By October 24, 2016 0 Comments Read More →

Mom Who Beat Son Claims Protection from Prosecution under State’s Religious Freedom Law

Mother claims religious freedom; state claims child abuse.

Mother claims religious freedom; state claims child abuse.

When his school teacher patted the 7-year-old boy on his back, he flinched. That was when the teacher noticed the bruises on his back.  He had a total of 36 deep purple bruises and red welts on his back, arm and thigh. There was also a loop mark on the boy’s ear that resulted from the small hook of a plastic hanger his mother had used to beat him. The police and child welfare authorities were notified. The boy’s mother states her method is in line with her religious beliefs, and should be protected by the state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Kin Thaing, a 30-year-old Burmese refugee living in Indiana, told authorities she became angry after she saw her son and 3-year-old daughter showing each other their private parts. She saw a hanger and hit both children with it, although she did not hit her daughter as hard as she did her son. She then told the children to pray for forgiveness. She said, “I was worried for my son’s salvation with God after he dies.”

Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act holds that the government must first prove a compelling interest before it intrudes on someone’s religious liberty, and it must do so in the least restrictive way.

Greg Bowes, Thaing’s attorney, filed papers with the court that authorities should not interfere with Thaing’s right to raise her child as she sees fit. He cited Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act as part of her defense. He also cited the Bible’s teaching of “spare the rod and spoil the child.” Additionally, Bowes is using a legal precedent in which the Indiana Supreme Court ruled that parents have a right to discipline their children with reasonable force, if they believe it is necessary to prevent misconduct.

The Deputy Prosecutor argues that Thaing’s behavior was beyond reasonable, and “beyond these religious instructions she cites from the Bible.” He added that the state’s compelling interest in preventing child abuse outweighs religious protections in state law.

Thaing claimed that cultural differences are also an issue, and this form of discipline is common in Burma; but she added, “I now know that there are effective ways to teach my children good behavior without using physical punishment.”

The boy and his two younger sisters were placed in the custody of the Department of Child Services and their mother was arrested. She was charged with battery on a person less than 14 years of age and neglect of a dependent. Both charges are felonies.


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