Despite the deaths of least 12 children from “faith healing” Christian families in their state, lawmakers and public officials in Idaho have refused to challenge a state law providing a religious exemption from manslaughter and murder charges, Vocativ reported.
The childrens’ families belonged to a Pentecostal group known as the Followers of Christ, which punishes members who seek medical care by shunning them from their church. According to state law, parents can substitute prayer as a form of treatment. The religious exemption covers manslaughter, capital murder and negligent homicide charges, but cannot be cited if a parent uses any other form of treatment on top of praying for the child.
“If the parent combines prayer with orange juice or a cool bath to bring down a fever, the parent loses the exemption,” Rita Swan, co-founder of the advocacy group Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty, said.
According to Swan’s organization, Idaho is one of 32 states that have religious exemptions to felony or misdemeanor charges involving children.
A bill calling for a change to the law did not advance in the state legislature earlier this year. The bill’s sponsor, state Rep. John Gannon (D), told Vocativ that pursuing a new bill is “honestly not something that I’ve thought a lot about lately.”
Similarly, Republicans appear unwilling to push for a change to the religious exemption.
“This is about religious beliefs, the belief God is in charge of whether they live, and God is in charge of whether they die,” state Rep. Christy Perry (R) said. “This is about where they go for eternity.”
KATU-TV reported last year that, out of 553 marked graves at a cemetery outside of Boise, 144 of them appeared to be burial spots for children, constituting about 26 percent of the deceased.
Among those buried was Jackson Scott Porter, a newborn girl who lived for just 20 minutes before dying in her grandfather’s home. The girl’s mother did not receive any pre-natal care. Her cause of death was listed as untreated pneumonia.
“That’s the way we believe,” the grandfather, Mark Jerome, told KATU at the time. “We believe in God and the way God handles the situation, the way we do things.”
KATU also reported that local officials believe that another minor, 14-year-old Rockwell Sevy, had undiagnosed Down’s syndrome before he also died from pneumonia, in 2011.
Sevy’s father, Dan Sevy, refused to discuss his son’s death with KATU last year, citing his right to freedom of religion.
“I would like to say, I picture freedom as a full object. It’s not like you take ‘a’ freedom away,” Dan Sevy said. “It’s that you chip at the entire thing. Freedom is freedom. Whenever you try to restrict any one person, then you’re chipping away at freedom. Yours and mine.”
Vocativ reported that, according to autopsy records, each of the children from “faith healing” families who have died over the past three years succumbed to conditions that could have been treated medically. No charges have been filed in any of their deaths.
Watch KATU’s report, as aired last year, below.
Trump lawyer cites former GOP senator to discredit impeachment — but leaves out he supports convicting the president
During the Senate impeachment trial on Monday, White House lawyer Robert Ray attempted to contrast the impeachment of President Donald Trump with that of President Richard Nixon, by arguing that unlike in the former case, Republicans came together with Democrats to call for removing Nixon. As part of the comparison, he brought up then-Rep. William Cohen, who went on to become a U.S. senator from Maine and Secretary of Defense for President Bill Clinton.
"Together these six Republicans made history," said Ray. "They did so with no sense of triumph and no fist bumps."
What Ray chose not to mention, however, is that Cohen has specifically weighed in on the Trump case, and said that he should be impeached and removed over the Ukraine scheme.
‘Give me a break’: CNN analyst explains why Trump defense of Rudy Giuliani was terrible
While the Senate impeachment trial against President Donald Trump paused for a dinner break, CNN analysts responded to the White House's afternoon defense of the president was by blaming the Biden family.
Political commentator Gloria Borger noted that Trump lawyer, Eric Herschmann, going after former President Barack Obama just seemed desperate.
"Give me a break," she said. "What does that have to do with any of this right now? His defense boiled down to, 'He did it, so what? He did it. He was trying to root out corruption.' But if he was concerned about rooting out corruption, why haven't we seen more of that? His defense was, 'He had a reason to do it. It's OK. Therefore it was in the national interest.' This wasn't just about Joe Biden."
Trump’s lawyers slammed by CNN’s Toobin for ‘parade of lies’ about Biden’s involvement in Ukraine
On CNN Monday, chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin argued that the White House team's defense in the impeachment trial was disastrously bad.
"I thought Attorney General [Pam] Bondi did an effective job of showing how sleazy the hiring of Hunter Biden was," acknowledged Toobin. However, he added "her discussion, and Eric Herschmann's discussion, of the role of Joe Biden, vice president at the time, was a parade of lies. Just outrageously false in every fact, in every insinuation ... this idea that he engineered the fire firing of [Ukrainian prosecutor] Viktor Shokin to get his son in. Since Joe Biden is the one who is running for president, that seems to be enormously important."