On President’s Day, Protect Idaho Kids will make its statement of the year: protesters will rally at the state Capitol, carrying small coffins bearing the names of dead children. The group hopes to incite the legislature to address faith healing exemptions in Idaho.
PIK Founder Bruce Wingate designed the protest to show that even “one child is too many,” when death could have been prevented.
Faith healing, the belief that God will heal an ill person, has been a hot topic in Idaho for decades. PIK is advocating for change, particularly the elimination of protections from criminal or civil liability for parents who choose faith healing over traditional medicine for their ailing or dying child. According to PIK, at least 182 children have died due to lack of medical care. The group is trying to push lawmakers to pass a bill that will punish parents who they feel neglect to properly care for their children.
“This is not a religious argument or issue, it’s a neglect issue,” Wingate said.
Wingate said 400 people have signed up to join the rally so far, and he hopes that the protest attracts hundreds more. The protesters will be carrying plywood coffins, one to represent each child that has died from neglect. Each coffin displays the name of a child that has been lost.
When asked where the idea for the coffins came from, Wingate said, “It was forced on me from the standpoint of the legislature before the session started. We have been fighting this for several years and they said that this is a sensitive issue, and they probably wouldn’t be bringing it up this year unless there was something major, like 10 kids die in a weekend. I tried to come up with something that was dramatic, something that would show the
gravity of the situation.”
The drama will play out at the Idaho Statehouse, Monday, Feb. 19.