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Austin Cline

Indiana: Wiccan Parents No Longer Gagged

By August 20, 2005

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Remember the Indiana judge who forbade a divorced couple from sharing their Wiccan beliefs with their biological son? Cale J. Bradford, chief judge of the Marion Superior Court in Indianapolis, didn't approve of Wicca - but the state appeals court has overruled him.

The Indianapolis Star reports on the unanimous decision:

Judge Patricia A. Riley, writing on behalf of the three-judge appeals court panel in a decision released Wednesday, said trial courts can limit parents' authority if it's necessary to prevent endangerment to a child's physical health or significant impairment of the child's emotional health.

However, there was no evidence of endangerment in this case, the judges ruled. They struck part of paragraph 10 from the decree but let the rest of the divorce stand, signaling the end of the legal battle.

Judge Cale J. Bradford now says that he was initially concerned that some Wiccan rituals may have endangered the boy's health, but that isn't credible. First, if that was his concern, he could have actually done some research first or limited the restrictions to participation in dangerous rituals rather than broadly forbid sharing anything about Wiccan beliefs.

Second, that is not what was said back when this case broke. According to reports at the time, Bradford based his decision here on a document from the Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau that raised concerns about "confusion" because the boy would be attending a Catholic school. It wasn't "dangerous rituals" that was at issue, but being taught "non-mainstream religious beliefs and rituals."

Basically, I don't believe Bradford's current excuses and no one else should, either. He's trying to cover his butt understandable, given how outrageous his actions were, but he should have the decency to stand up, admit what he did, and apologize. Or be removed from the bench for improper conduct and incompetence.

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