Saturday, February 27, 2010

Divorced Couple Feuding over Child's Religion --This Case was on 20/20

Article below is from the Religion Clause blog. What do YOU think?

Contempt Charged As Father Violates TRO On Daughter's Religious Training

Yesterday's Chicago Sun-Times reports on an ugly in-court battle in Chicago over a 3-year old's religious upbringing while her parents are going through a divorce. Joseph and Rebecca Reyes married in 2004. He was Catholic and she was Jewish. When their daughter was born several years later, Joseph converted to Judaism-- under pressure from his wife's family according to him. The couple disagrees over whether Joseph agreed to raise their daughter in the Jewish faith. After the couple separated in 2008, Joseph returned to his original Catholic faith. After not seeing his daughter for 7 months, Joseph went to court. The court allowed Joseph to take his daughter every other weekend and Thursdays for dinner. However in December, after Joseph sent Rebecca a picture of their daughter being baptized at a local Catholic church, Rebecca obtained a temporary restraining order from the court ordering Joseph not to expose their daughter to any religion other than Judaism.

Defying the order, last month Joseph took their daughter to Holy Name Cathedral, accompanied by a television news crew. Yesterday Joseph was arraigned on contempt charges. He could face up to 6 months in jail and a $500 fine. ABC News conducted a long interview with Joseph Reyes yesterday. (Full transcript).

I just saw this couple on 20/20 last night. It was clear that the formerly and again Catholic father had reason to suspect his Jewish ex-wife of marital infidelity before the divorce via email exchanges of hers. It was clear that he was making a public issue of fathers' rights to raise children in their faith --and that he is angry with her, PERIOD. And why not? She was unfaithful and he had to go to court to get visitation rights after 7 months.

But Mom said at the end of the program that she was willing to come to peaceful terms about the issue --when the interviewer questioned why she would want to put her child's father in jail for 6 months for violating a questionable court order . She initially seemed resolute, shedding what looked like crocodile tears about the fact that she is Jewish and should be able to raise her child AS Jewish, because she IS Jewish, and that the father should not contradict or confuse the child on the issue. Which is what her court case alleges.

She blames him for putting their child in a media spotlight --but one can understand why he did, because he has an inalienable right to tell his child about his faith and teach it to her --and he has a Christian obligation to do so--and even if he did it subtly, respectful of the child's Jewish heritage, this mother would eventually land him in court given her present view of her exclusive right to pass on only her faith to the child.

However, I believe the father should not have sent the picture. Evangelicals believe children are already candidates for heaven, based on Christ's statement. They leave baptism for the person who has made his own decision to follow Christ --regardless of age.
By Catholic doctrine, I believe the father baptized the child because he believes it protects her for entrance to Heaven should anything happen to her. I believe his motivation in sending the photo, however, was not particularly "Christian."

We saw a similar case with Michael Newdow objecting to his wife raising her child Christian when he is atheist.

FACT: Divorce gives both parents rights --which should include religious rights. But they should not make the religious issue a war for the child to endure. If I were the father, I would teach my child that she IS Jewish by her Jewish mother and grandparents --no matter which faith she embraces. I would teach her to respect Judaism and teach her the Jewish Bible stories --and also teach her about the Jewish Messiah Jesus, in whom most Jews today do not believe --and would not present the difference in an inflammatory way --but just an educational one about the differences in the two religions. And most important, he needs to rise to the challenge of forgiving the ex enough to be cordial to her for the child's sake. But I wasn't sure Mom would be so cordial. After all, her value system seems to be askew regarding marriage and family, leading to this divorce.

When the child is a teen, if I had maintained before her a good Christian testimony and had a good relationship with her, I would take her to see the Jews for Jesus program, "Christ in the Passover," --as well as a Passion Play. And the Campus Crusade movie, "Jesus," and the one, "Jesus of Nazareth, " and maybe "The Passion." I would always build her up as special because of her Jewish heritage --and show respect for that heritage--as evangelical Christians do.

"God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance and have eternal life."--the Bible


Jeanette said...

Sorry, Barb, but you are wrong on this case (taking away the Christian vs Jewish faiths as far as Messiah and redemption go). In Jewish culture the children always take their heritage from their mothers, so if the mother is a Jew the children are even if the father is not a Jew.

As for deciding a faith, hopefully when the girl is at the age of accountability she will explore Christianity and join a Christian faith. Until then she is already covered by the blood of Jesus because she is not at the age of accountability yet.

To be a Jew would be a very high honor, as it is the people God chose to be special to Him. My father had some Jewish blood in him by his father, but since it's all paternal it doesn't technically transfer to me.

At least this girl is going to learn at least the Old Testament of the Hebrew faith, which worships the same God we worship. She should have a good set of values if she practices her faith, and will surely have Christian influence on her as she grows and matures.

Barb said...

Read more carefully, Jeanette, and tell me where we disagree. I agreed that the child is Jewish through the mother --and grandparents --yes, the grandmother. She is Jewish.

Yes, I mentioned that evangelcals believe children are covered because of what Jesus said about them (we refer to age of accountability)--but a Catholic father would think the baptism was necessary to save the child. That's HIS belief, so it is understandable that he would want the child baptized.

I was revising my blog when you commented. Read it again and see if you still think I was wrong about something --and be specific.

Jeanette said...

Right now, Barb, you are upset about other things and people with whom I have been speaking.

I'm not up to fighting, and freely admit I did not read the entire article or the entire commentary by you before posting my previous comment. I had to attend a choral concert my granddaughter was participating in.

I tried to call you and got your voice mail. I'm glad you are getting around better now, and as I said on the message, I'll try to call you this evening or Sunday. This evening might be out since I'll have two granddchildren here to spend the night.

I don't want to argue and fight with anyone over blog fights. It takes too much time and energy from me, and I can use both in my private life.

I'll explain everything when we talk.

steve said...

We just talked about this case in my religious ethics class a few weeks ago.

Barb said...

Me, upset? No, Jeanette, I'm not. I just see that things are the same at PP--people mis-reading, mis-interpreting, taking offense where none is given --and finally giving back offense where none is deserved. It's a toxic blog for honest, sober people, I'm sorry to say.

You know you've had your ups and downs there, too, and usually regret going back. I would never tell you, however, to NOT go there --or not befriend people there--and I don't tell myself that. It's fine when they are receptive to friendship offered. However, as you say of yourself, I also don't have time for fruitless blog fights where people twist what is said. I don't mind a good spirited discussion, but the atmosphere there --and wherever Mudrake goes --is malignant for people who love God and His Word, who are trying to discuss things for mutual understanding and real tolerance.

All the ad hominem attacks by Mudrake and PP writers are just counter-productive --for no good purposes at all.

Barb said...

Well, steve, was there a consensus in the class as to what these parents should do --or what the courts should do?

barbara rochelle said...
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