If you’ve ever wondered why conservative evangelical Christians seem so concerned about the dangers of government intervention in our lives, read a recent New Hampshire family court ruling that 10-year-old Amanda — who has been home-schooled by her religiously conservative mother since first grade — must now attend public school.
The plaintiff (Amanda’s father — the couple divorced shortly after Amanda was born) “believes that exposure to other points of view will decrease Amanda’s rigid adherence to her mother’s religious beliefs, and increase her ability to get along with others and to function in a world which requires some element of independent thinking and tolerance for different points of view,” family court Justice Lucinda Sadler explained.
Sadler agreed with the father and has since ordered ten-year-old Amanda to go to public school:
The court agreed that Amanda “appeared to reflect her mother’s rigidity on questions of faith . . . Amanda’s relationship with her father suffers to some degree by her belief that his refusal to adopt her religious beliefs and his choice instead to spend eternity away from her proves that he does not love her as much as he says he does.”
This is nothing less than astonishing. I hope you’re getting the significance of this. A family court judge is stepping into a family dispute between a divorced couple. This judge is giving priority to the father’s supposed right to be loved by his daughter over the girl’s right to believe as she chooses (and the mother’s right to raise the girl as she chooses–apparently she has custody). This is outrageous.
Sometimes Christians are painted in the popular media as wackos and nuts when it comes to liberty and freedom. We’re an easy target to mock when it comes to public square issues, as it’s far easier to make fun of someone for supposed infringments of personal liberty than it is to mount a defense against such mockery. It must also be said that Christians do sometimes go overboard on these points. We can at times get carried away and, it must be said, worry too much about the state and not enough about the gospel of the kingdom.
But with that noted, there is great cause for Christians and other religious groups to be vigilant about such matters. There is real danger out there to religious liberty and individual rights. Witness what is happening in New Hampshire. It’s easy to mock this kind of thing–it’s also increasingly easy for the state to infringe on the Constitutional rights of citizens. Christians are right to be outraged by this kind of ruling–it is outrageous.