Texas court approves traumatic exorcisms

Well now…if you've had a hankerin' to torture, abuse, and do who knows what else to people at your whim, here's what you do: move on down to Texas and set up a religion. The Texas Supreme Court just ruled on a case in which a young woman was subjected to extreme distress and restraint during a church-run exorcism (isn't that insane enough right there? An exorcism in 21st century America?), and they threw the previous judgment against the church out. Why? Because holding a church liable for psychological damage "would have an unconstitutional 'chilling effect' by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs."

Damn right it would. Holding religion accountable for the stupidity perpetuated by it certainly should send a shiver down the spines of hordes of witch-doctors and mullahs and priests and other such folk with a vested interest in superstition.

The court ruling basically says that because this church carries out this practice all the time, and because adherents of the religion accept it, it's OK to pin people to the floor and scream at them for a few hours.

The Supreme Court, in a 6-3 opinion, said the church's exorcism sessions were a matter of church doctrine and were thus subject to certain — though not absolute — First Amendment religious protections.

"The laying of hands" and the presence of demons are part of the church's belief system and accepted as such by its adherents," the ruling said in part. "These practices are not normally dangerous or unusual and apparently arise in the church with some regularity. They are thus to be expected and are accepted by those in the church."

Hello, world. In the United States, it is not considered unusual to accuse teenagers of being possessed by demons, and we subject them to frightening magic rituals to cast out such satanic forces with some regularity. Do not be alarmed. We also have nuclear weapons and sophisticated delivery systems. But I repeat…do not be at all alarmed.

One of the lawyers for the church noticed a key point of this ruling — it's too bad he thinks it is a good thing.

"The key point of this ruling is that we don't have a right to have our standards of reasonableness foisted upon some other religion," Dallas attorney David Pruessner said. "None of our religious beliefs can be examined when they are emotionally disturbing to other people."

No religious beliefs are to be examined critically, no matter how disturbing they may be. That's the way things work down in Texas, I guess. Oh, but he hastily adds…

Pruessner said no one should think Friday's ruling would give protection to a church leader accused of abusing a child.

Except that that is exactly what happened in this case: the victim of this church-endorsed abuse was 17 at the time, and the church has now gotten off scot-free, held not culpable for their insanity, and told that they can keep on doing it with the protection of the law…and they've been informed that any weird religious belief is "normal".

I would suggest a well-known compromise, one that has been violated by the Texas court decision. You are free to believe whatever wacky nonsense you want — you can believe moody teenagers are possessed by demons, and you can believe that cutting out the hearts of virgins will guarantee that the sun will rise tomorrow, and you can even believe that barbecued babies are especially delicious — but you are not free to act on those beliefs in a way that infringes the rights of other people. The Texas court, in its zeal to protect religious beliefs, has gone too far and has endorsed the right of a church to do harm in the name of their god.

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and you can even believe that barbecued babies are especially delicious

Depends on the sauce.

By MAJeff, OM (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Scientologists will be pleased with this ruling.

Sigh. Well, what more should we expect from those who brought us GWB? :rolleyes:

Sorry, free-thinking Texans. I don't mean to lump you in with the bad. I feel for you. I escaped Ohio which had a similar flood of idiocy that tried to drown the free-thinkers.

~Dan
http://jazzsick.wordpress.com/

Interesting. So kids are able to give consent to engage in S&M but not sex or drinking?

Oh, what was I thinking? This is Texas.

@Dan: GWB is from Connecticut.

The law of unintended consequences is going to bite them back, hard. What about those religions that use drugs? What about those that use sacrifice?

Easy guys,if the german Catholics can do it in the 21st century.....
Im kinda hoping we get to see some juicy exorcisms here in Australia soon,what with the World Youth shebang and all,maybe to drive the devil out of some of them blond horny surfer dudes....

Kidnapping and torture are fine, so long as a religion is doing the felony? I beg to differ.

By KillerChihuahua (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

and you can even believe that barbecued babies are especially delicious

Depends on the sauce.

Sorry MAJeff, down here in Texas we just mesquite smoke the s**t out of everything.

{sigh} I so want out of this state....

Holy freaking crap! This has to be one of the most insane rulings yet by the Texas court. It's hard to read and actually believe the decision made by the obviously religious demented justices. "Are part of the church's belief systems and accepted as such by it's adherents." So the slimy freaking priests believe it is their belief to molest children "because these practices are not normally dangerous or unusual and apparently arise in the church with some regularity". Not normally dangerous because the shit priests don't kill their victims? Good grief, is Texas sinking into religious madness. As long as you have a state with a majority population afflicted with religion, you are going to have these rulings as a matter of course. The ruling is not surprising as Texas is next door to that other religious basket case, Louisiana. The historical idea and factual observations that the South is a different frame of mind is borne out in so many of these reports emanating from this religious and intellectual backwater.

Thats what you get with these morally lost people, a human being doesn't have any intrinsic rights to them, it's all spooky mystery stuff that some god gives you and might take away whenever he or she pleases.

By Dutch Delight (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

I try not to show my religious preferences--hatred thereof--in the classes I teach but when the Supreme Court makes rulings like this and religious belief just keeps regressing to hyper-medieval lunacy I can't help but be more combative against the religious "meme".

Clarifications:

1. I realize it was the Texas State Supreme Court.

2. I meant to say "more openly combative".

//because these practices are not normally dangerous or unusual and apparently arise in the church with some regularity//

Thats a nice way of justifying about every atrocity on earth isnt it,from the Holocaust to burning witches to the organised pedophilia in the catholic church...it arises with some regularity,therefore its all good....

I am glad there are Americans like PZ around (as well as all you regular commentors from the US who also seem sane) otherwise I would have long written the US off as one of those countries run by religious fuckwits, you know, like Iran, or Zimbabwe. When I see the US constitution used to support the right of the people to possess firearms but not to the right to not be bankrupted should you fall ill and need to pay for your healthcare I really do wonder about the moral values of many Americans.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Savages. Unbelievable. Un-freaking-believable. Where do they draw the line? Murder?

Rob: GWB was born in Connecticut. He's from Texas. He grew up there. He was 5 years old when his father moved the family from New Haven to Midland. There's not much Connecticut in Dubya. As Nicholas Kristof wrote in the New York Times:

Mr. Bush has often said that "the biggest difference between me and my father is that he went to Greenwich Country Day and I went to San Jacinto Junior High." That may be an exaggeration of the younger Mr. Bush's populist credentials, because he is also a product of Andover, Yale and Harvard. But there is still something to it.

Man, we are just so fucking fucked in so many different ways it's hard to know where the fuck to start. And as reality imposes more and more constraints upon us, these sick-fuck religious wackaloon scumbags retreat further and further into their world of deranged delusion.

I actually always think of the nuclear weapons when I read a story like this. And then I feel all scared and sad, and need to eat a cookie.
That doesn't make the crazy people go away, but it makes me feel a little better.

Don't pin W on CT. The guy lived in Texas from a very early age and doesn't even mention his place of birth on the White House website.

Just pointing out that age of consent in Texas is 17...

By Randomfactor (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

"Hello, world. In the United States, it is not considered unusual to accuse teenagers of being possessed by demons, and we subject them to frightening magic rituals to cast out such satanic forces with some regularity. Do not be alarmed. We also have nuclear weapons and sophisticated delivery systems. But I repeat...do not be at all alarmed."

Mommy!

Were it not for the sad and unfortunate fact that many, many people will suffer as a result of this perhaps well-intentioned but certainly misguided decision, I should rub my paws together and cackle with mingled glee and anticipatory schadenfreude at the thought of watching the law of unintended consequences landing on Texas with both feet and doing the Charleston.

It is possible, I suppose, to read this decision another way: the court may be saying to the faithful 'be aware of which churches you join and what beliefs you accept, for we will not protect you from the consequences of error'.

(pause)

Nawwwwwww. They just gave the xian wackaloon front a pass to do that which would get the rest of us thrown in prison.

The MadPanda, FCD

Just pointing out that age of consent in Texas is 17...

Yep, and I can sure as fuck guess that, given that this was an exorcism, she very probably didn't consent.

So how long until some wacknut Muslim cleric sanctions an honor killing in Texas? Good bets the law gets overturned that week, whenever it is.

And then I feel all scared and sad, and need to eat a cookie.

I just received a funny email from a friend yesterday about the "new stress diet." It points out: "Remember: The opposite of 'stressed' is 'desserts'." :)

"The laying of hands" and the presence of demons are part of the church's belief system and accepted as such by its adherents,"

Big WTF?!? Does this mean that we can bring female circumcision and honour killings back to Islam?

Your country sucks.

She almost certainly did not consent--and I deplore this decision. But was she a "child" as PZ suggests?

By Randomfactor (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Fucking Texas. Fucking stupid-ass, medieval Texas. Texas just sanctioned the use of a medieval (in every sense of the word) "treatment" for mental illness. Stupid fucks.

C'mon, J, where are you? Defend it by comparing it to something worse in the Muslim world. C'mon. Do it. DO IT.

Kseniya @ # 18: Kristof: Bush: I went to San Jacinto Junior High.

For just one year - the only year young Dubious spent in a public school.

He didn't really get into Texasism until he lost his bid for Congress to someone who out-Texased him.

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Even if the woman did consent that does not make what happened to her legal. Consent requires that person must be mentally compentant to provide consent, and to have been fully informed of what will happen and the risks involved. It is for this reason that patients undergoing medical procedures are reqeuired to sign consent forms, unless they are either a minor, mentally incapable or are unable to provide consent due to the nature of a life threatening condition. Since the contention of the church is that woman was possessed they cannot rely on her consent, as by their criteria they have conceded she was not in a position to provide it.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

"Just pointing out that age of consent in Texas is 17..."

But that 17-year-old gets abstinence-only sex "education" in Texas public school classes. Of course, the fundiots don't teach the "strengths and weaknesses" of abstinence, like they clamor for regarding evolution, where they read "weaknesses" to be the creationist tripe from Behe, Wells, and the like.

Still, it is always fun to hear them reject a main tenet of their religion by claiming that abstinence is 100% effective at preventing pregnancy.

By Ediacaran (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

The story I read here http://www.statesman.com/news/content/news/stories/local/06/28/0628exor… states:

"Schubert testified that she was pinned to the floor for three hours while she screamed, flailed and begged to be freed.

Even so, three days later she returned to the Colleyville church, where the experience was repeated."

To some degree doesn't this sound like consensual behavior?

"To some degree doesn't this sound like consensual behavior? "

It could. It could also indicate she was being subjected to a high degree of coercion. Since it is not disputed the woman had emotional issues, the latter is not at all improbable. And if during the process she had asked to be released, and those carrying out the excorcism failed to do so, how is that not assault ? Does no not mean no during an exorcism ?

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Ianal - but wouldn't it be practically obligatory for the next Texas lawyers who defend a church-based abuse/molestation case to cite this ruling in defense of their clients?

By Pierce R. Butler (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Re: #37
Of course it should have stopped, it was wrong, and the entire thing, from start to court decision, aspires to dumb. I just have a little less sympathy for someone that touches the burner and complains they got burned on Friday when they just did the same thing on Tuesday. Perhaps I just don't have enough appreciation or knowledge of her mental condition at the start of this ordeal though.

At least the dissenters had some sense. From the dissent of Chief Justice Jefferson:

The Court today essentially bars all recovery for mental anguish damages stemming from allegedly religiously motivated, intentional invasions of bodily integrity committed against members of a religious group. This overly broad holding not only conflicts with well-settled legal and constitutional principles, it will also prove to be dangerous in practice. Texas courts have been and will continue to be confronted with cases in which a congregant suffers physical or psychological injury as a result of violent or unlawful, but religiously sanctioned, acts.

No shit. Allowing the "God told me to" defense is dangerous precisely because you can't ever determine whether it's true or not, and it's difficult to even determine whether it's sincerely believed or not. (It's also a variation of the Nuremberg Defense even if it *is* true, but that's more of a moral argument than a legal one.)

Since the majority's holding was based on the federal Free Exercise Clause, it's possible that the victim could appeal to the US Supreme Court, arguing that the Texas Supreme Court misunderstood the Free Exercise Clause and applied it too broadly to shelter intentional torts. There's a lot of US SC precedent for that argument, I think, some of which was pointed out in the dissents.

It is clear that the girl did not consent, and neither did the demon. That being said, it is wise to attribute foul motives to any religious person who has a desire to "lay hands" on a teen.

I wonder how quickly Texas authorities would crack down on a peyote-using church or Santeria practitioners, 'cos not all religions are created equal.

By Longtime Lurker (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Can someone explain why criminal charges were not brought. And is it appealable further (e.g. to the US Supreme Court.)

The only legal figleaf that I can see that could possibly cover this decision is that she implicitly consented by being a member of the church. (She did not consent, nor did her parents consent on her behalf.) This argument would seem to entitle churches to perform capital punishment on their member.

But, apparently belief in demon possession and exorcism is not universal among that church, so even an implicit consent argument would seem to be invalidated by contrary facts.

If I'm reading the article correctly, this ruling was based on an interpretation of the U.S. Constitution and rulings made by the U.S. Supreme Court, right? In that case, could this case be appealed to the Federal Courts, who will then inform the Texas Supreme Court that, no, this is not what Federal precedents say at all?

I have one question: did the demon consent to this treatment? Don't demons have rights too?

"Of course it should have stopped, it was wrong, and the entire thing, from start to court decision, aspires to dumb. I just have a little less sympathy for someone that touches the burner and complains they got burned on Friday when they just did the same thing on Tuesday. Perhaps I just don't have enough appreciation or knowledge of her mental condition at the start of this ordeal though."

I am not that familiar with her mental state either. However we are aware how those who carried out the exorcism viewed her mental condition, and there is not way they can have considered her in a position to consent to anything. If you really do think a person is possesed by a demon you cannot also claimed they are mentally capable of consent.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Please stop using the term woman. It implies this was a decision made by an autonomous adult. While the age for sexual consent may be 17 in Texas, she was still a minor at the time.

"...in other news, the Westboro Baptist Church relocates it's HQ to Texas."

Can you imagine if they had the consent of the law to do what *they* believe in? I sincerely hope they don't try to ride the wave of this ruling in any way. If I recall correctly, Fred Phelps used to be a lawyer, and unfortunately for everyone concerned, he wasn't actually a bad one. Then again, he seems to have gone a bit senile recently.

Anyway, this ruling is.... well it's pretty silly. Exactly what religious beliefs are covered under this? Is it basically anything that you can back up with other people saying they believe it too?

Of course it should have stopped, it was wrong, and the entire thing, from start to court decision, aspires to dumb. I just have a little less sympathy for someone that touches the burner and complains they got burned on Friday when they just did the same thing on Tuesday. Perhaps I just don't have enough appreciation or knowledge of her mental condition at the start of this ordeal though.

It says she returned, not that she went willingly. The girl was 17, probably still living with her parents. You mean you've never heard of a parent forcing their kid to do something or participate in a program they didn't want to? Happens all the time, except in this case the "program" included mental torture, assault, and being held against her will.

Kind of reminds me of these camps, now that I think about it.

What I find particularly was the vote itself....6 - 3 ??!!!?
It was not even close!!!

In my church we sacrifice a young virgin. Since it is an age-old rite and perfectly excepted by our constituency we are glad to hear that our rights are protected by the law. We also like to have sex with young children. Texas is AWESOME!

Whether the victim of this retarded ruling was 17 or 71, she was still a victim. Whether she was a voluntary member of that moronic cult or not, she was still a victim. Who cares if a person may or may not know what they are getting into when they join? It's illegal to abuse your spouse or lover, regardless of the voluntary nature of the relationship. Treatment that traumatizes a person emotionally or physically should be illegal no matter what the context. This ruling is just a "slippery slope" down which shit will slide until it hits bottom - murder. We all know fundies lack even a vestigial form of logic, and this just proves it yet again.

Let's see if I can argue for the Court's decision here:

The claim of damages was not all that related to the physical restraint; the claim of damages was instead related to mental disturbances that seem to relate to a whole package of religious beliefs and religious participation. She was a willing participant in this religion, freely spending a large amount of time in the church, freely participating in its activities, and remaining in the church and returning to it after the first of the pin-down episodes.

Given that she was 17, isn't this old enough for her to consent to participating in a religion and religious beliefs? If she then has a mental breakdown over believing demons, etc, isn't that her fault for believing in them? Or are you going to say that no 17-yr-old has a right to involve themselves in such beliefs, even with parental assent -- that would surely be a denial of religious freedom.

Part of what she was suing for was that she would "require extensive time to recover trust in authorities, spiritual leaders, and her life-long religious faith". Do you really think people should get damages for losing their religious faith?

If this were a fairly simple matter of physical assault and false imprisonment, and appropriate damages for that, then the court should indeed find against the church -- but the case was more about her spiritual beliefs, and a mental crisis they led to, and her consensusal participation in the church was far more responsible for those than the pin-down episodes.

Hi Warren (#43): it's Texas Supreme Court, so the next course of appeal is the U.S. Supreme Court. Having lost in the state courts on a constitutional claim, you can't then try the federal courts again; you've got to pick one. But, the Supreme Court is always there as a last resort.

Also, the real problem with the opinion is that the writing justice characterizes the complaint as a sectarian dispute, and it's downhill from there. More here: http://acandidworld.wordpress.com/2008/06/28/texas-supreme-court-religi…

"Please stop using the term woman. It implies this was a decision made by an autonomous adult. While the age for sexual consent may be 17 in Texas, she was still a minor at the time."

Sorry, but no. She is a woman using any reasonable meaning of the word.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

The Court today essentially bars all recovery for mental anguish damages stemming from allegedly religiously motivated, intentional invasions of bodily integrity committed against members of a religious group.

Rack me up an altarboy! I feel the lord 'a'callin!!!!

#54
Reasonable meaning? Like, say, an adult female? She is not considered an adult under our legal system. She can't vote,her parents are still her legal guardians, she's still of high school age, etc. Call her a girl or a teenager. or a minor. All of these terms are more correct than woman, which would only be correct in a strict medical sense(as a sexually mature human female)

Well that is pretty sickening. I expect the Law of Unintended Consequences will be visiting Tejas pretty friggin' soon.

In the meantime, I look forward to a mass migration of Rastafarians to Tejas.

I'm dubious about the provenance for this quote (I thought it was TJefferson), but it is apropos:

"Your right to swing your fist stops at the end of my nose." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

There surely is a duty on any religious or spiritual adviser leader to know the difference between a person who simply undergoing a crisis in their belief and a person who is suffering from deeper pyschological issues ? In the case of the latter should there also not be a duty of such people to ensure anyone presenting with pyschological issues be directed to more appropriate forms of help, such as a mental health team ?

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Hmm...Even assuming that it was consentual from her side... Doesn't it make temple prostitution legal in Texas? At least, it clearly IS consentual. I think i have an idea...

Coel: All that is needed to separate out the mental suffering due to the physical assault and false imprisonment is that the jury, assuming the matter of religion had even been before the trial court - it wasn't!) be told to award damages for the mental suffering they find a person would suffer if religion were not a part of it. As the dissent notes, the church itself forced the trial court to entirely exclude any consideration of relious motivations or beliefs.

The dissent answers your questions. Comparing the opinion and the dissent, it seems clear the court simply didn't want to find against the church.

Judges of the Supreme Court of Texas are elected. Sheesh.

By Mike from Ottawa (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Stare decisis. They are laying groundwork for future cases. Can you imagine the FLDS lawsuits by the lost boys or the child brides?

Matt, that would hold true maybe if said religio believed in the benefits of modern mental health practitioners (extend this to regular medical care soon, too). Tom Cruise and company won't be looking for a shrink to help their minions get "clear".

Kerlyssa,

Yes reasonable meaning.

In many juridisctions she would be an adult. She would in the UK for an example, alebeit not yet with the full rights of an adult. The legal age of consent argument is thus a load of rubbish. She is a woman, as I said, by any reasonable meaning of the word. If you want to use an unreasonable one do so. Just do not complain when others do not go along with you.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

What a can of worms that opens up! I guess genital mutilation is OK, too, and executing witches? After all, they are religious traditions, too. How about the Inquisition?

So, I checked the dictionaries to see if this was a translation issue, but it doesn't look like it to me.

Whats metaphysical about assigning intrinsical value to human life? Is this going to lead into some fallacy about what atheists are and aren't supposed to think?

By Dutch Delight (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

#61 "All that is needed to separate out the mental suffering due to the physical assault and false imprisonment is that the jury,[...] be told to award damages for the mental suffering they find a person would suffer if religion were not a part of it."

I agree. If that had been done I'd defend the award of damages. However, it was not done, and (even according to the dissent) the damages pertained to wider issues than the false-imprisonment episodes.

Anyhow, focussing on the false imprisonment, while leaving the religious issues out of it, is a very different take on the affair than PZ's post.

"Matt, that would hold true maybe if said religio believed in the benefits of modern mental health practitioners (extend this to regular medical care soon, too). Tom Cruise and company won't be looking for a shrink to help their minions get "clear"."

Bob,

This would be were the reasonable test would come in. In many issues like this the issue is not what the person under investigation thinks, but what a reasonable person would think. It is a test that comes from English common law, and is used in the US as the US also uses English common law.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

At the very least I'm using safewords for all my future exorcism related activities now.

She is a woman using any reasonable meaning of the word.
Not so:
1) She is not legally an adult.
2) It has become clear brain development, in particular the prefrontal lobes, which are vital to the "executive functions" - good judgement, in other words - are not fully developed until the early 20s.

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

In many juridisctions she would be an adult. She would in the UK for an example, alebeit not yet with the full rights of an adult.

You can't have it both ways Matt.

In the UK 18 (not 17) is the age one reaches adulthood and until then your parents have a lot of control. I can imagine the control in Texas in a fundamentalist family is beyond your comprehension, it's certainly beyond mine.

Whats metaphysical about assigning intrinsical value to human life?

I'd say that the preponderance of evidence is that there is none. If you base your notion of intrinsic value on past human behaviors, a human life is pretty damn disposable (unless you happen to be the person on the receiving end of the bullet, sword, spear, arrow...) If you base it on something else then what is it? We were emphatically not endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. Not when you consider how often and trivially they are alienated.

Nick,

She may not legally be an adult, but she is also no longer legally a child, in Texas or in many other jurisdictions. For example in the UK she could legally consent to sex or medical treatment but could not marry or join the forces without parental consent.

With regards brain development, you are correct. However that does not stop us from considering people younger than their early twenties adults. We allow them to vote, to marry, to join the armed forces for example. We do not depend on the results of a brain scan to allow them to do any of those things, and those are all things we consider to be reserved to adults.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

MadPanda says,

the court may be saying to the faithful 'be aware of which churches you join and what beliefs you accept, for we will not protect you from the consequences of error'.

That sounds like a good basis for a warning sticker on churches!

J: Ignore me. I lost my head there for a sec. Sorry.

If that Mormon polygamy cult's lawyers don't bring up this ruling, then they've got some rather incompetent lawyers ...

Good Thor, what a mind-numbingly stupid ruling.

"In the UK 18 (not 17) is the age one reaches adulthood and until then your parents have a lot of control. I can imagine the control in Texas in a fundamentalist family is beyond your comprehension, it's certainly beyond mine."

They cannot prevent you consenting once you are 16, nor can they prevent you consenting, or declining, medical treatment. However even reaching 18 in the UK does not confer full rights on you. You cannot stand for parliament, or drive an HGV until you are 21. You also cannot have it both ways.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

So if a church wants to smoke the weed as part of their religious ceremonies, the Texas Supreme Court will protect that activity lest the prohibition have chilling effect on the practice of relgion.

Oh wait, they're right-wing hypocrites!

By chadavalon (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

From the ruling:

Q to expert: "when you say Laura has been traumatized, you're talking about, in part,the experience about being told about demons, demons in her presence, demons around her,they need to get rid of demons, chase them away, beat on the walls of the church, anointthings with oil, that whole Friday night length of activity, you believe that's part of Laura Schubert being traumatized?"

"A. Yes, I do."

Note that this Friday night activity was entirely consensual, and was two days before the first false-imprisonment episode. So, she was traumatized (at least partly) by consensual religious activity such as believing in demons, etc.

Even the dissent -- quite rightly -- does not think she should get damages for that.

From Jefferson's dissent: "Thus, because one of Schubert's experts, Dr. Helge, testified as to the whole of Schubert's mental anguish, the jury may have awarded damages stemming in part from the religious nature of the events in question. This is prohibited by the First Amendment."

Yes, there could be a case for damages (as the dissent explains): "A jury could then be instructed to award damages only for the mental anguish the plaintiff would have suffered had the tort [the false imprisonment] been committed by a secular actor in a secular setting."

"Call her a girl or a teenager. or a minor. All of these terms are more correct than woman, which would only be correct in a strict medical sense(as a sexually mature human female)"

None of those terms is more correct.

She may not have full adult rights, but she has more than is allowed a girl. The term teenager covers to wide an age range to be useful, since it covers those considered minors (13) to those considered adults (18, 20). The term minor is also unhelpful as it fails to discriminate between those given some rights of an adult, but not all, and those given none.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Monado, what an excellent suggestion! "Warning: Contents Prone To Unpredictable And Irrational Behavior" No, wait, that's Congress...

Matt Penfold: with regrets, you are in error...and your error, understandable and laudable as it is, lies in expecting the word 'reasonable' to apply here. US Law is not always reasonable and realistic in regards to whether or not a 17 year old is a child or an adult. It is also not uniform from state to state, and thus what is legal in one state will get you thrown into prison in another.

Personally, I'm inclined to agree with you, but they don't ask my opinion before they pass laws of this nature.

The MadPanda, FCD

I concede that to you Matt but I find it hard to believe that if this was a 17 year old male you would be equally determined to label him a man.

IMHO I think you are labouring the point.

I don't see how religious motive excuse an individual's actions.

It the actions would be considered illegal or harmful in the absence of religious context, they should be considered harmful in that context as well.

The law should be agnostic regarding religion. To do otherwise, entangles government with religion.

Interestingly, there is very little in either the ruling or the dissent that hinges on her being a minor of age 17. Both the ruling and dissent treat her as capable of consent, and there is nothing in them what would be different had she been 19 not 17.

Kitty,

I think there is a lack of a word to describe those who we have decided are allowed some but not all of the rights of an adult. We normally start allowing adult rights between the ages of 14 and 21, depending of the jurisdiction and circumstances. We have no word that covers that age range. The best I can come up with is young adult/man/woman.

And actually, I would consider a 17 year old man a man, albeit one without the full rights of an adult and allowances need to be made for that.

Incidently, as I understand minors in the US can be tried as adults. If that is the case, can a minor argue they are actually an adult if they charged with underage sex or drinking ? And if not, why not ?

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

How is this a big deal?

I don't consider under-age girls as people, so the court was right, once again.

~R. Kelly

To TrueBob@58

"In the meantime, I look forward to a mass migration of Rastafarians to Tejas."

The only appropriate comment here would be "Exodus, movement of Jah people!"

...or would that be Texodus?

By Longtime Lurker (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

@#8 what exactly does that have to do with german catholics?

Pierce @ #33:

Kseniya @ # 18: Kristof: Bush: I went to San Jacinto Junior High.

For just one year - the only year young Dubious spent in a public school.

The only year? Hmmm. Only one year of junior high, perhaps. I believe he also went to Sam Houston Elementary School, which would mean he was a Texas public school kid up to the point that he went to Andover at age... 13 or 14 maybe?

