British Judge Rules 10-year-old Jewish Girl May Seek Baptism

A British judge has ruled that a 10-year-old Jewish girl may convert to Anglicanism and seek baptism.

“Clearly her upbringing for the first eight years of her life lacked any significant religious teaching upon which her own moral compass could be based,” the judge stated in his ruling.

At the age of eight, her parents divorced, and her father converted to Christianity. When the girl decided to seek baptism, her mother and maternal grandparents filed suit, alleging the child had been brainwashed.

The girl spends alternate weeks with her father and mother.

“I accept the evidence of the father that it was [the child] who asked to accompany him to church, that it has been her wish to continue to attend regularly with him, that it is her wish to learn more about Christianity, and her wish to be baptized,” the judge stated. “Her exposure to Christian teaching and her positive reaction to that clearly indicates that she has an emotional need which is being met by this experience.”

“I am satisfied that [the child’s] welfare interests are best served by allowing her to be enrolled in a baptism class and to present herself for baptism into the Christian church as soon as she is ready,” the judge continued. “If the mother feels unable to accept this judgment and consent to this course of action, it may proceed without her consent.”

“I have made it clear to the parties that I have no power to order [the child] to be baptized,” he added. “That is a decision for the Minister of her church to take in the light of his evaluation of her understanding and commitment, so far as he judges those criteria to be relevant. My powers are limited to considering whether the father should be prohibited from taking any positive steps towards his daughter's baptism and in terms of any specific issues order directing that such steps may be taken without the consent of the mother.”

The judge also ordered the mother to permit the girl to attend church during the alternate Sundays she is living with her.

“Being baptized does not mean that you give up your Jewish heritage,” the judge said in a separate letter to the child. “That will always be part of you and I hope that you will continue to learn more about that heritage and about your mother's faith. Even after you are baptized you are still free to change your mind about your faith later when you are older. Finally, and this is the most important thing, both your mother and father will carry on loving you just as much whatever happens about your baptism.”

The full text of the judgment can be found at this link http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/Misc/2012/15.html

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