You hate to see any legal battle where a child is caught in the middle, especially when religion is the focal point, but at least a judge in British Columbia handled that kind of issue the right way.
The case involved a little girl, her mother, and her paternal grandparents. (The father isn’t in the picture for reasons that are irrelevant to the case.)
The Mother, at first, wanted the Grandparents in the Child’s life, but that began to change when she realized they were indoctrinating the girl into the Jehovah’s Witnesses. They would repeatedly take the Child to church services, even when the Mother didn’t want them to. They insisted they were doing it at the Child’s insistence. At one point, the Child was caught watching a JW video on the Grandparents’ laptop. Again, the Grandmother said it was all the Child’s doing. It went on like this for a while.
Eventually, the Mother insisted that the Grandparents couldn’t see the Child unless they agreed not to push their faith on her. They refused, and eventually, they filed a lawsuit against the Mother, arguing that they had every right to push their faith on the Child.
That’s the lawsuit that thankfully came to an end yesterday with a ruling in the Mother’s favor:
A pair of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses have been ordered by a B.C. provincial court judge not to talk about religion in front of their four-year-old granddaughter.
The couple lost their bid for unsupervised access to the girl because they insisted on taking her to worship at their faith’s Kingdom Hall despite the repeated objections of the child’s mother.
The judge noted that when two or more parents with different religious views share parental responsibility the court will often support the child being exposed to each religion involved.
But because [the Grandparents] are not guardians, the court was bound to respect the decision of the mother.
Judge Edna Ritchie pointed out that the Grandparents can still practice their faith and their rights aren’t being violated just because the Mother doesn’t want them proselytizing to her Child.
The applicants are wrong to blame [the Mother] for the diminution in the time they spend with [the Child]. The applicants have knowingly defied [the Mother’s] wishes on several occasions. Their explanations include that unless they agree with [the Mother] they do not have to do as she wants and that they can ignore [the Mother’s] wishes if [the Child], a very young child, expresses a contrary view.
The applicants appear unwilling, and perhaps unable, to accept that they have no parenting responsibilities with respect to [the Child]. They lack insight into the consequences of their actions.
[The Child] is too young to express a view, let along make a decision with respect to what religion, if any, she will follow. She will be exposed to various points of view as she grows through her family, her friends, her schoolmates and the media.
One of the added elements to all this is that the Father in this story was Disfellowshipped. He’s no longer a Jehovah’s Witness, and for that reason, the Grandparents want nothing to do with him. There’s a very real concern that if the Child is indoctrinated into the faith the same way, she may eventually want to cut all ties with her non-JW Mother.
For now, the Grandparents will still get to see the Child, but only during supervised visits. That means they won’t get to foist their faith on a Child who’s too young to know how messed up it is.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Greg for the link)