The dumbest Republican move of the year: defending a religion’s right to murder its children

It’s only February, but I doubt we’ll see much Republican craziness to top this: a state representative defending a particularly crazy Christian sect that doesn’t believe in medical care, and defending their right to abjure scientific medicine in favor of prayer for their kids. That sect has already killed hundreds of its own children (and adults) through Jesus-based medical neglect.

The Republican is Christy Perry, a state representative from Idaho. You can get an idea of some of her politics from the very first picture on her official page, which also notes that she is endorsed by the National Rifle Association:

Perry-Silhouette1

and from the logo on her official “contact” page:

Screen Shot 2015-02-28 at 10.36.05 AM

The sect Perry is defending, according to The Raw Story, is notorious the Followers of Christ (FoC), a sect I know something about since it figures at the end of the Albatross. Based in Oregon, but with many members in Idaho, the sect rejects medical care for its members and its children, refusing even midwives.

That faith-based tenet has resulted in dozens of adult and child deaths, some of them horribly gruesome. Read The Albatross (available in fine bookstores everywhere or by mail after May 19) to learn more, but you can see a precis in the “Controversy” section of Wikipedia’s article about the church. CHILD (Children’s Healthcare Is a Legal Duty), a great organization, summarizes the church’s sad history:

The main faith-healing sect in Idaho with such beliefs is the Followers of Christ. Child mortality among them appears to be extremely elevated. By recent count there are 208 children under the age of 18 who are buried in Peaceful Valley Cemetery, one of several used by the Idaho Followers of Christ. There are a total of 604 graves in that cemetery. Nearly 35% of them are of children who died before age 18 and stillbirths. In contrast, Idaho Vital Statistics data show that during the years 2002-2011 only 3.37% of deaths statewide are of minor children or stillbirths. 35% vs 3.37% — one doesn’t have to do much math to see that there’s a huge difference. In addition, the leading cause of death among Idaho children older than one year is accidents. If we had a way to separate out disease-related mortality from accidental deaths, child mortality in the Followers of Christ would look even astronomically higher.

Perry, it turns out, is opposing proposed Idaho legislation that will get rid of the state’s present religious exemptions for children’s health care. As I’ve noted before, forty-three of the fifty US states confer some type of civil or criminal immunity on parents who injure their children by withholding medical care on religious grounds. But that immunity doesn’t hold if you injure your child by withholding medical care for nonreligious reasons, so it’s a privileging of religion that is dangerous to children.

As CHILD notes, “Idaho’s laws protecting children from religion-related medical neglect may well be the worst in the nation. Only five other states have a statutory exemption from the involuntary manslaughter or negligent homicide of a minor child based on religious beliefs which bar or discourage medical care.” According to The Raw Story, the proposed new Idaho law would allow parents to be prosecuted when they reject conventional medicine in favor of faith healing, and when that action “may cause death or permanent disability” to the child.

Well, the law could go farther, because there is a lot of suffering that doesn’t accompany death or permanent disability but could still be prevented by medical attention.  But Perry wants the present draconian laws to remain.  As The Raw Story reports:

“They have a clear understanding of what the role of government should be – (and it) isn’t how to tell me how to live my life,” said state Rep. Christy Perry (R-Nampa).

. . . Perry insists Followers of Christ have a First Amendment right to deny medical care to their children on religious grounds, arguing that they are perhaps more comfortable confronting death, reported Al Jazeera America.

“Children do die,” Perry said. “I’m not trying to sound callous, but (reformers) want to act as if death is an anomaly. But it’s not — it’s a way of life.”

She may be trying not to sound callous, but she’s not only callous, she’s reprehensible. Death is not a “way of life,” it’s the end of life. And death can be prevented (easily, in many case) if appropriate medical attention is given to children. The fact is that you can’t cure a child of juvenile diabetes through prayer, even though the Followers of Christ have tried.  That leads to a horrible death, something that Perry fobs off as simply a “way of life”.  Death is indeed an anomaly if it can be prevented by medical intervention. And even if you think, as Christy undoubtedly does, that those dead children will find their respite in Heaven, that’s no answer, for they’ve still suffered and died here on Earth—suffering and death that could be prevented. Let them go to heaven at a ripe old age, for crying out loud!

This is the kind of logic that apparently dissuades Americans from prosecuting those parents who would martyr children for their religion:

(Followers of Christ) do not look to the government to help them at all,” [Perry] continued. “They’re very self-sufficient and know how to take care of themselves. In Canyon County, people hunt to feed their families, they fish, (and) they grow their own food.”

Perry said faith healers are caring parents who simply trust in God’s will.

“They are comforted by the fact that they know their child is in heaven,” Perry said. “If I want to let my child be with God, why is that wrong?”

