Paper family in hands


Below are comments left by individuals after reading local coverage of the faith healing-medical neglect debate or weighing in on radio talk shows.

My brain does not fully digest the idea of a kid having a sore throat for a week or two, having that develop into scarlet fever, watching that kid suffer, watching that kid just downgrade health-wise, and the parents just sit there and go, “We’re praying. We’re doing everything we can do,” when we live in Idaho. And even in Idaho, there’s a doctor’s office within an hour’s drive. God gave us all this ability to think and figure out a way to transport ourselves using something other than an animal. How can you rationalize not putting your kid in that automobile that was created by Man, driving on a road that was made by Man, wearing clothes that were made by Man, because you think medicine is the tool of the devil?

— Nate Shelman, January 21, 2016, The Nate Shelman Show 670

Laura J. McCarthy Aug 10, 2016

Laws exist to protect children from the behavior of parents who are intoxicated by alcohol. Likewise, laws need to exist to protect children from parents intoxicated by dangerous religious beliefs.

My siblings and I were raised by fundamentalist Christian Scientists. Absolutely no medicinal items were allowed in our household, and neither pain nor illness was acknowledged. I saw a doctor the day I was born and then not again until I was 18. My father was a convert to the religion, but my mother was raised in a very fundamentalist Christian Science household. She firmly believed Christian Science was the one and only true religion and that its word was the law.

Given the tenacious and often dangerous hold that ingrained religious beliefs have on generations of parents, it is imperative that laws be enacted to protect children. Can a caregiver withhold needed medical attention from an elderly person and then cite their own religious beliefs as justification? Wouldn’t the law see it as neglect? It simply makes sense that children be given the same consideration. This is not about infringing on the right to practice religion, but rather about protecting the rights of children in need of medical care.

jjfisher Apr 27, 2016 8:16pm

They need more information to see if current law is harmful to children? Why don’t they just go to the cemetery where the harmed children are buried? This seems like a no brainer, but that fits our legislators, I guess.

CeeNee Apr 28, 2016 7:47am

It seems pretty simple to me that our legislators are hypocritical when they are so against abortion and yet it is ok to just let a Child die due to their ridiculous freedom of religion. They scream loud and clear about the unborn Child an yet an look in the eyes of these kids standing in front of them and put a knife through their hearts. It is a no brainer but since when do we have, here in Idaho, any male politician who has half a brain to make common sense decisions especially when it involves changing their arrogant, selfish ways?

sobboise Apr 27, 2016 8:27pm

This issue is not easily defined. If it is too broad, it runs afoul of the Fist Amendment. If it is too narrow, it can end up being useless for many cases.

jjfisher Apr 28, 2016 7:55am

Since all but 6 states have figured it out, it can’t be that complicated. It’s child endangerment plain and simple.

IDProud a day ago

So, let me see if I understand the position of the Idaho legislature. if you end a pregnancy, that is murder. If you let a baby die, that is religious freedom. I’m sorry. I just don’t get the pro-life part of this.

dandesmond a day ago

When you pray for your children instead of taking them to a doctor and they die its murder, simple as that. When a religious nut job prays an arm or leg back on an amputee I’ll start believing, until then it’s chicanery.

crabtree a day ago

The hypocrites running this state are oh so “pro Life”…simply disgusting…

Pendleton 12 hours ago

Sen. Heider has an abhorrent stand on this issue and should be voted out of office come November. Once again, he is making Idaho an international horror show.


So these religious male fanatics we have in the legislature are quick to push their agenda on a Woman, who decides to have an abortion, but turn their backs om Children already born and need medical decisions that will save their lives. Wow talk about hypocrites!


Evil. Those who allowed this practice to continue are nothing short of evil.


This isn’t religious freedom, it’s child endangerment. Just another shameful episode in this legislative session.

Marty Trillhaase • February 28, 2016

Year after year, the Idaho Legislature indulges in sending the same message: With only a handful of exceptions, a pregnant woman should be forced to give birth because her fetus has a right to life. . . It puts them in sync with the religious view that life is sacred. Until, of course, it comes to the issue of parents who use religion as a shield for child abuse and neglect. . . . Why aren’t [pro-life legislators] out there championing these children’s right to life?

What is it that some Americans do not get about freedom? Freedom does not mean you are free to ruin – let alone end – the lives of others, especially children who depend on you. Such amazing selfishness!
What about their freedom?
What about the freedom the rest of us seek?
A democracy means we are all equal – not that you get whatever you want at the expense of others!

What Otter and many other people are missing is that Freedom of Religion does not give people the absolute right to exercise a belief that causes harm to other people. There are already laws in Idaho limiting religious practices such as polygamy, animal sacrifice and child marriages to name just a few.

Spikey• February 8, 2016

Janet, with the greatest respect, I applaud your ongoing work regarding child medical neglect. That being said, I strongly disagree with your approach of non-demonizing these groups. As a victim of child medical neglect, I believe these so called beliefs are no more than criminal negligence and should be treated as such. That makes the “believers” criminals. Allowing a child to die is quite simply manslaughter and should be prosecuted as such. That Idaho has laws that protects these criminals is pre-historic. These laws put Idaho strongly in the dark ages and proves how backward this state remains.

