We completed development of our Charter Member designation program, a curriculum designed exclusively for faith communities. We held our first raffle giveaway. And our conference presented more than twice as many speakers as last year. But there’s a lot more to come! Read More »

Faith Communities Meet the Needs of Abused Children and Adult Survivors

Faith Communities Meet the Needs of Abused Children and Adult Survivors

Meet Peter Singer and David Pittman, two advocates who are serving the needs of child victims of maltreatment and survivors of sexual abuse. The Child-Friendly Faith Project is honored to have each give an important presentation at this year’s conference on Dec. 4th and 5th in Austin, Texas.

Peter will talk about how to engage faith communities in providing needed services to children and families impacted by maltreatment. David will explain how faith communities can help provide mental health services to survivors of child sexual abuse.

Through their nonprofit organizations, both men have found ways to guide faith communities so they can improve the lives of those who have been harmed by child abuse and neglect. Read More »

Do culture and religion matter in the Adrian Peterson case?

Do culture and religion matter in the Adrian Peterson case?
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Photo by guardianlv.com

While the media seems largely focused on the fact that the Minnesota Vikings finally decided to bench its star running back, a more important—and politically incorrect—question needs to be asked:

Did Adrian Peterson’s religious beliefs and cultural background as an African American contribute to him beating and injuring his son?

Many details about the case have been well publicized and have not been denied by Peterson: Last spring, he “disciplined” his four-year-old son at his Houston home by stuffing leaves in his mouth and hitting him repeatedly with the branch of a tree or “switch.” The boy was also reportedly beaten with a belt. The “whoopings,” as Peterson called them, resulted in the boy sustaining lacerations, bruises, and welts on his legs, arms, buttocks, and genitals. Upon questioning, the child told his mother that Peterson “likes belts and switches and has a whooping room.”

After intense public pressure, the cancellation of a major NFL sponsor, apparent threats by other companies to cancel sponsorship, and the news that Peterson had been accused of abusing another son in 2013 (Peterson was not charged in that case), the Vikings dramatically changed course. Initially, after Peterson was indicted on child abuse charges, the Vikings had him sit out one game and then allowed him to rejoin the team. After the public outcry, officials barred him from all team activities. Some predict he will never again wear a Vikings jersey.

Now, statistics on the use of corporal punishment in conservative Christian households and those in the African American community are raising questions as to whether Peterson’s religious beliefs and cultural background fueled his ideology about the need to control his son’s behavior in this way and, ultimately, to injure him.

I’m not aware of any studies that show that children in one faith or racial group are more at risk for abuse than others, but there is reason to believe that children who are physically punished are more at risk for being physically abused than children who are not physically punished. Studies show that a vast majority of child abuse is delivered in the midst of adults using corporal punishment. Furthermore, children are more likely to be injured when parents use corporal punishment frequently or use implements to spank children.[1]

Read More »

Great things are happening at the CFFP!

Great things are happening at the CFFP!

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And we can’t wait to tell you about them! Starting with…

OUR FIRST GRANT! We are excited to report that the generous members of Foundation Beyond Belief have donated a combined total of $10,265 to the CFFP. We were one of five beneficiary organization chosen for the “Challenge the Gap” category, which includes groups that work with faith communities. All funds will go directly to developing and implementing our educational programs. We are so grateful for this gift!

GET READY FOR CFFP CONFERENCE 2014! This year’s conference will again present some of the country’s most informed and prestigious speakers who can help us better understand how to protect children from maltreatment in faith communities. Our two keynote speakers are Boz Tchividjian, JD, and Lisa Fontes, PhDBoz is the founder of the investigative organization, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment (GRACE). He is also the grandson of Dr. Billy Graham and a professor at Liberty University School of Law. Lisa has dedicated two decades to making the mental health, social service, and criminal justice systems more responsive to culturally diverse communities and is the author of Child Abuse and Culture: Working with Diverse Families. Read More »