Republicans in the Idaho state legislature killed a bill Wednesday aimed at reducing the number of children dying from treatable ailments in faith-healing communities.
Idaho Judiciary Committee Chairman Rich Wills said Wednesday he was informed by House Speaker Scott Bedke that the bill would not be debated in the state legislature. Bedke did not elaborate on the reasons behind the decision.
State Rep. John Gannon, Democrat, proposed the measure after learning of the deaths of several children whose parents attend Followers of Christ church in Idaho. The children died of treatable illnesses like food poisoning and pneumonia. Idaho officials estimate there are 144 children buried in the Followers of Christ Church cemetery.
Earlier this year, Rep. Christy Perry, Republican, said he opposed Gannon’s bill on the grounds of religious liberties.
“This is about religious beliefs, the belief [that] God is in charge of whether they live, and God is in charge of whether they die,” Perry said. “This is about where they go for eternity.”
Gannon is on record as having said, “Medical treatment for physical harm to a child should supersede every other consideration.”
It is estimated that around 12 children die from treatable sicknesses every year in the United States in faith-healing cases. Last week, faith-healing parents Herbert and Catherine Schaible were sent to prison after letting their second child in four years die of a treatable ailment.
“We believe in divine healing, that Jesus shed blood for our healing and that he died on the cross to break the devil’s power,” Herbert Schaible said in a 2013 statement. Modern medicine, he said, “is against our religious beliefs.”