State Politics

Faith-healing committee postpones, date pending

Dan Sevy, a member of the Followers of Christ church, spoke Aug. 4 at the first meeting of an Idaho legislative panel that is reviewing the state’s faith-healing exemptions in cases of child neglect.
Dan Sevy, a member of the Followers of Christ church, spoke Aug. 4 at the first meeting of an Idaho legislative panel that is reviewing the state’s faith-healing exemptions in cases of child neglect. bdentzer@idahostatesman.com

Lawmakers reviewing Idaho’s religious exemptions in cases of child medical neglect postponed their committee’s scheduled Wednesday meeting and not yet set a new date, but remain committed to seeing their work through, one of its co-chairman said Tuesday.

The panel’s second meeting was called off because members wanted to review minutes of their Aug. 4 session before scheduling the next one.

“We’re just in the stage now where we’re trying to get that meeting set,” said committee co-chair Sen. Dan Johnson, R-Lewiston. He said he had spoken to the five Senate members of the joint committee “and asked them for their commitment to continue our work. They all said yes, we need to meet again, and it’s a step at a time you go from there.”

Idaho criminal and civil law contains exemptions in cases of child neglect for those who oppose medical intervention for the sick on religious grounds and practice “spiritual treatment,” or faith-healing. The issue pits medical professionals and advocates for children against members of faith-healing sects and supporters who view it through the lens of religious freedom and parental rights.

Neighboring Oregon is one of the states that has curbed or eliminated faith-healing exemptions in recent years. Similar legislative efforts in Idaho have not gained traction. The current panel is to recommend action for the Legislature when it reconvenes in January.

Bill Dentzer: 208-377-6438, @IDSBillD

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