A now disabled young woman who grew up in a faith healing family and community wants to prosecute her parents for refusing to provide her with the medical attention she needed.
Christian Today reports that 20-year-old Mariah Walton has a condition called pulmonary hypertension, but she only found out about it two years ago when she went to see a doctor for the first time in her life.
Walton grew up in a home with parents who were part of the Idaho Followers of Christ, a sect that believes seeking medical advice and attention is a sign of lack of trust in God.
At the age of 18, Walton went to see a doctor against her parents' wishes. The doctor told her she had irreversible heart damage, caused by a small hole in her heart. Doctors said if she had gotten help sooner, the condition could have been fixed.
"She told me I had this disease and I had no idea what it was. I was very scared going there," Walton shared during a town hall meeting.
"On the way back I had been crying... I was so scared about what my parents were going to say to me because my whole life they had threatened me [saying] if I were to go that something terrible would happen to me,” she continued.
Walton says she wants her parents to be prosecuted for not allowing her to seek medical attention because it could help other children who have life-threatening illnesses.
"Yes, I would like to see my parents prosecuted. They deserve it – and it might stop others," she told the Guardian.
Although Walton thinks her parents should be prosecuted, they are protected by a clause in Idaho state law which grants an exception to those who believe in faith healing.
Walton now lives with her sister, and for the first time in her life, has a birth certificate and social security number.
The Followers of Christ sect is a small community of 2,000 members. The mortality rate within the community is reportedly 10 times higher than that of the rest of the state.
Publication date: April 19, 2016