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You’re free to physically assault young women if Jesus told you to in Texas

By Amanda Marcotte
Sunday, June 29, 2008 19:09 EDT
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From PZ, a story that’s horrifying both on its own and for its implications for the rights of all people, but especially women, whose bodies that the churches claim spiritual ownership over in the name of god. A bit of background: A number of fundamentalist churches believe that sin is caused by literal demons that are invisible but that cling to your body, and need to be expunged by regular exorcisms that are satisfying dramatic to suit their own beliefs that they’re waging war. Unsurprisingly, this tradition drifts over to sadism towards the sinners themselves, especially if the sinners are the young women that absorb so much of fundamentalism’s fascinated hostility. Which has, in one case at least, caused what sounds like a version of post-traumatic stress disorder.

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.

But leave it to the Texas Supreme Court to decide that physical assault, kidnapping, and generally traumatizing young women is a-okay if you say Jesus told you to do it.

Justice David Medina wrote that finding the church liable “would have an unconstitutional ‘chilling effect’ by compelling the church to abandon core principles of its religious beliefs.”

This sort of logic chills me. I quickly can see the implications for women’s rights outside of just the basic right not to be assaulted during a bout of make-believe over demons that people have convinced themselves is real. Most of these churches are anti-choice—what if they argue that their religious freedom gives them the right to kidnap and contain women that they suspect of being sexual active or of seeking abortion or contraception? Is there a time limit on how long a church can restrain a woman because they believe their god gives them ownership over her body?

I joked the other day about Romanian churches that think they have some legal rights over the bodies of random girls and women in Romania. Maybe they should set up shop in Texas, where the reactionary court will give them license to abuse citizens.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
 
 
 
 
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