Update: separation of coven and state

wiccaI’m from the great Hoosier state and I can’t say I was too proud to see earlier this year that a county judge from our largest city — Indianapolis — barred a couple of parents from exposing their children to “non-mainstream religion beliefs and rituals,” particularly Wicca.

Well, an appeals court panel reversed the ruling yesterday and found the first judge out of bounds. Michele McNeil writes in The Indianapolis Star:

The Indiana Court of Appeals today upheld the rights of parents to expose their children to Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion.

In its unanimous ruling, the court declared that a Marion County judge was out of bounds in approving a divorce decree that also directed the parents to shelter their 10 year old son from non mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.

For more information on Wicca, go here, and you will see that the reporter’s characterization is fairly accurate, at least according to the Wikipedia, despite the debate around its origins.

As Terry aptly stated earlier this year, this case is important because it deals with any religious parent’s ability to teach and instruct religion values.

Religious liberty is only as strong as the rights of minorities. Take away the rights of parents to advocate their own faith to their children and the next thing you know you’ll have evangelical kids forced to sit in school classes that openly attack the faith taught in their homes. Wait, that’s happening already, isn’t it?

But the point remains the same. Parents have a right to pray with their kids and even preach to them. If Christians — even very conservative ones — want that right they should defend that right for others.

All I really have to say about the first ruling is . . . Oh, Indiana, and let’s be thankful for appeals courts.

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  • Chip

    Daniel,

    Neither you nor the Indy Star reporter pointed to the Court of Appeals opinion http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/08170503par.pdf

    which resolved the case, on a technicality of Indiana law “in accordance with our [this Court's] longstanding policy of judicial restraint in constitutional matters, this court must refrain from deciding constitutional questions unless no non-constitutional grounds present themselves for resolving the case under consideration.”

    Chip

  • http://agrumer.livejournal.com/ Avram

    So Terry considers your kids being taught something in school that contradicts your religious beliefs at home to be equivalent to being forbidden from teaching your kids about your religion at home?

  • http://www.wrandomwramblings.blogspot.com Scott Roche

    Both are matters of religious liberty. Our kids should have (and to hte best I know do have) the right not to be taught things that contradict (or attack depending on the connotation you prefer) their religious beliefs. Parents should have the ability to teach their kids about their faith, whatever that faith might be.

    Now there does seem to be a disconnect in the way he puts it. The two are not precisely equal but the issues are related. If society is able to tear our faith down in schools how many steps away is alowing them to do the same in our homes?

    I am grateful that upon appeal it was resolved.

  • Michael

    Our kids should have (and to hte best I know do have) the right not to be taught things that contradict (or attack depending on the connotation you prefer) their religious beliefs.

    I know of no such right. If a public school remains neutral and non-religious, whether its teachings conflict with your religious beliefs is not a protected right.

  • http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=ipso20facto Steve Nicoloso

    Parents DO have the right to prevent their kids from being taught things that contradict (or attack) their beliefs… as long as they have the right to educate them in a school of their choice or at home. They don’t necessarily have the right to control what taxpayer-funded schools teach. Education (of any worth at least) would be impossible if it remained neutral to all propositions, most of which are fundamentally ethical or moral or religious.

  • Michael

    as long as they have the right to educate them in a school of their choice or at home. They don’t necessarily have the right to control what taxpayer-funded schools teach.

    This is true. Nothing mandates citizens send their children to public schools, only that the provide an education to their children.

  • http://www.ecben.net Will

    Considering the results of “living Constitution” jurisprudence, I consider that much, much more than a “technicality”.

  • Michael

    This case also shows the imporance of minority religions, since they often shape the buondaries and shapes of establishment clause law. It’s the Amish, Seventh-Day Adventists, Santeria, and Jews who have been at the forefront of most of the important public accommodatino and establishment clause. It also helps because you can say, “well, if these snakehandlers weren’t considered bad parents, I can’t see how _____ can be bad parenting.”