Oscar • Februrary 6, 2016

It is sad any parent would risk the life of their child by withholding medical care or proven vaccines. To each his own but I empathize with the child and feel sorry for the parent that let their ignorance be the guiding factor in their life. I have faith but the faith is in the doctors and science that the good Lord has given us.

Spikey • February 6, 2016

That this law remains on the books is shameful. For childrens sake, write to your reps to get this changed.

Shame on Idaho!!!

NorthIdahoGirl • February 6, 2016

This law does need to be changed. As a believer, God gives me the wisdom to make decisions. Yes, prayer changes things but at the same time God expects us to use common sense. Getting medical treatment for our children is vital…we are given the responsibility of caring for our children physically, mentally and emotionally. Denying medical care to a child is a form of abuse so to allow a child to go untreated or die when medical help is available is wrong! Our youngest son went through a lot as a baby and without surgery he would have died. Prayer was a big part of all of this…asking God to guide the doctors, etc, trusting Him to give us the wisdom needed.

God does NOT teach in His Word that we are supposed to abstain from medical help!! That is a religion-based theory. I believe in faith healing but not faith healers.

Gloria Miller • January 24, 2016

That an editorial like this even has to be written tells us what extreme ignorance we live amongst. How about snake handlers? Is that protected reigious freedom in Idaho? Or female genital mutilation, that is pracitced by some “deeply religious” people, is that allowed in Idaho as well? Is anything that is claimed “religious” to be protected by law? This is insanity.

Caller on Nate Shelman radio show • January 21, 2016

“My parents, in wanting to do what they thought was right, just about killed me….I believe you can have a strong faith and let our physician community do what they need to do. . . . I am a parent with three children, and I raised them carefully. And I, personally, I still have a strong belief in God and his ability to heal us. But if I or any other adult is going to neglect their child. . . they are depriving them of an opportunity to get better and live. I do think that as a society we have a responsibility to step in.” 

Ramsey • January 21, 2016

The fact that this is even up to debate borders on insanity. If grown ups want to “faith heal” each other, so be it. However, standing by and letting kids die because of the dogma their parents have chosen is abuse.

idahogirl54 • January 21, 2016

I am 61 years old and I was born and raised in the Followers Of Christ Church in the Magic Valley area. I had several appendicitis attacks as a child and as a teenager. The elders which were my older relatives came to my beside and prayed and anointed me with oil. I lived. As soon as I married and had another appendicitis attack I went and had the appendicitis removed. I am so glad for the prayer and the oil. But I believe that God gave us physicians to help us! Yes there is extremes on the medical side and on the religion I grew up in. But a child is vulnerable to a parents decision and a law that is put in force needs to be there to help the child who is helpless. I also had to have a nurse from the school beg my relatives to get me glasses so I could see the chalkboard, and I had to get dental work done with out pain relief.

DairyAire • January 21, 2016

Children should not be allowed to die. If the state needs to force people to let their children live, then then obviously this law needs to come through. If the state needs to force you to let your children then you probably shouldn’t be having children. I think this general rule of thumb should apply to the above mentioned pro-life/choice question as well.

HarryAngstrom • January 21, 2016

People who deny children necessary medical treatment are not “wonderful people,” Sen. Heider. They are despicable child abusers who ought to be thrown in jail for their abuse.

This is going to get ugly and fast. While I see the point Gannon is making, I have an uneasy feeling when anyone thinks they can usurp the rights of a parent to raise their own children. On the other hand, who can just stand by and see a child become sicker, suffer and possibly die because of a religious belief that often times comes off as absurd. If people wanted to really reach the best possible outcome, accommodations between doctors and parents with consultation with educated religious persons may allow for alternative therapies/treatment to the benefit of all.

Fera No More • 

That thought process seems to be continuing this year.There was a bill in the works for the 2015 session. It may have been stopped before it was even introduced. The bill has support from many Idaho voters, agencies, prosecutors, coroners, religious and medical associations, etc. Why do Idaho lawmakers continue to protect parents who let children die painful, needless deaths? It is not a religious freedom it is child abuse. Laws limit parental rights when it comes to education, shelter, food and clothing. Laws do not allow parents to beat their children even when some extreme religions teach corporal punishment. Why is it so hard to recognize that this is one of the worst forms of child abuse? Parents are supposed to protect children not watch them die. I hope Idahoans take a hard look at who they are voting into office. Do you want people who don’t care about children dying? Are these the people you want deciding your child or grandchild’s future? If you are incapacitated these are the people who will be deciding how your rights will be protected.

Jim_Bob • 

People are up in arms when word gets out that toddlers get into cannabis baked goods, even though it hasn’t killed anyone ever. Yet, when denying medical treatment because of their “faith” there’s not even a peep.

So I ask, What about the children?


How any parent could sit at their child’s bedside and watch them suffer and die when they could be helped is just beyond me. Oregon changed their laws on this, and Idaho should do the same. No law should protect these parents.

idahogirl54 • 

I was born and raised in the Followers Of Christ religion. I had many illnesses that could have been treated with medical help. Many of the illnesses side effects followed me into my adult life. Some of them I was able to have treated after I married when I got out of that religion. I feel so sorry for the children who at their parents mercy of getting medical help that is so needed.