Sunday, August 28, 2005

Indiana Judge overruled on banning parents from teaching religion to their son

Back in the end of May I wrote about a judge in Marion Co., IN who ruled that the parents of a boy were no allowed to teach their son about their religion - Wicca - in their own homes. I considered the ruling to be a hugely blatant violation of the parents' rights and a cut-and-dried violation of the Constitution. Along with many, many others, I called for the ruling to be overturned. I was going over my archives tonight looking for an article I'd written on something else, came across that article I wrote and decided to check for an update. There it is, on 18 August:

::::::::An Indianapolis father can share his Wiccan beliefs and rituals with his 10-year-old son, a state appeals court ruled Wednesday in a unanimous decision upholding parents' rights to share their religion with their children.

The court declared that a Marion County judge erred in approving a divorce decree last year that also directed the man and his ex-wife to shelter their son from "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."
Judge Patricia A. Riley, writing on behalf of the three-judge appeals court panel in a decision released Wednesday, said trial courts can limit parents' authority if it's necessary to prevent endangerment to a child's physical health or significant impairment of the child's emotional health.

However, there was no evidence of endangerment in this case, the judges ruled. They struck part of paragraph 10 from the decree but let the rest of the divorce stand, signaling the end of the legal battle.

The original judge, Bradford, has now said he agrees with the ruling. He was never against anyone's religion, he says, he was just concerned that some of the Wiccan rituals might have endangered the boy's health. He changed his mind after a review of the court records and found that his concerns were unfounded.

(Insert wretching sounds here.) So, Judge, you fully admit that you made a ruling that was clearly prohibited in the US Constitution on the basis of information you had failed to become familiar with prior to making the ruling. Oh, very nice. Very professional. I know I'd feel all kinds of confident if I had to appear in your courtroom, sir. I note he avoids actually explaining just what in the hell his concern was. That's likely because he was relying on horribly biased crap instead of actual information on the topic. I'm extremely glad the appeals court did what was plainly the right thing but this Judge Bradford needs to be given a pink slip and shown the way out of the Courthouse on a permanent basis.