Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Athiests can't adopt: Seperation of Church and State in New Jersey

"This child should have the freedom to worship as she sees fit, and not be influenced by prospective parents who do not believe in a Supreme Being."

Superior Court Judge William Camarata, East Orange, N.J.
Above, I've quoted the ruling of a New Jersey judge, when he denied John and Cynthia Burke of Newark, N.J, permission to adopt a 17-month-old baby girl.

His decision was based on the fact that they had left the 'religious affiliation' section of their adoption paperwork blank.

John Burke is an Atheist. Cynthia is a 'pantheist' (who believes that God is an all-encompassing abstract principle.) Despite what he recognized as their 'high moral and ethical standards', the Burke's religious beliefs (or lack of them) were apparently incompatible with those Judge Camarata considered necessary to adopt a child (despite the fact that the Burkes had previously adopted a little boy from the same agency.)

He pointed to a section in the New Jersey State Constitution which reads:
"No person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience."
According to his 'interpretation' of that amendment, parents who don't believe in God (or what he deems to be an acceptable, monotheistic version of God) will raise their child to be 'Godless' and therefore in violation this principle (despite millions of children who grow up to have different religious beliefs than their parents.)

To say I'm disgusted is an understatement.

It's such an astonishingly, blatantly, absurdly obvious violation of the 1st Amendment that you have to wonder what planet Judge Camarata is living on, or whether he actually attended law school at all. He's basically ruled that
all Atheists in New Jersey are unsuitable parents.

What's even worse, Judge Camarata ruled that Eleanor, the little girl the Burkes adopted, must be removed from their home and returned to the adoption agency - being separated from the only family she's ever known because of Judge Camarata's illegal, unconstitutional and just plain offensive ruling.

The Burkes have appealed to the Supreme Court of New Jersey. I'm praying that they make the right decision and reverse Camarata's disgusting ruling.

If they don't, according to the dangerous precedent he set, all Atheists could have their children removed from their homes and put up for adoption.

In this ruling,
Judge William Camarata has shown nothing but contempt for the law of New Jersey, the principles upon which this nation was founded and basic human kindness.

He disgusts me.


The inimitable Tom pointed out that this article, which is somehow currently doing the rounds amongst Atheist websites and tweets, is actually dated from the 1970s!

It turns out to have a happy ending, too. The Supreme Court ruled in the Burke's favor and little Eleanor got to stay with them. Thank goodness for logic and reason!

I'm tempted to delete this whole post, because it makes me look like a bit of an arse not to have checked the date! But it's still an interesting topic and a scary slice of (fairly) recent history, so I'll keep it up here, with this addendum to clarify things.


Luke S said...

Dude...I'm stunned. Keep me updated on this; I want to know how it comes out. PLEASE tell me there's at least some level of uproar over this in New Jersey.

Roland Hulme said...

It's HORRIFIC, isn't it? That judge should be disbarred for his idiotic ruling.

Tom said...

This is wrong... but you do know the article is from 1970, right?

Based on headlines from contemporary newspapers, it looks like they got to keep the girl, as of 1971. (The articles themselves are behind paywalls... and I don't care enough to dredge up such ancient news.)

Roland Hulme said...

Tom - Holy crap. You're right.

Stop doing that. It's making me look bad!

But in good news, at least we get to discover that it has a happy ending!

How the hell did this article get thrown into the mix now?

Tom said...

Well, trivially it was thrown into the mix because you posted it to your blog. You're responsible for what gets posted here, after all.

But I would like to know how you found the article in the first place.

(And you know, I wouldn't mind the damned CAPTCHA if it ever worked on the first try. Can it be turned off for registered users? Or just me?)

Roland Hulme said...

Apparently it's been doing rounds on the Atheist twitter accounts and I assumed (assumption being the mother of all f*ck ups) that it was actually contemporary. Shame on me!

I added that to the post itself, because it's utterly misleading if I don't. At least the TIME article had a date on it. My blog post doesn't.

I hate CAPTCHA too. I turned it on when I got hit by a spam-bot, but I'll try switching it off. They make them harder and harder to do these damn days.