I was in a divorce case in which the mother’s attorney was claiming that the father should have limited custodial and parent time with their children because, as the mother’s attorney put it, the father had “strict religious beliefs” (this was a Christian couple). Bear in mind that this attorney was not claiming that this man was of religious fanatic who committed all kinds of atrocities in the name of God. Mother’s attorney simply claimed that dad shouldn’t have care and custody of his kids because he is a strictly religious man.
It was obvious from the demeanor of the mother’s attorney that this attorney was of the opinion that Christians are deluded simpletons. It was clear this attorney was one of those “religion is the opiate of the masses” kind of pseudo-intellectuals, so I wasn’t terribly worried about this attorney’s allegations of strict religious beliefs on the father’s part doing his case any harm, but I was curious as to how the judge would react to the father being “accused” of being a devout religious man.
Now regardless of how you may feel about a belief in God or Christianity specifically, the fact of the matter is that merely believing in God or practicing a religion clearly has no bearing on one’s parental fitness. Anyone that would argue otherwise is a fool. It’s simply not rational.
Accordingly, the judge had no mercy for the mother’s attorney’s “argument”:
Judge: “How does being religious have anything to do with parental fitness, counsel?”
Attorney: “Well, Your Honor, for example, dad won’t allow the children to watch TV until they complete their homework.”
Judge: “Does a parent have to be religious to impose a rule like that in his house?”
Attorney: “Well, no—”
Judge: “What about this man being religious makes him a bad parent?”
Attorney: “He makes the kids go to bed at a set time—”
Judge: “. . . and do you attribute that to his ‘strict religious beliefs’?”
Attorney: “Well, no—”
Judge: “How does having strict religious beliefs, counsel, have any impact on father’s parental fitness?”
Attorney: “It’s just—”
“How is being ‘strictly religious’ any kind of presumption that a parent should not exercise custody of his children? What connection do you make, counsel, between being this father being a devoutly religious man and his being unworthy to exercise custody and care of his own children?”
It went on like this for a just a minute or two more before the attorney figured out that being religious does not make one an inherently bad parent.
Utah Family Law, LC | divorceutah.com | 801-466-9277