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).
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