Posted by: koherston | April 14, 2010

UPDATE: Can a Court Decide a Child’s Religion?

Last month I posted on a case in Illinois where the divorced parents were fighting over whether Father could expose his three-year old child to the Catholic faith over Mother’s objection. Mother insisted on raising Child in the Jewish faith.  Mother argued it would be confusing for Child to be exposed to both religions.

Yesterday the Chicago Sun-Times reported that Child will be permitted to attend Catholic church services with Father because there was no compelling evidence that Child would be harmed by doing so. Father did not escape unscathed, however. The court correctly excoriated him for using Child to seek his own self-serving publicity.

“[Father], at times, seems to choose what is in the best interest of [Father], rather than what is in the best interests of [Child],” the judge wrote.

She noted that he “chose” not to have visitation with his daughter for six months and also “not to get a job to help support [Child].”

The judge also was critical of [Father’s] efforts to publicize his case, which included bringing along a TV news crew when he took the girl to church in defiance of a court order.

“[Father] chose to make three-year-old [Child] the center of his own media event, as seen on every local news channel, print media and national news channels during his visitation,” Goldfarb wrote. “[Father] chose to dispense three-year-old [Child’s] picture to the media.”

The result is consistent with my assessment that court’s are loathe to interfere in religious matters absent some showing of harm to the child. Still, Father’s failure to take the high road and act like a grown-up put this outcome in doubt.


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