Kudos to Fourth Pew Center for tipping me off to this story. I needed a new ulcer.
Beliefnet.com: Indianapolis, May 26, 2005
A judge's order that keeps a man and his ex-wife from exposing their 9-year-old son to their religion of Wicca has been appealed to the Indiana Court of Appeals.
Thomas E. Jones Jr. questions an order that Marion County Superior Court Chief Judge Cale Bradford put into divorce proceedings that bars Jones or his ex-wife from exposing their child to 'non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals,' the Indianapolis Star reported Thursday. Jones has asked the state appeals court to look into the case.
The judge's spokeswoman said the judge would not comment on the case, the Star said.
Both Jones and his ex-wife practice Wicca, a pagan religion that predates Christianity and preaches balance between its practitioners and nature. Jones claims that the judge put the paragraph about religions in the divorce papers without either parent asking for it.
Well, actually, Wicca doesn't predate much of anything, but I find this story disturbing for reasons far more serious than that minor factual error.
Remind me who's been foaming at the mouth about the evils of "judicial activism" for the last year or so? Oh, that's right--conservatives. I'd like to see those same lawmakers condemn this piece of judicial activism. Bet they won't, though. They'll just call it "upholding the values this great nation was founded upon" and nominate this idiot judge for a federal post.
Religious freedom--how's that for a value this great nation was founded upon? This judge's unwanted addition to the divorce decree was unconstitutional (like much of the Patriot Act, but I digress). Government may not prohibit the free exercise of religion--ANY religion, with the exception of religious practices which break other fundamental laws, like those against murder. "Government" includes the judiciary. You follow? Then you're ahead of that judge, congratulations.
We pagans aren't the most cohesive bunch. I think our creed actually reads: "And it harm none, do as thou wilt, unless thou wilt organize, in which case, can it." There's not going to be a press conference by the National Pagan Council on the 5 o'clock news to protest this ruling, mostly because I don't think there is an NPC. There's not going to be a Wear Your Pentacle to Work Day, either, because a lot of us work in corporate America and if you really believe there's religious tolerance in this country, wear a pentacle into a cubicle farm. I dare you.
But we knew this was coming, didn't we? Not this, specifically, but this sort of thing. It starts with cases like the above, and if these rulings are not overturned, it expands. This administration has made no secret of its desire to weaken or even eradicate the establishment clause, and unfortunately there are a lot of average citizens out there who think it would be a pretty good idea, because they don't realize it's their freedom under fire, too.