JABbering Stooge

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Creeping Theocracy...

I know it's been a while since I posted,so let's just dive right in to some stories that drew my attention - continuing on the thread of our ever more insidious creeping theocracy.

Judge to divorced couple: non-Christian belief systems have no place in privacy of one's own home:

Our first story today comes from the Indianapolis Star.

Judge: Parents can't teach pagan beliefs
Father appeals order in divorce decree that prevents couple from exposing son to Wicca.

By Kevin Corcoran

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.

Although the order doesn't specifically spell out what constitutes "mainstream religious beliefs and rituals," it ought to be pretty obvious to anyone with half a brain what the judge has in mind. Naturally, the parents objected to this, and the judge is refusing to remove the order. So how did the order get put in there in the first place?

The parents' Wiccan beliefs came to [Judge Cale J.] Bradford's attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau, which provides recommendations to the court on child custody and visitation rights. Jones' son attends a local Catholic school.

Now, it's important to note that neither of the parents requested that their son be raised in accordance with the local Catholic school's beliefs, and that the boy enrolled as a non-Christian. But that doesn't matter to Judge Bradford - he thinks he knows best and explains as such in his ruling (while looking down his nose at the parents, I'm sure):

"There is a discrepancy between Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school. . . . Ms. Jones and Mr. Jones display little insight into the confusion these divergent belief systems will have upon (the boy) as he ages," the bureau said in its report.

In other words, kids can't be trusted to sort out for themselves their own belief systems - they need the guidance of a judge (and the school they're attending), as if having more than one option is too confusing (and conservatives complain that we liberals are elitist!).

The other implication of this ruling is that if the belief system underlying a parochial school conflicts with the belief system of the parents, the parochial school wins.

So much for freedom of religion.

Convicted of a drug/alcohol offense? Get thee to a church!

The Associated Press reported on tuesday that Kentucky District Judge Michael Caperton has an unusual idea of alernative sentencing: ordering the offender to attend worship services.

The sentence has only been issued about 50, and only to repeat offenders, so it's too early to tell what sort of effect it will have. That said, I'm not sure that this is such a good idea. First of all, this sort of thing carries the unspoken assumption that the offender is not religious at all, and that is why they're on drugs - a faulty assumption at best. Secondly, the whole point of church/state separation is to keep each institution uncorrupted by the influence of the other, thus enhancing our liberties.

James Madison would concur:

The Civil Government, though bereft of everything like an associated hierarchy, posesses the requisite stability, and performs its functions with complete success, whilst the number, the industry, and the morality of the priesthood, and devotion of the people, have been manifestly increased by the total separation of the church from the state.
Letter to Robert Walsh, March 2, 1819

The purpose of separation of church and state is to keep forever from these shores the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Europe in blood for centuries.
James Madison, 1803

I would also like to direct those interested to a December 2004 article by J. Brent Walker on the subject. It says what liberals have been trying to say about church/state issues far better than I could ever hope to accomplish.

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