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Idaho Lawmakers Take on Faith Healer Church After Child Deaths

Benito Baeza

BOISE, Idaho (AP) — After child deaths from treatable conditions, an Idaho lawmaker aims to follow Oregon’s lead and require parents get medical help for children suffering from potentially fatal conditions even if their religion opposes it.

Since 2009, child members of the Followers of Christ in southwestern Idaho have died of causes that could have been treated by a doctor, according to autopsy reports. The church, with members in Idaho, California and Oregon, relies on faith healing to help sick members. Democratic Rep. John Gannon of Boise says Idaho’s current faith-healing exemptions should be updated.

He’s got backing from Linda Martin, an Oregon woman who left the church decades ago. However, there’s already resistance from lawmakers including Republican Rep. Christy Perry, of Nampa, who fears this would trample parental rights and religious freedoms.

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