I’m sorry, but they don’t know how to take care of themselves, at least not in the twenty-first century.  They don’t know how to treat an infection; they don’t know how to treat diabetes; they don’t know how to deal with the complications of childbirth; they don’t know how to treat asthma.  And how has trusting God’s will worked out for them, with a children’s death rate perhaps tenfold higher than the state average.  Does God really want Followers of Christ children to die ten times more often than non-Followers’ children? Why would he want that?

I don’t have to answer the question, “If I want to let my child be with God, why is that wrong?”, because the real question is this “If I want to let my child be with God when he or she didn’t have to, and after a period of prolonged suffering, why is that wrong?” The question answers itself.

Finally, Perry has the temerity to accuse those who want religions exemptions eliminated of being biased against the FoC.

The lawmaker questioned the motives of faith-healing reformers.

“Is it really because these children are dying more so than other children, or is this really about an attack on a religion you don’t agree with?” Perry said.

The answer is the first choice: because children of Followers of Christ are being tortured and killed by the dictates of their parents’ faith. Yes, I disagree with that, but if the church simply had a belief that they didn’t act on, who would care? After all, this kind of religous exemption, and its sequelae, revolt many religious people, too. It’s not an attack on religion per se, but I suppose it is as an attack on the actions of a particular religion. And so what, if those actions are murderous and delusional, and take the lives of children too young to make their own decision?

If you live in Idaho, please contact your representative and urge him or her to vote in favor of the new bill. And if you’re an American elsewhere, be aware that the odds are high that your own state has similar legislation, much of it enacted through lobbying by Christian Scientists. We must get rid of all these religious exemptions—for the sake of the children.

h/t: Ant

62 Comments

  1. Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    Wait, I’m confused, because she also thinks life is sacred

    • Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      They only have the right to live if they just so happen to randomly keep living and we don’t actively kill them. Wait, then there’s that pesky little thing about sins of omission.

      What do you know? I found another inconsistent tenet in religion…

    • Filippo
      Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      sub

    • Taki tam
      Posted March 1, 2015 at 6:54 am | Permalink

      Somehow such “protectors of life” tend to lose their care and interest AFTER a life is born. I stopped calling them “pro-life” long ago, because IMHO “anti-choice” suits them better.

      • Dave
        Posted March 1, 2015 at 10:17 am | Permalink

        They are “pro-birth” but that’s where their concern ends.

      • microraptor
        Posted March 1, 2015 at 11:53 am | Permalink

        It’s because prior to the baby’s birth, it’s possible that the stork might bring the parents a wealthy Caucasian baby. After the poor minority parents turn out to have a poor minority baby, that magic possibility is no longer there, so there’s no sense worrying about the baby anymore.

    • Dominic
      Posted March 2, 2015 at 6:09 am | Permalink

      Line them up so she can then shoot them?! She needs cannon-fodder!

  2. Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    This is what evil is, what it looks like, and how it acts.

    Perry and the Followers of Christ are horrifically evil.

    b&

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted February 28, 2015 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      But … but … abortion!

      That, quite seriously, is how a lot of Republicans will deal with someone like Jerry saying that Christy Perry is “defending a religion’s right to murder its children”.

    • Posted March 1, 2015 at 9:37 am | Permalink

      Yes. The debble doesn’t really appear with the horns, pitchfork and the snazzy red cape: in this case, he’s a lady reactionary posing with a rifle.

      • John Scanlon, FCD
        Posted March 4, 2015 at 1:01 am | Permalink

        …wrapped in a flag (how subtle is the composition and colour scheme in that top photo?)

  3. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

    Most horrifying? Probably. But dumbest? She’s going to have some very tough competition from other members of her own party. Did you see this republican politician stating that cancer is a fungus, and can be treated with baking soda? She didn’t even get the chemical composition of baking soda right!

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted February 28, 2015 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

      Sodium cardonate, silly. It’s even more basic than you think – no reason to take half measures in treating cancer.

    • Posted March 1, 2015 at 11:24 am | Permalink

      That imbecile owns a health care business?!

  4. muffy
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:45 pm | Permalink

    Proof that “pro life” is just empty rhetoric. As I keep saying, to these people, women and children are property, and forced pregnancy is the best way to control women. “Biological captivity” is how a friend of mine puts it.

  5. mordacious1
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

    I really don’t care if someone believes that if they kiss a frog, it will turn into a prince. But if the frogs start dying, then it becomes my business and the business of the government.

  6. mordacious1
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Christy Perry…what a great Republican name (same name as two members of the Republican presidential-hopeful clown car). One is a big fat ignorant moron, the other is Chris Christie.

