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Should Atheists be Able to Adopt?

A New Jersey Superior Court judge had denied a couple from adopting a baby girl, because of they are atheists!

In an extraordinary decision, Judge Camarata denied the Burkes' right to the child because of their lack of belief in a Supreme Being. Despite the Burkes' "high moral and ethical standards," he said, the New Jersey state constitution declares that "no person shall be deprived of the inestimable privilege of worshiping Almighty God in a manner agreeable to the dictates of his own conscience." Despite Eleanor Katherine's tender years, he continued, "the 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."

The Burkes are now living in Carterville, Ill., near Southern Illinois University, where John Burke has worked for the past year as a speech pathologist. Nevertheless, Judge Camarata ordered the parents to send David's sister back to the New Jersey adoption agency.

The couple appealed to the New Jersey Supreme Court, which agreed to hear the case. Do you think parents' belief (or lack thereof) should be a criterion in whether they can adopt?

Link

Update 1/6/078: Oops - this was from 1970. I was (just) a little late on this :) Still, it was an interesting story, IMHO.

If there is one true faith, then being raised by Atheists is no different than being raised by parents of any of the other false faiths. So if it turns out the Catholics are right and all non-Catholics are S.O.L., then any children adopted by Jews, Protestants, or Muslims will have been denied the chance to worship the Almighty God. In brief, this is bullsh*t. Religious freedom includes the freedom not to be religious.
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Absolutely NOT.

It's disgusting that the judge should say the child would be influenced by atheist parents and not recognize that she'd be influenced by religious parents also. Just how long ago was that state constitution written?
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By that same logic, he should revoke custody of all children under his jurisdiction, because ALL parents influence their children's choices, religious or otherwise.

In my opinion, this judge should be disbarred immediately. He is obviously not fit to pass judgement over anyone if he lets his personal prejudices determine his rulings like that.
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So I noticed that Church and State are still seperate in this country. Because Freedom of Religion was definently taken out of the constitution like, ages ago.

That's just wrong. That's really just wrong. I plan to adopt a child later in my life and it would kill me to know it would never happen because I'm a Polytheist. Theres no way this will ever be upheld.
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I think it makes an excellent point in favor of stripping all religious reference from government and law, and if you have a judge that can't put religious views aside for rationale thought they should be tossed off the bench.
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The date on the article is 1970. The judge's ruling is still ridiculous, but unless there's a misprint on the website, it sounds like old news.
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LOL I see a few of you got the fact that this story is from the Nixon era.
The couple did adopt the child... who is now over 40 years old! LOL
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Absolutely not. What ever happened to separation of church and state? As an adopted child my parents were Christians. I went to church every Sunday. When I became old enough to decide for myself, I did. With so many children needing a stable caring home, all that should matter is whether or not the parents are capable and willing to care for and love the child. Generally the term "Almighty God" is referenced in Judeo-Christian faiths, so does that mean anyone who is not of one of those faiths is not able to adopt a child in New Jersey? I believe this is more rightly a question for the New Jersey judiciary ethics committee.

Sincerely,
Not a Christian...though I do give my parents faith the utmost respect, as I do all faiths.
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Hmmmm... So, if an atheist adopts a child then they're presumed to be restricting the growth of the child's belief structure. Can't the same be said of any religion or lack thereof?
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Oh the hypocrisy in America just kills me! I can't stop laughing!

Materialist nature aside, the way America screams and yells about how Church & State are separate and all that shite, you still have to swear to the Bible in court.

And this shite about not being able to adopt because one doesn't believe in that stupid thing.

Only one thing is an absolute in life, and one thing only:

WE ALL DIE.
WHEN WE ALL DIE. WE CAN'T TAKE ANY OF THIS MATERIAL STUFF WITH YOU.

So be kind to the children. And make the children have some more respect in America, mmmmmmmmmkay?

And screw god up the arse.
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Absolutely not. What says that they won't send her to Sunday School with her schoolmates when she's older?

