Indiana Court Expected to Overturn Ruling Preventing Divorced Parents from Exposing Son to Wicca

May 27, 2005

Source: The Indianapolis Star

On May 27, 2005 The Indianapolis Star reported, "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.

The Indiana Civil Liberties Union and Jones assert the judge's order tramples on the parents' constitutional right to expose their son, Archer, to a religion of their choice. Both say the court failed to explain how exposing the boy to Wicca's beliefs and practices would harm him.

Debate swirled in pagan religious circles locally and nationally after The Indianapolis Star reported on the case Thursday. Jones, 37, said he posted messages on two Web sites Thursday in an attempt to keep pagans from sending e-mail and letters of protest to Bradford."