  7. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

    Just think, 56% of the U.S. House of Representatives are made up of people just like this or worse on other issues. That’s 245 of these things out there in Washington working hard to represent you. It was just dysfunctional but now it is a pathetic joke without the laugh.

    • Mark R.
      Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

      And since they have socially engineered their districts via gerrymandering, they can continue to fuck everything up in the name of their misguided ideology without ever worrying about being too radical. It just keeps piling on, doesn’t it?

  8. Roan Ridgeway
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:21 pm | Permalink

    Ignorance is the root of all misery.

  9. johzek
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    Al Jazeera America reports that Perry argues that the parents of these children “are perhaps more comfortable confronting death.” I have to admit that I too am more comfortable confronting the death of others than I would be of my own demise as an adult. These adults may be more comfortable but that word couldn’t be more inappropriate in describing the thoughts in the minds of their children at such a time.

  10. marksolock
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Mark Solock Blog.

  11. Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:50 pm | Permalink

    What is it these people don’t understand about the notion that “living your life the way you want” doesn’t include killing innocent people?

    I suppose it could be worse. The religion of the Aztecs could still be popular and we could be simply throwing children into volcanoes to appease the gods, though when it comes down to it, what they’re doing in Idaho is only a difference in degree, not kind.

    • Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:59 pm | Permalink

      That struck me as well. “If I want to let my child be with God, why is that wrong?” Could be used to justify human sacrifice if the victim were one of your children.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted February 28, 2015 at 5:38 pm | Permalink

        This is human sacrifice. No-one has any choice in this, adult or child. Depending on how long they’ve been members, none of the children and most of the adults don’t even know there’s an alternative, and if they do, they’ll believe the alternative is evil.

        They probably think they’re going to their god in droves because they’re so wonderful and he wants them close and to know the ‘joys of heaven’.

        Sad and sick.

        • Posted March 1, 2015 at 7:04 am | Permalink

          Sad and sick indeed.

  12. microraptor
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Given how much Republicans love Clint Eastwood, you’d think that they’d know that dying ain’t much of a living.

  13. merilee
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    sub

  14. Doug
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Require faith-healers to provide data showing that prayer works. Otherwise, prosecute them for quackery.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted February 28, 2015 at 5:41 pm | Permalink

      Yes, they should have to be registered like other medical practitioners and be prevented from practicing if, I mean when, they fail their patients, I mean victims.

    • Dave
      Posted March 1, 2015 at 10:11 am | Permalink

      Far from it and to the contrary, according to our good government. Were you aware that “Alternative Healers,” which includes “Christian Science Practitioners,” are eligible for reimbursement from your FSA?

      • Dave
        Posted March 1, 2015 at 10:12 am | Permalink

        Or rather, payments for …”

  15. Rory
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    Even 3.37% of all deaths being children sounds high to me and the WHO seems to agree: “In high-income countries, 7 in every 10 deaths are among people aged 70 years and older… Only 1 in every 100 deaths is among children under 15 years”.
    http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs310/en/index2.html

    Idaho is no country for raising a family, it seems. A shame, since it appears from Stephen Barnard’s photos to be a beautiful state.

    • Filippo
      Posted February 28, 2015 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

      My cousin visited Northern Idaho, and decided that he wanted to get the heck out of Atlanta.

  16. Mark R.
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Another good example of how religion ruins everything. As Ben Goren said above, it’s a demonstration of true evil.

    And the sticker/logo with the photo of her pointing her shotgun is confirmation of her stupidity. And millions of Americans get off on gun toting Congresswomen; it’s sadly part of the female GOP platform now. Pathetic.

  17. Randy Schenck
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    What the heck is she shooting at in that photo anyway. If they are wanting to show her blazing away with her 12 gauge at something, should we want to see it. Or do we speculate she is out there shooting across the boarder protecting us from Canadians.

    • Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

      She is shooting skeet as you can see on the right-hand side of the picture. An innocent bird explodes over Idaho.

      • Proteasome
        Posted March 1, 2015 at 10:29 am | Permalink

        I know little of guns, but is it plausible that the bird would be hit at the same time that the shotgun was being pumped (as evidenced by the shell casing to the right of the gun)? The image has clearly been doctored (as evidenced by the partial monochrome) but if the exploding bird has been added is this not the sort of thing an NRA advocate would notice (and find rather unseemly)?

    • Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      She probably misspelled “NRA representative” as “state representative”.

  18. Mark Joseph
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

    And, yet more theocratic dumbth from Idaho.

  19. Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:26 pm | Permalink

    I’m frightened, Auntie Em. Really.

  20. Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    I feel sorry for her constituency – embarrassing themselves nationally by voting for her….

    • Timothy Hughbanks
      Posted February 28, 2015 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

      It is likely that a majority of her constituents are proud of her.

