Sunday, December 28, 2008

Texas woman's exorcism case may go to Supreme Court

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

Lawyers for a former Colleyville woman who accused her fellow church members of abuse during a forced exorcism in 1996 when she was a teen have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review her case.

Laura Schubert alleged that members of the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God held her down, bruising her wrists and leaving carpet burns on her back when she was 17 and then known as Laura Pearson.

This summer, the Texas Supreme Court threw out a jury award Schubert received for her injuries, reasoning that it unconstitutionally drew the court into religious matters.

But Schubert's attorneys argue that the Texas Supreme Court's decision improperly tried to expand the First Amendment's religious protections. Schubert contends that someone's religious beliefs do not protect them from state laws prohibiting crimes such as assault and false imprisonment, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported in Saturday's editions.

More here.

Right. I feel pretty certain that first amendment rights do not override an individual's right to not be assaulted. The US Supreme Court ought to throw out the lower court decision without much of a hearing. On the other hand, we live in a really fucked up and crazy country, and members of our highest court are in no way immune to this.

For instance, Christian Scientists, if I understand correctly, can legally withhold medical treatment for their children because they believe that doctors subvert the will of God. This means Christian Scientist kids with cancer have to fight for their lives on a wing and a prayer. Actually, it's only a prayer, no wings involved. Lots of prayer, in fact, which recent studies have shown to be about as effective in fighting disease as sugar pills, less even.

So the interesting question in this exorcism case, to me, is whether this woman's parents,
back when she was a minor, were in on the ritual. If they were, the same reasoning used to allow Christian Scientist parents to kill their children comes into play. That is, it would be more about a fusion of parental rights with religious rights than about Laura Schubert's rights, in which case she would probably be shit out of luck.

Extraordinarily unjust, yes, but we do live in a fucked up crazy nation of superstitious primitives. Personally, I hope she bankrupts the fuckers.