The Religious Freedom Restoration Act provides a check on government when its actions substantially burden a citizen’s free expression of religion, but it does not provide protection for abuse, neglect, or other violent acts. Learn more at FirstLiberty.org/Briefing.
A woman in Indiana has attempted to use that state’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act to justify her abusive behavior, but it didn’t work.
Kin Park Thaing was charged with neglect of a dependent and battery on a juvenile after allegedly disciplining her children by beating them with a hanger. The beating was necessary, she argued to ensure her son would be right with God for his immoral actions.
Part of Thaing’s defense was rooted in the Indiana RFRA, suggesting that the state was substantially burdening her religious exercise by charging her with abuse and neglect for the way she chose to discipline her children. Thankfully, RFRA does not sanction abuse, neglect, or other violent acts.
RFRA provides a check on government when its actions substantially burden the free exercise of religion, demanding that the state demonstrate a compelling justification for its actions. There can be little that is more compelling than protecting against the abuse and neglect of children.
In other words, RFRA worked. The state was able to easily demonstrate why they were compelled to charge Thaing for her abusive behavior and Thaing pled guilty to battery.
The next time someone tries to convince you that RFRA laws can protect child abusers, remind them of Thaing’s story. Show them how effectively RFRA balanced both our commitment to religious liberty and the prevention of abuse.
To learn how First Liberty is protecting religious liberty for all Americans, visit FirstLiberty.org.