Mother invokes religious freedom law as defense in child abuse case

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — An Indianapolis mother is invoking the state’s religious freedom law as a defense in a child abuse case involving her 7-year-old son.

According to our media partners at the IndyStar, the mother, Khin Par Thaing quoted scripture in court documents, saying a parent who “spares the rod, spoils the child.” She argued that she disciplined her child based on her evangelical Christian beliefs.

According to court documents, the woman beat her 7-year-old son with a coat hanger, leaving 36 bruises and several red welts. She said she did it to stop her son from behavior that could have seriously hurt his 3-year-old sister.

Thaing was arrested in February on abuse and neglect charges. Her attorney argued in a memorandum filed in July that the 2015 Religious Freedom Restoration Act allows her to discipline her child how she sees fit based on her religious beliefs. The attorney said the state shouldn’t interfere.

However, in an Aug. 5 filing, Marion County Deputy Prosecutor Matt Savage took exception with that, saying that the beating went “beyond these religious instructions she cites from the Bible.”

A judge denied a motion to dismiss the case on Aug. 18. Thaing’s jury trial is scheduled for Oct. 19.

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