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

February 28, 2015 • 12:30 pm

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:


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

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

    1. 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”.

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

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

    1. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

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

    1. 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.

    2. 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?

  8. 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”.

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

      1. 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)?

  11. 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).

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

    1. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. “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).

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

  17. 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?

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

  19. 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 !!!!

  20. 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.

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