An Indianapolis woman, Kin Park Thaing, claimed “religious freedom,” after her arrest for beating her seven-year-old son with a coat hanger, which left 36 bruises and welts. Ms. Thaing is scheduled to appear in court on October 19, 2016.
Thaing is quoted in court documents as using Proverbs 13:24 for her defense. It is a Bible verse, which says, “Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” While Marion County Deputy Prosecutor, Matt Savage, doesn’t buy Thaing’s defense, it will be interesting to see how her claims play out in court.
The ridiculousness of religious freedom laws is that they are purely subjective. No evidence needs to be cited beyond one’s personal belief. People can be denied jobs, housing, marriage, pizza, and in the case of Thaing’s son, parental safety. In most States, parents can still send their children into conversion therapy to “make them straight,” in spite of the overwhelming evidence that it not only doesn’t work, but can cause harm.
Naturally, U.S. religious freedom laws lean heavily toward Christian fundamentalist beliefs, where just over 70% of Americans claim to be Christians. However, of that number, only around 47% claim to be evangelical; a small number with enormous political power.
While Christian politicians decry Sharia Law, they pass legislation that favors their own beliefs and punishes those who don’t follow them. This year, Mississippi passed House Bill 1523, which allowed people to “fire single mothers with impunity, terminate employees cohabiting with a member of the opposite sex, and ban marriages of same-sex couples.” This law was written by Republican, House Speaker Philip Gunn, who said he, “wrote the bill to impose Republican religious laws on the good people of Mississippi because the Supreme Court’s Obergefell v. Hodges ruling was an abomination to the God of the Christian Bible.”
Allowing laws to be made purely on personal beliefs – no matter how many people believe them – deposes democracy and invites abuse, discrimination, and victimization. Trevor Noah’s, The Daily Show, interviewed Trump supporters who espoused the very views they say they are against. One supporter stated it was important to have respect for everyone’s religion. When the reporter asked her about specific religions, however, she was on board with Christianity and Judaism, but not Islam.
It’s easy to point the finger at Islamic terrorist organizations and forget Christianity’s violent history. Many dismiss those Christians who shoot abortion doctors and burn crosses in the lawns of minorities as the wrong kind of Christian, or not Christians at all. But since religious beliefs are subject to interpretation, it only takes a small majority, and a few supporting members of congress, such as convicted white supremacist, David Duke, to start passing discriminatory and oppressive bills against one segment of the population.
More recently, ministers, such as Roger Jimenez, and Kevin Swanson, have espoused killing members of the LGBT community. When I questioned the silence of fundamentalist Christians following the Orlando shooting, one man left a Facebook comment for me that said, “Don’t blame me, that’s what the Bible says.” He implied – as I stated in the article – killing gay people is the logical conclusion to the Biblical belief that homosexuality is a sin.
But fighting against “religious freedom” laws is seen as persecution. Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention said, “Those voices…that claim to be Christian but seek to restrict religious freedom for others are perhaps unknowingly on a campaign to destroy religious liberty.”
Instead, I’d suggest those voices are on a campaign to stop religious abuse and discrimination in the name of God. Religion has no place in a democratic government. Religion is a personal choice, most often devoid of any factual evidence, and which can be interpreted many ways to many people. There are 41,000 sects of Christianity alone.
How the court views Ms. Thaing’s claim of “religious freedom” is also up for interpretation. Usually, in extreme cases, such as the abuse of a child, courts take the side of the child. Unfortunately, “religious freedom” provides a large umbrella for cases like this, allowing people to get away with horrendous violations of human rights.
Originally published on Huffington Post
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