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Unassisted
05-26-2005, 07:00 PM
http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050526/NEWS01/505260481


Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs
Father appeals order in divorce decree that prevents couple from exposing son to Wicca.
http://www.indystar.com/graphics/clear.gif
By Kevin Corcoran
kevin.corcoran@indystar.com
May 26, 2005

An Indianapolis father is appealing a Marion County judge's unusual order that prohibits him and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

The parents practice Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion that emphasizes a balance in nature and reverence for the earth.

Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in the couple's divorce decree last year over their fierce objections, court records show. The order does not define a mainstream religion.

Bradford refused to remove the provision after the 9-year-old boy's outraged parents, Thomas E. Jones Jr. and his ex-wife, Tammie U. Bristol, protested last fall.

Through a court spokeswoman, Bradford said Wednesday he could not discuss the pending legal dispute.

The parents' Wiccan beliefs came to Bradford's attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody and visitation rights. Jones' son attends a local Catholic school.

"There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages," the bureau said in its report.

But Jones, 37, Indianapolis, disputes the bureau's findings, saying he attended Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis as a non-Christian.

Jones has brought the case before the Indiana Court of Appeals, with help from the Indiana Civil Liberties Union. They filed their request for the appeals court to strike the one-paragraph clause in January.

"This was done without either of us requesting it and at the judge's whim," said Jones, who has organized Pagan Pride Day events in Indianapolis. "It is upsetting to our son that he cannot celebrate holidays with us, including Yule, which is winter solstice, and Ostara, which is the spring equinox."

The ICLU and Jones assert the judge's order tramples on the parents' constitutional right to expose their son to a religion of their choice. Both say the court failed to explain how exposing the boy to Wicca's beliefs and practices would harm him.

Bristol is not involved in the appeal and could not be reached for comment. She and Jones have joint custody, and the boy lives with the father on the Northside.

Jones and the ICLU also argue the order is so vague that it could lead to Jones being found in contempt and losing custody of his son.

"When they read the order to me, I said, 'You've got to be kidding,' " said Alisa G. Cohen, an Indianapolis attorney representing Jones. "Didn't the judge get the memo that it's not up to him what constitutes a valid religion?"

Some people have preconceived notions about Wicca, which has some rituals involving nudity but mostly would be inoffensive to children, said Philip Goff, director of the Center for the Study of Religion & American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.

"Wiccans use the language of witchcraft, but it has a different meaning to them," Goff said. "Their practices tend to be rather pacifistic. They tend to revolve around the old pagan holidays. There's not really a church of Wicca. Practices vary from region to region."

Even the U.S. military accommodates Wiccans and educates chaplains about their beliefs, said Lawrence W. Snyder, an associate professor of religious studies at Western Kentucky University.

"The federal government has given Wiccans protection under the First Amendment," Snyder said. "Unless this judge has some very specific information about activities involving the child that are harmful, the law is not on his side."

At times, divorcing parents might battle in the courts over the religion of their children. But Kenneth J. Falk, the ICLU's legal director, said he knows of no such order issued before by an Indiana court. He said his research also did not turn up such a case nationally.

"Religion comes up most frequently when there are disputes between the parents. There are lots of cases where a mom and dad are of different faiths, and they're having a tug of war over the kids," Falk said. "This is different: Their dispute is with the judge. When the government is attempting to tell people they're not allowed to engage in non-mainstream activities, that raises concerns."

Indiana law generally allows parents who are awarded physical custody of children to determine their religious training; courts step in only when the children's physical or emotional health would be endangered.

Getting the judge's religious restriction lifted should be a slam-dunk, said David Orentlicher, an Indiana University law professor and Democratic state representative from Indianapolis.

"That's blatantly unconstitutional," Orentlicher said. "Obviously, the judge can order them not to expose the child to drugs or other inappropriate conduct, but it sounds like this order was confusing or could be misconstrued."

The couple married in February 1995, and their divorce was final in February 2004.

As Wiccans, the boy's parents believe in nature-based deities and engage in worship rituals that include guided meditation that Jones says improved his son's concentration. Wicca "is an understanding that we're all connected, and respecting that," said Jones, who is a computer Web designer.

Jones said he does not consider himself a witch or practice anything resembling witchcraft.

During the divorce, he told a court official that Wiccans are not devil worshippers. And he said he does not practice a form of Wicca that involves nudity.

"I celebrate life as a duality. There's a male and female force to everything," Jones said. "I feel the Earth is a living creature. I don't believe in Satan or any creature of infinite evil."

Johnny Footstool
05-26-2005, 07:09 PM
Getting the judge's religious restriction lifted should be a slam-dunk, said David Orentlicher, an Indiana University law professor and Democratic state representative from Indianapolis.

