A bitter custody battle in Utah has taken a bizarre turn. A mother has been ordered by the court to refrain from talking about religion or politics with her children, who are the subjects of the battle. According to the New York Daily News, the mom is considering joining a fundamentalist Mormon sect that believes in polygamy while the father, who has sole custody of their children, belongs to the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The children attend the LDS church with him.
The woman, who has not been named to protect the children’s identities, has supervised visitation with the children. The husband has expressed concern his wife’s discussions of the court case and her intended change in religious affiliation are upsetting to the children.
“She would say things about the court case in front of the children. She would talk about what was going on with the court case, as far as her version of the truth,” the man testified.
The woman was initially ordered by a 3rd District Court Commissioner not to discuss religion or politics in front of her children, reports KSTU Fox 13 Salt Lake City.
“Respondent is restrained from discussing other religions, including the AUB, with the parties’ children until such time as Respondent decides to join another religious group,” Commissioner Kim Luhn wrote.
At a court hearing on Tuesday, the Commissioner expressed the ruling may have been too broad and modified it. The commissioner said she wanted no discussion of religion or politics on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and said any other talk needs to be “age appropriate.” Commissioner Luhn further clarified her intent was not to prevent the mother from exercising her religious freedom but to protect the children who have been upset by their mother’s behavior. According to the New York Daily News, Luhn said, “I care that her conduct is creating chaos for these children and in essence, rising to the level of emotional abuse.”
The mother disagreed with the Commissioner’s statement, however, in an interview with KSTU Fox 13 Salt Lake City.
“This court order is about religion,” the woman told FOX 13 outside of court on Tuesday. “And it’s in place to prohibit me from discussing any religion with my children and it’s anti-constitutional.”
The case is reminiscent of the divorce saga of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, where it was rumored she left with their daughter, Suri, to protect her from the Church of Scientology, as reported previously by the Inquisitr.
The woman’s lawyer, Laura Fuller, argued the commissioner’s order raised First Amendment issues dealing with both free speech and religious freedom.
Kendra Shirey, an attorney for the husband, said that while religion may be a factor in the divorce, it is not the sole issue in the case. Recent hearings have been focused on the children and visitation.
“The court has made it clear from day one, her initial ruling, that this is not about religion or her intent to restrict the respondent’s religious views or beliefs,” Shirey told FOX 13. “What (the commissioner’s) goal has been about is caring for the children.”