Idaho GOP: Parents can choose prayer over medicine without consequences

Several Republicans in the Idaho state senate, including the chairperson of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, are refusing to back a proposal that would require parents to seek medical attention for their sick, or even dying children, instead of relying on prayer.

Several Republicans in the Idaho state senate, including the chairperson of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, are refusing to back a proposal that would require parents to seek medical attention for their sick, or even dying children, instead of relying on prayer.

The current state law allows parents who practice faith healing to avoid charges of manslaughter, capital murder and negligent homicide if God decides to ignore them.

In Idaho, some children are becoming very ill or even dying of preventable diseases like pneumonia, diabetes, and food poisoning because their parents rely on prayer instead of medicine. The proposed bill would eliminate the religious exemption loophole and hold parents accountable.

“These are not things children die of in our time. This is what children died of back in the 1800s — not in the 2000s,” said Linda Martin, a vocal supporter of the new bill who grew up in a faith healing sect.

However, Republican lawmakers oppose the bill proposal because they feel it infringes on the freedom of religion. A similar bill failed to pass in 2014 for the same concerns after which the state suffered a string of preventable child deaths.

“Children do die,” said Christy Perry, a Republican Idaho representative. “I’m not trying to sound callous, but [reformers] want to act as if death is an anomaly. But it’s not — it’s a way of life.”

The proposed bill, would make it possible for law enforcement to prosecute parents if “the child is harmed or sickened or dies” while medical treatment is refused. At this time, the bill is merely a proposal, and may not even reach the floor because of strong Republican opposition.

Unfortunately, Lee Heider, the chairman of the Senate’s Health and Welfare Committee, also believes that a child dying because parents refuse to give them antibiotics is a “way of life.” Heider is content with the current law that “encourages” parents to seek medical attention, but does not mandate it.

“I believe the law is pretty straightforward,” said Heider. “We would encourage them to seek medical care, but we don’t force people to seek medical care — and whether it’s because they can’t afford it or, in this case, because of their heartfelt religious belief, we simply don’t do that.”

Heider said that he will not back the bill, although another lawmaker may choose to back it and debate it on the floor. However, Linda Martin confirmed that there is no plan for the bill to be debated currently.

Watch a report on the story from KBIO-2 in the video below:

Featured image via screen grab



  1. Avatar

    Mike Davis

    January 20, 2016 at 4:08 am

    Aside from my concern with my instinct to protect defenseless children who cannot choose for themselves, I find this a simple matter of Darwinian evolution, as these parents allow their offspring to die off.

  2. Avatar

    Martin Pollard

    January 20, 2016 at 5:20 am

    If only the parents of these brain-dead GOP politicians had done the same. “I’m not trying to sound callous,” he said; sorry, moron, but I’m pretty sure you failed in that regard.

  3. Avatar


    January 20, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    From the same people that deny birth control, I guess they ca
    n just kill/pray for the kids that they dont like!

  4. Avatar

    Nicole Roberts

    January 20, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    So forcing your beliefs on someone to deny them birth control or force them to continue an unwanted or dangerous pregnancy- that’s okay.
    But trying to protect living, wanted children from dying is intrusive because “children die”? That’s pure bullshit.

  5. Avatar

    Tom Moe

    January 20, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    This has nothing to do with prayer. The issue is: Can parents refuse to give medical care to their children?

  6. Avatar

    Mike Davis

    January 21, 2016 at 3:36 am

    The real question is: do caretakers have the right to increase the possibility of grave illness or death to otherwise helpless persons in their care by following personal beliefs despite medical knowledge to the contrary when those helpless persons are not able to understand, object and choose for themselves?

  7. Avatar

    Al Wolf Stann

    January 21, 2016 at 2:27 pm

    BUT, they’ll pass a law protecting fetuses from abuse instead!

  8. Avatar

    Gerard Heck

    January 21, 2016 at 2:39 pm

    God may or will not answer their prayers for healing or a divine cure because the Bible clearly states that the “wages of sin is death”. And we all are sinners. But God did give us a mind to figure out how to survive illness and mankind has found ways to live longer through medicine and/or diets that promote healing. To rely on prayer alone is in my opinion “criminal”….faith and asking for divine intervention is not a perfect science just as medicine is also not a perfect science, but it has been proven that childhood diseases can be eliminated through medicines. I believe in prayer but just maybe God wants us to rely on what he has already given us to survive illness. God has given us the Bible to prove His existence so chances are He will not perform miracles to do so.

  9. Avatar


    January 21, 2016 at 2:47 pm

    They are sacrificing their children to their god by choosing to let them die. Since when do we allow human sacrifice in the USA? We take children away if parents starve them or beat them. If their religion says that beating your child bloody is okay are we going to allow this? Of course not. We intervene as a society to prevent harm to children. Pretty sure death is the ultimate harm.

  10. Avatar

    Lu Jasperson

    January 21, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    Then the right to end a life by assisted suicide should not be punished either. Not a whole lot different

  11. Avatar

    Bailey Bob

    January 21, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Things like this serve to demonstrate how dangerous conservatism really is!

  12. Avatar

    PD MacGuire

    January 21, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Mary Baker Eddy pretty much ordered parents to take their children to doctors, have them immunized, get their eyes examined. She did that on the basis that medical treatment – as a rule – does no harm, and that children are not theologically sophisticated enough, to protect themselves through prayer alone. That’s why when Christian Scientists pull this crap, they go to jail.

  13. Avatar

    PD MacGuire

    January 21, 2016 at 10:40 pm

    Every time a newborn baby is circumcised, parents are forcing unnecessary and dangerous medical care on a child.

  14. Avatar


    January 22, 2016 at 11:32 am

    The wages of sin are “spiritual” deaths in hell and separation from God for eternity v eternal life and communion with God. Don’t take it out of context and apply a western definition to an eastern concept.

  15. Avatar

    Mike Davis

    January 22, 2016 at 11:47 am

    “First do no harm” is part of the Hippocratic Oath taken by all doctors.

    I don’t want to get into a theological argument here, but in my 72 years, God has done nothing of which I know without the intervention or assistance of humans. Some seem to think of their God as some kind of celestial errand boy who awaits their beck and call.

  16. Avatar

    Ralf The Dog

    January 22, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    For everyone that dies, they will have 12 more. These rats can breed.

  17. Avatar

    Rich Dooley Jr.

    January 28, 2016 at 8:01 am

    The fact that he’s wearing glasses negates that claim….. someone should smash them and tell him to pray his vision better……

  18. Pingback: The Freethinker - The voice of atheism since 1881 » In Idaho, religious freedom trumps the welfare of children

  19. Avatar

    promo code for macys

    June 14, 2017 at 12:25 am

    You actually suggested it perfectly!

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