Thursday, May 26, 2005

Judge Bars Parents from Exposing Their Son to Their Pagan Beliefs

File this in the "Huh?" category. A Marion County judge ruled in a couple's divorce decree that they could not teach their pagan beliefs to their son. Both parents practice Wicca, a pagan religion that emphasizes balance in nature and the connectedness of everything on Earth.

Now, I can see how during divorce proceedings parents of different faiths might fight over which religion a child is raised in, but how can a judge put a provision like this into the divorce decree against both parents' objections? Apparently a confidential report by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which advises the courts on custody and visitation rights, said there was "a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' [the parents] lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school." (They send their son to a Catholic school.) I guess the judge took that report seriously and the result is soon to be resolved in a court battle.

So, I guess teaching your children about respect for nature, the Earth, and all living creatures is bad, and it would contradict the Christian teachings that a Catholic school provides. Makes sense. I don't think Jesus ever specifically said to be nice to birds and flowers and take care of the Earth, so I can see how a 9-year-old could get confused.

Anyway, how can a judge take it upon himself to make a decision like this, especially against the wishes of both parents? Talk about judicial activism. Hopefully there's very little room for interpretation, and another court will strike this down as unconstitutional right away. If not, I'll have some serious doubt about the court system in Indiana.

However, it does raise an interesting point. Right now the First Amendment protects our religious beliefs (that's why this provision shouldn't stand up in court). In a worst-case scenario an out-of-control judge could issue rulings like this when the parents are of a faith that particular judge doesn't believe in — say, a Protestant judge telling a family they can't raise their son as a Buddhist — but I kind of see that as unlikely (maybe I shouldn't be so confident, given recent happenings in the judicial system). However, what if the parents were Satanists or some other tiny, yet freaky religion or cult? A judge would arguably be doing society a favor by keeping us free from another nut job, so why not let him?

In the end it's an easy decision for me. It's not a judge's place to make decisions like that, even if the parents are totally freaky and worship turnips. In the end, that's one of the freedoms our society is made to protect — even if it makes the rest of us a little shaky to think that there are people out there like that. So I hope I don't have to follow this with another blog in a few months showing my outrage that another court allowed this horrible provision to stand. While personally I'm more in line with the Catholic beliefs taught at the child's parochial school, it's not my place to tell his parents they would be "confusing" him or hurting society by teaching him Wicca at home.


At 6/01/2005 9:51 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Christianity (rhymes with insanity) is a tiny (relatively speaking)yet freaky religion. In the end, they are all superstitions (Webster's New World: any belief, based on fear or ignorance, that is inconsistent with the known laws of science ...)

You wrote:
However, what if the parents were Satanists or some other tiny, yet freaky religion or cult? A judge would arguably be doing society a favor by keeping us free from another nut job, so why not let him?

At 6/03/2005 1:33 PM, Blogger Button said...

Hmm. While the "freaky" description could be applied to any religion (especially by outsiders of that religion), I won't take too much exception to your claim that Christianity could also be considered freaky. However, it's become fairly well-established over the past 2000 years, and my point was more along the lines of freaky meaning cults and the like. And despite what some from the Christian Right have been saying lately, religion and science are not mutually exclusive. Science governs this world and knowledge of it helps us live longer and better lives in the physical sense. Religion (any religion, not just Christianity) governs our souls and knowledge of it helps us live better (and longer, in the sense of an afterlife) lives in the spiritual sense.

As for tiny, I will take exception here. There are over 1 billion Catholics in the world (the largest single denomination). When you combine all denominations, there are well over 2 billion Christians in the world (source: Wikipedia).

That's almost 33% of the world's population. The next largest religion is Islam, with about 1.2 billion members, or 19% of the world's population (source: Religions of the World).

I don't mean to imply that Christianity is more "right" because it has the most members; I merely think that if you consider it to be a "tiny" religion, you're smoking something. But thanks for your reply! Glad to see that people are reading our blog.


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