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ANOTHER TEXAS HIGH COURT RULING: EXORCISM IS PROTECTED

 
 
Foxfyre
 
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:01 am
As a Christian, I think the vast majority of Christians value and care for children and go the third and fourth mile to protect and defend them from any harm. But with more than two billion known Christians on Earth, I suppose we are going to have those unusual situations that make us go hmmmm. . . .

I thought the weirdness and creepiness of the Texas polygamy case couldn't be topped in 2008, but here's one that comes pretty darn close. And, as it was with the polygamy case, I find myself conflicted in what the scope of the First Amendment includes and where the authority of the parent ends when it become necessary to protect the child.

June 27, 2008, 11:56PM
Texas high court rules exorcism protected by law LINK
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ossobuco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:33 am
Well, I'll have to come back and look at this tomorrow, it being early morning here. I have personal understanding of people of many faiths and their beliefs, but, re an enactment of my own catholic faith of my past, exorcism was barely mentioned but I think the practice comes from strident times, well, expurgative times, in the history of catholicism.

From my point of view, it was from the worst of times.

Will check in later.
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 07:55 am
This is the part that makes me go hmmmm...

Quote:
But the church's attorneys had told jurors that her psychological problems were caused by traumatic events she witnessed with her missionary parents in Africa. The church contended she "freaked out" about following her father's life as a missionary and was acting out to gain attention.


Does religious freedom not extend to the girl who was exorcised?

They thought it was okay to abuse and imprision her because she was "acting out" because she did not want to follow in her father's footsteps. Shouldn't she get to chose her own religious path?
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 08:54 am
boomerang wrote:
This is the part that makes me go hmmmm...

Quote:
But the church's attorneys had told jurors that her psychological problems were caused by traumatic events she witnessed with her missionary parents in Africa. The church contended she "freaked out" about following her father's life as a missionary and was acting out to gain attention.


Does religious freedom not extend to the girl who was exorcised?

They thought it was okay to abuse and imprision her because she was "acting out" because she did not want to follow in her father's footsteps. Shouldn't she get to chose her own religious path?


I don't think we can say that. My children went to church where my husband and I went to church and were heavily exposed to our preferred religious expression while they were minors. I do not see this as child abuse in any way. Once they reached the age of majority, one stayed with that religious expression; one rejected it. That was their choice and we respected it.

I think what the attorney was arguing is that it was not the exorcism that caused mental anguish for the girl, but rather whatever experiences she incurred being with her parents in Africa. As we don't know what those experiences were from the limited information in the article, it is impossible to draw an informed conclusion regarding that.

I am torn, however, on whether a 17-year-old can be legitimately physically restrained for a prolonged period while an exorcism is performed based purely on religious freedom. I struggle with the same conflicts when it comes to Christian Science forgoing getting medical treatment for their children because their religious belief is to look to God for healing. I believe the courts have ruled in the past that a court order requiring medical treatment for a sick child is appropriate. So if religious freedom can be overridden for the good of a child in that case, why couldn't it be overridden for a forced exorcism assuming that the exorcism itself was harmful if it was?

Instead in this case, the Court ruled that it was none of their business based on First Amendment protection?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 09:04 am
Re: ANOTHER TEXAS HIGH COURT RULING: EXORCISM IS PROTECTED
Foxfyre wrote:
But Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, in a dissenting opinion, stated that the "sweeping immunity" 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 tend to side with the dissenting view...
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 09:14 am
Re: ANOTHER TEXAS HIGH COURT RULING: EXORCISM IS PROTECTED
fishin wrote:
Foxfyre wrote:
But Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, in a dissenting opinion, stated that the "sweeping immunity" 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 tend to side with the dissenting view...


That's pretty much the way I am leaning too but I am conflicted on exactly where religious freedom ends and a higher principle begins as well as what authority a parent does and does not have. Just as there is room for different opinions re what constitutes torture, so too there is room for different opinions re what constitutes abuse. So I hope there will be a good discussion on this and maybe I can come to a reasoned conclusion.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 09:22 am
The line seems fairly clear to me. People are free to practice whatever religious teachings they want but the second they attempt to force someone else to participate against their will the line is crossed. If they want to perform an exorcism that's fine by me. They'd better make sure the person they are performing it on is a willing participant.

My religous freedoms under the 1st Amendment don't supercede your religous freedoms. If I attempt to force mine on you (physically) then I've gone beyond any 1st Amendment protections and I'd should be able to be held liable for my actions.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 10:40 am
fishin wrote:
The line seems fairly clear to me. People are free to practice whatever religious teachings they want but the second they attempt to force someone else to participate against their will the line is crossed. If they want to perform an exorcism that's fine by me. They'd better make sure the person they are performing it on is a willing participant.

