The Child-Friendly Faith Project believes all people have the right to practice their religion, but not at the cost of denying children education, medical care, and other basic needs. That’s why we launched our #ProjectIdaho campaign, which promises to improve the laws in Idaho as they pertain to child protection.
Why Idaho? Because the Idaho legislature has taken, or failed to take, critical steps to protect children from abuse and neglect. And so we took a stand against House Bill 113 which aimed to give parents “fundamental rights.” While this worrisome bill did pass, we feel that our testimony—and the testimony of other child advocates—motivated Senators to improve the bill so that it did not extend such rights to most parents who have abused or neglected their children.
This blog post explains why we chose to oppose H0113 and what we achieved. Still, even though Idaho ended up passing an improved bill, we still have concerns about what this law might do. For example,
- It could prohibit lawmakers from repealing life-threatening “faith healing” exemptions.
- It could cause havoc for public schools.
- It could prohibit courts from protecting children from abusive or neglectful parents.
- It could discourage teachers, doctors, and others from reporting abuse and neglect.
WHAT’S NEXT FOR #PROJECTIDAHO? STAY TUNED!
#ProjectIdaho is supported by these prominent faith leaders and child advocates:
Rev. Dr. C. Welton Gaddy
President Emeritus and Senior Advisor, Interfaith Alliance, and Pastor, Northminster Baptist Church, Monroe, Louisiana.
A primary measurement of the compassion and values of a society is how it treats its children. Now, unfortunately, some people are trying to use the issues of “parental rights” and “religious freedom” to avoid comprehensive efforts to assure the health and welfare of children. I am so pleased that the Children-Friendly Faith Project has stepped forward to challenge all efforts to the contrary—vigorously opposing legislation, behavior, and treatments that would compromise or prohibit doing what is best for the health and welfare of all children in our nation. #ProjectIdaho deserves affirmation and broad-based support.
Marci A. Hamilton, JD
Paul R. Verkuil Chair in Public Law, Cardozo School of Law, Yeshiva University
Idaho has become a haven for parents who martyr their children for their faith. Its religious exemption for medical neglect and its extreme religious liberty statute are not what the Framers intended or what the First Amendment requires. The blood of these children is on the hands of the state legislators who continue to fail to make Idaho a safe haven for children because of irrational drench to parents and faith.
Rabbi Dan Fink
Congregation Ahavath Beth Israel, Boise, Idaho
In the Jewish tradition, nothing is of greater value to a community than the well-being of its children. While we certainly respect the rights of the vast majority of parents to raise their offspring with love and wisdom, we also recognize that the entire community has a stake in protecting children from abuse and neglect. In this spirit, I urge our legislators to stand in strong opposition to HB 113 which compromises our ability to ensure that all of Idaho’s children are treated with kindness and respect.
The Rev. Charles Foster Johnson
Executive Director of Pastors for Texas Children and CFFP Board Member
The fundamental value of human dignity and worth that is found at the core of all religions is most vividly tested when we are called to nurture and protect the most vulnerable humans among us, our children. Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me,’ which is one of many reasons Christians should oppose any measure that exposes our little ones to potential harm. This bill jeopardizes the protection and care of children and should be defeated.
Private Investigator, Author of “Prophet’s Prey: My Seven-Year Investigation into Warren Jeffs”
This bill is being groomed to adversely effect every child in Idaho by eliminating the simple checks and balances that are afforded every other child in the country.
Rev. Marci Glass
Pastor, Southminster Presbyterian Church, Boise, Idaho
Children’s health and flourishing should not be at risk because of the extreme religious views of their parents. The God who created us in love seeks for us to have an abundant life in health and security. If adults choose to misread scripture and put their own lives at risk, that is one thing, but we Idahoans need to make sure those adults aren’t also risking their children’s health and safety in the name of God. Government, at its best, seeks to protect those who are most at risk in society. Government, at its worst, seeks to protect those who mistake religious zealotry for religious freedom.
Arthur L. Caplan, PhD
Drs. William F. and Virginia Connolly Mitty Professor of Bioethics and Founding Director of the Division of Medical Ethics in the Department of Population Health at the NYU Langone Medical Center
The fundamental duty of legislators is to protect our weakest and most vulnerable citizens. House Bill 113 does not do that. It exposes children to the risk of neglect and abuse in ways that the citizens of Idaho should reject out of hand.
Ann M. Haralambie, JD, CWLS
Certified Family Law Specialist, Certified Child Welfare Law Specialist, Author, and Speaker
As a lawyer of nearly forty years and a member of a faith healing church that also believes in medicine, I strongly oppose this bill. The United States Supreme Court has provided clear and appropriate guidance on balancing the rights of parents and the safety and welfare of children. This bill is unnecessary and moves the balance to an extreme position which places children at great risk of harm and even of death.
Steven Alan Hassan, M.Ed. LMHC, NCC
Director, Freedom of Mind Resource Center. Author of “Freedom of Mind: Helping Loved Ones Leave Controlling People, Cults and Beliefs.”
Project Idaho deserves everyone’s attention to stop HB 113 from denying the protections necessary for children. Everyone who cares about human rights and especially children’s freedom to be healthy and safe should get involved in stopping this bill.
Paul A. Offit, MD
Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
Lawmakers should have the courage to stand up for children who are being neglected in the name of religion by what are clearly unreligious acts.
Click here to read her testimony given at a Senate hearing on March 9, 2015.
Tell Idaho legislators how you feel!
Click here to email all members of the Idaho Senate.
Click here to email all members of the Idaho House of Representatives.
You can send an email to Idaho Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter by clicking here.
#ProjectIdaho has the support of these compassionate organizations: