Indiana Lady Pretty Sure She Had 'Religious Freedom' To Beat Her Kid To Bloody Pulp

That's not what He meant.

Last year, when states were rushing to pass updated and expanded Religious Freedom Restoration Acts (RFRAs), we told you that, even though they were doing it to preserve their God-given right to bash gays, the statutes were written so broadly that ALL KINDSA PEOPLE could potentially break laws and harm people, and then say "Oh, my religion says I can do this! What about my RELIGIOUS FREEDOM?"

[wonkbar]<a href=""></a>[/wonkbar]It's happening, loves! In Indiana, which was the epicenter of the RFRA fight, a lady and her lawyer are saying it's OK that she beat her 7-year-old son so badly with a coat hanger that he ended up with 36 bruises, and welts so large that the child flinched TWO DAYS LATER when a teacher touched his back at school. And why is it OK? Because BIBLE BIBLE BIBLE, in your face!

An Indianapolis woman who beat her 7-year-old son with a coat hanger is citing Indiana's religious freedom law as a defense against felony child abuse charges, saying her choice of discipline comes straight from her evangelical Christian beliefs.

The woman quoted biblical Scripture in court documents. She said that a parent who "spares the rod, spoils the child," and: "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol."

We all know child abuse is OK when you are saving your child's soul from Sheol! And the woman, a Burmese immigrant named Kin Park Thaing, specifically said that's what she was trying to do, by beating her son:

"I was worried for my son's salvation with God after he dies," said Thaing, who attends a south-side church, according to court documents. "I decided to punish my son to prevent him from hurting my daughter and to help him learn how to behave as God would want him to."

Trying to stop your child from hurting your other child is a legitimate parental concern! But beating a kid to a bloody pulp is probably not the answer, even if you believe you're just doing little Jesus spankings.

She also beat the 3-year-old child with the coathanger "before telling [the children] to pray for forgiveness." Ayup.

Now, there is a legitimate cultural difference here. The Indianapolis Star points out that punishment like that is much more common in Burma than it is here, and that it's not necessarily considered child abuse. Thaing apparently also does not speak English. But HER DAMN LAWYER, a guy named Greg Bowes, should know better. A memorandum he filed says "RFRA gives Thaing the right to discipline her children in accordance with her beliefs, and ... the state should should not interfere with her fundamental right to raise her children as she deems appropriate." Goodness gracious!

Unfortunately, as the Star also points out, there's another precedent in Indiana that might make Thaing's actions A-OK. An Indiana Supreme Court ruling, to be specific:

In 2008, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled 3-1 to overturn the felony conviction of Sophia Willis, who used a belt or an electrical cord to discipline her 11-year-old son. (The mom said belt, the son said cord; the court ruled it did not matter.)

The justices in that decision gave parents wide latitude in determining what is reasonable discipline for their children. Hitting kids with a belt or an electrical cord is not much different from using a coat hanger, said [Indiana University law professor Jennifer] Drobac, who has taught the Willis decision in classes on juvenile law. [...]

"Indiana says you can beat your kid here, too," Drobac said. "Are we so different than Burma?"

Maybe not?

On a related note, Oklahoma also has a RFRA. Maybe this other lady, Juanita Gomez, can cite it in HER defense for why she murdered her daughter with a crucifix because she believed Satan was in her daughter's body:

Juanita Gomez, 49, was charged with first-degree murder on Monday, Reuters reports. She claimed her 33-year-old daughter, Geneva Gomez, was possessed by the devil and allegedly punched her repeatedly to “rid Satan from her body,” court records show.

“Juanita stated she punched her daughter repeatedly and forced a crucifix and religious medallion down her throat until blood came out of her daughter’s mouth,” court documents stated, according to the Oklahoman. “Juanita saw her daughter die and then placed the body in the shape of a cross.”

Sweet Jesus, literally. Now, RFRA isn't mentioned anywhere in Gomez's case, and probably won't be, because FIRST-DEGREE MURDER.

But we are just saying that RFRAs are fucked up laws, because religious freedom is super and great and American, but when you use your religion to harm SOMEONE ELSE, then your "religious freedom" can go get fucked.

[Indianapolis Star / Time]

Evan Hurst

Evan Hurst is the managing editor of Wonkette, which means he is the boss of you, unless you are Rebecca, who is boss of him. His dog Lula is judging you right now.

Follow him on Twitter RIGHT HERE.


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