Those who abuse women and children use every excuse in the book.
As a marriage and family therapist, I see first-hand the damage that’s done when abusers blame their victims and attempt to manipulate the justice system so they are not held accountable for their despicable acts.
That’s why we should all pay close attention when a bill is being presented in the General Assembly that would be used by some abusers as one more excuse to “make their child or wife obedient.”
Don’t believe it could happen in Georgia?
It already has.
This past Sunday in the Macon Telegraph, District Attorney David Cooke pointed to two high-profile Georgia cases where defendants have already claimed “religious freedom” as an excuse for “discipline.”
In one case, a pastor and 10 members of Atlanta’s House of Prayer claimed “religious freedom” when charged with beating 7- and 10-year-old boys.
In another case, a mother and father said they were following their church’s teaching when they whipped their son, locked him in a closet and told him to pray. While 8-year-old Josef Smith died as a result of this abuse, his parents and his church said the boy was disciplined in line with their understanding of the Bible.
Fortunately, Georgia didn’t have a “religion as an excuse” law at that time and justice prevailed in both cases.
Cooke, who has spent his career prosecuting crimes against women and children, is alarmed by the potential impact of a proposed new law.
If Sen. Josh McKoon and Rep. Teasley’s legislation had been law a few years ago, the pastor at the House of Prayer and the parents of Josef Smith would have had one additional legal excuse to slow down investigations and avoid facing justice.
To be clear, the fact that this will happen isn’t mere speculation. It’s already happening in other states.
In Utah, a federal judge pointed to a law like McKoon’s and Teasley’s bills when he ruled that a member of a fundamentalist offshoot of the Mormon faith did not have to comply with an investigation of alleged child labor law violations because doing so would require him to disclose information about his religious sect, in violation of his beliefs.
That’s simply unacceptable.
Our lawmakers should be doing everything possible to make it easier – not harder – to protect victims of domestic violence and child abuse.
This dangerous legislation is gaining steam, but you can help stop it if you act today.
Share this email with five of your friends, add your name to the petition opposing this legislation and urge them to do the same.
We shouldn’t take one step down a road that would allow religious beliefs to be used as an excuse to harm another person.
It’s no surprise that abusers make excuses, including hiding behind their religion in an effort to justify their actions.
But when our elected officials side with them by supporting a law that would allow abusers to use their religion as an excuse in court – now, that’s truly inexcusable.
Join with us today to stop this dangerous bill. Your voice can make all the difference.