Posts Tagged “child custody”

I Don't Know ... and Neither Do You! | No Gnosis (PsiCop original)I blogged a couple of months ago about an Indiana father who lost custody of his children because he’s an agnostic. That decision was reversed, as reported by WXIN-TV in Indianapolis (WebCite cached article):

A Madison County father celebrated a legal victory Wednesday night. He now has joint custody of his three young children after losing it because of his religious views.

That’s great news, but unfortunately, WXIN misstated the facts of this case:

Craig Scarberry claimed a Madison County court violated his parental rights because he’s an atheist.

WXIN was incorrect about this; Scarberry is not an atheist; he’s an agnostic, as he reported, himself, in the comments section:

i am not an atheist! i am an agnostic and there is a difference.

Note, the article itself remains confused on the subject: While the headline refers to Scarberry as an “agnostic,” the text of the article still says he’s an “atheist” (quoted above), and the article’s URL also includes the word “atheist” rather than “agnostic.”

Being a Fox network station in a “red” state, I’m sure the personnel of WXIN just lump all of us freethinkers into the same basket with “atheists.” We’re all just cold, cynical, god-hating heathens, after all … no? They can’t possibly be expected to understand there’s a difference between the various sorts of horrible people who defy societal expectations by daring not to accept the existence of their sky-god!

If anyone at WXIN — or elsewhere — is confused about the nature of “agnosticism” and “agnostics,” and wants to understand the difference between “agnosticism” and “atheism,” please have a look at my Agnosticism FAQ here on this blog, and see my article on the subject on the Apathetic Agnostic Church Web site (cached).

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I Don't Know ... and Neither Do You! | No Gnosis (PsiCop original)If anyone thinks non-believers can’t be legally discriminated against in the US, guess again. An Indiana father recently lost custody of his children, apparently because he’s an Agnostic. WRTV-6 reports on this decision (WebCite cached article):

An Anderson father is upset after he claims he lost custody of his three children due to his religious beliefs.

Madison County Superior Court, Division 3 Commissioner George G. Pancol Sr. gave Craig Scarberry’s ex-wife, Christine Porcaro, full custody of the couple’s children in a Nov. 1 ruling.

“Further evidence indicated that the Petitioner/Father did not participate in the same religious training that the Respondent/Mother exercises and that the Petitioner/Father was agnostic,” the ruling said.

An apologist for Commissioner Pancol … his own son … claims this is necessitated by Indiana state law:

Judge G. George Pancol, Commissioner Pancol’s son, told 6News he could not comment on any specifics of the case, but did say that according to Indiana statute, religion is an issue that should be considered by the court in custody cases.

“The court is required, under Indiana code 31-9-2-67, when considering joint legal custody, to consider whether or not the parties can share authority for major decisions concerning education, health care and religious training, so religious training is one of the things we are required to consider,” he said.

This doesn’t mean it’s right to deny custody to non-believing parents, or even permissible; not all state laws that relate to religion are enforceable. Take for example a North Carolina state constitutional provision forbidding atheists from holding office. While some North Carolinians have agitated that it be obeyed, it’s not likely any court in the country — except maybe a state court in the Bible Belt — would dare enforce this provision (for reasons I describe in my blog post on NC’s anti-atheism). Let’s hope Scarberry appeals, that his appeal isn’t heard by Christofascist judges, and that this decision is overturned.

Hat tip: Unreasonable Faith blog.

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