A Dane County judge on Thursday denied a motion to dismiss charges against a Black Earth pastor convicted of conspiracy to commit child abuse for advocating the use of wooden rods to spank children as young as 2 months old.UCLA free speech law prof E. Volokh adds:
Philip Caminiti, 55, pastor of the Aleitheia Bible Church, was convicted in March of eight counts of conspiracy to commit child abuse for instructing church members to punish children by hitting them on the bare buttocks with wooden dowels to teach them to behave correctly, in keeping with the church's literal interpretation of the Bible.
The motion to dismiss the charges alleged Caminiti had been deprived of his constitutional right to religious freedom.
Teaching that it’s proper or even obligatory to commit a crime is generally constitutionally protected unless it’s intended to and likely to yield imminent crime, ...There is no law against spanking, so it is hard to see how a man could get convicted of advocating spanking. Most people say that spanking can be overdone, and that it is ineffective on a 2-month-old, but it seems unlikely that the pastor meant any harm to the child.
The protection offered by free speech law in such cases should, I think, be rather greater than the protect offered by religious exemptions law