Lawmakers in South Dakota's state House of Representatives decided on Monday that members of the clergy should not be mandatory reporters of child abuse, according to Keloland.
The measure that would have added clergy to the list of other professions required to report suspected child abuse or neglect, HB 1230, failed in a 33 to 34 vote.
Democratic Representative Erin Healy attempted to revive the bill, but House members voted against the reconsideration motion.
Republican Representative Randy Gross spoke against the bill. He thinks that it doesn’t do enough to address the many religions of the world. “My philosophy is, let’s do it right or not at all,” he said.
Another Republican representative, Scyller Borglum, who has a degree in divinity studies, says that the bill’s necessity is proven by the many other professions that are already on the mandatory-reporters list.
"If we didn't need this kind of law, we wouldn't have it in the first place," Borglum said. "This is what we need to protect our children."
Representative Kaleb Weis, a Republican, said that the bill would interfere with the clergy’s freedom of religion. "Now the state is telling the church how to operate and what to do," Weis said.
Republican Representative Chris Johnson concurred. "If this is not the camel's nose under the tent, I don't know what is."
Democratic Representative Kelly Sullivan pointed out that South Dakota is one of only eight states that doesn’t require clergy to report child abuse. "This is not about spanking our kids. This is about protecting our children," Sullivan said.
Healy, the prime sponsor for the bill, argued that the issue wasn’t about religious freedom, but about freeing the clergy “from having to make an incredibly difficult decision.” She said, “This is a vote for the children.”