Judge protects child from religious conflict

Judge protects child from religious conflict

A pair of devout Jehovah’s Witnesses have been ordered by a British Columbia judge not to involve their four-year-old granddaughter in the activities of their silly cult.

The couple, according to this report, lost their bid for unsupervised access to the girl because they insisted on taking her to worship at a Kingdom Hall despite the repeated objections of the child’s mother.

The girl is identified only as AW and the grandparents as AR and BR in Judge Edna Ritchie’s 12-page provincial court decision.

The judge said:

There are many people with strongly held religious views that do not discuss those views in front of others, and specifically not in front of children.

Unless the grandparents can satisfy the court that they can comply with the mother’s wishes, Ritchie said:

Their time with AW must be supervised and limited.

The case pitted the Family Law Act against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Family Law Act states that only a guardian has parental responsibilities, including decisions about religious upbringing, and the mother, MW, is sole guardian. The father was a cult member who had reportedly been excommunicated, or to use JW terminology, “disfellowshipped“.

But the grandparents argued that forbidding them from expressing their faith to their grandchild would violate a charter right to practice their religion.

The Supreme Court of Canada ruled a custodial parent can’t limit another parent’s ability to discuss religion unless the child’s best interests are threatened.

The grandparents want the child to experience their religion, while the mother insists her daughter:

Can decide when she is older whether or not to participate in any religious practices.

AR and BR were determined to have contact with their granddaughter, and the child’s mother felt it important for them to be part of their lives. She previously allowed them unsupervised access.

But according to the decision, the relationship between the “well-meaning, determined grandmother” and MW had been strained from the outset.

The mother also objected to the couple insisting the girl call them Poppa and Momma instead of Grandpa and Grandma. But by far the biggest disagreement arose over visits to the Kingdom Hall.

From the time AW was a baby, the grandparents hauled her off  to services. MW said she wasn’t happy, but didn’t object until December 2013.

She switched the timing of their visits, but then learned from her daughter that the grandparents had taken AW to services the following spring; AR insisted the child “had begged to go to Kingdom Hall”.

Visits were then limited to supervised access at the mum’s home, but the mother then found her daughter watching a Jehovah’s Witness video on AR’s laptop. The grandmother insisted the child had pushed the play icon before she could stop her.

Ritchie found it wasn’t fair to place the child in “a holy war” between her mother and grandparents.

I am concerned that the applicants’ demonstrated inability to respect and comply with MW’s decisions on religion will continue to cause conflict. It is not in AW’s best interests to be exposed to that conflict.

15 responses to “Judge protects child from religious conflict”

  1. L.Long says:

    The mother and court are correct! The or any religion DOES NOT deserve ANY respect. If the truth is there then they can try to brainwash the older child. They are grandparents!! They have next to NO rights about the kids being raised. I know as I have 4ea and always ask permission of the parents before saying anything they may find difficult. When I had my kids, I was the legal responsibility, not anyone else so everyone else can piss off! And I follow the same rules with my Grandkids, the parents have the right to veto anything I may want.

  2. David Anderson says:

    Religion = A belief held in the face of evidence to the contrary that is resistant to all reason. In other words a delusion.

    I think if I hear the phrase “strongly (deeply) held religious belief” again today, I’m going to kick the cat and we have 16 to choose from. (Not realy, I’m going out to lunch with friends and I’m going to have several coñacs afterwards.)

  3. AgentCormac says:

    A ‘well-meaning, determined grandmother’. Hmmmm.
    For ‘determined’ read: ‘incapable of taking the views or wishes of anyone else into consideration; blinded to rational thought; and zealous about inflicting absurd, highly dangerous beliefs on the vulnerable’. It’s a form of child abuse, plain and simple.

  4. Angela_K says:

    A good decision by the parents and court, otherwise this poor girl would be dragged around by the loopy Grandparents when they knock on doors to tell us “the good news”- a strategy adopted by the JW’s because reasonable people won’t use abusive language in front of a child.

  5. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    Angela_K, when the JW’s came round my home with a kid I didn’t moderate my language. I still told them exactly what they could do with their superstition and if they didn’t like that language in front of a child, then they shouldn’t have brought it to my door.

    A good decision by the court, it’s about time they stopped pandering to the religious.

  6. barriejohn says:

    Angela: I have noticed that practice around here as well. It reminds me of the way that we quite unashamedly used Children’s Christmas Services and Sunday School Prizegivings to “trap” adults in an environment where they could be harangued with the “glorious news of the Gospel”. Attendances were pathetic because they all knew what we were up to, but we all prayed earnestly that “the Lord” would bring more along! The JWs are extremely active in this area, but have stopped calling on us since I told them what I thought of their stupid views. The following is an horrific account by a former JW:

  7. Cali Ron says:

    As a teen in the Assembly of God church I was sometimes taken door to door to “witness” to people, invite them to church and, of course, ultimately to “save their soul”. Even when I was still a believer I hated it. It was an invasion of their privacy and many people were quite rude to us, which I don’t blame them for. I agree with above comments that it is at least the least morally wrong and at the worst it’s child abuse.

    Later as a young atheist adult I would see the JW or mormons coming I would let my long hair down, grab my 9 inch skinning knife and baphomet (Halloween prop) and answer the door cleaning my nails with that giant knife. It was quite hilarious. Nowadays I just have to engage them in logical debate once and they usually stop coming by.

    Interesting, spellcheck doesn’t recognize baphomet. To Satanic? More religious overreach.

  8. Cali Ron says:

    Where has the edit gone? My OCD hates it when I post typos.

  9. I think that religion likes to manipulate children to believe in it for it gets validation and an ego buzz from having other people believe rubbish. It is like, “Oh what great men set up the Church and who teach us the truth given to us by God. Let us get our children to believe in their doctrines. Never worry about the fact that our children are adoring man’s lies and errors if God has not spoken to the creators of the religion at all.”

  10. 1859 says:

    ‘The grandmother insisted the child had pushed the play icon before she could stop her.’ Don’t the JW’s tell their people not to lie?

  11. barriejohn says:

    Patrick Gormley: I have a very strong suspicion – and this derives from my own experience as a fundamentalist Christian – that there’s an element of “I’m trapped in this living hell and I’m going to do my damnedest to see that as few people as possible are able to enjoy their lives and have fun!”. Just look how worked up they get over Gay Pride or recreational drug use – you’d think it was the end of the world; and as for “What about the children?”, there have been a number of examples on the net only recently of kids taking same-sex relationships, etc, in their stride – it doesn’t bother them one little bit – but just imagine what lies ahead if they are allowed to grow up with such relaxed views!

  12. barriejohn says:

    I’ve just got to post the following again, as it demonstrates so clearly how a child’s mind works when unpolluted by dogma, convention and bigotry, and almost reduces me to tears even now, though I’ve seen it so many times now!

  13. dennis says:

    jw kids are the most maladjusted in my family as adults. you don’t see hate in their eyes just disillusion and a lost life. Its horrible what religion has done to them.
    the mormons have not been by in several years, maybe I have been black balled, yes!

  14. Cali Ron says:

    barriejohn: The innocence of a child has boiled it down to the 1 basic fact that matters: Love. How much intolerance today is the result of religious indoctrination? We are not born hating any particular group, it’s a learned trait. Religion is not only to blame for most homophobia, but for much of the racism that still persists in America and the world today. Too bad christians don’t follow there own bible when it says “judge not lest ye be judged”.