He didn't really get into Texasism until he lost his bid for Congress to someone who out-Texased him.

Yes, I'm glad you mentioned that, and I certainly agree! He said as much himself, when he vowed not to get "out-Southerned" again.

So what we have here, I think, is an "all of the above are true" situation. ;-)

I think they should appeal to the US supreme court and build the case that this creates a precedent for a whole range of dangerous and extreme religious practices.

From wikipedia :

The US Supreme Court has consistently held, that even though the First Amendment guarantees the right to free exercise, this right is not absolute. For example, in the 1800s, Some of the members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints traditionally practiced polygamy, yet in Reynolds v. United States (1879), the Supreme Court upheld the criminal conviction of one of these members under a federal law barring polygamy. The Court reasoned that to do otherwise would set precedent for a full range of religious beliefs including those as extreme as human sacrifice.The Court stated that

"Laws are made for the government of actions, and while they cannot interfere with mere religious belief and opinions, they may with practices."

For example, If you were part of a religion that believed in vampirism, the First Amendment would protect your belief in vampirism, but not the practice.

So, let's hope this story is not over yet.

By negentropyeater (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

TEXORCISM!!!

Sorry, I just had to write that.

I am somehow reminded of Bobby Peru (like the country) in "Wild at Heart":

"They're makin' a pornographic movie... TEXAS STYLE!"

By Longtime Lurker (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Matt,
I am being a little pedantic about this, I agree. There is an age which is perceived as adult by its wearer and as child in its future, and this is it. Perhaps it has been too long since I was in that fortunate time?
I still hold to my premise, however, that it is very hard for us in the UK to understand the constraints on a 17 year old in this type of culture.
I do have echoes of Jeanette Winterson and 'Oranges are not the only Fruit' in my mind though.

@#61 Mike from Ottawa:

Yes, all Texas judges are elected (except perhaps for some rare cases of temporary appointments to fill an unexpected vacancy). This is only part of the problem.

If I remember correctly, no Democrat has won statewide elected office in Texas since GWB beat Ann Richards for the governorship. This means that the state supreme court judges are not merely selected by a majority of Texans, which would be bad enough, but by a majority of Rebublicans motivated enough to vote for judicial candidates in the primary. In other words, the truly reactionary, hardcore committed rightwingers... and the fundies make up much of that lot.

I don't have problems at all with acknowledging that it follows from my worldview that I assign people with intrinsic rights, if thats the point.

By Dutch Delight (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

I must admit to being emotionally stunned.

[And luckily, AFAIU the courts goes down heavily on these things here. They are rarely known publicly, hopefully because they could actually be rare, but these cases comes to court due to the deaths they cause. Last time IIRC a husband and wife beat one kid to death and seriously hurt another in order to 'drive demons out'. Yes, it was a loon or two acting in the name of religion, but that is behind many of these actions.]

Perhaps that is why I prefer analyzing the nuclear threat instead:

Hello, world. In the United States, it is not considered unusual to accuse teenagers of being possessed by demons, and we subject them to frightening magic rituals to cast out such satanic forces with some regularity. Do not be alarmed. We also have nuclear weapons and sophisticated delivery systems. But I repeat...do not be at all alarmed.

Yeah ... but quite a few nuclear states have pervasive and/or fundamentalist religion, such as Israel and India. I dunno if secular nations does better, considering the record so far.

Albeit that particular correlation isn't doing our nerves any good either.

(This reminds me of the LHC anti-scientists who worries that we can't press the probability for LHC having harmful effects down below 10^-30 compared to the LHC lifetime runs the observable universe have been doing during history - they actually argue that anything above impossible 0 probability is unacceptable as they refuse to define "acceptable risk".

I'm not saying that one should dismiss one risk in order to concentrate on a higher one. But I wonder why I never see any of those nutcases with even more fervor argue that since we have only a few hundred years summed experience of nuclear states capable of doing serious harm, we should at least disarm below global social annihilation instead of running the risk.)

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

I find myself wondering what kinds of mental illnesses are allowed to be "treated" by exorcisms in Texas.

By Janine, Dising… (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Matt Penfold asks:
"Incidently, as I understand minors in the US can be tried as adults. If that is the case, can a minor argue they are actually an adult if they charged with underage sex or drinking ? And if not, why not ?"

Yes, this is true. The general trend is that if the crime is violent, then it is more likely that the prosecution will seek to try them as an adult because sterner penalties may be brought to bear.

As the statues on sex, smoking, and drinking invariably set a nice, clear age line, such a defense alone would not be likely to work. Even a legally emancipated child must still obey those age limits!

(And with sex, it gets wierder still. If you live in one state, and your partner in another, and they are under the age of consent in one state but not the other, you can be charged for violation of Federal law...)

But IANAL, and someone more learned on these subjects may have better information.

The MadPanda, FCD

Kitty,

Part of the reason I consider people to be young adults (or men/women depending on context) is that I hope by considering them such they will begin to act as such. I may be guilty of wishful thinking.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

don't have problems at all with acknowledging that it follows from my worldview that I assign people with intrinsic rights, if thats the point.

That's the point. Egocentrism is fine with me. But you seemed to imply that others should/could share your beliefs.
I.e.:

Thats what you get with these morally lost people, a human being doesn't have any intrinsic rights to them, it's all spooky mystery stuff that some god gives you and might take away whenever he or she pleases

Mystery god or egocentric existentialism - whatever. Same shit, different day. Just glad we were able to clear that up.

There is no age related consent issue here. Children are considered capable of consenting to physical contact except when that contact is sexual or dangerous. Consenting to the laying on of hands (it's creepy just writing that) is no different than consenting to a handshake - which all minors are considered legally capable of consenting to.

Is the laying on of hands dangerous?

TheMadPanda,

So I was not totally off in my intial impression that allowing minors to be tried as adults, without allowing them the rights of adults smacks of vindictiveness ?

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

She is a woman, as I said, by any reasonable meaning of the word. If you want to use an unreasonable one do

It is reasonable to use the contextual social definition, whether that definition is reasonable or not. And that would depend on the social structure in US.

Following Nick's description of brain development, it is perhaps a reasonable psychological as well as social judgment. Biologically adulthood would be at the age of possible procreation.

I agree all this is fuzzy, as it must be, but that is precisely why it seems to me at first blush "unreasonable" or rather questionable to argue adulthood in this case.

(Brain scans? We are discussing practical and distributional conditions here. You don't withhold or revoke the status of (social or psychological) "adult" based on regular scheduled brain scans.)

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

"I find myself wondering what kinds of mental illnesses are allowed to be 'treated' by exorcisms in Texas."

Janine, I would venture a guess that they'd be the kinds delisted in the DSM back in '74.

By Longtime Lurker (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Torbjörn,

I concede I may have been too strong in my condemnation. However I stand by my claim it is not reasonable to consider a 17 year old to be a child (and the other terms suggested are not helpful). Courts in the US, the UK and other jurisdictions have consistantly ruled that the older a minor gets the more say they should have in how they are treated. No one would seriously argue a five year old have much of a say in the medical treatment, but to argue a 15 year old has no say seems perverse and foolish.

The simple fact is that there is no one moment when a child becomes an adult. It may be illegal to have sex with someone underage (the age depending on where you live) but few would seriously argue a 17 year male having sex with his 15 (nearly 16) year old girlfriend is the same as a 40 year old male having sex with a 13 year old.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Matt Penfold,

You are not off in your impression at all. The overall trend of the courts seems to have been that if treating teenagers as children will allow the sterner penalty, then they are children...and if treating them as adults will allow the sterner penalty, then they are adults.

There are exceptions, to be sure, and a more educated person than I can surely list some. But there you are--we are a vengeful people, and it shows.

We are also one of the few countries in which it is permitted by law to sentence a legal minor to death. If that does not smack of vindictiveness, then I don't know the meaning of the 'v-word'.

But then, given the nature of the offense which gave rise to the case which led to the decision of the Texas Supreme Court, I should think that the folly of appealing to 'reasonable' interpretation would be clear. :)

The MadPanda, FCD

I do know that Church of England (Wales/Scotland/Ireland as appropriate) clergy in the UK get training in recognising mental illness and advice on how to deal with the mentally ill (essentially provide support but direct towards those qualified to deal with mental illness).

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Didn't see it linked yet, but text of the decision is here

I'm not sure this is quite exactly as its cracked up to me: a lot of the case seems to rest on the emotional distress caused by the incident rather than the physical restraint, and the legal issues appear more complicated than the news stories recount. I'm going to have to give this one a once over and parse it a little more.

Thanks, Bad! I couldn't find it elsewhere (which may be my overlooking the blatantly obvious...)

It may be the that the Court is not quite so bonkers as the press makes them sound and that a review of the decision itself will be enlightening.

The MadPanda, FCD

However that does not stop us from considering people younger than their early twenties adults. We allow them to vote, to marry, to join the armed forces for example.

None of those at age 17, however. Even marriage in most states, at least not without parental consent. Do you know any 17 year olds? Do you think they act like adults?

It's always the kids, isn't it? And most often the girls, isn't it? Fuck.

"This one has a poll!
Do you believe in exorcisms?"

