Monday morning the Idaho Senate State Affairs Committee voted 5 to 4 to pass SB1182, a faith healing bill.

Sen. Johnson, R-Lewiston, the bill’s sponsor, seeks to amend Idaho’s existing law that allows parents to deny medical treatment for children based on religious freedom. The bill adds language to the existing law that a child will be deemed “neglected” if “the failure to receive medical treatment is likely to result in serious permanent injury or death.” The bill goes on to say that the courts will be responsible for deciding if a child has been neglected.

It’s 2017, why are we debating whether or not it’s legal to sacrifice children in the name of religion?

Bruce Wingate of Protect Idaho Kids, testified against the bill. “Children cannot protect themselves. Children are dying of pneumonia in Idaho,” he said. Wingate said a physician he consulted described dying of pneumonia “is like being waterboarded 4-5 times a day.”

Sheriff Kieran Donahue, Canyon County, testifying against faith healing
Sheriff Kieran Donahue, Canyon County, testifying against faith healing

Sheriff Kieran Donahue testified that he opposes the bill because he made an oath to protect ALL Idahoans. This oath means that he protects kids too, not just adults. “This bill is an embarrassment to our state,” said the highest ranking member of law enforcement for Canyon County. He has seen three children die in his county as a result of this law.

Judy Cross of The Interfaith Alliance of Idaho didn’t get a chance to testify because the committee cut testimony short but we caught up with her after the hearing. The Interfaith Alliance (TIA) has been active for more than five years trying to eliminate the religious exemption clause.  “All children deserve protection from extreme suffering and death. We have been plagued since the Shield Law went into place in 1972. TIA supports the role of religion, faith, prayer, and meditation but stops when religion is used as a weapon.”

Devotees of the Followers of Christ church testified in favor of the bill. “We believe medication impacts our eternity…God holds the breath of life to every man, woman, and child” said Nathan Kangas. “If we are going to legislate, let’s legislate by God” was the suggestion of Church member Billy Shippy.

Apparently, these religious testimonies were the ones that resonated with and influenced the majority of the Senate Committee, as evidenced by their passage of the bill.  Sorry kids.

Since children dying of dehydration and diabetes isn’t enough to persuade conservative lawmakers in Idaho, we have to ask: What will it take for the Idaho Legislature to stop ignoring helpless, sick, and dying children?