Somebody in my extended family is undergoing a custody battle with her divorced husband. She is a good Christian and her ex wants joint custody. I just got off the phone with her and thought to myself "Good thing you aren't an atheist."
What made me think this? Cruising around the net will explain why.
Carson v. Carson, 401 N.W.2d 632, 635–36
(Mich. Ct. App. 1986) (quoting trial court as opining that it “was a little bit distraught in finding that there was no particular affiliation [held by either parent] with a church,” because “[p]robably 95 percent of the criminals that I see before me come from homes where there’s no . . . established religious affiliation,”
Sharrow v. Davis, Nos. 244043, 245117, 2003 WL 21699876, at *3
(Mich. Ct. App. July 22, 2003) (noting that “[father] never attended church and his older children were not baptized,” that “[father] felt [the children] should experience many religions and choose one when they were older,” and that though “[mother] did not attend church regularly, she attended periodically and would take all of the children with her”);
Goodrich v. Jex, No. 243455, 2003 WL 21362971, at *1
(Mich. Ct. App. June 12, 2003) (noting “that [father] has a greater capacity and willingness to continue to take the parties’ daughters to church and related activities,” and that trial court had been “concerned with [mother’s] belief that her minor daughters are capable of making their own decisions whether to attend church”);
Sims v. Stanfield, No. CA98-1040, 1999 WL 239888, at *3–*4 (Ark. Ct. App. Apr. 21, 1999)
(noting that lower court based award of custody to father partly on father’s having “‘rekindled’ a relationship with his church,” “regularly attend[ing] services,” and providing “a Christian home,” but declining on procedural grounds to review this);
Tweedel v. Tweedel, 484 So. 2d 260, 262 (La. Ct. App. 1986)
(noting that “The child attends church regularly with the mother and receives religious instruction. The father testified that he has not brought the child to church because the child did not want to go and that he would not force the child to go to church.”);
Staggs v. Staggs, No. 2004-CA-00443-COA, 2005 WL 1384525, at *6
(Miss. Ct. App. May 24, 2005) (noting that “[w]hile [father] is an agnostic and testified that religion is not important to him, [mother] testified that religion is very important to her”);
Weigand v. Houghton, 730 So. 2d 581, 587 (Miss. 1999)
(noting chancellor’s “weighing heavily” as factor in mother’s favor that “mother has seen that [the son] is taken to church and undergone religious training, along with the entire family” and that “[the son’s] best interest would be served by providing religious training”).
Gancas v. Schultz, 683 A.2d 1207, 1213–14 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1996)
(reversing lower court’s transfer of custody from mother to father, based partly on lower court’s “fail[ure] to consider ‘all factors which legitimately have an effect upon the child’s physical, intellectual, moral and spiritual well-being,’” and in particular that while “[m]other . . . takes [daughter] to church whenever [daughter] is with her,” “[f]ather, an admitted agnostic, does not attend church”).
Myers v. Myers, 14 Phila. 224, 256–57 (Com. Pl. 1986)
(“Although the issue of religion is not controlling in a custody case, the religious training of children is a matter of serious concern and is a factor that should be considered in rendering a custody decision. ‘A proper religious atmosphere is an attribute of a good home and it contributes significantly to the ultimate welfare of a child.’ Where it appears that the religious training of the children will cease upon placement in a given custodial setting, courts lean in favor of the religious-minded contestant.”), aff’d without op., 520 A.2d 68 (Pa. Super. Ct. 1986);
Scheeler v. Rudy, 2 Pa. D. & C.3d 772, 780 (Com. Pl. 1977)
(awarding custody to mother, noting as factor in her favor that she often took children to church, while father rarely did, that “[t]his court has often noted the absence of any regular church attendance in the pre- sentence reports of those who have been convicted of some crime, which appear on our desk,” and that “a religious education and upbringing can have a substantial effect upon the outlook and attitudes of a child, and in turn upon the life of the adult he or she will become.”)
Pountain v. Pountain, 503 S.E.2d 757, 761 (S.C. Ct. App. 1998)
(upholding denial of custody to father whom court described as “agnostic,” and stating that “Although the religious beliefs of parents are not dispositive in a child custody dispute, they are a factor relevant to determining the best interest of a child”);
In re F.J.K., 608 S.W.2d 301 (Tex. App. 1980)
(noting “the mother’s neglect of the children’s religious upbringing,” and “[a]n atheistic philosophy [being] . . . discussed by the new husband to some extent with the daughter, prompting her to advise her nursery school teacher that she was ‘not a Christian or a Jew but an atheist’”).
Source: Atheists Discriminated Against in Child Custody Cases
In 1992 a South Dakota man "will agree to present a plan to the Court of how
[he] is going to commence providing some sort of spiritual opportunity for the [children] to learn about God while in [his] custody." Similar language was couched in 2005 Arkansas, 2002 Georgia, 2005 Louisiana, 2004 Minnesota, 2005 Mississippi, 2006 New York, 2005 North Carolina, 1996 Pennsylvania, 2004 South Carolina, 1997 Tennessee, 2000 Texas, and, going back to the 1970s and 1980s, Alabama, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Iowa, Montana, and Nebraska.
In 2000, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a mother to take her child to church each week, reasoning that "it is certainly to the best interests of [the child] to receive regular and systematic spiritual training" in 1996, the Arkansas Supreme Court did the same, partly on the grounds that weekly
church attendance, rather than just the once-every-two-weeks attendance that the child would have had if he went only with the other parent, provides superior "moral instruction."
All this is done under the rubric of the "best interests of the
child" standard, the normal rule applied in custody disputes between two parents and this standard leaves family court judges ample room to consider a parent's ideology.
Source (PDF): PARENT-CHILD SPEECH AND CHILD CUSTODY SPEECH RESTRICTIONS
atheist child custody - Atheist Blogroll Search
atheist child custody - Google News Archive Search
As an American, our constitution is a text left open for interpretation by the Judicial branch. When judges waver from the first amendment it saddens me to no end.
Essentially, I think we should all get the message very clearly. Christians think atheists (or even non-churchgoers) are shit and not worthy of raising their own children if it doesn't fall in line with so-called "moral instruction".
The first amendment stands on one leg.