Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Child Abuse: Acceptable in Texas

Imagine: You're 17 years old and for two you are held against your will. People hold you to the ground and beat you. The Texas Supreme Court ruled that this was acceptable. They make the argument that since this abuse was part of an exorcism, there is nothing to be done. Nothing to see here, just move along.

The judges overturned a lower court's decision awarding her damages and ruled that because Mrs Schubert Pearson's claims of injury amounted to a religious dispute over church doctrine it would be "unconstitutional" for the court to get involved.

Religious freedom campaigners say the case strikes at the heart of the US Constitution's First Amendment, which prohibits government interference in the free exercise of religion, and were the US Supreme Court to rule in Mrs Schubert Pearson's favour, it would signal "the end of church independence and religious freedom" in America

Suppose some adherents of Moloch are still around. Should child sacrifice no longer be a crime because it is part of a religious ritual? Will "honor killings" become allowable? Will female genital mutilation now be acceptable? What about those parents who are so twisted inside because of their religion that they beat their kids on a daily basis to put the "fear of G-d" in them? Shall we return to the days of stoning the adulterers? Or, I know, I know, let's go back to the to those glorious days when it was perfectly acceptable to torture and kill those of other faiths because their beliefs were not yours.

Much like trying to advocate for prayer in schools, religious groups are ignoring what is likely to happen in the end. Religious freedom should not trump the basic human rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The freedom of religion does not mean and should not mean that activity which would be criminal in areas outside of religious practices are acceptable. The only difference between this young woman's harrowing ordeal and those who have been kidnapped by psychopaths is the religious aspect.

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