Religious zealot’s child placed in care
A judge in Leicester placed a seven-year-old boy with foster carers because his mother, a devout Jehovah’s Witness, was causing him emotional harm by ‘immersing’ him in her beliefs.
According to this report, details of the case were disclosed in a written judgment handed down by Judge Clifford Bellamy, after a hearing at the Family Court in Leicester.
Teachers described the boy, who cannot be named, as “troubled, angry and confused”. He rejected his own father because he said:
He could not be with people who didn’t believe in Jehovah.
He appeared fixated with the idea that his father, who is separated from his mother but had shared parental responsibilities, would not be “going to Paradise” and told adults:
He did not want to go to Daddy’s because he was not a Jehovah.
Staff at his school became alarmed when he cut up teaching materials in RE class because he could not bear learning about mainstream Christianity.
One child psychologist who spoke to him for the proceedings reported how he would react physically even at mentions of the idea that Jesus died on a cross or references to the Bible.
Teachers said he also rejected other children, had only a small friendship circle and described him as:
One of the most worrying children in our school.
Judge Bellamy found that the boy had suffered emotional harm as a result both of the conflict between the parents and, specifically:
Immersion by his mother in her religious beliefs and practices.
He concluded that she was doing this:
With the intention of alienating him from his father.
But the judgment disclosed that a social worker at the centre of the case rejected this assessment and believed that, while the boy was damaged by the conflict between his warring parents, the mother’s religion was not the cause.
It disclosed that at one point in the proceedings the mother went to the Court of Appeal to challenge an initial care order and gave a number of strict undertakings in an attempt to stop the process.
These included not to take him to her local Kingdom Hall – the Jehovah’s Witness meeting house – or any other such gatherings; not to talk to him about religion at all; not to allow him to go on to the church’s website or watch religious DVDs; and, if he raised the issue, to attempt to change the subject.
But during a later hearing she asked Judge Bellamy to relax the ban on discussing religion. In a statement to the court she said:
I would like to be able to take [him] to the Kingdom Hall once a month. I believe that [he] misses going there, and to be able to pray at meal times. This is a simple grace for the food and I will continue to refrain from any further discussion about religion in accordance with my undertakings.
The judge said that while he was satisfied he had the legal power to “regulate” the mother’s exposure of her son to her religion, he was not certain it would be possible to “police” those commitments.
He ruled that the boy was continuing to suffer emotional harm and that it was in his best interests to be placed temporarily in foster care.
• The picture used to illustrate this report shows Jehovah’s Witnesses baptising children at the 2014 New Orleans International Convention of of the cult.
Hat tip: BarrieJohn