Pennsylvania Teen Faces Juvenile Prison Time For Posting Picture Of Himself With Jesus Statue
CHICAGO — Truth Wins Out today expressed outrage at a Pennsylvania law against “desecration” that could lead to a minor child spending time behind bars. A teen posted a picture of himself in a mock sexual pose with a Jesus statue, and authorities claim that his actions fall under Pennsylvania’s “desecration” laws, which are defined as “defacing, damaging, polluting or otherwise, physically mistreating in a way that the actor knows will outrage the sensibilities of persons likely to observe or discover the action.” The teen did not damage the statue in any way, but simply took and posted a picture that some find offensive.
“This is a blasphemy law, pure and simple, and it is in clear violation of the Establishment Clause of the United States Constitution,” said Truth Wins Out Executive Director Wayne Besen. “If the kid had destroyed or damaged the statue, he would clearly deserve to face consequences. But taking a picture that offends somebody’s religious sensibilities? This is not Russia or Iran; this is the United States, where we’re supposed to value freedom of speech. Pennsylvania should be ashamed of itself for so clearly violating this kid’s constitutional rights.”
The Establishment Clause, part of the First Amendment, states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” Nowhere does it say that religious people reserve the right never to be offended by anything. This child has not committed a criminal act, and Truth Wins Out strongly believes that the family court with jurisdiction is abusing its power by prosecuting a kid and potentially marking him as a criminal simply because somebody was offended.
“This family court is wasting Pennsylvania citizens’ time and money with this little witch hunt, and they’re putting a child’s future in danger,” said Truth Wins Out Associate Director Evan Hurst. “Rather than prosecuting a kid for making a joke, this family court should get back to work on the serious cases that confront them on a daily basis. Moreover, the lawmakers of Pennsylvania should act to scrub this silly, archaic law from the books, immediately.”
Truth Wins Out (TWO) is a non-profit organization that works to demolish the very foundation of anti-gay prejudice. Our philosophy is simple: We attack the underpinnings of homophobia by debunking harmful lies, discrediting hateful myths, and countering anti-gay organizations. By chipping away at the underlying ignorance that fuels anti-LGBT attitudes, we can ultimately win our fight for fairness and achieve full equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people worldwide.