Mariah Walton was left permanently disabled after her parents rejected all recommended medical treatment and instead choose to pray for her recovery with so-called “faith healing”.
She was born with a birth defect: a small hole in her heart. The hole could have easily been repaired back when she was an infant, but now at age 18, Mariah’s condition is life-threatening.
Today, Mariah is pushing for a new law that would require parents to treat their children if they become ill.
The Independent reports:
The 21-year-old and her siblings, from the US state of Idaho, are now campaigning for a change in the law so parents such as theirs who choose to follow “faith healing” can be prosecuted.
“My lungs burn because I can’t get the oxygen I need,” she told local news channel KTVB. “They used to pray over me. The’d say: ‘God’s going to heal you, just have faith’ and all kinds of stuff… I think it’s time to prosecute them”
Ms Walton, who has nine siblings in total, was raised in the Mormon church. She was diagnosed with congenital heart disease aged 18.
Her sister Emily told the broadcaster their parents would tell the children “we needed to pray for Mariah, that she wasn’t growing or doing well, and the evil spirits would leave her”.
Mariah’s mother said she used natural remedies such as herbs and essential oils as well as prayer.
In Idaho, parents cannot be prosecuted for neglect if they refuse medical care before their faith, and state senator Lee Heider said last year there were no plans to change the law, as freedom of religion is a right under the First Amendment to the US Constitution.
What do you think? Should the parents be locked up for choosing prayer over medical treatment for their daughter? Let us know on Facebook and in the comments below.