Friday, May 27, 2005

One Last Thing

I know, I know! I always do this. I have one last thing that catches my eye after I've said good-bye. But this time, this really is the last post until, at least, Monday. And it couldn't wait.

Here's a link to an article about a custody fight that involves First Amendment religious freedom. A judge in Indianapolis, in a divorce case, has ordered that a little boy cannot be brought up by his parents as a Wiccan. Neither parent, however, asked for such a ruling. Both, in fact, are practicing Wiccans and the boy's religious upbringing was never in contention in their custody case.

Wicca is a nature-based Pagan faith. According to the article, some Wiccan sects practice limited nudity. Although the newspaper article tried to downplay that fact as innocent, it may offend enough people and cause them to believe the judge has a valid point. So let me state that I practiced Wicca for 10 years, in my 20s and early 30s. I never, never participated in a group that had nudity - if not out of a false sense of modesty, then because nobody, and I mean nobody, was going to see my cellulite. Vanity is not pretty, but then neither is cellulite.

Seriously, there are some Wiccan groups who do conduct rites in the nude. But many do not. So unless the judge knew that this specific group was engaging in a practice he considered harmful to a young boy, he had no right to impose his religious prejudices on the parents of this child.

And unlike some divorce cases, neither parent was objecting to raising the boy as a Wiccan. The parents share custody and still share the same religious beliefs. This is an unasked for intrusion by the judge who stated plainly that he doesn't believe the boy should be brought up in a non-mainstream religion.

To put that in perspective, forty years ago in many parts of America (and even today in some small towns) Judaism would be considered "not the mainstream" of religion. Surely, so would Buddhism, Jainism and even Islam. So, do judges take this precious freedom away from parents who happen to end up in court on other matters?

And again, given that some Democrats sold out their party's right to filibuster extreme rightwing judicial nominees, what will happen if a case like this reaches the Supreme Court in a few years, as surely one will?

On that note, I really must say good-bye now. Until Monday, when something else will, no doubt, upset me enough to take to the computer to post. But until then, I am taking a break and going to chill in beautiful Roanoke for a couple of days.

Shalom and Namaste!

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