All that said, this article scares the poop out of me.
The ex has filed suit for custody in the past over non-existentn and trivial issues, and I expect her to do so again in the near future as a last stab at trying to avoid the requirement of paying child support. In the past, it's been a no-brainer where the courts took a look at the situation, sort of snorted, and the case was over. I even have money sitting in my lawyer's account as a retainer just in case this happens again - but here's the thing: her family comes from a strong (insane) Southern (crazy) Baptist (nutso) background, and her uncle is a preacher at a local church with that affiliation. Keep in mind, of course, that she has NO religious affiliation and tends to believe in very little beyond her own head.
During the divorce, with the understanding that the courts value a religious upbringing, I chose to write into the divorce agreement that the children would be raised in the Jewish tradition. This wasn't a huge issue to me - I was raised Jewish, and I believe that of all of the various religions, there is the least... uh... "evil" in the current form of liberal Judaism. Jews are taught to question everything, including the actual existence of gods - and the intense emphasis on education and knowlege has served to bring a minority population into serious power in our country. The kids will one day come to the same conclusion I have, I'm sure - but I'd rather that they see religion from the inside for now. As a kid, I learned more that way about why I didn't want to be a member of an organized congregation than from any book by Dawkins I've read recently.
I still have no real issue bringing them up in that way - but I am an atheist. I really, really don't think there's a god. If that's brought up, I won't be able to lie about my (lack of) beliefs. They're public knowlege in my family and friends, and I would morally have a big issue about lying to the courts (they've done an amazing job, and I've been very happy with the level of honesty and caring I've found with the family court system in our area). The article I linked above, however, leads me to think that I may be making myself vulnerable in an area which defies logic, in my mind.
So I leave this open to the blogosphere (with the full knowlege that, despite lots of hits, no one comments:)) -
Am I screwed here? What are the actual legal implications of being an atheist in a custody case if one comes up? Does anyone have any suggestions about this?
As has been pointed out to me in about a dozen emails, 2 comments, and the linking posts from both the Friendly Atheist (click here and read his blog, then subscribe!) as well as the amazing blog at Unorthodox Atheism (which you should also click, read, and subscribe to through RSS), the article was from 1970 and the decision was very much overturned.
I'm relieved, to say the least (though I feel a touch foolish :)). Still, as I mention on the comment I left at the Friendly Atheist blog -
Of course, I tend to be paranoid about that - it IS a slippery slope whenever family courts are brought in, and any arguments can be brought forth… and no matter how ludicrous or dated the arguments might be, they can still hold surprising weight.
Regardless, thank you so much for the reassurance and linkage.