A former Idaho Supreme Court Justice has published a powerful call for lawmakers to end the state’s faith healing exemption from child neglect and manslaughter laws. Writing in the Idaho State Journal, he says:

“Adults can decide for themselves on health care matters. If they decide to forego medical intervention for themselves for religious reasons, that is their prerogative. The State has an interest, however, in safeguarding the health and safety of minor children, who cannot decide for themselves. Our laws have numerous protections for children that do not contain religious exemptions–marital age, child labor, ability to contract, and the like. The right to have basic life-saving healthcare trumps all of those protections.

Article I, section 4 of the Idaho Constitution guarantees religious liberty for Idaho citizens. However, it mandates a strict separation of church and state, more so than the U.S. Constitution. Among other things, it flatly states that no preference shall “be given by law to any religious denomination or mode of worship.”

The statutes purporting to exempt faith-healing parents from child-protection laws certainly appear to violate this constitutional provision.”

Idaho is one of eight states with a religious exemption from child neglect and manslaughter laws. Additionally, 34 states have less broad but still very dangerous legal loopholes for parents who practice faith healing on their children.