      • Randy Schenck
        Posted February 28, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

        Exactly, if anything those voting for that are even less smart.

      • Posted February 28, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

        All the more embarrassing….

  21. NewEnglandBob
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Maybe it time to break the country (and the world?) into two parts and put all the crazy lunatics in one part and the normal people in the other (where there will be lots of room without Republicans, ISIS, fundagelicals, anti-science people and climate and holocaust deniers or gun nuts).

  22. Marcello S. Nicola
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I think he´s helping natural selection…

  23. Henry Fitzgerald
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 6:00 pm | Permalink

    It’s almost as though Perry doesn’t really believe in an individual’s right to self-determination at all. She doesn’t want individual people to have power, so much as she wants the state not to have power.

    From the child’s point of view, someone else will make a decision about his medical treatment and he will simply have to go along with it, whether that “someone else” is his parents, a doctor, or a judge. I can’t see how giving absolute autocratic power to parents is in the interests of individual autonomy, let alone child welfare generally.

  24. EvolvedDutchie
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

    The arguments of these christian parents sounds awfully familiar to the ears of a historian. “They are my children, surely I can let them die and be with God if I want to?” These people regard their children as property with no rights of their own. I thought mr. Lincoln made an end to that kind of thinking. This may sound arrogant from an non-american, but I thought the American ideal is all about emancipation. Emancipation from monarchy and religion.

    • boggy
      Posted March 1, 2015 at 2:00 am | Permalink

      In the UK legislation states that parents have no ‘rights’ regarding their children, only responsibilities; thus JW’s who parents refuse blood transfusions can have the children made ‘wards of court’ so treatment can be carried out regardless of parental approval.

  25. JohnW
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

    Northern Idaho has also long been a haven for white supremacist/neo nazi types….in places like Hayden Lake and Couer d’Alene. Funny how some things seem to often go together.

  26. Michael Waterhouse
    Posted February 28, 2015 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

    “They have a clear understanding of what the role of government should be – (and it) isn’t how to tell me how to live my life,” said state Rep. Christy Perry.

    I’ll bet(without looking) that there will a whole range of things her and her ilk do want the government to make laws against. Sex things, women things, drug things, gay things and so on. But I suppose hypocrisy is one of the names of the game.

    Also, as has been mentioned, “If I want to let my child be with God, why is that wrong?”, is only a small step to the left (or right) to actively helping get your child to god. (The shotgun may come in handy).

    This unbearable ignorance, stupidity and outright evil, is obscene (and really sad).

    • Posted March 1, 2015 at 9:16 am | Permalink

      If you really want to see hypocrisy in action…dollars to donuts that Perry opposes physician-assisted suicide.

      b&

  27. ridelo
    Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:29 am | Permalink

    Don’t they also do not save their children when they are drowning? It could also be gods will after all. Unbelievable.

  28. boggy
    Posted March 1, 2015 at 2:04 am | Permalink

    Children who die from genetic illnesses will be removed from the gene pool thus proving natural selection. However, Republicans don’t believe in evolution so I wonder how they square this with Creationism?

  29. jerbearinsantafe
    Posted March 1, 2015 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    Reblogged this on Fairy JerBear's Queer World News, Views & More From The City Different – Santa Fe, NM and commented:
    The real threat to children…

  30. Diane G.
    Posted March 1, 2015 at 2:51 am | Permalink

    “Dumbest” is a little too tame for this situation, IMO. Something like, “most appalling,” perhaps.

  31. Felicity Burch
    Posted March 1, 2015 at 4:31 am | Permalink

    This is murder,no parent has the right to deny their child medical care! Prayer has been proven time and time again,not to work ! Fact !!!!

  32. Garnetstar
    Posted March 1, 2015 at 9:01 am | Permalink

    Minors do not have the capacity to fully realize the consequences of their decisions. That’s why their parents “own” them in this cult, so that the parents can make wiser decisions for them.

    So, no minor can have the capacity to make an informed decision to follow the tenets of this faith, accepting that it may cause their deaths. An adult may make that choice, but a child cannot.

    Therefore, children cannot be treated as those who have consented to their own deaths by adhering to this nonsense. They have to be kept alive until the age of majority, when they can then decide to commit suicide by omission whenever they like.

    That’s why it’s not this idiot’s right to send hers or anyone else’s children to God, or whatever she calls it.

  33. Posted March 1, 2015 at 12:44 pm | Permalink

    🐾

  34. Posted March 2, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Sorry my ignorance, but I couldn’t figure it out why JAC calls his new book, Faith versus fact, the albatross?

    • Posted March 2, 2015 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

      albatross

      • a source of frustration or guilt; an encumbrance (in allusion to Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner): an albatross of a marriage.

      /@


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