Tuesday, May 31, 2005

He'll Come To Jesus, Or You'll Go To Jail

Where was this judge when we needed him? We were always being told to eat our peas, clean our room, take out the garbage, mow the lawn, call the police when Uncle Bill was taking his clothes off again, etc., etc., etc. It was like our parents subscribed to the indentured servitude theory of child rearing.

Now along comes Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Superior Court in Indiana, who says the parents of a 9-year-old boy can't tell him about their religion because it isn't mainstream. "If American religion is good enough for me it's good enough for this kid," said Judge Bradford.

When asked what a "mainstream" religion was Judge Bradford said he wasn't sure, but he "knew when he saw it, and Wicca isn't it. They don't even have pastors and stuff," he added. "It says right in the Bible if you're going to have a religion you have to have pastors so they can tell you what to tithe."

The parents' Wiccan beliefs came to Bradford's attention in a confidential report prepared by the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau. We always check out parents who want a divorce," said a Bureau spokesperson. "And since 9/11 we check their religion too. You'd be surprised how many muslims there are in Indiana...er...I mean non-Christians."

"There is a discrepancy between the parents' lifestyle and the belief system adhered to by the parochial school the boy attends. The Catholic school is bad enough with all those Mary lovers running around, but when you combine that with the Wicca, how will the kid ever find Jesus?" the Bureau reported stated.

But the boy's father disputes the bureau's findings, saying he attended Bishop Chatard High School in Indianapolis as a non-Christian. "They taught me to smoke, drink and how to sneak into the nudie bar when I was underage," he said. "All the stuff you expect kids to learn at private schools."

"Wiccans use the language of witchcraft, but it has a different meaning to them. If it didn't Bradford would already be a toad," Philip Goff, director of the Center for the Study of Religion & American Culture at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis said. "Their practices tend to be rather pacifistic."

"And that's the problem," said a spokesperson for the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau. "We're in a war here. We can't have religions filling potential enlistees' heads with crazy ideas about peace. Army recruitment is bad enough without that."

Getting the judge's religious restriction lifted should be a slam-dunk, said David Orentlicher, an Indiana University law professor. "That's probably true," admitted Judge Bradford, but I still feel it is my constitutional duty as an officer of the court to bring this kid to Jesus."

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