Judge Tells Divorced Atheist He Has to Attend Church Services with His Children as Part of Settlement January 20, 2015

Judge Tells Divorced Atheist He Has to Attend Church Services with His Children as Part of Settlement

This is a weird situation… and I wonder if any lawyers in the UK can shed some light on whether this is legal and what, if anything, can be done about it.

Steve, a British atheist, has been told by a judge that, as part of a divorce settlement, he must attend Roman Catholic mass with his kids.

The instruction to attend church was something the judge introduced without being requested by the mother. The judge declared his Roman Catholicism to the court. The children only occasionally attended church with their mother before the divorce.

Steve chooses not to take his children to mass, thereby leaving himself open to a charge of Contempt of Court and a prison sentence.

It gets even stranger: Steve’s ex-wife, who didn’t request this, is not required to go to mass with the kids, even though he is. In theory, if Steve belonged to a different church that gathered at the same time as the Catholic mass, he’d have to go to the mass, infringing on his own religious rights. The ruling applies until the kids are 18, and it presumably still holds even if the kids say they’re atheists. Steve appealed the decision, but higher courts refused to address the issue.

So many problems with this all around.

The British Humanist Association finds this appalling:

This strange judgment deserves to be overturn [sic], and shows some seriously wrongheaded thinking on the part of the judge about how the religious views of a parent, or a judge for that matter, should weigh against a young person’s own inalienable right to determine for themselves what they believe.

Any thoughts? I can think of options if this happened in the U.S. but I don’t know what the legal alternatives are overseas.

(via A Tippling Philosopher. Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to everyone for the link)


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