Friday, August 19, 2005

Alabama Appeals Court Overturns Anti-Wiccan Ruling

It's been a good week for Wiccan rights. First the US Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal from the South Carolina council that refused a Wiccan the right to lead prayers at Council meetings, leaving them with a bill possibly as high as $65,000. Now, and far more importantly, an Alabama apeals court has overturned lower court rulings that barred two divorced parents from teaching their child the religion of their choice.

I wrote about this case back in May - Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis, had made a decision in a divorce case that prohibeted both a father and his ex-wife from exposing their child to "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals." Both parents, although now estranged, are Wiccan.

On Tuesday this week, writes the excellent New Standard:

appeals court decision reversed the lower courts on the basis of a state law prohibiting custody rulings from controlling a child’s living circumstances unless their "physical health would be endangered or emotional health would be significantly impaired," Judge Patricia A. Riley wrote for the three-member panel, which unanimously concurred.

While the court recognized parents have a "constitutionally recognized fundamental right to control [the] upbringing, education and religious training of their children" and that the trial court had "abused its discretion," the appellate judges opted not to conclusively address the constitutional issue in their ruling because an applicable statute already existed.

Great news for Wiccans and for all those who support freedom of religious expression, although one could wish they had addressed the issue of infringement of Constitutional Rights more directly. If they had, other idiot parochialist small-time judges might have been prevented from issuing similiar bigoted judgements in future.

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