Religious Freedom Is Not An Excuse For Child Abuse
An Illinois mom lost custody of her kids today because the family attended a controversial church that allegedly held naked rituals and engaged in other sketchy and outright abusive behavior. According to The Chicago Tribune, the accusations came to light during a heated custody battle, and centered on a ritual called “light therapy’ performed by “Pastor” Philip Livingston. The ritual, according to court records, involved female followers getting naked in one-on-one sessions and genital touching, all in the name of “spiritual guidance.” Even with this damning evidence, there are folks upset because this mom’s “religious freedom” is being impeded. Seriously.
Sorry, but if you ask me, religious freedom ends when it entails kids being abused. Period.
From The Chicago Tribune:
“At issue in the custody case was the involvement of the children in the ritual. One former follower testified she saw the mother and two of her female children, then ages 13 and 10, naked in Livingston’s home, and that Livingston asked her to groom one of the children for the ritual. Livingston, the mother and others insisted only consenting adults were involved. A criminal investigation was launched, but no charges were filed.”
Charges may not have been filed, but a Kane County judge ruled that Livingston was “not believable” and that the evidence suggests “knowing and reckless conduct which creates an immediate risk of physical harm” to the kids involved. That judge gave full custody of the kids to the father, and prosecutors later moved to make them wards of the state, which in essence “cemented the father’s custody of the children while requiring they be kept away from the church and its members.”
All of this says to me that, while they couldn’t prove it beyond a reasonable doubt, some form of abuse most likely occurred. Of course the mother appealed this ruling, but a three judge appellate panel also ruled against her and had some choice words to say about her parenting:
“When a parent puts his/her children in a social setting with naked adults, and encourages his (or her) daughter to receive therapy from a man who sometimes, in the course of therapy, digitally penetrates the vaginas of the recipients of his therapy, the evidence sufficiently supports a finding that the parent exposed his/her children to an injurious environment.”
Somebody gives these guys an “Understatement of the Year Award.” I don’t care what religion you are, or what your beliefs are, there is almost no reason for your children to be naked at church (infant baptism being an obvious exception). And even if, as the mother claims, the kids weren’t naked themselves, this is an inappropriate atmosphere for them. How no one realized this guy was a con-man pervert is beyond me. This should be common sense for any parent, and if it’s not, then you shouldn’t be parenting.