Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Another Child Custody and Religion Case

...in which nobody seemed to raise the Constitutional issues. This time, it's Georgia; by agreement, Mom was to have the authority to make decisions about child's religious training and upbringing. Mom wanted to give child Jewish religious training and practice, and Dad had, it appears, originally agreed. Then, it appears, Dad changed his mind, and (as is sometimes the case in these sorts of cases) also began acting like sort of, well, a jerk.

The Court warned Dad that he risked being found in contempt, and provided the following admonition as to how to "purge" the contempt, from which one might reasonably infer additional details of Dad's behavior:

(a) Mr. Greene may not indoctrinate the child in a manner which promotes the child's alienation from Judaism.

(b) Mr. Greene shall not take the child to church (whether to church services or Sunday School or church education programs); nor engage the child in prayer or Bible study if it promotes rejection rather than acceptance, of the child's . . . Jewish self-identity.

(c) Mr. Greene shall not share his religious beliefs with the child if those beliefs cause the child emotional distress or worry about the child's mother or the child herself. Thus, for example, Mr. Greene may have pictures of Jesus Christ hanging on the walls of his residence. But, Mr. Greene may not take the child to religious services where they receive the message that adults or children who do not accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior are destined to burn in hell. Further, he may not pray Christian prayers with the child, play Christian songs with the child present, read the Bible to the child or in any way attempt to indoctrinate the child into the Christian Faith.

(d) Neither party is to talk negatively or derogatory about the other party's religion in the presence of the child, and there shall be no derogatory comments that could be construed as anti-Semitic of any nature, meaning Mr. Greene shall no longer refer to Ms. Greene's parents, who are Jewish, by any numbers or anything similar to that.

Mr. Greene shall ensure that these rules are followed by persons whom he allows the child to be in the presence of or have contact with. No secondary person shall teach or read the Bible to the child, or pray any Christian prayers, or otherwise attempt to indoctrinate the child into the Christian faith.

Even assuming that Dad was doing the obnoxious stuff we can infer from the details, why didn't making any of this order trouble the judge?