Well, I believe people do them, yes. I believe that people hold other people down and chant at them, thinking it will have some sort of effect. But in going with the spirit of the question, I voted no. Here were the results as I saw them a couple minutes ago.

"Yes 128
43%
No 167
57%
Total Votes: 295"

Fucking sad. I can't imagine how it could possibly be a comforting thought that there is intention behind everything that happens.

Carlie,

I consider 17 year olds to be young adults. They are not yet fully adult, in that we do not allow them all the rights an adult has. However in the UK we allow them to decide if they want to have sex or not, or if they consent to medical treatment. They are allowed to marry or join the armed forces with either parental consent, or if that is not forthcoming they can apply to the court to have the parental objection overridden.

However there are rights we do not grant those who are 18. We allow them to vote, but they cannot stand for paliament until they are 21. Using your logic, are they not adults until then ? But then as I understand in the US you cannot stand for certain political offices before you are 25. Are you not an adult until then ?

In my experience 17 years tend to act like immature adults. Which is of course why we allow them some rights and not others. However if maturity is the criteria used for becoming an adult there are retired people who must still be considered children. PZ's daughter to too young to vote but when you compare her maturity and understanding to that of the stupid woman Brayton posted about the other day it is very hard to argue that Skatje should be denied a vote in the Presidential elections simply becuase she is not yet 18.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

It's always the kids, isn't it? And most often the girls, isn't it?

So it seems.

Janine, I would venture a guess that they'd be the kinds delisted in the DSM back in '74.

Posted by: Longtime Lurker

I was just going to bitch and moan about how some of these people are going to hold exorcisms to "cure" GLBT youths. But there are already many camps run by fundamentalists aimed at making those youths "straight".

By Janine, Dising… (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

My 2p:

I was under the impression that a child was someone who wasn't sexually mature, and an adult was someone who was mentally mature. The in-between stage being 'adolescent'.

Great. I live in Texas, and now I'm going to hear Tubular Bells in my head every time I go outside.

Okay, having now read the decision...

It looks like my counter-interpretation may have been close to on-target: you can still sue the bastards for physical damages and violations of secular law. It's the emotional damages that seem to have been the sticking point. Insofar as the emotional damages stem from the effects of someone's beliefs being applied against them, I can understand the Court's reluctance to wade in.

Short version: you knew these people were nuts when you joined the club. We'll let you sue 'em for breaking your arm, but not for hurting your feelings.

That said, it is entirely possible (and even probable) that the sections Dr. Myers quotes above will show up in a defense somewhere down the line, even though those quotes will be applied badly out of context. The linked articles certainly do a poor job of conveying the content of the decision (big surprise there).

Whether the Court is correct in deciding that it would be interfering inappropriately in a sectarian matter is something I must leave to the lawyers.

The MadPanda, FCD

Perhaps I just don't have enough appreciation or knowledge of her mental condition at the start of this ordeal though. - Soybomb

I think all we need to know about her mental state is what we already know about ALL of their mental states. They were raised from birth to believe, were surrounded by believers, were rewarded when they did something right and rebuked when they did something wrong. They loved the group and feared the group so they went along with everything the group said. Chances are they have few friends with opposing belief systems because that would probably encourage more abuse from the group so they are cut off from other avenues of thought or help. Although they might be adults and believe they have free will in all things, can anyone have free will when they have been so thoroughly indoctrinated?

The funny thing is that if I took an infant and told it constantly that it was worthless from day 1, encouraged others to reinforce that thought by doing the same, only rewarded it when it conformed to those beliefs, I would be guilty of abuse. But call it religion...

By Eric Paulsen (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

"Short version: you knew these people were nuts when you joined the club. We'll let you sue 'em for breaking your arm, but not for hurting your feelings."

But now the minor/adolescent thing comes in. Did she ever actually "join the club"? Or was she raised in it? Her father is a missionary in Africa. My probably-underinformed view of it is that she was under family and community pressure to participate in these exorcisms and wouldn't have been able to extricate herself from all this abuse without running away from home. Like I said, it's always the children, and this is exactly why.

The Mad Panada,

Does US law not allow for the infliction of mental harm on a person to be considered the same as physical assault ? I know that used to be the case in English law but a few years ago there was a ruling that mental harm can constitute assault under certain cirumstances.

By Matt Penfold (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

The poll is at only 312 votes, yes 132 (42 %), no 180 (58 %).

A TV series once said about the Middle Ages: "People believed in God, but even more in the devil."

By David Marjanović, OM (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Good points, all.

Assuming that I am reading the opinion correctly, which is NOT necessarily the case, the Court is trying to avoid becoming an arbiter for internal sectarian disputes. This is a bit wishy-washy, but given the local customs and practices of Texas, I can understand why elected judges might be a bit careful with this. (Whether or not I agree with this line of reasoning is beside the point...and it is possible that I'm wrong in my understanding. IANAL, nor do I play one on TV.)

Matt:

Mental and emotional harm is legally tricky. The problem here lies partially in whether or not the minor in question objected to these beliefs and practices, or whether she objected to them once they were applied to her in a way that she found unpleasant. Whether either mental or emotional harm rises to the equivalent of physical assault varies by location. Texas law may not recognize it as criminal.

Is there a Texas lawyer in the house?

Rey Fox:

She appears to have been raised in it, and in this case it would be more appropriate to sue her parents for having put her in harms way. Traditional family values being what they are, this is less likely than finding pigs on the wing tomorrow morning.

(Am I correct, O Vulpine One, in remembering that you are a fellow survivor of an Idaho upbringing? :) There's an entire state waiting to be sued for emotional damages, right there...)

The MadPanda, FCD

To: The MadPanda,

I largely agree with your assessment. The headline in this case should not be "Texas court approves traumatic exorcisms" so much as "Texas court allows 17-yr-old to consent to church practices such as exorcisms, and if she finds them traumatic then that's her problem". Admittedly, that's a little less snappy for a headline.

A lot less snappy, yes. :P

As Monado put it back in #75, this is a good justification for warning labels on all church, synagogue, mosque, and temple signs...

"Management is not responsible for emotional trauma due to application of beliefs. Enter at your own risk."

No, no, too wordy.

The MadPanda, FCD

As a Texan, I would like to personally invite all of the mediums in England, who were recently deprived of their right to defraud people for money, to move to Texas. WE
know how to protect those who mess about with the spirit world.

"Management is not responsible for emotional trauma due to application of beliefs. Enter at your own risk."

Right - and yet the attorneys for the defense argued that her traumas were sustained not during the so-called exorcism, but during her time overseas as the daughter of a missionary. Why? Why, if the church isn't going to be held liable anyway? In the interest of getting to the truth? O_o

I haven't read the decision yet, but for chadavalon and all the people making comments about religious exemptions to drug laws:

Yes, they already exist. And the religious right not only push laws that reinforced this (federally, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act), but they filed amicus briefs for the drug users the last time this reached the Supreme Court in Gonzales v. O Centro Espirita Beneficiente Uniao Do Vegetal. Even the Christian Scientists (scroll to the bottom of the article). The resulting ruling was unanimous for the religious sect. (Alito abstained because he was not appointed to the court when the oral argument was heard).

Shhh! Kseniya, you mustn't mention the 't-word'! You might start a massive fight in the pews!

But if you're suggesting, horror of horrors, that the defense is in essence attempting to deny their responsibility for damages sustained by one of their own and on their behalf... :) Well, that's why the warning sticker might be a good idea.

"Warning: Contains 100% Irresponsible Morons. Approach With Caution."

Given the high-handed manner in which their attorney overinflated the scope of this decision (quoted by Dr. Myers, all the way up there at the top), then I think it's quite safe to say that the defense is rather full of liquid fertilizer.

The MadPanda, FCD

Reasonable meaning? Like, say, an adult female? She is not considered an adult under our legal system. She can't vote,her parents are still her legal guardians, she's still of high school age, etc. Call her a girl or a teenager. or a minor. All of these terms are more correct than woman, which would only be correct in a strict medical sense(as a sexually mature human female)

Quite frankly, if a WOMAN of the age of 17 is not mature and knowledgeable enough to make an intelligent and informed decision about this sort of thing on her own, that's evidence of criminal negligence on the part of her caregivers right there.

stretch@128 So why aren't all American stoners members of the Unitarian Rastafarians or something?

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Sorry: stretch -> strech

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

I am reading your blog for a while now and keep asking myself: wtf is going on in America. For me as a German this is disturbing. What if all this insanity breaks loose?

Matt @ #106:
but few would seriously argue a 17 year male having sex with his 15 (nearly 16) year old girlfriend is the same as a 40 year old male having sex with a 13 year old.

Normal people might nor argue that, but the laws of Texas do. I know a kid who passed his 18th birthday without ceasing to boink his 15-year-old girlfriend. He went to the pen for a couple of years and then got his picture and address in the paper as a "sex offender." And the neighbors were who turned him in - the girl's family didn't care.

This is just disgusting! I cannot believe I live in this world. What's more, I can't believe that even some of my closest family members and friends believe in this shit!... OK, I don't think they'd go for an exorcism, but still.

When I read about this case, it struck me that the Texas SC has just invalidated the prosecutions the state is trying to bring against members of the FLDS compound. Since polygamy and extremely young wives are "part of the church's belief system and accepted as such by its adherents" those things cannot be examined even "when they are emotionally disturbing to other people."