My religous freedoms under the 1st Amendment don't supercede your religous freedoms. If I attempt to force mine on you (physically) then I've gone beyond any 1st Amendment protections and I'd should be able to be held liable for my actions.


But here we again encounter the issue of personal freedom versus parental authority that assumes the right to do what is best for their children whether or not those children agree. That cannot be left out of this equation. This issue includes everything from whether parents should have a say in the school curriculum to schools passing out condoms to school kids to the right of a child to an abortion or other medical procedure without parental (or court) consent to curfews to driving privileges to parents taking the kids to Sunday School and Church.

The Court ruled that exorcism is a religious practice immune to interference by the Court. The issue therefore is whether the Court erred in allowing abuse of a minor. The defense apparently convinced the Court that no abuse occurred in this case.
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 11:21 am
Foxfyre wrote:
fishin wrote:
The line seems fairly clear to me. People are free to practice whatever religious teachings they want but the second they attempt to force someone else to participate against their will the line is crossed. If they want to perform an exorcism that's fine by me. They'd better make sure the person they are performing it on is a willing participant.

My religous freedoms under the 1st Amendment don't supercede your religous freedoms. If I attempt to force mine on you (physically) then I've gone beyond any 1st Amendment protections and I'd should be able to be held liable for my actions.


But here we again encounter the issue of personal freedom versus parental authority that assumes the right to do what is best for their children whether or not those children agree. That cannot be left out of this equation.


Perhaps you should read the decision before making such comments. The parents were never involved in any of this. They didn't consent to it or were even aware of it until after the fact. How could it possibly be a part of the consideration? From the decision:

"On Saturday June 8, 1996, Tom and Judy Schubert left town, leaving their three teenage children at home. While the Schuberts were away, their seventeen-year-old daughter, Laura, spent much of her time at the family's church, Pleasant Glade Assembly of God,[1] participating in church-related activities.

On Friday evening, before her parents left town, Laura attended a youth group activity at Pleasant Glade in preparation for a garage sale the next day. The atmosphere during this event became spiritually charged after one of the youth announced he had seen a demon near the sanctuary. The youth minister, Rod Linzay, thereupon called the group together to hear the story, and after hearing it, agreed that demons were indeed present. Linzay instructed the youth to anoint everything in the church with holy oil and led a spirited effort throughout the night to cast out the demons. Finally, on Saturday morning at about 4:30 a.m., Linzay gathered the exhausted youth together to announce that he had seen a cloud of the presence of God fill the church and that God had revealed a vision to him. Although exhausted, the young people assisted with the garage sale later that morning.

At the Sunday morning worship service the next day, several young people gave testimonials about the spiritual events of the preceding day. At the conclusion of the service, the youth, including Laura and her brother, prayed at the altar. During these prayers, Laura's brother became "slain in the spirit,"[2] collapsing to the floor where church members continued to pray into the early afternoon.

Later that afternoon, Laura returned to church for another youth activity and the Sunday evening worship service. During the evening service, Laura collapsed. After her collapse, several church members took Laura to a classroom where they "laid hands" on her and prayed. According to Laura, church members forcibly held her arms crossed over her chest, despite her demands to be freed. According to those present, Laura clenched her fists, gritted her teeth, foamed at the mouth, made guttural noises, cried, yelled, kicked, sweated, and hallucinated. The parties sharply dispute whether these actions were the cause or the result of her physical restraint.

Church members, moreover, disagreed about whether Laura's actions were a ploy for attention or the result of spiritual activity. Laura stated during the episode that Satan or demons were trying to get her. After the episode, Laura also allegedly began telling other church members about a "vision." Yet, her collapse and subsequent reaction to being restrained may also have been the result of fatigue and hypoglycemia. Laura had not eaten anything substantive that day and had missed sleep because of the spiritual activities that weekend. Whatever the cause, Laura was eventually released after she calmed down and complied with requests to say the name "Jesus."

On Monday and Tuesday, Laura continued to participate in church-related activities without any problems, raising money for Vacation Bible School and preparing for youth drama productions. Her parents returned from their trip on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday evening, Laura attended the weekly youth service presided by Rod Linzay. According to Linzay, Laura began to act in a manner similar to the Sunday evening episode. Laura testified that she curled up into a fetal position because she wanted to be left alone. Church members, however, took her unusual posture as a sign of distress. At some point, Laura collapsed and writhed on the floor. Again, there is conflicting evidence about whether Laura's actions were the cause or result of being physically restrained by church members and about the duration and force of the restraint. According to Laura, the youth, under the direction of Linzay and his wife, Holly, held her down. Laura testified, moreover, that she was held in a "spread eagle" position with several youth members holding down her arms and legs. The church's senior pastor, Lloyd McCutchen, was summoned to the youth hall where he played a tape of pacifying music, placed his hand on Laura's forehead, and prayed. During the incident, Laura suffered carpet burns, a scrape on her back, and bruises on her wrists and shoulders. Laura's parents were subsequently called to the church. After collecting their daughter, the Schuberts took her out for a meal and then home. Laura did not mention her scrapes and bruises to her parents that night."


http://www.supreme.courts.state.tx.us/historical/2008/jun/050916.htm

Quote:
This issue includes everything from whether parents should have a say in the school curriculum to schools passing out condoms to school kids to the right of a child to an abortion or other medical procedure without parental (or court) consent to curfews to driving privileges to parents taking the kids to Sunday School and Church.


