July 27, 2008

Texas Exorcism Case May Go to Supreme Court

Following up the case of Laura Schubert, the former Texas woman who was subjected to an involuntary exorcism by a fundamentalist church, the Fort Worth Star Telegram reports that the Schubert family is going to attempt a hearing before the Supreme Court:

Family resolves to take fight over exorcism to Supreme Court


...The 1996 episode left her physically and emotionally scarred, and "this stuff is still hard to talk about," Pearson told the Star-Telegram after the Texas Supreme Court dismissed her lawsuit against the church June 27. The majority said the courts can't get involved in a religious debate over church doctrine...

After the exorcism, she dropped out of high school her senior year, began to cut herself as many as 100 times over several years, and refused to leave the house. Pearson slit her wrists with a box cutter.

Her father, a former missionary and minister, became an agnostic.

But Pearson and her parents, Tom and Judy Schubert, say they are willing to go to the U.S. Supreme Court in their fight against a church they once loved.

As the parents see it, Pleasant Glade members abused their daughter in the same way a husband or a boyfriend abuses a wife or a girlfriend — and all under the guise of serving the Lord...
Too bad her father wasn't agnostic before a bunch of superstitious yahoos forcibly attempted to drive boogeymen out of his daughter's body. Lawsuit or not, this kind of lunacy never has to happen to anyone. Laura Schubert's own recounting of how events unfolded goes into more detail about just how superstitious and how irrational the members of this church became than did the article linked here last month:
The devil takes a dump in Texas...Pearson and her brother, Joseph, had been left with their older sister, Amy, while their parents went on a fundraising trip in Indiana. She was going to hang out with the church youth group and work at her part-time job. On June 7, a Friday, Pearson went to the church to help the youth group prepare for a garage sale. At about midnight, one of the teens rushed in saying he had seen a demon in the darkened sanctuary.

Rod Linzay, the youth pastor, urged everyone to anoint the sanctuary with holy oil. They rapped on pews. They prayed. They propped a cross against the doors to keep demons out or drive them out. They were up until early morning.

"I had been around [the church] all of my life, but I had not experienced anything of this sort.  . . .  After being up all of those hours and involved in all of that, it was easy to believe what was going on was real," she said.

Exhausted, Pearson went home and then to work but was unable to sleep that night. By the time she returned to the church on Sunday evening, she had been up for 72 hours.

It was then that people believed demons had possessed her and the first exorcism was performed. Pearson said she collapsed on the floor out of exhaustion. During the trial, doctors suggested she was hypoglycemic. She clenched her fists, gritted her teeth, made guttural sounds, cried and yelled.

"I was moving my head back and forth, and I hear people saying things are wrong with me and the youth pastor's wife saying it was the demons," Pearson said. They held her down, but after the thrashing stopped, Pearson was allowed to get up after saying the name Jesus.

On Wednesday, Pearson returned to the church. After hearing a sermon about "putting on the whole armor of God to fight off the devil," Pearson said she went off to a corner, curled into a fetal position and prayed.

When another youth asked to pray for her, Pearson refused. Eventually, she was held spread-eagle on the floor. She fought those holding her and asked to be let go. They said "it was the devil talking," Pearson said.

McCutchen then entered the room. He tried to calm Pearson and told her to "just say the word Jesus." Eventually, he called Pearson's parents, who came and took their "dazed" daughter home. Later they saw the bruises and carpet burns. Soon she began having nightmares about hands and faces coming out of her bedroom walls to grab her...
I don't fully understand why she went back to the church, although the fact that her parents had initially left her in that organization's care and that she had been brought up to believe in this stuff to begin with might have a good deal to do with it.

The idea that some teenager's panicked assertion that he'd seen a demon in the place could touch off this kind of sorcerous nonsense — splashing magical oil about and rapping on wooden benches to drive away evil spirits — indicates to me a level of sheer foolishness and ignorance that I wish I couldn't believe was still with us in 21st century America. These people shouldn't be role models held up for praise of their values, they should be laughed at as backwards relics of a time when fear born of the shadows from mankind's childhood hadn't yet given way to the daylight of reason. That this moldering mind-junk, this kind of superstition-fueled melodrama, is repeated every day all over the country, that it's broadcast on television (ever seen Rod Parsley? I watched some of that last week), should be seen as a disgrace to a nation that once led the world in scientific progress — and now is losing that edge. Could there be a connection between this latest superstitious revival and America beginning to lose its edge in scientific and technical leadership? Ya think?

At least one person has learned the correct lesson from what happened to Laura Schubert, though:
[Laura's father, Tom] Schubert has lost his faith, while his wife and daughter continue to believe.

"I do not hold the religious views I once held," Schubert said. "I don't know what is out there. I don't think what is out there is what I thought was there in the past.  . . .  I don't believe in demons and such.  . . .  I doubt that God exists."
Good morning and welcome to rationality, Tom Schubert. I hope the rest of your family — and the rest of mankind — catch up with you very, very soon.

There is simply no justification at all for there to be exorcisms. There are no evil spirits to be cast out, no boogeymen hiding under our beds, no monsters in the closets (unless you count Fred Phelps), no ghosts, no vampires, no djinni, no mermaids. If an adult were to tell us of his fervent belief in unicorns, we would think him strange. For some reason, though, there are still people who are commended for their belief in maleficent spooks that can leap in and out of bodies and can be removed by old men chanting in dead or invented tongues while sprinkling water imbued with magical essences about the room. There are people who believe more that they can keep said spirits out of a room by propping a crucifix against a door more than they believe the word of a woman who tells them to leave her alone, that she's not under the command of some infernal, goat-headed hobgoblin dreamed up by some agrarian imbiber of suspect grain products a millennium prior. This is not how adults comport themselves. Even most children know better.

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