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Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Apparently the evil secular conspiracy fell down on this one

I sometimes see people argue that the U.S. has been taken over by secularism. Granted, these people are often at Conservapedia, and thus arguably crazy, but that isn't the point. The point is that I find such arguments completely absurd, given the immense amount of deference that religion receives in the U.S., and this incident is just a case in point:

So, just to reiterate, a father who happens to be a veteran apparently lost custody of his children because he is an agnostic.* Well, not necessarily because he's an agnostic, but at least because he isn't Christian. Now, it is possible to make the argument that this isn't a discriminatory decision. From the article:

Madison County Superior Court 2 Commissioner George G. Pancol told The Herald Bulletin that his decision was based on the children's best interest and that Indiana law requires courts to determine whether divorced parents can agree on education, religious upbringing and other issues.

"The case law requires me to make a decision whether or not the parties can communicate effectively about these matters and others concerning their children," he said. "I have never rendered a decision concerning custody on the basis of one of the parents' religious beliefs."

Leaving aside the question of whether that aspect of the law is just- or even constitutional- I think it's worth pointing out that in a case of disagreement over religion, presumably the courts may have to choose one way or the other.** So it's interesting to note that when disagreement appears, it is clearly the agnostic who is "in the wrong."

And honestly the saddest thing is that this doesn't surprise me at all.

* I'll note here that I obviously don't have access to the court documents, and so acknowledge that there may be some other reason why he had his custody reduced.

** This choice is interesting to me, as a side note, because it creates a mechanism through which the state can judge between different religions. So, for example, what if the disagreement was between a devout Jew and a devout Christian? Whose faith wins then, eh?

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