Unfortunately, with the way things are going in politics, it will probably be the first of many denials because of going against the Christian norm.
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before i noticed this was dated Monday, Dec. 07, 1970, i was going to say that a child has just as much of an oppurtunity to worship something in an atheist hosehold as a child has of becoming atheist in a christian household... but i dont think a decision like that would fly today so it doesnt matter.
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The ruling was reversed...

IN THE MATTER OF THE ADOPTION OF "E", A CHILD, BY JOHN P. BURKE AND CYNTHIA D. BURKE, PLAINTIFFS-APPELLANTS

Supreme Court of New Jersey

59 N.J. 36; 279 A.2d 785

July 1, 1971, Decided

COUNSEL:
Mr. Albert G. Besser and Mr. Leo Pfeffer, of the New York Bar, argued the cause for plaintiffs-appellants (Messrs. Hannoch, Weisman, Stern & Besser, attorneys; Mr. Leo Pfeffer, of the New York Bar, Mr. Albert G. Besser and Mr. Dean A. Gaver on the brief).
Mr. Edward Terner argued the cause for intervenor, Children's Aid and Adoption Society of New Jersey.
Mr. Mark F. Hughes, Jr., argued the cause as court-appointed amicus curiae.
Mrs. Joan W. Murphy, Deputy Attorney General, argued the cause amicus curiae for New Jersey Bureau of Children's Services (Mr. George F. Kugler, Jr., Attorney General of New Jersey, attorney; Mr. Stephen Skillman, Assistant Attorney General, of counsel; Miss Joan W. Murphy, Deputy Attorney General, on the brief).
Mr. Arnold Jay Gold argued the cause amicus curiae for Council on Adoptable Children (Mr. Barry G. Radick on the brief).
Mr. George A. Breur argued the cause amicus curiae for New Jersey Council of Churches (Messrs. Breur and Breur, attorneys; Mr. G. Thomas Breur and Mr. George A. Breur on the brief).
Mr. Charles B. Blackmar, of the Missouri Bar, submitted a brief amicus curiae for Department of Church in Society, Division of Homeland Ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the United States and Canada, and Division of Human Relations, Board of Christian Social Concerns, United Methodist Church.

JUDGES:
For reversal -- Chief Justice Weintraub and Justices Jacobs, Francis, Proctor, Hall, Schettino and Mountain. For affirmance -- None. The opinion of the Court was delivered by Proctor, J. Weintraub, C.J. (concurring). Weintraub and Jacobs, JJ., concur in result.

PROCTOR, J.

The county court denied plaintiffs' application for a final decree of adoption. The court held that plaintiffs' lack of belief in a Supreme Being rendered them unfit to be adoptive parents. The plaintiffs appealed to the Appellate Division, and prior to argument there, we certified the case on our own motion. We reverse.
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Here is a link to the decision that reversed the lower court ruling. Gotta say, I agree with the appellate on this one. It was a horrendous ruling by the lower court judge.

http://www.americanadoptions.com/adoption/article_view/article_id/2435?pg=1
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It doesn't matter that the article was from 1970; the fact that anyone could be THAT stupid with religious rubbish is incomprehensible to the rational mind, though not surprising.

Let it be a warning: with the United States of today being gradually overrun by Christian fundamentalist loonies, it's only a matter of time before such attitudes become mainstream, and when that happens, you're all done for.

America has a lot of smart people. Unfortunately, they're way outnumbered by the religious twats who believe in creationist claptrap, and your educational system is already reflecting that. I reckon that in less than 20 years from now, atheists in America will be discriminated against in more ways than this story from 1970 shows. I bet they won't even be able to get a job.

Think I'm exaggerating? Look at American society today, your idiot of a president (which the Christian loonies voted into power in the first place), and then call me in 2028...
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40 years ago, huh? So, how's the "kid" doing now? How about tracking her down and asking, eh?