"That's blatantly unconstitutional," Orentlicher said.

Yup.

savafan
05-27-2005, 11:10 AM
Activist judges :thumbdown

GAC
05-27-2005, 11:10 AM
Well I'll be a son of a witch! :lol:

TeamDunn
05-27-2005, 11:16 AM
LOL GAC! :laugh:

I wondered how some relationships survive when they are on opposite ends of the religion spectrum.

One of the guys I work with is an atheist and his wife was raised Catholic. I don't think she is a full practicing Catholic now, but it just seems like such an odd combination.

I asked him if he would let her take their kids to church. He laughed and said "LET her? You have met my wife, there would be no letting, if she wanted to she would". :laugh: He said the religion or non religion his kids choose to follow is their decision.

registerthis
05-27-2005, 11:21 AM
Activist judges :thumbdown
Well, I suppose we should be expecting Tom DeLay to go on a tirade any moment now about yet another gross abuse of judicial power.

Anyone? Anyone?

Buehler? Buehler?

Crash Davis
05-27-2005, 12:14 PM
Wicca pleez.

Crash Davis
05-27-2005, 12:17 PM
On a positive note, maybe this judge's ruling will catch on and all parents will be prohibited from teaching their children about religion.

westofyou
05-27-2005, 12:27 PM
On a positive note, maybe this judge's ruling will catch on and all parents will be prohibited from teaching their children about religion.

They can set aside that time to learn about nature instead.

Great tradeoff IMO.

traderumor
05-27-2005, 04:10 PM
As a Christian homeschooling parent who takes very seriously his responsibility to raise his children in the fear and admonition of Almighty God, I must say this judge is dead wrong. Unless the religious practices involve physical harm and/or abuse (such as child sacrifices or some kind of sexual abuse), the parents must be allowed to raise their children in whatever religious context they see fit. That is what religious freedom is all about, whether or not you agree with the premise or doctrines of that religion. Terrible decision. :thumbdown

TC81190
05-27-2005, 05:26 PM
As a Christian homeschooling parent who takes very seriously his responsibility to raise his children in the fear and admonition of Almighty God, I must say this judge is dead wrong. Unless the religious practices involve physical harm and/or abuse (such as child sacrifices or some kind of sexual abuse), the parents must be allowed to raise their children in whatever religious context they see fit. That is what religious freedom is all about, whether or not you agree with the premise or doctrines of that religion. Terrible decision. :thumbdown

Is that so? If they can save poor kid from that kind of crap, maybe give him a chance, who cares how they do it?

Redsfaithful
05-27-2005, 05:42 PM
Is that so? If they can save poor kid from that kind of crap, maybe give him a chance, who cares how they do it?

Why doesn't this kid have a chance again? Because his parents practice a religion you personally don't agree with?

Michael Allred
05-27-2005, 08:07 PM
As a Christian homeschooling parent who takes very seriously his responsibility to raise his children in the fear and admonition of Almighty God, I must say this judge is dead wrong. Unless the religious practices involve physical harm and/or abuse (such as child sacrifices or some kind of sexual abuse), the parents must be allowed to raise their children in whatever religious context they see fit. That is what religious freedom is all about, whether or not you agree with the premise or doctrines of that religion. Terrible decision. :thumbdown

Would you still feel the same if the religion in question was Satanism?

CrackerJack
05-27-2005, 08:30 PM
Would you still feel the same if the religion in question was Satanism?



Unless the religious practices involve physical harm and/or abuse (such as child sacrifices or some kind of sexual abuse), the parents must be allowed to raise their children in whatever religious context they see fit.

In case you over-looked that part of his response, which I totally agree with and appreciate an actual practicing Christian responding in such a manner. A lot of them would turn the other cheek or not care because it doesn't affect "them," and are unable to see the bigger picture involved. Frankly it ticks me off to read this sort of thing happening in our country more and more. People need to come to their senses.

It's freedom of religious rights in this country that allow you to freely practice Christianity in your home and in a public church in the first place. Don't forget that.

Ravenlord
05-27-2005, 09:50 PM
Is that so? If they can save poor kid from that kind of crap, maybe give him a chance, who cares how they do it?because basically the judge just outlawed that religion. i don't like Wicca, but you can't decalare someone learning it unconstitutional.

Ravenlord
05-27-2005, 09:51 PM
Would you still feel the same if the religion in question was Satanism?yes. and which Satanism are you refering to?

TC81190
05-27-2005, 10:00 PM
because basically the judge just outlawed that religion. i don't like Wicca, but you can't decalare someone learning it unconstitutional.

What it is defending is higher than the Constitution, though.

WVRed
05-27-2005, 10:20 PM
yes. and which Satanism are you refering to?

I think it was public schools.;)

My question is, what does whether its Satanism have to do with anything. If anything, it seems like baiting to me.

Ravenlord
05-27-2005, 10:37 PM
What it is defending is higher than the Constitution, though.except there's seperation of church and state. if it wasn't there, then fine, it's perfectly acceptable. except the law of the land is FREEDOM OF RELIGION. thus, you can't forbid anyone from learning about other religions, regardless of the reasoning.

Ravenlord
05-27-2005, 10:38 PM
I think it was public schools.;)

My question is, what does whether its Satanism have to do with anything. If anything, it seems like baiting to me.that the stereotype of it is worshiping Satan, the opposite of God. it is baiting sort of, but mainly it's there to inspire reflection of oneself.

TC81190
05-27-2005, 10:48 PM
except there's seperation of church and state. if it wasn't there, then fine, it's perfectly acceptable. except the law of the land is FREEDOM OF RELIGION. thus, you can't forbid anyone from learning about other religions, regardless of the reasoning.

:doh:

GAC
05-28-2005, 05:39 AM
In case you over-looked that part of his response, which I totally agree with and appreciate an actual practicing Christian responding in such a manner. A lot of them would turn the other cheek or not care because it doesn't affect "them," and are unable to see the bigger picture involved. Frankly it ticks me off to read this sort of thing happening in our country more and more. People need to come to their senses.

It's freedom of religious rights in this country that allow you to freely practice Christianity in your home and in a public church in the first place. Don't forget that.

Thank you CrackerJack for a thoughtful and intelligent response. What this judge did was wrong and simply stupid. And it won't stand up under further scrutiny.

I'm a firm believer/advocate of parental right/decision over their children. And more and more these days I'm seeing activist court systems (on both sides) trying to circumvent that. In fully understand that there are case/circumstances when the courts must (and should) intervene, such as evidence of abuse, etc. Other then that, they should stay out.

GAC
05-28-2005, 05:59 AM
They can set aside that time to learn about nature instead.

Great tradeoff IMO.

I teach my kids about nature. We love to go camping. Looking at the wonder, beauty, and splendor of creation is a great way to grow closer to, explain, and understand, it's Creator. ;)

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." Romans 1:20

"They who dwell in the ends of the earth stand in awe of Your signs;You make the dawn and the sunset shout for joy." Psalm 65:8

traderumor
05-28-2005, 10:57 AM
Is that so? If they can save poor kid from that kind of crap, maybe give him a chance, who cares how they do it?Do you realize that opponents of Christianity can and do use that exact same argument to promote preventing teaching YOUR children YOUR religion of choice? For example, I am a Protestant whose heart breaks when children are misled by the teachings of Roman Catholicism. Would you like me to be a judge with the power to order, via a divorce decree, that the children not be taught that "crap?" I'm assuming your answer would be of course not, thus you should see the problem with the decision by this judge. Just like I do not want to live in a land where Islam is the state religion, nor do I want the state to mandate Christianity. Constantine tried and failed nearly 2000 years ago, I assume the contemporary attempt to do the same will also.

ws1990reds
05-28-2005, 03:26 PM
They can set aside that time to learn about nature instead.

Great tradeoff IMO.

What nature? All I see around me is farms being broken up into plots for urban sprawling. If you want to see nature, you have to pay to attend a zoo, national park, head to Canada or look at yourself in the mirror. :D

westofyou
05-28-2005, 03:48 PM
What nature? All I see around me is farms being broken up into plots for urban sprawling. If you want to see nature, you have to pay to attend a zoo, national park, head to Canada or look at yourself in the mirror. :D

Not where I live.

Michael Allred
05-28-2005, 04:28 PM
I think it was public schools.;)

My question is, what does whether its Satanism have to do with anything. If anything, it seems like baiting to me.

Don't accuse me of baiting ok? It was a fair question that would clarify the person's statement. Most people say "freedom of religion" and then quickly do an about face when something like satanism is brought up. You either believe in freedom for ALL beliefs or none at all.

Falls City Beer
05-28-2005, 05:15 PM
Don't accuse me of baiting ok? It was a fair question that would clarify the person's statement. Most people say "freedom of religion" and then quickly do an about face when something like satanism is brought up. You either believe in freedom for ALL beliefs or none at all.

Yes, any religion. As long as it doesn't involve physical and emotional harm to the child.

Satanism's SUCH a high-demand religion anyway. ;)

(He says as he places tannis root around his neck and loves up Mia Farrow)