"I would like to see my parents prosecuted," 20-year-old Mariah Walton tells the Guardian. "They deserve it." Walton has pulmonary hypertension, a condition that has left her permanently disabled, requiring a breathing device and possibly, soon, a heart and lung transplant. The problem could have been fixed if a congenital hole in her heart had been closed when Walton was an infant or with treatment when she was a child. But her parents—fundamentalist Mormons living off the grid in Idaho—preferred to rely on prayer. Now it's too late. The Guardian has an eye-opening look at the legal protections granted to faith healers in Idaho—which are keeping Walton from getting her wish—and the lives those protections cost.
Idaho is one of only six states that have laws preventing the prosecution of faith healers. Without them, Walton's parents could have faced medical neglect charges. But Walton is still alive; others aren't so lucky. The Followers of Christ, a Pentecostal sect of faith healers in Idaho, is estimated to have a child mortality rate 10 times that of the rest of the state. Walton and others have been trying to pass legislation to end the protection of faith healers, but Republican legislators—one of whom calls the Followers of Christ "very nice people"—refuse to even hear a bill. They use the First Amendment to justify the existing laws and the danger they put children in. Read the full story here. (Read more faith healing stories.)