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Thread: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

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    RZ Chamber of Commerce Unassisted's Avatar
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    Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    http://www.indystar.com/apps/pbcs.dl...WS01/505260481
    Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs
    Father appeals order in divorce decree that prevents couple from exposing son to Wicca.

    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."
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  3. #2
    Churlish Johnny Footstool's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    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.
    "I prefer books and movies where the conflict isn't of the extreme cannibal apocalypse variety I guess." Redsfaithful

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    Maple SERP savafan's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Activist judges :thumbdown
    My dad got to enjoy 3 Reds World Championships by the time he was my age. So far, I've only gotten to enjoy one. Step it up Redlegs!

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    THAT'S A FACT JACK!! GAC's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Well I'll be a son of a witch!
    "panic" only comes from having real expectations

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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    LOL GAC!

    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". He said the religion or non religion his kids choose to follow is their decision.

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    Harry Chiti Fan registerthis's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Quote Originally Posted by savafan
    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?

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    White Castle to the Nile Crash Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Wicca pleez.
    "I fought because I understood and could not bear to understand, that it was my destiny -- unlike that of my father, whose fate it was to hear the roar of the crowd -- to sit in the stands with most men and acclaim others. It was my fate, my destiny, my end, to be a fan."

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    White Castle to the Nile Crash Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    On a positive note, maybe this judge's ruling will catch on and all parents will be prohibited from teaching their children about religion.
    "I fought because I understood and could not bear to understand, that it was my destiny -- unlike that of my father, whose fate it was to hear the roar of the crowd -- to sit in the stands with most men and acclaim others. It was my fate, my destiny, my end, to be a fan."

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Quote Originally Posted by Crash Davis
    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.

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    Unsolicited Opinions traderumor's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    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
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor
    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?
    I hope it's never sunny in Philly again.

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    A Little to the Left Redsfaithful's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Quote Originally Posted by TC81190
    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?
    We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Quote Originally Posted by traderumor
    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?

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    Member CrackerJack's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    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.

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    Pagan/Asatru Ravenlord's Avatar
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    Re: Judge Forbids Parents from teaching their son pagan beliefs

    Quote Originally Posted by TC81190
    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.
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