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Saturday, October 24, 1998
Court bars church doctrine from exorcism case
FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) -- A judge has ruled that church doctrine
concerning demonic possession cannot be a part of a Fort Worth
family's lawsuit against an Assembly of God church in nearby Colleyville.
Tom and Judy Schubert contend the church traumatized and injured
their daughter, 18-year-old Laura Schubert, during an exorcism.
The 2nd Court of Appeals in Fort Worth ruled Thursday that
bringing church doctrine into the lawsuit would violate Pleasant
Glade Assembly of God's right to religious freedom.
"We find that the Schuberts' claims would involve a searching
inquiry into Assembly of God beliefs and the validity of such
beliefs, an inquiry that is barred by the First Amendment,"
the court opinion stated.
The family claims church leaders held down Laura Schubert as
they tried to exorcise demons from her.
Tom Schubert, an ordained Assembly of God minister, said that's
something not usually practiced by the church on Christians.
The family contend that the teen suffered physical injuries
and lasting emotional damage, including post-traumatic stress
David. M. Pruessner, the attorney for the church and three
of its leaders, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that religious
beliefs should not be part of the lawsuit.
"Churches should resolve their own disputes within themselves
about beliefs and practices without going into court," he
But William O. Wuester, the Schuberts' attorney, said the church
leaders had participated in "ritual abuse" that strayed
from basic Assembly of God beliefs.
The Schuberts' complaints start with a chain of events that
began with a June 1996 youth "lock-in."
The family claims that during the Friday overnight stay, Laura
was frightened by stories of demons in the church and efforts
to purge them by sprinkling holy oil throughout the building.
At services the next week, the Schuberts said their daughter
was held down for several hours as church members attempted to
exorcise demons from her.
Wuester said he has witnesses who can testify that the teen
was held against her will.
The case is scheduled to go to state district court.
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