Boy, 7, removed from mum ‘over her religious beliefs’

Author and commentator Frank Furedi has published a searing critique of a case in England which saw a seven-year-old boy removed from his mother.

Furedi said the ruling focused on the mother’s beliefs, rather than her actions, and was a cause for concern for families trying to raise their children in line with the own beliefs.

Judge Clifford Bellamy ruled that the unnamed child should be placed in foster care because of “emotional harm” he had suffered, in part caused by “immersion in his mother’s religious beliefs and practices”.

His mother is a Jehovah’s Witness, but Furedi said the case had great significance for Christian, atheist, Muslim and Jewish parents.

Noting that while it is “always difficult to be certain what is in the best interest of a child”, Furedi said N’s mother was on trial for her beliefs, rather that her behaviour.

“In this case the right of a mother to rear her child in accordance with her moral outlook is trumped” by a court’s decision to “determine the religious parameters of the boy’s socialisation”, he said in an article on the Huffington Post website.

Furedi continued: “If exposing a child to religion causes emotional harm why not to secular moral education?

“Once the ideals or ideas of parents become associated with emotional damage they become in effect both medicalised and delegitimised.

“In effect the authority of parents to determine the values that underpin their children’s socialisation is called into question because of the damage that they can allegedly inflict on their offspring”, he commented.

He also said the decision “is frightening news for parents with orthodox Christian, Muslim or Jewish beliefs” and that he, as an atheist, could not “let off a sigh of relief” because his views could be viewed as indoctrination.