Tuesday, August 07, 2012

British judge orders baptism

UCLA law prof Eugene Volokh reports on a British family court dispute over religious upbringing:
English Court Lets 10-Year-Old Girl Choose to Be Baptised, Over Jewish Mother’s Objections (but with Christian Father’s Permission) ...

The parents were nonobservant Jews for most of their marriage, but at the very end of the marriage, the father converted to Christianity (Anglicanism, specifically). The parents seem to have what in America would be treated as joint physical and legal custody, with the daughter spending roughly equal time with each, and with each having equal authority over the daughter’s upbringing. The daughter, who is apparently a quite intelligent 10½-year-old, decided she wanted to get baptised, which in the Anglican church involves taking baptism classes as well as going through the baptism ritual. The father had encouraged the daughter’s interest in Christianity, but the court concluded that the daughter genuinely did want to go through the baptism, and had been seeking to do so for about ten months; nor did the court note anything that it saw as undue pressure by the father that would bring this about (though of course it’s very hard to figure out what counts as undue pressure in such a situation).
Volokh gives several choice for what the court could have done, but not the most obvious. As someone commented:
The court should refuse jurisdiction over a question that is personal, religious, and of no public consequence. Courts dismiss cases for lack of jurisdiction all the time.

By hearing and deciding this case, the court has unreasonably intervened in a private matter, has undermined the authority of the parents, and given the child a power and responsibility that she is normally not given under the law. The decision is terrible. I would hope that the First Amendment would prevent such a decision in the USA.
Volokh is a Russian atheist Jewish lawyer professor father, so I would expect him to favor the court staying out of the decision. But he does not even understand that staying out is a possibility.

The court quoted an advocate of Jewish law:
It was extremely disturbing to hear last night of the proposed baptism of the two young children named above [A and C] in clear contradiction to the wishes of their biological mother and all four grandparents — all of whom are proudly Jewish.

In Judaism we don’t encourage conversion either way as it is unnatural for a person to change the religion they are born into and which thus is ingrained in their soul in a deep way. Although conversions are performed they must be worked at over a number of years when a real change can realistically take place.

It is unfair to any child to put them under this pressure and to do something unnatural to their soul.

What was even more disturbing in this case was the fact that the children have been enrolled in a baptism program without the knowledge or consent of their mother…
This illustrates how Judaism is not really a faith-based religion like Christianity. Jews say that the 10yo child must be Jewish if the "biological mother and all four grandparents ... are proudly Jewish." The dad is emasculated and has no say in the matter.

I had a Jewish family court judge and psychologist apply their anti-father and anti-Christian prejudices against me. They were following Jewish stereotypes, and not the law or the facts.

A comment said that Moslems also do not allow converting out of the religion, even if the parents favor the conversion. Moslems do allow converting in, but not out. Jews oppose converting in or out. Christians allow converting in and out. I would also be objecting if Mohammedan judges and psychologists were applying Islamic law to strip parents of their rights and to intervene in child-rearing.

A Jewish commenter objects to this paragraph of the decision:
While the mother has the care of C she receives no instruction in the Jewish faith, she does not attend the synagogue on any regular basis and only experiences minimal exposure to Jewish religious practises in the home. I fully accept that by virtue of being born of as Jewish mother C has acquired a Jewish heritage which she will never lose, but that is fundamentally different to her acquiring a Jewish faith. I do not accept the implied assertion in the letter from Rabbi Brandon that these are one and the same thing.
He says that the paragraph is contrary to this Canadian case on churches doing same-sex marriage. I don't see the connection, but it does illustrate how Jews attempt to manipulate the family court in favor of the mom. This mom was not even teaching the kid to be a Jew, and yet the argument is made that the court must order the child to stay within the Jewish faith just because the mom was born a Jew and there are proud Jewish grandparents.

In another case involving child custody and religion, the NY Times reports:
The curious involvement of an Amish-Mennonite sect in a high-profile case of international parental kidnapping will be on display — and perhaps become clearer — in a courtroom in Burlington, Vt., this week.

Jury selection is to begin Tuesday in the criminal trial of a pastor charged with helping Lisa A. Miller flee the country with her young daughter to prevent the girl from staying with Ms. Miller’s former partner in a civil union.

Kenneth L. Miller, 46, the leader of a Beachy Amish Mennonite church in Stuarts Draft, Va., is accused of helping Ms. Miller, who is no relation, violate custody orders, aiding her in her flight with her daughter, Isabella, to Nicaragua, where they were sheltered by missionaries of the sect. The pair have been missing since September 2009 and are believed to be in Central America.
I mentioned this case back in 2006. The core problem here is that a couple of lesbians thought that they could make a baby without a dad. And the mom thought that her maternal rights outweigh any court order.

Update: Here is an example of a Jewish site bragging about a swimmer being Jewish just because she has Jewish grandparents:
Dear Rebecca [Soni], First of all, congratulations on your terrific showing in London. Two golds and one silver to add to a three-medal tally from Beijing. Wow! You truly are a great champion.

We are, however, a little disappointed in you. No, not because you couldn't win that third gold, but because you have been hiding your Jewishness.

Until last week, dear Rebecca, there was nothing anywhere on the Internet of you being Jewish. In fact, when a Hungarian correspondent sent us proof that you were, we were shocked, and we don't shock easily. Yet there it was, Jewish grandparents, deported from Romania to Hungary during World War II. Parents emigrated to the US in the 1980s.
Update: A comment on Volokh's blog says:
This case is probably as good an argument as any against pure 50-50 joint custody with no agreed method to resolve disputes, since if the parents disagree, as they inevitably will, and cannot resolve the matter themselves, that will inevitably mean the court will continually have to be brought back in to decide matters. Such an approach is a waste of civic resources. And it becomes an even bigger problem when it comes to matters that judges really shouldn't be deciding to begin with.

Better to have established a decision or dispute resolution method in the first place that doesn't require continually going back to the judge to break impasses.
Really? This is the best argument against 50-50 joint custody? This is a case where there was no need for the judge to do anything! The outcome was about the same as if there had been no court action.

Update: Here is another exchange:

Yes, the judge intervened because, and SOLELY because, one parent asked the judge to do so. Yes, the judge may again intervene because, and SOLELY because, one parent may ask him to do so again. You seem to believe that judges have the magical power to create custody arrangements that will automatically avoid or resolve all future problems, even ones than might arise as far as 10 or more years in the future. Your aversion to intervention is inexplicable and, given the inability of the parents to resolve their differences, judicial intervention when sought by the parents strikes me as superior to parents either acting behind each others' backs or resorting to more extreme self-help measures.

The Constitution forbids a judge from choosing a religion for a child in the USA. That is the simple fact here that no one seems to grasp. So no matter how much a parent might "believe that the child's soul is at stake", he or she cannot get relief from the court.

In this British case, the judge intervened for TWO reasons: the mom asked him, and he had personal opinions about Judaism and Christianity that he wished to impose on the parents and the kids.

No, I do not believe that judges have the magical power to resolve problems. Just the opposite -- I believe that judges have no such power. By pretending that he has the power, this judge has made things worse than if he had refused to hear the case.

I don't know how anyone could be so foolish as to believe that some stupid family court judge could resolve a difference between Judaism and Christianity.

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