May 14, 2012
Judge: Child Abuse Laws Do Not Infringe Pastor’s Rights
Wisconsin pastor convicted of conspiracy to commit child abuse had argued his conviction violated his right to religious freedom.
A Wisconsin trial court judge denied a motion to dismiss charges against a convicted pastor who instructed his church members to use wooden rods to spank misbehaving children, some as young as two months old.
Philip Caminiti, pastor of Aleitheia Bible Church in Black Earth, Wisconsin, was convicted of eight counts of conspiracy to commit child abuse in March. He faces up to six years of prison time; his sentencing hearing is scheduled for later this month.
Caminiti argued the convictions violate his right to religious freedom. But Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi disagreed, stating that though Caminiti had “a sincerely held religious belief” to use a rod to discipline young children, he failed to prove Wisconsin’s child abuse statue “places a burden” on that belief.
“Scripture doesn't specify how and when the rod should be used,” Sumi ruled.
In January, Christianity Today examined arguments for and against corporal punishment, as the misuse of biblical teaching on discipline can have deadly consequences.