Mother accused of beating child claims religious freedom

INDIANAPOLIS (NBC) — A mother in Indianapolis is accused of beating her son with a coat hanger.

But the woman claims Indiana’s religious freedom reformation act – and her religious beliefs – make her immune from child abuse charges.

Medical workers counted 36 bruises and welts on the boy’s back, arm, head, and leg.

Investigators say that 30-year-old Kin Par Thaing admitted to hitting her 7-year-old with a coat hanger, which was punishment for endangering a younger sister.

Marion County Prosecutor Terry Curry says there is a line that can be crossed.

“You’re entitled to spank your child,” she said. “However, there is a line in which that becomes unreasonable. We believe that this particular defendant went way over that line.”

Thiang, a Burmese immigrant, and her attorney insist she went the way of her religious faith.

A motion to dismiss the criminal charges quoted the Bible verses “Do not withhold discipline from a child — if you strike him with a rod, he will not die. If you strike him with the rod, you will save his soul from Sheol.”

The judge refused to dismiss the charges.

“This is not what RFRA was designed to do, to protect parents who are child abusers,” said David Orentlicher, a professor at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law.

Ultimately, a jury may draw the line between child abuse, parental discipline, and religious freedom.

The department of child services has stepped in for the time being.

The mother claims that without punishment, her child will not earn God’s salvation.

As of now she is charged with battery and neglect of a dependent.

The case will go to trial in October.