Child deaths prompt calls for review of Idaho’s faith-healing exemption

Posted at 4:08 AM, Feb 12, 2016

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter says he’s concerned with the number of children who die because their parents choose faith healing instead of medical assistance for religious reasons.

Otter announced Thursday that he’s asked Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke and Senate Pro Tem Brent Hill to form a legislative interim committee to study the issue over the next few months. The Republican governor says that he believes the state can find a balance that both protects children and supports religious freedom.

Idaho’s faith-healing exemption has attracted criticism over the years as people have learned about the numerous deaths of children of members of the Followers of Christ group in southwestern Idaho from treatable conditions, including pneumonia and food poisoning.

Many children are buried at a cemetery overlooking the Snake River.