INDIANA–(ENEWSPF)–October 31, 2016
It’s often hard to explain to average folks just how insidious the recent crop of religious freedom laws are, but this next story gives you a window into how they can be wielded to justify even the most reprehensible behaviors, including child abuse. In Indiana, a 30-year-old mother who beat her 7-year-old son with a coat hanger, causing “36 deep-purple bruises,” will serve a year of probation after seeking to have the charges entirely dismissed due to her religious motivations for beating the child—because religion excuses all. Nice work, Mike Pence. Kristine Guerra writes:
Her defense attorney, Greg Bowes, argued in court records that Indiana’s religious freedom law protects her from prosecution.
The state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, or RFRA, was signed into law by Gov. Mike Pence (R) last year. The law says the government must first prove a compelling interest before it intrudes on someone’s religious liberty, and it must do so in the least restrictive way.
[Kin Park] Thaing’s Christian beliefs were the “guiding values” that influenced her behavior when she punished her son, according to a motion to dismiss. It also cited verses from Proverbs 23:13-14: “Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”
Thaing reportedly beat both her son and 3-year-old daughter after she saw them showing each other their genitals. Ya know, pretty normal “What parts do you have?” kind of stuff for kids that age. She hit them both but disciplined her son harder, according to her own testimony.
She then took the children downstairs and told them to pray for forgiveness. […]
Bowes argued that Thaing felt she needed to take “strong corrective action” to save her daughter from her son’s harmful behavior. Otherwise, her son “would not earn his salvation with God after his death.” The force she used on her son is a “reasonable exercise of her parental right to choose how to rear her children,” Bowes argued, citing a state law that allows parents to use reasonable punishment necessary for their children’s “proper control, training and education.”
Back when Pence and social conservatives rammed Indiana’s “religious freedom” law through the legislature last year, some prosecutors had advised lawmakers not to allow the law to be used as a defense for statutory crimes. They declined to heed the advice, because apparently one’s religion should be the only guiding force in our society—even if that means beating one’s defenseless child.
If you couldn’t imagine how these “religious freedom” laws would open up a Pandora’s box of defenses for unconscionable behavior, whether it’s anti-LGBTQ, anti-woman, or even anti-defenseless child, here’s Exhibit A. These laws are both extensive and appalling in the abuses they give license to in the name of religion. And social conservatives like Mike Pence will defend them till their dying day.