To take it one step further, since strapping bombs to willing Jihadists and sending them into pizzerias is part of the belief systems of some radical Muslims, and is "accepted as such by its adherents" then according to the Texas SC, they couldn't be held criminally liable for it.

Scary ...

I'm not sure why there is so much consternation in the blogwaves about the merits (or lack thereof) of this particular case, when it is the ruling that needs the scrutiny.

Was the victim a girl or a woman? Is the damage mental versus physical? I find that neither question really much matters, because boiled down: the ruling claims it is permissable to inflict harm to another based only on local group standards so long as that standard can reasonably claim to be religious.

The ruling is embarrassing and, sadly, expected. I hope it goes to the Supreme.

By Dr. Flibble (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Make a religion demanding the clensing of thoughts of exorcism by use of hydrochloric acid, and the problem would be solved - legally.

I just created a religion that states that in order to achieve nirvana, I must show people my "junk". I'm off to the Lone Star State! Yee ha!

TEXAS HONOR KILLINGS on the RISE.
Houston Globe
Dateline:
Smallton TX
Jun 27, 2008

Sheriffs entered the Fill-N-Shop on 4200 Cypress this evening answering a 9-11 call from earlier in the afternoon. What they found was a like a scene from Saving Private Ryan. Muhammed Obduse and his two daughters who operated the business were found decapitated by multiple shotgun blasts.

Blood covered the walls, and had pooled outside onto the sidewalk.

Sherriff Bartonforce Hempstead stated, "This here's one of the worse honor killins I ever did see."

The Department will decide next week whether further investigation is necessary.

Mrs Obduse was not available for comment.

"(Am I correct, O Vulpine One, in remembering that you are a fellow survivor of an Idaho upbringing? :)"

Still surviving in the Gem State, in fact. But I grew up in the Boise suburbs with Catholic parents and boring weekly masses filled with old people singing slow hymns played on the organ. I got out of CCD somewhere around 3rd or 4th grade when Mom saw that I wasn't really getting anything out of it. So not too damaging.

For the people that didn't grow up around nutjobs of this nature, maybe someone from Alabama can give you a little bit of context.
Religious nutjobs down here believe children are property.
It's a bit iffy to say "She consented! She went before and even after they supposedly traumatized her!"
I've heard of parents beating and locking children in basements/attics over not wanting to go to church.
Which is absolutely ok with the authorities because children need Jesus. Even if you have to resort to violent brainwashing tactics to make them submit, that's ok. After all, spiritual welfare of children is more important than physical or emotional.
It's possible she'd been hit with that sort of stuff for years or threatened with it if she didn't go back.
I'd go so far as to say probable if she lived in a rural area.
Lots of people may be shocked by this ruling, but I'm not.
We're not as bad as Texas, and I'd expect that ruling to happen here.
A "It's ok to beat your wife as long as you love her and love Jesus" ruling wouldn't really surprise me.
There's a reason freethinkers from the south tend to be more combative than ones from elsewhere.

By JThompson (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

#38

Ianal - but wouldn't it be practically obligatory for the next Texas lawyers who defend a church-based abuse/molestation case to cite this ruling in defense of their clients?

Not unless it was in an apellate court. Lower court decisions are not acceptable as precedents in the TX system.

If my understanding of the focus on psychological harm in the ruling is correct, then the precedent of this piece of judicial trash should not protect any practices that result in clear physical harm, such as female circumcision, honor killing, execution of apostates, sacrificing beating hearts to Quetzalcoatl, etc. It probably would cover things like temple prostitution, ritual hallucinogen usage, and polygamy.

Granted, my understanding of US law is about as deep as a typical creationist's understanding of Tiktaalik.

Oh, and as far exorcism itself, I have just one thing to say:

Even S and M has stop words.

Rey Fox (#141)

Brother, do I ever feel your pain! Not just Idaho but Boise? I grew up there, too...only in my case, attending a Catholic school was a good thing. If not for dear ol' BK and the mandatory religion classes therein I might not have become an atheist. :) Not that the venerable nun who taught Scripture class at the time would appreciate the subtle humor in this...

I understand the old home town has even improved somewhat since I pulled up stakes for another, slightly saner state. Is the Smurf Turf still there in Bronco Stadium, would you know?

(with apologies to the other Pharyngulites for the OT post!)

The MadPanda, FCD

Rey Fox (#141)

Brother, do I ever feel your pain! Not just Idaho but Boise? I grew up there, too...only in my case, attending a Catholic school was a good thing. If not for dear ol' BK and the mandatory religion classes therein I might not have become an atheist. :) Not that the venerable nun who taught Scripture class at the time would appreciate the subtle humor in this...

I understand the old home town has even improved somewhat since I pulled up stakes for another, slightly saner state. Is the Smurf Turf still there in Bronco Stadium, would you know?

(with apologies to the other Pharyngulites for the OT post!)

The MadPanda, FCD

After having read the decision, there a couple of points I would like to add.

The nuttiness started with Laura's parents. They were missionaries and her dad is a minister for this group of whackjobs. One commenter above asked the question why weren't assault charges filed? Good question.

The answer- Not until weeks later, did her daddy, himself an Assembly of God pastor and missionary, meet twice with Senior Pastor McCutchen to discuss the June incidents and the youth ministry. Following those conversations, Senior Pastor McCutchen took the matter to the board of deacons and met with youth pastor Rod Linzay to discuss theology. McCutchen reported his actions to Laura's father in a letter on July 22.

A few days later, Laura's father responded to McCutchen's letter, but because missionaries "can not get into local church affairs," Laura's father concluded by asking the senior pastor to investigate the matter further, adding "I am placing this situation in your hands and hope God gives you wisdom." The Schuberts subsequently left Pleasant Glade to attend another church.

It seems to me another real villain in this case is their youth pastor, Linzay.

- 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.

Certainly, a great deal of Laura's problems started because this nitwit youth pastor kept the kids up till 4:30 in the morning chasing demons out of their church, then made them work a garage sale for the rest of the day.

It seems to me that the vast majority of "youth pastors" are complete morons who can not get any kind of fruitful, worthwhile employment.

That Sunday, Laura's bother collapsed during the service, they prayed over him till late in the afternoon. Laura returned to church that evening for more services when she recieved the first of her "exorcisms", after she too, collapsed.

So, it seems that there are many guilty parties in this case. Laura's parents, for wasting their lives as missionaries in Africa, her church, for being whacked out & believing in demons, the youth pastor, who supervised the insanity, and also Laura herself, she stated during the first episode that Satan or demons were trying to get her. After the episode, Laura also allegedly began telling other church members about a "vision."

On Monday and Tuesday, Laura continued to participate in church-related activities, raising money for Vacation Bible School and preparing for youth drama productions. Her parents returned from their trip on Tuesday afternoon.

On Wednesday, she collapsed and writhed on the floor, which resulted in the second "exorcism". There is conflicting evidence about whether Laura's actions were the cause or result of being physically restrained, but in my opinion, she was not just an innocent victim of these events.

Its not suprising that she has emotional problems now, but the church and the "exprcism" was only a part of the cause.

I hope this case does make it to the USSC.

By Benjamin Franklin (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Some people on this thread should read the opinions before posting. This was a *post*-verdict appeal; the case had already been tried by a jury, and the jury specifically found that the victim *did not* consent. (It appears that the issue of capacity to consent was not raised - the jury just found that she didn't consent.) Chief Justice Jefferson's dissent specifically points this out:

Consent is a question of fact--indeed, lack of consent is an element of false imprisonment on which we have an affirmative jury finding in this case. Pleasant Glade did not challenge that finding at the court of appeals, and does not raise it here.

Last paragraph of section IIA (Jefferson, C.J., dissenting).

Forgive me for not reading the previous 151 comments to see if this has already been answered.

But does this mean if the 17 yr old in question filed a criminal complaint for confinement, assault, battery etc..
the authorities would be powerless to act?

'Cause if so, the BA aint kidding when he says you guys are DOOMED!!

@#149

I've seen that play ... Arthur Miller, isn't it?

*sigh*

There's a web page in Encyclopedia Drammatica, where after seeing some very gruesome images, there's a little pic saying that you are eligible to work and live in the United States of America. I just remembered that feeling.

By Alejandro (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Spooky, what a concept!

OK here goes, the next big thing on ABC - "Spritually Lost"tm, ripped from today's headlines

Sweet Laura continues to battle her demons, combined with a psychotic affection for berber carpet, luring innocent carpet salesmen to her house for the old "wall to wall", if you know what I mean,

Dad, the missionary leaves Mom & the kids to go back to Africa in search of "Tribal Love", battling the demons of conversion to Islam and polygamy.

Laura's brother falls into a coma from being "slain in the spirit, the Assembly of God sets up camp at his hospital bed. The youth group annoints the hospital with oil to drive out all the death demons, several church members set up a garage sale in front of the hospital, and they stage various drama presentations and Busbee Berkely reviews in the hospital parking lot.

The Youth pastor takes to driving out the demons in his wife, as well as "annointing" every 17 year old in their sleepy, North Texas high school, if you know what I mean.

Does this have "hit" written all over it, or what?

PZ, I promise to write in a part for you as the "angry atheist".

Hollywood, here I come.

By Benjamin Franklin (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

Yeah, don't let little constitutional nits like Freedom of Religion get in the way of your Freeway to Liberal Fundamentalism.

