BOISE — A panel of experts and advocates is set to discuss upcoming legislation to either limit or repeal a faith-healing religious exemption in Idaho — one of a few states that shields practitioners from civil or criminal prosecution when their child dies or is seriously injured and goes without medical care.
The event, which is sponsored by the Campaign to Protect Idaho Kids, takes place from 3:30-5 p.m. on Wednesday in the state Capitol’s Lincoln Auditorium. The discussion will be live streamed on Idaho in Session (idahoptv.org/shows/idahoinsession/ww02/) as well, and moderated by former KTVB news anchor Mark Johnson.
The panelists include:
• Patricia Kempthorne - the former first lady of Idaho and member of the national board of Parents as Teachers
• Jim Jones - former chief justice of the Idaho Supreme Court and state attorney general
• District 17 Rep. John Gannon
• Canyon County Sheriff Kieran Donahue
• John Foote - the former Clackamas County prosecutor responsible for the removal of Oregon’s religious exemption law
There also will be video appearances from:
• Linda Martin - former member of one of Idaho’s prominent faith-healing communities,
the Followers of Christ Church
• Guido Giuntini - a lecturer in Boise State University’s Department of Economics
In Idaho and throughout the U.S., parents who deny medical care to their children for any reason may be prosecuted for medical neglect. But this isn’t the case for individuals who solely practice faith healing and are against modern medicine.
A recent study from two Boise State professors revealed a child whose parents are members of the Followers of Christ Church is four times more likely to die before reaching 1 years old than a child in the general population.
The Campaign to Protect Idaho Kids intends to propose legislation in the 2022 session to stop children from needlessly dying.