Spotted on the Lowering the Bar blog:
In court papers filed last week, attorneys for John LaVoie, pastor of the “Church of Liberty” in Tucson, Arizona, argued that the civil-forfeiture proceeding against LaVoie is unconstitutional because it violates his right to freedom of religion. Specifically, they said that an order closing LaVoie’s business and requiring him to forfeit $2 million in assets is unenforceable because the charges involve the “laying on of hands,” a recognized Christian ceremonial act.
You probably see where this is going.
In addition to his pastoral duties, LaVoie ran the Angel’s Heaven Relaxation Spa, which he said had the mission of “comfort[ing] the afflicted through the religious act of laying on of hands.” But police say, and an Arizona jury found, that the hands belonged to prostitutes and that they were being laid on male customers in exchange for money. LaVoie has denied that, a position somewhat weakened by the admission of a Tucson police detective that his investigation of the spa was successful — that is, he succeeded in repeatedly having sex with a spa employee (including once in his police car).