In many states, religious boarding schools are exempt from crucial health and oversight laws. The result is that children are put at risk for abuse and neglect. Vice news looks at the issue:
Though Texas laws were changed amid the Roloff saga, many other state governments around the country lack the legal power to oversee religiously affiliated residential schools. Unlike personal religious exemptions, where an individual might argue that a law requiring, say, medical intervention, vaccination, or anti-discrimination violates his or her religious freedom, these facilities don’t need to apply for special treatment. In many states, such exemptions are written directly into the laws meant to regulate residential youth facilities—that is, religious schools are never subject to the rules in the first place.
“The state passes the law for the regulation of residential facilities, and then they put, within that statute, a religious exemption,” Liz Sepper, a religious liberty expert and law professor at Washington University in St. Louis, told me. “You don’t need to apply, go into court for the exemption. The law never applied.” Thus, many states allow religiously affiliated boarding schools to operate without registration, educational standards, background checks, or instructional certifications—even when institutions have long histories of abuse reports alleging Roloff-esque whippings, isolation rooms, and Bible memorization.
You can read the full story here.