An interesting item from Linnell v. Linnell, 2008 WL 1913991 (Conn. Super. Apr. 15):
The children, by the parties' agreement prior to their birth, have been raised in the Muslim faith. The children, or at least Kelsey at this point, attend weekly religious instruction. They observe the Muslim holidays, as well as some of the Muslim rules (i.e., no consumption of pork). The Plaintiff testified that he agreed to raise the children in the Muslim faith, "so long as we were married." The Defendant testified that she "wouldn't compromise on religion." The children's faith should not be premised on the status of the parties' relationship. Further, the record would support that but for the Muslim faith, the children would have no faith at all. Neither party presented evidence that would suggest their original commitment to raise the children as Muslims should no longer be honored and respected.
The order isn't clear on whether the court ordered that the father continue to cooperate in raising the children Muslim. But the discussion in the opinion very strongly points to this, and I take it that divorcing parents don't lightly ignore the judge's sentiments as expressed in the opinion.
Two thoughts about this:
(1) The court says here that the plaintiff agreed to raise the children as Muslims "so long as we were married." Later, though, the court says there was a "commitment to raise the children as Muslims." Is that really accurate? Even if premarital contracts to raise children in a particular religion are enforceable (as I'm inclined to say they would be), it's not clear to me that there was such an agreement.
(2) More importantly, what's this about "Further, the record would support that but for the Muslim faith, the children would have no faith at all"? Can that really be a constitutionally permissible factor? Seems to me that under the First Amendment, the Court may not prefer one religious upbringing over another (at least in the absence of some showing of imminent likely harm to the children), a religious upbringing over an irreligious one, or an irreligious upbringing over a religious one. Whether it's better to be a Muslim or to have no faith at all is not a matter for secular courts, including secular family courts, to decide.
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