No, it doesn't. As stated, the parent's had NO involvement with ANY of this.

Quote:
The Court ruled that exorcism is a religious practice immune to interference by the Court. The issue therefore is whether the Court erred in allowing abuse of a minor. The defense apparently convinced the Court that no abuse occurred in this case.


I have no problem with their ruling as far as exorcisms themselves go. I stated that earlier. But as it turns out this case is really a big nothing. The Court didn't err in allowing the abuse of a minor because there was no claim or evidence provided by the accuser that there was any physical harm caused. Her lawsuit was strictly over emotional harm and the Court found that they couldn't seperate what emotional harm she incurred as a result of the exorcism from emotional harm she may have incurred from other strictly religious activities from the evidence presented at trial.

The title of the original article tyou quoted as well as your statement here that "The Court ruled that exorcism is a religious practice immune to interference by the Court." are both misleading and incomplete. Yes, they ruled that exorcism is a religious practice. They did NOT however, consider whether a person practicing their religion can cause physical harm to another person against their will in performing that exorcism. Even the church involved here conceeded in their brief that that would be an entirely secular issue. But that was never what the case was about.

The case was entirely about emotional distress and the court ruled the way it did because the plaintiff couldn't seperate and quantify how much emotional distress was caused by the exorcism and how much was caused by other events in her life. It is incumbant on the plaintiff to prove their case in court and she failed to do so.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:06 pm
Sorry, but the girl attended the Church her parents chose for the family, was attending a Church activity with the parent's consent, and was engaged in a religious exercise practiced by that congregation which the parent's almost certainly knew existed.

I did read the case and it in no way disputes those facts.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:08 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
was engaged in a religious exercise practiced by that congregation which the parent's almost certainly knew existed.

I did read the case and it in no way disputes those facts.



When did "almost certainly knew" become a fact?
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:12 pm
Well you can nitpick the semantics all you wish Ehbeth, rather than consider the point made, but in my opinion, based on long experience, anybody who attends a church for a number of years, especially if they are active in that congregation, knows what the beliefs and practices are in that congregation and gives implied consent to them. So it is a fact that the parents 'almost certainly' did know that the congregation believed in and practiced exorcisms. Okay?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:24 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Well you can nitpick the semantics all you wish Ehbeth, rather than consider the point made, but anybody who attends a church for a number of years, especially if they are active in that congregation, knows what the beliefs and practices are in that congregation and gives implied consent to them. So it is a fact that the parents 'almost certainly' did know that the congregation believed in and practiced exorcisms. Okay?


Two and Two don't always make Four. I know a lot of people that attend various churches and all of those churches have religious marriage ceremonies. Participation in those churches however, doesn't mean that the parents have given any implied consent that their 5 and 6 year-old children can be married off while the parents are using the restroom.

Your argument here is much like saying that because you sent your kid to a public school you gave consent for them to be beat-up in the playground.

Can you show ANY evidence that there is a standard practice (which you claim the parent's would have known of...) where the Assembly Of God Church states that an exorcism ritual is coducted by having whatever teenagers happen to be around takle and restrain the person to be exorcised?
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fishin
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:25 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
Sorry, but the girl attended the Church her parents chose for the family, was attending a Church activity with the parent's consent, and was engaged in a religious exercise practiced by that congregation which the parent's almost certainly knew existed.

I did read the case and it in no way disputes those facts.


It doess't state those "facts" either... As such, they aren't facts at all. They are assumptions you've made.
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ehBeth
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:28 pm
Foxfyre wrote:
but in my opinion, based on long experience <snip> it is a fact that the parents 'almost certainly' did know that the congregation believed in and practiced exorcisms. Okay?


