Reveal has written a series of how religious exemptions can allow for all sorts of abuses and neglect in daycares because some states are forbidden, to varying degrees, from regulating them. Many of these daycares receive federal funding; that separation only works in one direction.

Here’s an in depth investigative report about how one woman has been able to abuse and neglect children thanks to Alabama’s religious exemption law for daycare licensing. Many states have such exemptions, but Alabama’s are the most lenient: all you have to do is call yourself a church. But HEY, at least her daycares are affordable?

The story is too involved to properly summarized here, but essentially the operator moved from town to town when she was busted for breaking health and fire codes — not for failing to meet basic daycare standards — or failing to pay her bills. She housed children in places with exposed outlets, dripping water, improper lighting, not enough cribs. She left them hungry, soiled, and in high chairs. She also apparently stole from the children and failed to pay her employees (of whom she had too few).

It’s very distressing stuff and another example of how allowing self-declared believers to opt-out of civil and social expectations and standards harms the weakest among us.