NASHVILLE, Tenn. – A Shelby County mother faces contempt-of-court charges and possible jail time for baptizing her two children without the knowledge or consent of her ex-husband.Of course the court can always find an excuse for intervening in family decisions.
This week the Tennessee Court of Appeals said Lauren Jarrell must face a criminal contempt hearing for violating a court order that said major decisions regarding the religious upbringing of her two children should be made jointly with the children's father.
Both parents are Christian. Emmett Blake Jarrell, the father, is a member of the United Methodist Church, and she's a Presbyterian.
"Mother is correct that courts `must maintain strict neutrality in cases involving religious disputes between divorced parents' and they may not `prefer the religious views of one parent over another unless one parent's religious beliefs and practices threaten the health and well-being of the child," Judge Alan E. Highers wrote. "However, simply put, this is not a religious dispute." Highers said the court is only being asked to determine whether the mother can be found in contempt for failing to follow the court order.Yes, the court ought to stay out. Highers is dishonest here. The well-being of the child is not threatened. This is a religious dispute.
Nashville attorney Helen Rogers says the courts ought to stay away from these kinds of decisions.