Fine, you want to be perceived as ancient. I'll give you that.

~~~

Doesn't make anything a fact.

Not okay.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 12:41 pm
fishin wrote:
Foxfyre wrote:
Well you can nitpick the semantics all you wish Ehbeth, rather than consider the point made, but anybody who attends a church for a number of years, especially if they are active in that congregation, knows what the beliefs and practices are in that congregation and gives implied consent to them. So it is a fact that the parents 'almost certainly' did know that the congregation believed in and practiced exorcisms. Okay?


Two and Two don't always make Four. I know a lot of people that attend various churches and all of those churches have religious marriage ceremonies. Participation in those churches however, doesn't mean that the parents have given any implied consent that their 5 and 6 year-old children can be married off while the parents are using the restroom.


Apples and oranges. Marriage is a legal contract governed by state laws. The minor child must legally acquire a license which can be issued only by consent of the parents; therefore the likelihood of a church marrying a minor to anybody without parental consent is moot.

Quote:
Your argument here is much like saying that because you sent your kid to a public school you gave consent for them to be beat-up in the playground.


My argument is not that at all. However, if I send my kid to a playground, unless I instruct otherwise, I fully expect the kid to be running and playing frisbie or ball or sliding down the slide, riding on the merry-go-round, teetering on the totter, and doing all the activities normally associated with a playground. Likewise, if I send or take my kid to church, I expect the kid to be involved in the activities promoted by that church.

So the issue before us is not whether exorcism is an activity promoted or sanctioned by the congregation in question. It clearly is. The issue is whether the Court erred in distinguishing between a 'normal church activity' and abuse. Remember I said early on that I tended to agree with the dissenting opinion of the Court just as you did. But I can also leave the door open here for consideration of other factors involved. It is those other factors that I am most interested in discussing.

Quote:
Can you show ANY evidence that there is a standard practice (which you claim the parent's would have known of...) where the Assembly Of God Church states that an exorcism ritual is coducted by having whatever teenagers happen to be around takle and restrain the person to be exorcised?


Nope. But all Assembly of God congregations that I know of do believe in and practice exorcism. So for that activity to occur could easily be considered neither unusual nor abnormal any more than laying on of hands, spontaneous prayer or hymn singing, or an impromptu teaching would be considered unusual or abnormal.
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hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 01:03 pm
My only concern here is consent. A minor cannot consent, so the approval of the parents must be gained.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 01:21 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
My only concern here is consent. A minor cannot consent, so the approval of the parents must be gained.


If it was a medical procedure or contractual agreement or anything else regulated by government authority, I would agree. But in this case an exorcism is considered to be a religious exercise just as giving and receiving communion or baptism or laying on of hands or hymn singing or intercessory prayer or preaching or teaching or meditation is a religious exercise. Expectation of participation in any of these things is implied by virtue of one's long term membership in the congrgation. Religious exercises are normally not within government authority to regulate. And in this case the Court ruled on that basis.

So again we are back to the issue of where the line is within the First Amendment, implied parental authority, and the government's right to intervene.
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hawkeye10
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 01:25 pm
Parents do not give up their responsibility for the well being of their kids when they send them to church. Parents are responsible for every moment until the kid turns into an adult. If the kid is harmed at church, and the parents knew and approved of what took place, then the parents are responsible, not the church.

edit: the same logic applies to the FLDS case, punishing the entire population of the church for the (alleged) misdeeds of some of the parents was wrong. If some of the kids were sexual outside of the law, and the parents knew or should have known, then the parents are responsible.
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Foxfyre
 
  1  
Reply Sat 28 Jun, 2008 01:48 pm
hawkeye10 wrote:
Parents do not give up their responsibility for the well being of their kids when they send them to church. Parents are responsible for every moment until the kid turns into an adult. If the kid is harmed at church, and the parents knew and approved of what took place, then the parents are responsible, not the church.


I think if the parent or church knowingly allowed the child to be put in harm's way, each would be responsible and liable. I am in no way convinced that either the parents or the church would deem an exorcism to be harmful; in fact if they believe in demon possession, to not perform an exorcism could be perceived as negligent.

There is a religious group in southeastern New Mexico that runs a boarding school for troubled youth. On the campus grounds is an extremely tall wooden structure that is scalable, but with extreme difficulty. At some point, every child is encouraged to climb that structure to the top. Most don't make it on the first attempt, but almost all eventually do make it. Is there physical risk, opportunity for emotional distress, tort liability exposure? Yes to all. Is the extreme boost in confidence and self esteem of those kids who make it to the top worth it? The school thinks so.

Those same kids are closely monitored, required to do chores, are held accountable and do suffer appropriate consequences for mistakes and infractions of the rules, and must earn every advancement and privilege. Much of this is not the kid's idea and I doubt any authority gives consent to every single component that goes into turning these troubled young people into confident, capable, responsible human beings. Stuff is just assumed in that environment when the kid is placed there.

When my kid went to college, he was drafted onto a rowing crew before he turned 18. He was doing some rather vigorous training and being transported all over the place to meets and all without my signature or consent. But it was implied as a component of the college experience.

All this is to say that this is not a cut and dried issue as it first seems.
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