The Associated Press reported June 28th that the Texas State Supreme Court, in a 6 to 3 decision, overturned a lower court's ruling regarding the suffering caused by the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God church in Colleyville, Texas to Laura Schubert in 1996 when she was 17 years of age. As I read the story, I was gob-smacked. I've never heard of such practices in a church by church members in modern times (no, I didn't grow up in Texas and I've never lived there either).
In a nutshell (pun intended because that church is a shell full of nuts), a Tarrant County jury found the church and its members liable for "abusing and falsely imprisoning" the teenaged girl. Ms. Schubert testified she was pinned to the floor for hours and received carpet burns during an "exorcism" performed on her by her then church (go ahead cue up the haunting David Byrne/Brian Eno song with a purported actual exorcism, "The Jezebel Spirit"). Ms. Schubert said she experienced hallucinations afterwards, and that the "exorcism" caused her so much mental angst that she mutilated herself and attempted suicide. What kind of church does this sort of thing?
In its wisdom, the Texas Supreme Court ruled that the church was not liable, because courts cannot intrude on religious behaviors. You know, the way the other branches of the goverment can't allow religion and politics to mingle (that's why there's no such thing as government-funded faith-based initiatives of any kind). Per the AP story, here's the Texas' high court's majority opinion author:
Justice David Medina wrote that finding the church liable "would have an unconstitutional 'chilling effect' by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs."
God forbid the courts try to stop child abuse by holding those accountable for perpetrating it.
Although expanding churches' power over the lives of others triumped over rationality (and the U.S. Constitution) in this case, there was some sanity in the Texas Supreme Court (again, per the AP story, with my brackets added):
Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, in a dissenting opinion, stated that the "sweeping immunity" [given by the court in this case] is inconsistent with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and extends far beyond the Constitution's protections for religious conduct. "The First Amendment guards religious liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion's name," Jefferson wrote.
I ask you: