Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs to son.


I’m not a Wiccan. Nor am I a lawyer or an expert on constitutional law. So, I’m asking you: Does Judge Cale J. Bradford have any basis in law for this ruling? With my meager understanding of the law, I can’t see any good reason for a judge to rule that way. Perhaps one or two of you can make it clear to me.

I don’t agree with the ruling, and in General Questions that’s all I will say about it.

I doubt the ruling can withstand 1st Amendment scrutiny. There was a similar case in Colorado, in which a woman awarded joint custody of a child with her former same-sex partner was ordered not to teach the child anything that was “homophobic.” Since the woman had converted to fundamentalist Christianity, she appealed on the grounds that her religious freedom was compromised if she could not teach her child about her, the parent’s, religious beliefs. The appeals court agreed and threw out the provision. The only links I’m finding are either partial, from right wing sources or require registration so no link.

Even so, who’s going to enforce it?

There are so many laws in the USA that are not enforced as it is. When judges, congress, etc, make new laws, sometimes the economics to enforce the new laws are not considered.

Having read nothing aout the case but the OP (too lazy to click the link!), I don’t see any way this ruling is Constitutional. The government cannot burden the free exercise of religion. Now, if these particular parents are involved in a sect that encourages drug use, sacrifice of animals or humans, torture.self-mortification, etc., that may be a different story.


I second Cliffy, et al. Parents have a fundamental right to direct their children’s religious education under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, and there doesn’t appear to be any compelling state interest being protected here such that the order would survive a strict scrutiny analysis.

Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205 (1972).

This’ll be reversed.

Welcome to SDMB Tom. Perhaps a civics 101 lesson is in order. Only congress makes laws. The courts interpret them. In any event this case has nothing to do with a new law. A judge made a ruling that appears even to a layman will be overturned by a higher court as it quite clearly violates the first amendment. Police enforce the laws and you are correct that there isn’t funding to completely enforce every law on the books but that doesn’t seem relavent to this case.

I’m sorry, but I have to nitpick here. Even if you count ‘congress’ as including state legislations as well as federal, there are numerous county and local authorities who ‘make laws’. (Not going to bring up other countries, because the thread was clearly about USA.)

And yes, I do realize that the intent of your statement was that judges do NOT make laws. :slight_smile:

As a parent, I have the right to teach my daughter anything I wish in the privacy of our home. No judge or jury may abrogate that, lawfully.

And yet, we have evidence that they do it anyway. What would happen if the parents didn’t appeal the order, and just defied it? Could the judge order the child taken into custody? Is it likely a social worker would comply with such an order?

Wrong. If you are teaching your child that drugs are good, that sex is great for 9 year olds, and that violence is the best way to resolve conflicts, the courts will step in and slap you with endangerment charges.
However, in this case, I’m pretty sure this decision could be beaten with a lawyer from a strip mall.

I suspect that the court’s excuse is this:

I suspect that (at least on the surface) the judge will say his concern is for the mental health of a child subject to conflicting religious influences, and that his decision is not intended to be anti non-mainstream religion per se. Of course, if that were true, his order would have to have required simply that the child attend a school appropriate to his parents religion.

Yet you can teach your child that medicine is bad and refuse to innoculate them against disease, right? I don’t know the current legal thinking on this, but I think that at the moment even the most extreme forms of Christian Science are officially unchallengable in this country.

And how about the Native Americans who have specific exemptions regarding the use of peyote? Is that an exception to one of your statements?

This is a complex subject. The specific case under review is cut-and-dried, but the larger issue is still a subject of debate.

Derleth, in GQ I can’t go into the nasty details, but believers in faith healing and Native Americans who have peyote visions in their rituals are not immune to governmental hassles. Generally, they are, but it’s not an easy slam dunk.

Excellent! :smiley:

Derleth, beyond Ask’s correct reply that peyote eaters actually aren’t always immune from prosecution, the fact that the State allows some parents to teach their children some dangerous things is not proof that the State allows all parents to teach their children all dangerous things. Tristan’s general point, that dances has no absolute right to teach her (?) children anything she wants, is quite correct.


This case should be distinguished from the more commonplace cases where one parent is permitted to teach a child that parent’s religion and the other parent is prohibitted from teaching the child conflicting religious beliefs. Even in these cases, a strong showing is required.
Compare, *http://caselaw.lp.findlaw.com/scripts/getcase.pl?court=vt&vol=/supreme/&invol=2000-420 (court can prohibit non-custodial parent from exposing child to religious teaching that conflicts with custodial parent’s religious teachings) *with *
http://www.ndcourts.com/court/opinions/11235.htm (reviewing law nationwide: most courts that have considered the question have refused to restrain a noncustodial parent during visitation periods from exposing the minor child to his or her religious beliefs and practices, absent a clear, affirmative showing that these religious activities will be harmful to the child).

Here, the judge took it upon himself to decide what the child could be taught over the objections of both parents. Should be reversed.

This is a silly argument. In my Catholic high school, we had our fair share of devout Muslims, Jews, and persons of other belief systems. Our Catholic high school was hardly liberal, too, being run by the Christian Brothers. Didn’t seem to screw any kids up.

This is a pretty absurd situation, in my opinion, and I am pleased to hear that many are betting that this ruling will be reversed soon. I would not be surprised to see this sort of thing to happen in the South.


Unanimous Court decision for the parents!