Around 1940, a couple was denied an adoption solely because they were non-religious.
Eventually, court action prompted a change in rules and the couple was able to adopt a boy:
John Burke, an atheist, and his wife, a pantheist, had left the line blank. As a result, the bureau denied the Burkes’ application. After the couple began court action, however, the bureau changed its regulations, and the couple was able to adopt a baby boy from the Children’s Aid and Adoption Society in East Orange.
Then, in 1969, the same couple decided to adopt a baby girl.
Again, they were denied:
In an extraordinary decision, Judge [William] Camarata denied the Burkes’ right to the child because of their lack of belief in a Supreme Being. Despite the Burkes’ “high moral and ethical standards,” he said, the New Jersey state constitution declares that “no person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience.” Despite Eleanor Katherine’s tender years, he continued, “the child should have the freedom to worship as she sees fit, and not be influenced by prospective parents who do not believe in a Supreme Being.”
In 1971, the New Jersey Supreme Court reversed that decision.
You would think non-religious people wouldn’t have to deal with this crap in the 2000s.
But Ed Brayton says it’s still going on. This time, it’s not an adoption issue; it’s a custody case:
I’ve got a friend in New York who just went through this and I’m gathering all the legal documents to publicize that case. The outcome was beyond outrageous. The mother, who had full custody during the divorce and custody fight, lost custody because the father would make the child attend church while the mother would not.
This despite the fact that the father had multiple drunk driving arrests and even admitted under oath that he still drove with the child in the car after drinking. This also despite the fact that he had a history of violence, enough to warrant a personal protection order granted to the mother. But the judge felt that raising the child in a “Christian” environment trumped all of that.
If all this is accurate and the documents show this to be true — and the mother really seems capable of having custody — outside the legal ramifications, it just shows that there is still discrimination against atheists.
[tags]atheist, atheism, adoption[/tags]