Tuesday, September 1, 2009

If We Are Silent On This, We Do Not Deserve to be Considered a Free Nation

Sources: ADF: NH court orders home-schooled child into government-run school - Alliance Defense Fund - Defending Our First Liberty; http://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/KurowskiOrder.pdf 

Pundit Ann Coulter once remarked that when dealing with liberalism you can’t employ the reductio ad absurdum (reducing to absurdity) to point out the problems with a claim because no matter how one distorts it, somebody has already proposed it.

This seems to fit well with this story from New Hampshire (State slogan Live Free or Die — which state laws seem to be moving towards option two).  It is reported that a child who was homeschooled and described as  above average  academically and well liked socially was recommended that she be put into a public school.  Why?  Because she is a believing Christian and her father (the girl’s parents are divorced) does not like that.

The news report reads:

Marital Master Michael Garner reasoned that the girl’s “vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to [her] counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view” and then recommended that the girl be ordered to enroll in a government school instead of being home-schooled.

This isn’t just a “hysterical right wing” report.  It’s in the Judge’s ruling as well:

Despite Ms. Voydatch's insistence that Amanda's choice to share her mother's religious beliefs is a free choice, it would be remarkable if a ten year old child who spends her school time with her mother and the vast majority of all of her other time with her mother would seriously consider adopting any other religious point of view. Amanda's vigorous defense of her religious beliefs to the counselor suggests strongly that she has not had the opportunity to seriously consider any other point of view.

In other words, if you are ten years old and raised as a devout Christian it means you have not been exposed to the views of others and need to be in order to ensure you fairly consider other views.  The problem with the issue is this; the father does not like the fact that his daughter is a devout Christian, and the Judge’s ruling states:

In her Further Report and testimony, the Guardian ad Litem echoed her previous concerns that Amanda's relationship with her father suffers to some degree by her belief that his refusal to adopt her religious beliefs and his choice instead to spend eternity away from her proves that he does not love her as much as he says he does. Amanda expressed these feelings to the counselor.

There is a red flag here all right, and one which the guardian ad litem allows to sail right by.  These statements by the daughter indicate a Father who is contemptuous of the faith.  The comment of “his choice instead to spend eternity away from her” indicates a response to his daughter which the Father is not acting respectfully of his daughter’s beliefs.

The report goes on to say:

Mr. Kurowski testified that he and Amanda both enjoy his parenting time; Amanda particularly enjoys the contact with Mr. Kurowski's other daughter. They rarely discuss religion, although they have, several times in the past. He believes that exposure to other points of view will decrease Amanda's rigid adherence to her mother's religious beliefs, and increase her ability to get along with others and to function in a world which requires some element of independent thinking and tolerance for different points of view.

What we have here is the state making the decision between parents over how much religious belief is “normal” or “abnormal.”  This is a decision the state has no right to make.

This becomes especially concerning when the ruling goes on to say:

Ms. Voydatch acknowledges the strength of her own religious beliefs. She acknowledges that she shares those beliefs with Amanda, but denies that she pushes Amanda to believe the same things. In fact, she testified that Amanda told the counselor that she was upset with the parenting schedule because her father "bombards her constantly" about her faith and won't let her alone about it. She testified that Amanda's wide variety of adverse symptoms are caused by her increased contact with her father. In response to Mr, Kurowski's testimony that Amanda enjoys her parenting time with him, Ms. Voydatch offers her observation that Amanda only reveals her true feelings and behaviors when she is at home with her mother, who is the "trusted adult" in her life.

This testimony seems to follow what this counselor has said.  Yet the courts and the counselor has ignored this, and used a straw man fallacy to justify their decision.

Without considering Mr. Kurowski's testimony that Amanda enjoys her parenting time with him, the evidence gathered from the counselor and from the school teachers does not support the conclusion that Amanda is a deeply troubled child at risk for emotional and mental damage from exposure to her father. To the contrary, the evidence support a finding that Amanda is generally likeable and well liked, social and interactive with her peers, academically promising, and intellectually at or superior to grade level.

So the father essentially accuses the mother of making his daughter into a zealot.  The mother claims that the father seems to hold her faith as something harmful for her and challenges the daughter on it, and the court employs a Straw Man fallacy which says she’s not an “at-risk” child because of her exposure to her father.  That isn’t the issue here.  The issue is the father considers the girl’s religious faith to be a hindrance to their relationship and the state considers the girl’s faith to be subservient to the wishes of the father.

The willful ignorance of the state on the issues here is shown when it comes for the ruling on weekend custody.  On the issue of Sunday visits, the ruling states:

Mr. Kurowski seeks a routine schedule which would have Amanda with him on three out of every four weekends, but the Court concludes, in part based on the Guardian ad Litem's conclusions and recommendations, that Amanda should have generally equal exposure to each parent for her weekends, particularly if Ms. Voydatch will not be home schooling Amanda. Assigning the fifth weekend of those months with five weekends to Mr. Kurowski is an adequate response to assignment of the majority of residential responsibility for Amanda to Ms. Voydatch.

The court calls it “Weekends” yet a couple of paragraphs earlier, the dispute hinges on Sundays:

The parties present different specific proposals for Sunday night overnights for Mr. Kurowski's parenting time, the number of weekends per month for his time, and provisions for the school summer vacation schedule. The Court considers these proposals by reference to Amanda's best interests.

Mr. Kurowski wants three Sundays out of every four.  Sunday just happens to be the Christian day of worship.  Based on other testimony given in the report (linked in the sources above), it seems more evidence of a father hostile to his daughter’s religious faith.

It seems to me that the issue is Mr. Kurowski objects to his daughter’s religious convictions and wants to reduce them… and the state is agreeing with the father.

It is unfortunate of course when parents divorce and cannot agree on the religious upbringing of the children.  I do not personally have knowledge of Ms. Voydatch’s religious affiliation nor do I know what I would think of her theology.

However, the fact that the state considers the daughter’s religious conviction to be abnormal and believes the girl would be better served “exposed to other views” is an extreme overstepping of the bounds of the freedom of religion.

Now, it would be another issue if the family shared one faith and then after the divorce the mother radically changed faith and sought to turn the daughter against the father and the faith the family practiced together.  However, this isn’t the issue.  Rather we seem to have an irreligious father and a religious mother who has raised her daughter according to her faith… and the courts agree with the father.

God save us all if we allow the courts to decide how much faith is too much for our own good.

This is why I say that if we are silent on this, America does not deserve to be considered a free nation.  The State will have usurped the right to do good.  Freedom after all, is not the freedom to do what we wish, but the freedom to do what we ought to do.

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