Time: Sun Dec 14 17:18:19 1997
From: EAGLEFLIGHT <eagleflt@eagleflt.com> (by way of Paul Andrew Mitchell [address in tool bar])
Subject: SLS: Religious Freedom?????
Bcc: sls

>>12/10/1997 18:06 EST 
>>Court Rules on Religious Rights 
>>Associated Press Writer 
>>BOSTON (AP) -- Massachusetts' highest court has laid down a commandment to
>>divorced parents: Thou shalt not teach your children religious beliefs that
>>could ruffle their relationship with your former spouse. 
>>The state Supreme Court ruled Tuesday that a divorced father who became a
>>fundamentalist Christian cannot share his newfound beliefs with his
>>children if it alienates them from their Orthodox Jewish mother. 
>>Jeffrey Kendall was ordered to not share his religious beliefs with his
>>three children if doing so causes them significant emotional distress. 
>>He can have pictures of Jesus on the wall, but cannot take the children to
>>church where they would be told that non-Christians are ``destined to burn
>>in hell,'' the court ruled. 
>>The decision was denounced by Kendall's lawyer, who claimed it infringed on
>>freedom of religion and essentially favored the mother's religion over the
>>``A court cannot -- shall not -- establish a religion for someone, and here
>>the court effectively has established a religion for these three
>>children,'' said attorney Michael Greco. 
>>``That's the court intruding where it shouldn't be intruding.'' 
>>The high court, however, said the children's well-being must take
>>``Promoting the best interests of the children is an interest sufficiently
>>compelling to impose a burden on the (father's) right to practice religion
>>and his parental rights to determine the religious upbringing of his
>>children,'' wrote Judge Neil Lynch in the unanimous opinion. 
>>The case began in 1994 when Barbara Zeitler and Kendall filed for divorce. 
>>The couple had been married six years; Zeitler was Jewish and Kendall was
>>Roman Catholic, and they agreed to raise their children, now ages 4, 6 and
>>9, in the Jewish faith. 
>>But by the time of the divorce, Kendall had become a member of the
>>fundamentalist Boston Church of Christ and his wife had become an Orthodox
>>During divorce proceedings Zeitler claimed the children were being
>>frightened by her husband's religious teachings, prompting the judge to
>>appoint a guardian to investigate. 
>>The guardian found that two of the children were under stress because of
>>the conflict, so in August 1996 the judge ordered Kendall to stop talking
>>about those aspects of religion that substantially harmed the children. 
>>Kendall appealed, arguing that children were not substantially harmed,
>>which is the standard that must be met if a court is to intervene in a
>>parent's religious teaching. The high court said the standard had been met. 
>>In backing up its ruling, the court referred to similar findings in other
>>A 1979 Pennsylvania ruling prohibited a Jehovah's Witness father from
>>taking his Catholic child proselytizing door-to-door. And a 1990 Nebraska
>>ruling also banned exposing a child to a non-custodial parent's religion
>>because it created stress. 
>>Sanford Katz, a professor at Boston College Law School, compared the case
>>to rulings nationwide that bar Jehovah's Witnesses from withholding blood
>>transfusions from their children because of their beliefs. 
>>``You can believe in what you want, but when the practice of an adult's
>>religion conflicts with the overall best interests of the child,'' Katz
>>said, ``... the child's interests should trump an individual parent's right
>>to practice his or her own religion.'' 
>>Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved.
>>Content  1997 Detroit Free Press. All rights reserved.
>># # #

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