Court Bans Mom From Talking Religion With Her Kids & It's Probably for the Best

A Utah mom was was recently dealt a court order to stop talking about her religion to her children. Normally, I'm all over the First Amendment and would be rallying to this lady's defense, but I've been through some stuff in the last few years that has changed my outlook when it comes to religion and raising children -- especially in cases like this that involve a nasty divorce.

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The woman in this case is in the midst of a custody battle for her children, and at this time is only allowed supervised visitation. Their father has sole custody of them, and religion is at the center of their divorce.

He is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and she is considering joining a Mormon sect known as the Apostolic United Brethren, which practices polygamy.

The mom, whose name was withheld to protect the children, said on Tuesday, December 9, "This court order is about religion ... and it's in place to prohibit me from discussing any religion with my children and it's anti-constitutional."

"I tried to make it very, very clear in my rulings that my problem is not with Ms. Brown’s religion. I don't care if her conduct is as a result of believing in the UAB (sic)," Commissioner Kim Luhn said. "I care that her conduct is creating chaos for these children and in essence, rising to the level of emotional abuse. I want focus here on conduct."

Luhn modified the total ban on Tuesday to "prohibit talk of religion or politics during the holidays," and insisted that all conversations between mom and kids remain "age appropriate."

So here's the question -- should a parent be allowed to speak freely with their own children in regard to religion?

Not always.

I have no idea what the mom said to upset the children so much, other than that the ex-husband said, "She would say things about the court case in front of the children. She would talk about what was going on with the court case, as far as her version of the truth."

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I was in a similar position myself at one point, so I can appreciate that this is about more than freedom of religion -- it's about the best interest of the children. Any time one parent will be slandered in front of the children, by the co-parent, or with the co-parent's consent, it's a bad thing. Kids are already going through enough when their parents split, the last thing they need is to be told that one of their parents is "bad," or, in my case, and quite possibly in this one too, that the other parent is deliberately being selfish and disobeying God.

Yup, that happened. The pastor and ex-close friend of the church I attended for seven years stood in the pulpit and preached to a congregation of over 200 people that I was guilty of the sin of filing for divorce, was ex-communicated, and my personal favorite line, "caught in the snare of the Devil." Members of the congregation would pray for my salvation, and who knows what they would've told my kids if my lawyer hadn't made it perfectly clear that I would sue for slander if they didn't cease and desist harassing me, "in the name of Jesus."

My ex-husband is still good friends with many of the people there, and that's fine. It's his life. But over my dead body will my children be exposed to that sort of misogyny and misrepresentation of God's word, not to mention the slander of their mother. Do you know what kids hear when they are told their other parent is bad? They hear that they themselves are bad, because they are half that parent.

Like I said, I'm not aware of the particular details of this case, but from personal experience, I can attest that sometimes talking to children about religion is a lot more than what it looks like on the surface.

Do you think the dad had a right in this case to keep his ex-wife from talking to their kids about her religious beliefs?

 

Image via © Alan Graf/Corbis

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