Skip to comments.Court sides with church in demon case
Posted on 06/28/2008 4:35:07 AM PDT by Gamecock
The Texas Supreme Court, showing continued deference to religious practice, on Friday tossed out a $188,000 judgment against members of a Pentecostal church who restrained a teenager they feared had come under demonic influence.
Laura Schubert claimed that rough handling during the hours-long 1996 incident involving the "laying on of hands" and intensive prayer left her disabled by post-traumatic stress disorder.
Jurors agreed, finding that Schubert, then 17, was falsely imprisoned and assaulted by a pastor, youth minister and members of Pleasant Glade Assembly of God church in suburban Fort Worth.
However, the state Supreme Court dismissed Schubert's case in a 6-3 ruling, saying her lawsuit violated the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment protections on religious expression the latest in a string of decisions limiting judicial oversight of religious institutions and practice.
"The case, as tried, presents an ecclesiastical dispute over religious conduct that would unconstitutionally entangle the court in matters of church doctrine," said the majority opinion, written by Justice David Medina.
A dissent by Chief Justice Wallace Jefferson, joined in part by two other justices, said the Pleasant Glade decision improperly confers sweeping immunity to those who "merely allege a religious motive."
Wrote Jefferson: "The First Amendment guards religious liberty; it does not sanction intentional abuse in religion's name."
Schubert's case began after she collapsed during a Sunday worship service. Several church members, alert for signs of nefarious activity after a youth reported seeing a demon on church grounds, escorted her into a classroom to pray for her safety.
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.
She received carpet burns, bruises and injuries to her wrists and back.
In Friday's opinion, the Supreme Court agreed that religious practices that threaten public health, safety or welfare "cannot be tolerated as protected religious belief."
But Schubert alleged that the laying on of hands to drive away demons caused emotional, not physical, damage a key difference, Medina noted.
Laying on of hands is routinely practiced, is not typically dangerous and is accepted by church members, Medina wrote.
More importantly, the practice is part of the church's belief system, and the First Amendment prohibits courts from deciding issues of religious doctrine, the opinion said.
"Because providing a remedy for the very real, but religiously motivated, emotional distress in this case would require us to take sides in what is essentially a religious controversy, we cannot resolve that dispute," the Supreme Court ruled. "Determining the circumstances of (Schubert's) emotional injuries would, by its very nature, draw the court into forbidden religious terrain."
In his dissent, Jefferson said Pleasant Glade's religious beliefs were irrelevant because false imprisonment is a religiously neutral law "and the First Amendment provides no protection against it."
Jefferson said the ruling sets a dangerous precedent.
"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," he wrote. "In these cases, the court's holding today will force the lower courts to deny the plaintiff recovery of emotional damages" if religion is invoked.
Last summer, the court dismissed a lawsuit against a pastor who disclosed a member's extramarital affair to the congregation.
The pastor also served as the woman's private counselor, but the court ruled that the First Amendment outweighed the pastor's secular obligation to keep the information private.
In September, the court struck down a 10-year law that let Texas set standards for seminary degrees. The law "clearly and excessively entangles the government in religious instruction," the court ruled.
Court sides with church in demon case
close. it’s from the Austin-American Statesman. The newspaper for Austin, Texas.
Well, there's your problem.
We need demon registration, and demon-free zones at churches and schools. Sensible demon laws now!
Looking at it from a strictly secular, non-religious point of view I'd say if you went and they said bad things, and then you went again and they said more bad things, you got a problem, not them.
The whole crowd is nuts ya' know.
Rabbi: [On TV] The prophet Isaah tells us without friends our lives are empty and meaningless.
George: Wait. Whoa! That's the Rabbi: from Elaine's building. I just met this guy the other day.
Rabbi: A young lady I know, let's call her Elaine:, happened to find herself overwhelmed with feelings of resentment and hostility for her friend, let's call him George:. She felt that George was somewhat of a loser and that she was the one who deserved to be married first. She also happened to mention to me that her friend had wondered if going to a prostitute while you're engaged is considered cheating. His feeling was they're never going to see each other again so what's the difference. But that is a subject for another sermon. Now, I'd like to close with a psalm.
I’d rather they erred in this direction.
I’m not at all interested in physical abuse and certainly not sexual abuse.
And, it may have been that the folks involved MIGHT have done better in some way or other.
Submitting to and enagaging in such DELIVERANCE sessions is not all that uncommon.
I believe that most folks on the delivering side . . . would do well to fast and pray more and restrain and harrangue a lot less.
All it takes is a word—when the anointing is there.
If the anointing is not there, all the restraining in the world will do, essentially, no good.
But those are RELIGIOUS/SPIRITUAL issues, imho, not State Court issues.
So, on balance, I’d rather see the court err in the direction they went.
Is it just me or is the Supreme Court beginning to make sense?
You know, I’m a pretty simple guy, but I’ve always understood that our rights end the minute they violate someone else’s rights.
I have the right to property, unless it means I’m stealing someone else’s, thus violating their right to property.
I have the freedom of religion and the free practice thereof, unless it means I’m restraining someone against their will, violating their right to liberty.
What next, is Texas Supreme Court going to rule that the Constitution protects that Polygamist/pedophile LDS cults religios right to practice pedophilia? Then what, floggings are OK? Honor killings?
Unless I completely misunderstand this case, I think the ruling is off. I mean, she was physically restrained. Stupid for going back, IMO, and probably deserved that second restraint for her stupidity.
Obviously, not very well:
left her disabled by post-traumatic stress disorder.
It appears she needs a few more sessions to get her mind right.
"Yeah, give em a free pass on this cos they claim to have seen an elf"