If Jesus was their lawyer, he didn’t do very well.
Two fundamentalist Christian parents in Canada recently lost an appeal over custody of their baby after arguing in court that their “lawyer Jesus Christ” was speaking through them and that God was advising them by taking the form of a stuffed lion.
The couple didn’t lose the case because of their faith, but that’s what they would have you believe. They lost rights to their child in this appeal, as well as in the original case, because of a history of domestic violence and concerns regarding care of the child. After arguing that they were discriminated against because of their religion, the appeals court said there was no evidence of anything like it.
The appellants have not proven discrimination against them as a Christian family or on the basis of disability. The trial judge was correct to reject the discrimination argument.
British Colombia Supreme Court Justice Diane MacDonald said it was a “difficult case” partly because the parents “obviously love their child” and wish to raise her “in a home with Christian values.” But that really had nothing to do with the case at hand because there were bigger issues involving the behavior of the parents, known as AJ and DK.
The Ministry of Children and Family Development got involved with AJ and DK in 2016 after AJ told a facilitator at a lunch program that DK had choked her and “believes sexual relations between children should be encouraged”.
She would later deny making the disclosure, but the reports raised red flags because AJ was pregnant.
The baby — CJ — was delivered in a home birth Nov. 1, 2016, with the help of a paramedic called by AJ’s anxious parents.
The young mother refused a host of medical procedures, including eye drops for the baby, a bilirubin blood test and a hearing test. She also “expressed unwillingness to allow the child to receive vaccinations.”
But it wasn’t the ill-advised home birth or the anti-vaccination stance that led the baby to be removed from their custody. There were ongoing reports of violence and concerns about the baby’s suffering health, which is why there was a trial in the first place.
Concerns had been expressed about AJ’s mental health and DK’s potential for violence. A specialist was assigned to work with the family, and the baby was placed in voluntary care with foster parents.
At the age of one month, AJ and DK took custody again, but just two weeks later the child was formally removed from the home as she was losing weight and AJ refused to give her anything but breast milk.
Even as the parents prepared for the initial trial to determine custody, the pastor of one church sought a restraining order against them.
The pair were criminally charged after a disturbance at another church in West Kelowna.
It seemed clear that these people were putting their extremist religious views ahead of the health and safety of their daughter. It’s a relief that the courts didn’t let their beliefs get in the way of doing what was best for the child. The parents may not have shown much regard for their kid, but at least she’ll have a second chance at life with people who are looking out for her best interests instead of doing what they think will please God the most.
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