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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

They came for the trade unionists, but because I was not a trade unionist, I said nothing...

This is deeply troubling, assuming the facts are as presented.

No, actually it's not--it's appalling.

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.

That the order appears to be a cinch for reversal is heartening, but it should never have been issued in the first place.

I'm even uncomfortable with the idea of "harm" as a potential bar to a parent passing on religious faith. Not physical harm, mind you--that's a no brainer. No whack job has the right to hurt his or her children in the name of religious observance.

But what about "psychological harm"? Imagine what some hard-core hater could do with an argument based on that.

"Catholicism, after all, is very damaging for the mental and emotional development of the child, as it inculcates the notion of inherited guilt and an inherent proclivity on the part of all people to do wrong, or "sin." Moreover, such behavior can only be remedied by the exclusivist belief in the savior of Catholicism, and healing only comes through its rituals. This pre-modern worldview will invariably warp the development of the child. Consequently, she should not be exposed to the teachings of the Catholic Church..."

Over the top? For the moment, sure. But give it about fifty years, after a few decades of derision for the Church's stand against whatever society wants to endorse.

Which is why rulings like that of the Indianapolis court have to be aggressively challenged now.

[Link via Get Religion.]

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