Friday, May 27, 2005

But some are more equal than others

I'm having another one of those "WOW, can they do this?" moments over this story. A court actually ordered two Wiccan parents in a divorce case to "protect" their 9-year-old son from "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

In the order, the parents were "directed to take such steps as are needed to shelter [the child] from involvement and observation of these non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." The judge let the wording stand.

Uh, this is still America, right? We still have the First Amendment, right? Because I'm beginning to wonder. How can a court order parents what religion they can and cannot teach their child? "Non-mainstream religious beliefs?" It's like something out of Animal Farm. All religions are treated equally. But some are more equal than others. I find this chilling.

Now, I'm no Wiccan. I do have a couple of Wiccan friends, one of whom has a son about the same age as my kids. I don't know much about her faith. I know it isn't Satanic or evil, like some Christians believe, but I'm also not entirely comfortable with it, either. Still, it never in a million years would occur to me to tell her it's not okay for her to raise her son in that faith, any more than I would tell my Jewish brother-in-law not to bring his kids to temple. Quite simply, it's my job to raise my kids in my religious faith, not anyone else's.

I mean, if there's something abusive going on at these rituals, that's one thing. And let me be clear: I say that not because I believe it's true, but because I believe that's what's in the minds of people who make decisions like this. "Oooh, paganism, it's scary because it's eeeeevil and it's eeeeevil because I don't understand it." So for the sake of argument, let's say there is something really wrong going on at pagan rituals, something harmful beyond any kind of vague notion of spiritual wrongness, but something truly abusive. Shouldn't that be addressed by arresting the perpetrators and preventing the rituals rather than simply ordering one couple to protect their one child from it? Yet that doesn't happen, probably for the very reason that there is nothing abusive going on at all. Weird and different from a Christian perspective, perhaps, but so what? If that's the case, then why would this couple's son need "protecting" from it? Because the court commissioner who wrote the order thinks it's wrong? Isn't that "mak[ing] respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof"? Okay, it isn't Congress making the law, which is the body specifically stipulated in the First Amendment, but does that make this any less a violation of religious freedom?

If I expect the freedom to raise my kids in the faith of my choice, I damned well better grant that same freedom to others, even if I don't agree with their choices. Anything less is just another disturbing step toward state-mandated religion.


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