A more recent story is the lady who lost custody of her child because the judge didn't like her being active in the Church of the SubGenius. Why isn't this story more in the news? It's profoundly wrong and absurd!
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I think God would better like a man that has the balls to say "I believe there is no God" than a coward that says "I believe there is a God, because if I don't, and i am wrong, i will be in big trouble"
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Aw, come on Alex! You're on the easy side when you present an outdated article with behaviours from another time.
I'm sure you can find a good article about native americans in the XIX century that will stir some controversy too.

:p
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Pudifoot, I disagree. I believe a man who only believes in God because he is afraid not to does NOT really believe in God.

A few of the comments here gave insights as to what you believed the future of this country might be like.

"Let it be a warning: with the United States of today being gradually overrun by Christian fundamentalist loonies, it’s only a matter of time before such attitudes become mainstream, and when that happens, you’re all done for.....I reckon that in less than 20 years from now, atheists in America will be discriminated against in more ways than this story from 1970 shows. I bet they won’t even be able to get a job."

"Unfortunately, with the way things are going in politics, it will probably be the first of many denials because of going against the Christian norm."

I believe this country is going in completely the OPPOSITE direction. Like that it won't be long before you aren't allowed to express your faith in any way...no matter what it is, for fear of stepping on someone's toes.
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I watched a simpsons episode for school in philosophy class where Lisa is torn between celebrating Christmas, a Christian holiday with her family when she is a buddhist. Turns out that buddhism accepts diversity...therefore she could celebrate christianity as well lol. Odd.
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typical american doublethink:
The Taliban are to be punished for forcing people to become muslims, but in the US courts may force you into christianity...
That's maybe even worse than teaching intelligent design
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Hmm. How did a 37 year old story come to your attention, anyway? This is the sort of thing that might show up as an OUTRAGE! incident cited in an email from a eight-wing fundraising group. I got two yesterday myself, both about how the Federal Government wants to sue the Salvation Army. I guess that there are people who will froth and rant about these faux travesties, but they're not Neatorama readers.

You must not live in New Jersey, or you'd know that this event occurred before a lot of the Neatomarans were even born.
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here's what i'm wondering... did the judge ask them if they were of a specific religion or did they just come right out and say they were athiests? a part of religious freedom (and this may sound really awful) is kinda like 'don't ask; don't tell.' it goes along the lines of a job interview... they don't ask you what religion you are because it doesn't matter. and if you tell them right out, you face the problem of saying the "wrong" thing. it just doesn't matter.
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I believe that they should not only be denied the privilege of adopting children, but they should also not be allowed to procreate! They should both be sterilized ASAP -- the last thing we need in America is a breeding pair of heathens!
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Eh man, here's a thought:

What happens when an adopted person marries another adopted person and they adopt a person and that person marries another adopted person and then they have a child and marry an adopted person and then somewhere in all that stupid mess, by accident, an adopted child marries his or her brother or sister or son or daughter or mother or father cos they didn't know, and they have a messed up disabled kid and when they finally do a DNA test they realize they're related, so they either throw it away in shame and/or they put that up for adoption?

Did anybody think about that?

Would that make a good movie, or would that create more disabled people we don't need?

Yeah that's right, it's all screwy.
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NIMITZ

actually if you read the story more closely you'd see that the couple adopted 31 years ago and have now adopted another child, or were trying to at least.

They were denied on the 2nd adoption for being atheists.

In fact he was an atheist she was a Pantheist,so does believe in gods.
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The judge must be on medication as he grossly misinterpreted the state constitution. Giving someone religious freedom does not require that the individual be religious, and, in fact, would be more likely in a non-denominational or atheist home. A strong Catholic family, for instance, would probably prohibit the child from investigating Lutheranism and vice-versa. Such a constricted reading/interpretation of this section of the constitution would render just about everyone ineligible. The only argument the judge could feasibly defend using that section of the constitution would be that the atheist parents had made definitive statements that they would NOT allow a child they adopted to investigate, join or follow ANY religion.

Final word: The idiot should be removed from the bench.
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