Saturday, June 28, 2008

Exorcism protected by law

The Texas Supreme Court on Friday threw out a jury award over injuries a 17-year-old girl suffered in an exorcism conducted by members of her old church, ruling that the case unconstitutionally entangled the court in religious matters.

In a 6-3 decision, the justices found that a lower court erred when it said the Pleasant Glade Assembly of God's First Amendment rights regarding freedom of religion did not prevent the church from being held liable for mental distress triggered by a "hyper-spiritualistic environment."

Laura Schubert testified in 2002 that she was cut and bruised and later experienced hallucinations after the church members' actions in 1996, when she was 17. Schubert said she was pinned to the floor for hours and received carpet burns during the exorcism, the Austin American-Statesman reported. She also said the incident led her to mutilate herself and attempt suicide. She eventually sought psychiatric help.

Read more here.


  1. I'm not super-familiar with exorcisms, but my impression was that they're mostly just prayers, reading from the Bible, and blessing with holy water. Really shouldn't be anything that causes any sort of physical harm to the person...

    I can see the TX Supreme Court not wanting to rule on the thorny issue of possible emotional distress allegedly caused by an exorcism, but it seems clear to me that physical harm to a minor crosses the line and shouldn't be covered by the free exercise of religion.

  2. I have to admit I don't know anything about exorcisms.

    But being held against ones will and the carpet burns seem abusive to me.

    There really wasn't enough info for me to form an opinion. Why did they think they needed to perform an exorcism in the first place? Did she agree to it and then change her mind? Were her parents involved?


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