"Is the Smurf Turf still there in Bronco Stadium, would you know?"

You think they'd ever give it up? No, the fourth generation of blue turf is being laid down right now.

"I understand the old home town has even improved somewhat since I pulled up stakes for another, slightly saner state."

Well, we draw better musical acts now. But really, when you were talking about Idaho being so damaging, I figured you must have grown up Mormon in eastern Idaho or Nampa. Boise's okay.

Point taken, Rey Fox...Boise was not so bad. :) Murtaugh, now, or Squirrel...or Chilly. Or (ghack) Idaho Falls. Those would have been bad.

Fourth gen smurf turf! Pardon me if I chuckle for a moment.

The MadPanda, FCD

Maybe there'll come a time when some group sets up an underground railroad to deliver people out of Texas. P. Z. rightly stresses the harm done. I have law enforcement relatives here in Texas who truly (or as they always say, "firmly") believe that many teenagers are devil worshippers. They have the authority to arrest people so suspected and to have them placed under psychiatric supervision, which these days almost always involves placing them on psychiatric medication. It is chilling. If I didn't have family here that can't leave and that need me close by, I would have left long ago.

So what they're saying is that female circumcision is now legal in Texas because it is a practice based on religious doctrine... If someone wishes to do circumcise their female child all they have to do is point out this ruling, and say, "Well Christianity can mentally and physically abuse someone because it is part of their religion, well female circumcision is a very important part of ours. Thanks guys, now I'm going to go legally mutilate my daughter"

Yeah, don't let little constitutional nits like Freedom of Religion get in the way of your Freeway to Liberal Fundamentalism. ~ Nobody

Don't let a little thing like the infliction of trauma on a teenager by superstitious lunatics get in the way of your right to be a relentlessly senseless fucktroll.

Yeah, don't let little constitutional nits like Freedom of Religion get in the way of your Freeway to Liberal Fundamentalism.

Posted by: Nobody

So Nobody raises it's head full of nothing.

So, Nobody, do you think that people who are mentally ill should be treated to exorcisms? Should people who do not act as the congregation believe they should be treated to exorcisms?

And, oh yes, it is oh so obvious that conservatives as a group support this ruling.

Just go back to making all of your nowhere plans for nobody.

By Janine, Dising… (not verified) on 28 Jun 2008 #permalink

I now have a purpose in life. I will learn the names of these six judges and commit myself to their losing office. And once they have lost office, I will reveal their secrets, attack their relatives, publish their email addresses and phone numbers. These six must be destroyed.

But seriously: What's the statute of limitations on assault? Might she still be able to file criminal charges? Dang! looked it up and it's five years.

And Scooter in #140, sounds like you know NW Harris well. Maybe the honor killings in the outer Houston burbs will begin soon.

deliver people out of Texas.

Ah yes, part of the cephalopod's prayer: Lead us not into Bean Station; but deliver us from Texas.

From PZ's first, MSN, link:

The church contended she "freaked out" about following her father's life as a missionary and was acting out to gain attention.

It seems to me that this is a rather crucial element in the church's defence, since it's the one where they shoot themselves (and their case) in the foot. If they believe she was "acting out" then they don't believe she was demonically possessed. Which is a confession from them that the exorcism was unnecessary and that they tortured her for their own amusement, not as a legitimate part of their religion (regardless of whether she consented to that religion and whether religions should be allowed to be that evil).

The whole exorcise/exercise was a sham - and they evidently know it. Their own defence really should have been used to condemn them had a mentally competent person been present to point it out and/or preside over the case.

There's also some possibility that they (via their lawyers anyway) are in contempt of their own religion, ie don't really believe in demonic possession and exorcism more generally. If they don't really believe it then it's not actually a part of their religion at all (for the purposes that feeble get-out clause they're using).

There could be a question over when they ceased believing in possession and switched over to a belief in "acting out", ie before or after they tortured her. However, that doesn't really give them an out because you'd need to establish the basis on which the new belief rests, eg a psychological/psychiatric evaluation rather than divine revelation, and if they regard a more rational process as being the deciding one then they are guilty of a lack of care in not following the rational process first.

At the very least, by resorting to a defence of "acting out" they are admitting they aren't competent to judge whether someone needs to be exorcised (even if they still believe in exorcism generally). So that decision-making power should be taken out of their hands and officially given to someone else (ideally someone sane, unlike them). But I really do think they scuppered their case right there and everyone missed it.

This case really needs to be sent up to a higher court, ideally one containing some more rational people than the local idiots, if the US has one with jurisdiction.

@Matt Penfold (passim):

I know it's a minor issue (sic), but you are wrong. Here in the UK, persons of 17 years of age are not adult in any legal sense. They have no capacity for example either to enter into contracts, or to take or defend civil proceedings, in their own name. With certain restricted exceptions (eg contracts for necessaries) persons under 18 cannot be sued for breach of contract.

It is true that in some limited respects, minors are treated as able to give consent. That doesn't make them adults in the eyes of the law, however, since the provisions as to consent are express exceptions to the general rule of lack of capacity.

Unusually, Wikipedia actually has a good definition for "age of majority" (although they do screw up in the next paragraph with reference to contractual capacity as being an issue of licence rather than majority):

The age of majority is the threshold of adulthood as it is conceptualized in law. It is the chronological moment when children legally cease to be minors and assume control over their persons, actions and decisions, thereby terminating the legal control and legal responsibilities of their parents over and for them.

Trust me - I'm a lawyer;-)

By Robin Levett (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

Famous Last Words-

"Trust me, I'm a lawyer."

By Benjamin Franklin (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

sometimes I think things would have been so much better if we had let the south split during the civil war.
They could have "jesusland" and we could have "rationalvania" or something. then I see dumbasses in PA (like Santorum) and UT (mormons) and change my mind.

$(^*$ texas

By BBCaddict (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

SEF:

It seems to me that this is a rather crucial element in the church's defence, since it's the one where they shoot themselves (and their case) in the foot. If they believe she was "acting out" then they don't believe she was demonically possessed.

Unfortunately, this point fails to hold water. I was going to make it myself, but changed my mind after re-examining that part of the story.

The claim is not that her "acting out" was the behavior that prompted the exorcism. What they're claiming is this:

1. Her trauma and subsequent psychological problems were caused by experiences she had in Africa, not by the exorcism.

2. Her decision to subsequently blame these problems on the exorcism was simply a case of her "acting out" her trauma-based issues.

I should clarify - they're claiming that her self-injurious behavior and attempted suicide were instances of her "acting out to gain attention," and point to the traumatic experiences of the missionary life, not the exorcism, as the cause of the psychological problems that precipitated those self-injurious behaviors.

Thank you for your good concern. Non-believers who are humane, just fact seekers are most important to our Faith Community. I can assure you that exorcism is not of our God. Only the true Apostles of Christ may command a spirit (not beat it out) to leave a victim. Lay members may only pray lest the spirit invades them. An adult victim must freely give their informed consent. We do not take other faith communities spirits from them unless they freely surrender them except as required by a government's law. Our true Faith is one of freewill decision by mature adults no younger than age 28 if not age 40. Children and adults may not be kidnapped (made hostage), tortured, endangered, or judged or condemned for a lack of faith. Faith is a gift of God and the nonbelievers are frequently more righteous than we of the convenants in God and in Christ.

We need nonbelievers' assistance in removing the irrefutable, weightier-matter falsehoods from our Faith Community or God will keep using the most merciless of our False Teachers to drive all into a forced conversionist's unholy church. Our God has taken all the caucasian communities so far. The governments have to liberate His people from falsehoods including patriarchs and paternalistic types or God will enslave the entire world community to the killers operating in His name. No Moses just reality. Near kinsman are called first to rebuke Israel and the Christians by lawful justice. The Roman Republic lost severely for not knowing to rebuke false teachings and teachers from the middle east and our Faith group.

Thank you for your sincere concern and desired mercy for all of America.

Linda Headley@172. Hi Linda, I took a look at your website. In my opinion, your ideas are crazy, but at least they seem to be nice crazy; we get plenty of the nasty crazy visiting here.

By Nick Gotts (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

they're claiming that her self-injurious behavior and attempted suicide were instances

... and that the demonic stuff wasn't?! As far as I can make out from what little of the account is online and loadable (the court page simply hangs my browser) her father was said to have been a missionary and a member of their cult before the exorcism incident - hence they should have seen signs of the same "acting out" beforehand if they are blaming it on her upbringing rather than their own actions (and yet then still failing to recognise that as a possibility instead of demonic possession).

The atmosphere during this event became spiritually charged after one of the youth announced he had seen a demon near the sanctuary.

This is so medieval. Did anyone else see it? Any pictures? What did it look like. Being Texas it probably looked like Al Gore or Obama or PZ Myers.

Sounds like this girl needs some psychiatric attention and soon. Late adolescence can be a trying time for anyone but people with issues have it worse.

At least the Catholic church tries to screen out and steer the genuine psychiatric cases to medical people before doing exorcisms.

I met a woman once who claimed to be demon possesed and a witch. It was nonsene of course, she was an obvious untreated, hostile schizophrenic. These afflicteds tend to frame their mental problems around something, politicians, demons, or UFO aliens are the usual.

