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Family Heritage Alliance Cites Dakota Free Press in Argument Against HB 1212

I’ve had a couple people call this week and ask if they can use material from my blog in their discussions with others about various legislation. I’ve told them that’s more than o.k.; that’s one of the primary reasons I blog. I like to think that I’m creating a debate brief book for South Dakota—clearly not a complete one, since I never get to all the bills or issues, but at least something free, online, and searchable for anyone who wants to study up on a South Dakota policy issue and have a collection of articles, statistics, and fun quotes to use to help them make their point.

Now you’d think the folks who would make the most use of my material would be Democrats running for office or engaging in debate at the Legislature. But this week, Norman Woods of the conservative Family Heritage Alliance put the Dakota Free Press Brief Book to use. On Wednesday, Woods went before House Judiciary to testify against House Bill 1212, the bill to make clergy and dental hygienists mandatory reporters of suspected child abuse. (Jump to 1:03:00 in the SDPB audio.)

Woods admitted he felt like he was in the Twilight Zone has he came to the mic to speak “with support from Mr. Heidelberger.” He quoted this blog, saying that HB 1212 infringes “on confidentiality pastors owe their congregants…. Including clergy on the mandatory reporter list was a bad idea last year. It’s not any better this year. It still obliges clergy to violate confidentiality on the shaky basis of what courts will call hearsay.” Woods said that’s why I conclude (and he apparently agrees that) HB 1212 “is not an appropriate or necessary response.” (Darn—Woods left out my fun use of the word dragooning.)

Woods said it feels odd to make that point when we’re trying seek justice for kids. He promised FHA does not want to hide immoral activity, but in this case, we need to protect certain aspects of the faith.

Woods’s argument did not prevail in House Judiciary, which voted 9–2 in favor of the bill (both Democrats on the committee, Cwach and Pourier, went aye), but yesterday in the full House, HB 1212 went down 30–35. My two Aberdeen Representatives, Dennert and Perry, both voted nay; so did Aberdeen’s District 2 Rep. Weis.

Mine is an equal opportunity brief book. If you find the information true and useful, put it to work in your good-faith arguments.


  1. jerry 2020-02-28 13:05

    Bravo Cory!! Always good to know that your words have iron in them. Thanks for all you do!

  2. Debbo 2020-02-28 18:35


    Not about the use of the well researched and thoughtful DFP, but the final vote.

  3. Bob Newland 2020-02-29 01:30

    Normally, if the Family Heritage Alliance endorsed something I proposed, I would want to reconsider my position. However, we live in weird times.

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2020-02-29 09:32

    I share your caution about being in the same pen as Woods’s people. But if people find my material useful and use it honestly, I’ll not begrudge them.

  5. Donald Pay 2020-02-29 09:36

    Isn’t elevating “faith” over a child being sexually abused more idol worship than any sort of faith anyone would care associate with? It sure gives new meaning to that Biblical saying of Jesus, “Suffer the little children….” Faith is worth nothing, if you don’t try to put it to use to end the abuse of a child.

    Too often faith has been used as a means to exploit and abuse children or to find Scriptural excuses for such abuse. In the 1990s Christian right groups opposed strengthening of child physical abuse and spousal abuse laws because tougher laws might interfere with a man’s Biblical “requirement” to discipline his children or “lead” his wife. I saw this over and over in Pierre where abuse is excused for some religions reason. We need not go into the Catholic Church’s lobbying for laxer laws on abuse by clergy.

    As someone who worked under both HIPPA confidentiality restrictions and mandatory reporting requirements during my employment, I found it pretty easy to navigate mandatory reporting through the confidentiality requirements. It should be no different with clergy.

    All you preachers out there need to get over yourselves. You ain’t special. Don’t make an idol out of yourselves.

  6. bearcreekbat 2020-02-29 12:19

    Donald, don’t forget the Bible’s so-called “Curse of Ham,” which Christians once relied upon to justify slavery, included forcibly removing of children born to a slave and selling these children to new owners who were permitted to inflict unimaginable abuse and violence upon these children. Although the treatment of slaves and children may have varied from owner to owner, a general description of what the law then permitted is unsettling.

    Most slave children were exposed to many traumas, by the very nature of their enslavement. Poor diet, living conditions and lack of medical care led to a high rate of infant/child mortality. Kiple (13) states that the death rate for white children at this time was approximately 12.9 whilst that for black children was double that at 26.3. If prenatal mortality is included in this figure no doubt the picture would be much worse. . .

    . . .

    Instructions given by masters to overseers regarding punishment rarely if ever discriminated in favour of child slaves, and from this it can be assumed that children were subject to the same harsh treatments as were adults. The prevailing general assumption of the age of spare the rod and spoil the child appears to have been applied especially to slave children who were also being trained for a life of servitude. Children who in almost all cases have experience beatings of one kind or another and have witnessed the beating of adults, parents and their peers. Child slaves had to quickly come to terms with the concept of pain and punishment as an everyday fact of their lives. Those who failed to absorb this aspect of suffering and reacted by running away were often seen as “spirited”, and whose spirit had to be broken.

    . . . The dangers of sexual exploitation are only too obvious with slave children being seen as chattels with no legal protection. The fact that sexuality appears to have rarely discussed also left slave children ignorant and vulnerable to abuse. . . .

    The sale and the threat of sale was ever present in a slave child’s life. Although eventually many states passed laws to stop the sale of children under 10 away from their family, the sale of children with their mothers appears to have been fairly common. This often occurred on the death of the master when chattels including slaves were distributed throughout the family. In the early days of slavery and more rarely in the latter days, children who were to be sold were often put onto the auction block naked whilst perspective buyers thoroughly examined them looking at their teeth and bones, checking for weakness and abnormalities. No slave, not even children could ever have the luxury of security and had to settle with the fact that at any time at their masters will they could be sold and removed without redress. . . .

    And as noted, early Christians had no qualms about justifying this abuse with the Bible. Funny how folks today still, in effect, assert that religious imperatives continue offer a shield to some child abusers.

  7. Debbo 2020-02-29 18:44

    “All you preachers out there need to get over yourselves. You ain’t special. Don’t make an idol out of yourselves.”
    Don is exactly right.

    Unfortunately the World’s Largest Traffickers in Children and Women, dba the Roman Catholic Church, the Boy Scouts of America, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Southern Baptists and other evangelicals are well known for using children and women to meet their perverse wants.

    The above “churches” are focused on protecting their organizations while minimizing exposure to liability for the traumas they’ve perpetrated. That’s why they’re so eager to lobby against a bill like this that holds them responsible for their heinous behavior.
    The only thing significantly “Christian” about them is their tax exemption.

    (BTW, it happens in Mainline churches too, but they turn the perps and all info directly over to the police.)

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