More children are dying because their parents belong to religious sects that reject medical care. An investigative report by KATU TV in Portland, Oregon, recently published on their website (please watch the heartbreaking video there), suggests that at least twelve children have died in Idaho since 2011 from medical neglect. The churches—in this case The Followers of Christ and The Church of the Firstborn—keep the deaths quiet, and legal authorities in Idaho can’t do anything about them. There have been some prosecutions in nearby Oregon, where exemptions were rescinded in 2010, but Idaho still allows religiously-based child manslaughter. Such is the deference paid to religion, even of this malevolent sort. From the report:
Peaceful Valley Cemetery sits on a windswept hill 30 miles east of Boise [Idaho].
Some of The Followers of Christ faith healers bury their dead there.
The same last names appear over and again, going back decades. Some – like Beagley – are the same names you’ll see in a similar cemetery in Oregon City.
. . . KATU’s Dan Tilkin covered that story, as he has so many faith-healing stories. That’s why he traveled to Idaho to trace the connections between Followers members in both states, and a new trail of dead children.
A former member of the Followers of Christ advised him to go to Peaceful Valley and look for two specific names.
He found them. He found many more.
The Followers of Christ manage to justify this murder in the name of “freedom of religion.” But of course the children have no freedom to seek medical care: they’re either too young or have been indoctrinated. And they see prosecutions as part of “an aggressive campaign against Christianity.”
KATU reported on his death [a two-year-old who died of pneumonia] in 2011, along with that of 14-year-old Rocky.
Rocky isn’t buried in the cemetery, but he lived nearby with his parents, Sally and Dan.
They didn’t want to talk about not getting him treatment.
“What I will talk to you about is the law,” Dan Sevy said. “I would like to remind you this country was founded on religious freedom, and on freedom in general. I would like to say, I picture freedom as a full object. It’s not like you take “a” freedom away. It’s that you chip at the entire thing. Freedom is freedom. Whenever you try to restrict any one person, then you’re chipping away at freedom. Yours and mine.”
That was that. Sevy didn’t want to talk any more about it.
“I told you I’m not going to do that,” he said. “You don’t understand the full story, and I’m not going to stand in front of a camera and give you the whole story. It’s just not going to happen. I see the way these things get edited out.
“All I see is an aggressive campaign against Christianity in general, it’s amazing to me in this day and age where Muslims get soft pedaled and Christians are under attack. It just blows my mind.”
Unfortunately, those weren’t the only names in the cemetery. There are 10 new graves that look as though they belong to children that have appeared since KATU’s last report in 2011.
The report also gives a list of child deaths from treatable conditions like pneumonia, diabetes, intestinal blockage, and, in the case below, food poisoning:
Arrian Jade Granden. [Her story is given on the KATU video.]
Arrian was 15 years old. She ran track at Parma Middle School.
In June 2012, she got food poisoning.
She vomited so badly she ruptured her esophagus.
She slipped into unconsciousness and went into cardiac arrest. She died.
. . . Of the 553 marked graves at Peaceful Valley Cemetery, 144 appear to be children under 18. That’s more than 25 percent.
Those deaths happened primarily in three different counties, which are manned by three different coroners who aren’t bringing the information to the public.
And this bit is perhaps the most horrifying of all:
The caretaker at Star Cemetery in Star, Idaho said a Followers member recently showed up saying he needed to bury a baby. The baby was in the back seat of his car. The caretaker said he made the church member get a death certificate before he buried the child.
Once again we see the absence of affect and emotionality in parents who let their children die. This defies all understanding—until you realize that following the dictates of their religion is more important to the parents than watching their children die agonizing deaths.
Here’s an interview with Dr. Charles Garrison, who performed the autopsy on 16-year-old Pamela Ellis, who died of pneumonia after a long (and untreated) battle with a pelvic infection. Garrison obviously hates this stuff, but keeps a tight rein on his emotions for the camera:
And here’s Idaho’s legal religion exemption from prosecution (from the list compiled by the National District Attorney Association, my emphasis):
(1) Any person who, under circumstances or conditions likely to produce great bodily harm or death, willfully causes or permits any child to suffer, or inflicts thereon unjustifiable physical pain or mental suffering, or having the care or custody of any child, willfully causes or permits the person or health of such child to be injured, or willfully causes or permits such child to be placed in such situation that its person or health is endangered, is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding one (1) year, or in the state prison for not less than one (1) year nor
more than ten (10) years.
. . . (4) The practice of a parent or guardian who chooses for his child treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone shall not for that reason alone be construed to have violated the duty of care to such child.
How many more deaths will it take before the legislators of Idaho do something about these exemptions? Why, when it’s illegal to refuse medical care to a sick child, thereby causing injury or death, does it suddenly become legal when the motives come from a socially-sanctioned delusion?
How many more children will we allow to become martyrs for the faith of their parents? And why does this issue get so little attention?