Jeremy Olson writes about children and families, and is an overscheduled father of two. His blog tackles the best and worst of parenting, families, health and love. He wants to hear from you - what's going on in your house?
ATTORNEY KURZMAN: With regard to the — this church issue that you bring up and you believe it’s going to be detrimental to [the children] as a result of what’s being taught. Can you actually explain to me what is being taught?SARAH PETERSON: Ah — that the husband is the leader and controller of the family and that the wife has to submit and the kids have to submit to what the father says.ATTORNEY: Okay. And is that some kind of a doctrine or is that out of the Bible or where is the — where do you get that?SARAH: That’s a doctrine out of the Bible.ATTORNEY: Okay.SARAH: That [the] Baptist church believes.ATTORNEY: Except that what you’re—all you’re saying is you’re just restating what the Bible says; is that correct?SARAH: No, that’s not correct.JUDGE MAHLER: I think the Bible does say that.ATTORNEY: Yeah, it does say that. I can get it out.JUDGE: Just for the record, when I got married they said husbands obey your wives.ATTORNEY: I can get it out for you if you don’t believe it.JUDGE: Or wives obey your husbands.SARAH: Right.ATTORNEY: If you were a judge, you could have set that aside.JUDGE: But I don’t profess to read the Bible often enough to know where it is. And after I heard it once, I dismissed it, so.
“The concern is not that the court announced that the passage is in the Bible. It is that, knowing that the doctrine had taken a lead role in the custody trial, the judge revealed her bias by volunteering that in her own marriage she had “dismissed” the doctrine. It would be less troubling if the district court’s consequent decisions were not so intertwined with the religious view. But the custody and parenting-time decisions mirror the judge’s personal disapproval. The decisions favor Sarah, who no longer wanted the children to attend the parties’ church of ten years and be influenced by the doctrine that the district court judge rejected. And they disfavor Adam …We cannot overlook revealed judicial bias simply because it reflects a popular view. Married couples may freely choose how to resolve their disagreements, distributing the decision-making authority on any basis — religious, humanistic, egalitarian, democratic, random, or otherwise — apparently fair or apparently unfair, popular or scorned."