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Texas: Child Abuse protected by the Free Exercise Clause

This seems to be a totally bizarre interpretation of the First Amendment.

Laura Schubert, 17, was falsely imprisoned and abused by her “church.” After being kept awake all night and deprived of food, she collapsed. Her fellow church members took this as a sign that she was possessed by the devil, so they held her down in a spread eagle position until she foamed at the mouth and went into spasms.

During the first encounter, seven members pinned her to the floor for two hours while she cried, screamed, kicked, flailed, and demanded to be released. This violent act caused Schubert multiple bruises, carpet burns, scrapes, and injuries to her wrists, shoulders, and back. As she testified, “I was being grabbed by my wrists, on my ankles, on my shoulders, everywhere. I was fighting with everything I had to get up, I was telling them, no. I was telling them, let go, leave me alone. They did not respond at all.” After Schubert “complied with what they wanted [her] to do,” she was temporarily released. Fifteen minutes later, at the direction of Pleasant Glade’s youth pastor, a different group of seven church members physically restrained her for an hour longer. After this experience, Schubert was “weak from exhaustion” and could hardly stand.

Three days later, a male church member approached Schubert after a service and put his arm around her shoulders. At this point, Schubert was still trying to figure out “what had happened” at the previous incident, “wasn’t interested in being touched,” and resisted him. As Schubert testified, “I tried to scoot away from him. He scooted closer. He was more persistent. Finally, his grasp on me just got hard . . . before I knew it, I was being grabbed again.” Eight members of Pleasant Glade then proceeded to hold the crying, screaming, seventeen year-old Schubert spread-eagle on the floor as she thrashed, attempting to break free. After this attack, Schubert was unable to stand without assistance and has no recollection of events immediately afterward. On both occasions, Schubert was scared and in pain, feeling that she could not breathe and that “somebody was going to break [her] leg,” not knowing “what was going to happen next.” (Source – dissent)

Since her religion is apparently bat-shit-craziness, they are permitted to abuse and imprison kids. Holding them liable for doing so “would have an unconstitutional ‘chilling effect’ by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs.” (See p.15)

I would have dismissed the case too, but on different grounds. If you join a religion that practices this kind of idiocy, you assume the risk that you’ll be treated this way. I just don’t see it as a First Amendment issue.

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