Idaho is one of nine states with sweeping religious exemptions from child abuse and manslaughter laws for families who practice faith healing. Now, a group of parents, lawmakers, and some religious leaders are working to close these dangerous loopholes. The Boise Weekly explains:
“It wasn’t until 1972 that the Idaho Legislature voted unanimously to institute religious exemptions for child endangerment in the criminal code. In 1976, the Idaho Legislature went a step further and added religious exemptions, this time in the civil code. As reports grew of more Idaho children suffering and dying while their parents turned to prayer instead of medicine, the Governor’s Task Force on Children at Risk was convened in 2015 and conducted a full review of Idaho religious exemptions….The debate shifted to the Idaho Statehouse in March this year when Senate Bill 1182 was introduced as a proposed compromise. The bill to “amend existing law to revise a provision regarding medical treatment by prayer through spiritual means,” would make changes to the faith-healing exemption from civil liability for child neglect, but it made no change to the exemptions in idaho criminal code….When SB 1182 came up for debate March 21, there was little support from either side of the issue. Some Idaho senators argued the measure violated freedom of religion while others argued the bill didn’t go far enough.
Religion is no excuse for child abuse. We need to protect children by closing this dangerous loophole in child welfare laws.