Wiccan Parenting Ban Update II

Since yesterday the case has spread to the national media and a host of religious (including The Revealer) and political blogs.

The Associated Press:

“A Wiccan activist and his ex-wife are challenging a court’s order that they must protect their 9-year-old son from what it calls their “non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals.” The Indiana Civil Liberties Union has appealed the stipulation written into the couple’s divorce order, saying it is unconstitutionally vague because it does not define mainstream religion. Thomas Jones, a Wiccan activist who has coordinated Pagan Pride Day in Indianapolis for six years, said he and his ex-wife, Tammy Bristol, were stunned by the order. Neither parent has taken their son to any Wiccan rituals since it was issued, he said.”

The Indianapolis Star follows up on the orginal story:

“A court order prohibiting a Marion County father and his ex-wife from exposing their son to “non-mainstream religious beliefs” is likely to be reversed, legal experts said Thursday. However, publicity about the divorce case could help better educate people about Wicca, a contemporary pagan religion, said Andrew Koppelman, a Northwestern University law professor. Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of Marion Superior Court, kept the unusual provision in Thomas E. Jones Jr. and Tammie U. Bristol’s divorce decree last year over their protests, court records show. The parents are practicing Wiccans, and their divorce decree does not define a mainstream religion.”


“While I can imagine parents who “display little insight” into any number of childhood conundrums, I marvel at the thought that a judge would defer to a third party’s belief system over the objections of a child’s parents and bar them from practicing their religion with their own child.”

In The Agora:

“Most Obvious Violation of Free Exercise Rights Ever? Here’s a story for you aspiring Indiana attorneys about a judge you may someday argue before. I can’t imagine what on earth he’s thinking, but Cale Bradford, Chief Judge of the Marion Superior Court in Indiana, has issued the most blatantly unconstitutional opinion I’ve ever heard of.” (Also check out the comments section of this post)

Daily Kos:

“There has to be something else going on here. Otherwise, I just can’t fathom how a judge could think for a second he was acting constitutionally…The father says that the court inserted the religious restrictions on its own, and not at the request of either parent. Hopefully there is more to this story that makes the judge’s order something other than wildly and obviously unconstitutional.”

Delusions of Grandeur:

“So now are you scared? What, because it’s Wicca it’s ok? How about when it’s Islam? Will that be ok? How about Judaism? Where are you willing to draw the line and call it unacceptable?”


“In any event, this is clearly unconstitutional. The parents should refuse to obey it, or should leave Indiana for a less tyrannical State. The law enforcement officers should refuse to enforce it (and if they do, the parents should resist that enforcement with armed force). No judge should accept any case on these grounds, except to find summarily in favor of the parents. No jury should convict the parents of any crime they are charged with for violating this order, including any defense of their rights with armed force. And, yes, the judge should be impeached or recalled.”

taijiya monogatari:

“I live in Indiana. I have pagan friends, raising pagan children. I see this as an unnecessary and unconstitutional intrusion on individual rights, plain and simple. I’d feel the same way if the parents were Christians, or Zoroastrians, or Rooster Worshippers, or whatever; even if I disagree with your religion, even if I think it’s the stupidest damned thing ever, it’s not up to me–or the courts, or the president, or anyone else–to determine for you that you should or should not practise it. Privacy, people; we still get to have some of that, right?”

…and these are only the tip of the iceberg. I’m expecting some MSM editorials should be popping up soon. But I doubt we will get any more hard news until new developments in the case arise. Once again, I thank everyone who is speaking out on this issue. It is important. Modern Pagans have often been easy targets of intolerant judges and local politicians. Now perhaps, things can be a little different. At least here and now.

Jason Pitzl-Waters