PS Kseniya, I'd still (if I was doing the cross-examination) like to know exactly how they (the church apologists) believe they can make a diagnosis of "acting out" on one occasion as distinct from one of "demonic possession" on another and also be able to attribute that entirely to Africa rather than their local cult. Evidence and such like.

If she is at the age of consent under Texas law and consented then she does not have a prayer -- pun intended -- assuming no actual and explicate violation of the law.

If you make stupid choices then be prepared for the consequences.

And any court with the power to say that a that church's beliefs are harmful is also a court that can say that P.Z. Myers is harmful. And I dare say that in Texas more citizens, voters, and judges think that P.Z. Myers' beliefs are harmful. Supporting the government going after that stupid church is giving them a license to go after others who they have a theological difference and I simply can't imagine a difference more profound than the one they have with P.Z. And they think that P.Z. says is harmful.

The only action that should be taken against a church by the government is for misdeeds forbidden by laws that where created without the aim of helping or harming that church.

And I dare say that if you really want these things to go away the best way would be for people to suffer the consequences rather than have the government shield people from the consequences of their actions. There is a reason why this sort of thing is extremely rare: it is that people have the right to switch to another church or no church at all.

And I dare say that in Texas more citizens, voters, and judges think that P.Z. Myers' beliefs are harmful.

But the clear distinction is that PZ hasn't (to our knowledge!) actually harmed someone, eg by illegally restraining them on the floor. Those church dudes have. They don't merely have crazy beliefs. They "act out" on them in ways which are demonstrably harmful to others, physically as well as mentally.

Having thought about it some and read the decision, I'm probably going to be unpopular here in saying it, but I think that the ruling is not particularly crazy and has to some extent been misrepresented. There are certainly some debatable legal issues here, but not on the order of the court basically saying that it's clearly okay to commit a crime against someone as long as its part of a religious ritual, as some have argued here.

Ugh, it's the morons like this that make all Texans look like complete idiots. I'd say about 10% of Texans are rational. The rest are religious nutters.

A Lurker #177 says, "And I dare say that if you really want these things to go away the best way would be for people to suffer the consequences rather than have the government shield people from the consequences of their actions."

Ah, so CHILDREN are the culprits, aye? It's GOOD for them to suffer the consequences of their chosen actions, aye? It's THEIR fault that superstitious imbeciles brand them as possessed by demons, aye? It's the VICTIM'S fault whenever they are they are abused, aye?

What an shameless and abject moron you are.

By Arnosium Upinarum (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

However I stand by my claim it is not reasonable to consider a 17 year old to be a child

Agreed; there is a fuzzy line here.

and the other terms suggested are not helpful

That I don't see. They can point out or distinguish the fuzziness of overlapping sets.

But on the whole it seems to me we agree, we both argue the contextual social definition, it is the terminology that we differ in.

On the specific case, I see that the point of consent is moot (comments note that it wasn't given). But IMO it is arguable to grant immature adults consensual ability at all times.

[And yes, I do believe there is such a thing, observed over a population. Whether it can, or should, be established by some form of individual test is arguable; these things are decided by age criteria, which works as well as one could hope for.]

By Torbjörn Larsson, OM (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

Went to high school in Texas and had to make the most important decision of my life at age 18: Stay there and live out my remaining days or seek out a civilized existence elsewhere. Within a few days of graduation, I left for good. These kind of stories simply reduce me to tears of joy for that one profoundly good decision.

"Im kinda hoping we get to see some juicy exorcisms here in Australia"

You've been hanging around the wrong churches, if you think this stuff doesn't happen here. I was raised in the "Foursquare" movement, and my mum has consistently gravitated to the weirdest fringe nutbar loony christians every chance she could get. I've seen excorcisms, you bet.

Those bright and shiny megachurches (Hillsong, CCC etc) might not show the weird stuff on their TV programs, and maybe don't really do that kind of thing, but all the beliefs are in place. Jesus believed in demons. I've been to the prayer meetings, the prophetic thingos that the general public was not invited to. Maybe the leadership don't trully belive the weird stuff, but there's a lot of stupid and hysterical congregants that do.

By Paul Murray (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

And any court with the power to say that a that church's beliefs are harmful is also a court that can say that P.Z. Myers is harmful

bullshit.

to show that, you would have to show the same level of psychological damage being caused by PZ musings, which, of course, are entirely optional. OTOH, there are literally hundreds of individual case studies showing the psychological trauma done to children by supposed "exocisms" and other extreme religious dogma acted upon by various adherents.

Pentecostal snake handlers come to mind as another great example.

logic, you're doing it wrong.

Mike @61wrote: "Judges of the Supreme Court of Texas are elected. Sheesh."

Since I moved to Germany five years ago I've learned a little bit about the law system here. My wife works for the courts so we're always talking about how things work here, and how they work in the U.S. She thought I was joking the first time I told her that many (most state and local? I'm not sure.) judges are elected. She didn't believe it. The same with district attorneys. (Frontline has a couple of good episodes on exactly why this is a bad idea.) Election of justice officials is an invitation to corruption, and there is always the obvious danger of electing stupid people. It's just a bad idea to politicize justice in any way.

I like the way it works here:

First, you go to school to become a lawyer. You take a test. You pass, you're a lawyer. (If you fail you get one more chance. One.) Those scoring highest on the exam are offered the opportunity to extend their education to become judges. There's a big difference right there: German judges are trained to be judges. (anyone remember Harriet Miers?)
You go back to school for (I think)five more years. You take another test. You pass, you're almost a judge.
Almost. The first tour of duty of newly minted judges is the Staatsanwaltschaft, the District Attorney's office. There they work as prosecutors for several years before moving into an actual judicial position. Some choose to remain and make their career as a D.A.
In short, the judges are trained and hired by the court. Just like in any other job. It seems to work far better than in the States. There is very little corruption, and almost no incentive for a D.A. to tamper with evidence (or to collude with the police to do so). Does it happen? I'm sure, but not nearly on the scale of the U.S.

Oh, and Supreme Court justices? They're hired, too. Not appointed. Just to give you an idea of how apolitical the system here is, here's an anecdote for you. Several years ago one of the judges my wife used to work for was selected to the supreme court (Bundesgerichtshof, which decides criminal and civil law not the Bundesverfassungsgericht, which decides constitutional questions). Just out of curiosity I did a web search on the judge's name. Not one hit. It wasn't even newsworthy.

And now back to the topic at hand:

This is from the star-telegram link (the one with the poll. Yippee!):

The 2002 trial of the suit never touched on the religious aspects of the case, and a Tarrant County jury found the church and its members liable for abusing and falsely imprisoning Schubert, who was 17 at the time. The jury awarded Schubert $300,000 for mental anguish, but the 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth shaved $122,000 from the verdict for loss of future income.

If the original trial 'never touched on the religious aspects of the case' it seems to me that the Supreme Court injected religion into it. The church was found liable for abuse and false imprisonment, and the State Supreme Court decided that because this took place in religious context it's OK. The court applied a religious test to the law. Unbelievably bad law.
Would the same justices vote to uphold Sharia law? From the reasoning in the decision it sures sounds like. Expect Blackwater to file for a change of venue to Texas.

By Equisetum (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

Matt, things are pretty screwed up in the US. A teen thrown out of their parents' home for disobedience usually ends up homeless and unemployable. The lucky ones have friends whose parents take them in for a year, often sleeping on a different family's sofa each week while they try to get their high school diploma. Now-- in the kind of community where judges would rule in favor of a church committing false imprisonment and assault, how many families will take in a "possessed" child?
The unlucky ones end up in the underworld, living on the streets or given a "break" by someone in the sex trade.
It would be a rational choice for many 17 year olds to put up with temporary abuse rather than screw up their whole future.

Even if her parents weren't pressuring her to get exorcised, she may have been faced with shunning and prejudice against her at school and in the neighborhood. Humans are social animals and are often willing to make sacrifices to keep in their social groups.

And 17 is a child, legally, in the US. There have to be special arrangements made to try them as adults (and such is only done for violent crimes, AFAIK-- and I doubt should ever be done. Kids as young as 8 have been threatened with being tried as adults. Unless you believe an 8 year old is an adult, Matt, don't use that line of reasoning, because it doesn't work.)
No one is an adult in the US simply because they are able to have sex. If a girl has a baby before she is 18, she becomes an "emancipated MINOR", minor meaning child and emancipated meaning that she is now given the rights of an adult in order that she, and not the grandparents, makes decisions for her child. This is a special case, where one becomes simultaneously a child and an adult-- and if such a teen mother was the victim of a crime, I'm sure the culprit could be tried as harming a child rather than an adult.
17 is not legally an adult; you keep saying that is unreasonable, which makes me suspect, as others have, that you are not terribly far removed from 17 yourself.
Teenagers do stupid things. So do adults, but adults have a certain responsibility to put a stop to teenagers doing stupid things.

By Samantha Vimes (not verified) on 29 Jun 2008 #permalink

Texas also seems to hold a certain prominence in the BDSM community. Not that correlation indicates causation, but perhaps it's just a choice of where you find your outlet and whose approval you desperately crave?

For myself, I'm starting my religion in Waco as we speak. I'm going to sacrifice a young, attractive woman's virginity every Friday night.

Why not attractive young men? Why you ... you ... blasphemer! Heretic! Apostate!