For years, I thought I didn't believe in God because I couldn't see Him the way my parents did. "There is always an alternative to the faith we lose," wrote the British novelist Graham Greene. "Or is it the same faith under a different mask?"

Understanding that changed everything.

Despite the intensity with which my family approaches religion, I know that Lutheranism and Catholicism are closely linked. That's not altogether true when it comes to Catholicism and the Church of Latter-day Saints.

But it doesn't hurt to explore those differences. Closing ourselves off to other faiths is no way to heighten our own belief.

Let's give the Franco kids the benefit of the doubt and assume they weren't just complaining about going to church with their grandparents because the Mormon services are three freakin' hours long. Let's say it really was a source of anxiety to go and hear Joseph Smith's take on God and man.

Well, what better preparation for life in the United States in 2009? This country has found a zillion ways to get to God, and yet we all manage to live more or less in peace.

A family shouldn't be any different. Even if that family is unhappy in its own way. Even if that family is in divorce court.

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karljnkeijzer
karljnkeijzer

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karljnkeijzer

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thiagodaluz7
thiagodaluz7

I've looked at a lot of cases from<a href="http://deborahpratte.com/purpose/">divorce lawyers in tucson</a>, these kinds of things are popping up more and more. I'm trying to interview some lawyers to get some insight on how these things slide.

Alliekat
Alliekat

I love this article. I am a Mormon mother, who converted to Mormonism from Catholicism before my children were born. I totally appreciate the viewpoint of the author. In fact, the Latter Day Saints subscribe to a set of Article of Faith which state what we believe. The 11th article says, "We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may". I thought our forefathers settled this hundreds of years ago? This judge should be removed from the bench.

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john worstell
john worstell

I was raised in the restoration faith first RLDS and then I joined the LDS church I believe everyone should have a foundation of faith. For faith is an important part of our spirtually. As a child I was exposed to the Methodist faith, the Catholic faith,and the Apostlic faith because other members of my family were of those faiths. My parents allowed me to make my own choices But before I chose I believed I needed a testomony of the truth before I chose. I understand the ruling if the father was not a worthy priesthood holder and he was not being a good example of the LDS faith.But don't take away the children's free agency. Allow them to attend the LDS church even if it is with another family allow them to choose for themselves Joseph Smith always taught that we have the right to choose and that is a major principle this country

Diane
Diane

Listen Jay from Phoenix, when ever "fathers" start yaking about "father's rights" that's when there is a problem. It's got nothing to do with your "rights" for God's sake....it SHOULD be about what is best for the children and that is being raised by the mother as most kids should be. That's how we were created, mothers are the nurturers...to think that father's rights have any place in raising of kids or treating them like some sort of chattel or property is the disgusting mindset that many of Arizona Judges and family counselors in this hideous backwards state seem to hold. Forget the fact that kids can do just fine without the father as long as they are in a decent home with the mom, who is the one that carries them, gives birth to them, and loves them with her whole body and soul, something you men will never experience or understand, and it needs to stop being ignored. Kids need to stop begin split apart because some idiotic father's think they deserve their "rights". Grow up, the kids will and they won't really give a crap, but they will remember what a crappy childhood they had going from house to house like nomads.

Mike
Mike

That's bullcrap. That Judge should be taken off the bench.

jay
jay

Moms will abuse the court system as long as free benefits like restraining orders, sole custody are offered to them. Fathers rights and children rights given by the Constitution will continue to get violated by the Court through giving default custody to the mothers and customary alternate weekends or no custody to the fathers in the name of "best interests of the children". This case is an example of abuse of fathers and children rights

DJ Evans
DJ Evans

Wow...all those comments and someone, besides the author, finally nails it! It doesn't matter about all the noise of 'abrasive father" or 'manipulating mother' or 'poor kids' or 'ridiculous relatives'.

The courts in Arizona have now said that it is perfectly acceptable to single out one particular religion over another and tell someone they will be something...and by all means...not something else. If I'm not mistaken, isn't that how this country came to be in the first place? Does the Church of England and Declaration of Independence ring a bell to anyone??? Declaration of Independence from what...Mexico? There is a reason it is the FIRST amendment, and not number 5...or 10.

Thank you Robert Budoff, and the court of appeals (not to leave out AZ's beloved Supreme Court)...thank you all for setting us back 233 years! What a bunch of Morons! (no pun intended).

Aaron Tyler
Aaron Tyler

The tragedy here is the proscription placed on the father from having the option of taking his children to a specific religion.

Forget the histronics and divorce drama. It matters to these people, but doesn't really affect us. The judge's initial ruling that the children be raised as Catholics is one thing. This permits the mother to have her children's religious attendance and training continue uninterrupted. however, the judge's ruling, as stated prevents the father from taking his children to a particular church. With no exclusions. Niece or nephew being christened - sorry, can't attend. The ruling wasn't that the kids were to go to one church, or to only go to one church, but NOT to go to one specific church. According to the terms of the order, the father could take his kids to a lutheran church, a jewish synagoge, to a unitarian meeting, even to a scientology audit session. He just can't take his kids to an LDS church. Even if the kids wanted to - he can't take them.

This is wrong. Its simple to determine if this is right or wrong. Swap the religions. What would the opinion be if the mom were "Morman" (sp) or a Member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and the Father almost any other religion.

Realist
Realist

Teaching children fairly tales and calling them reality is harmful, no matter which fairy tale you teach them. If you don't teach children to deal with reality, and to treat their fellow human beings with respect and tolerance, we are all in big trouble. I don't think that the judge had the right to rule that he could not take them to a mormon church - but I also think that taking children to any kind of church is akin to child abuse. However, everyone does it, and it's considered "normal", so unless our society changes the rules about freedom of religion for everyone, we have to respect peoples' rights to believe insane fairy tales and pass them on to their impressionable kids. "I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"...

PJ
PJ

"The children, it seems, felt anxious about their father's request that they attend church services with him. Well, cry me a river."

Ms. Fenske, I am guessing you do not have children. If these kids don't want to go to church with their father, they should not be forced to do so. No where do you explore the possibility that the man is forcing these children to go to his church as a way to needle his ex-wife. Regardless of the motivation, they should not be forced to go to church, period.

Arnold Barfuss
Arnold Barfuss

The writers comments are very factual. They were married in a civil cerimony presided over by an LDS Bishop. The author says nothing about LDS Temples in her article. The article is well writen and to the point. As a norm I am criticle of the news media's bias but not in this case.

I am LDS and know that children brought up in the Catholic Faith are very well behaved and very understanding. If they were lucky enough to attend Catholic Schooling are some of the brightest and best people I have associated with through out my life and 25 years in the military.

My own wife taught Cadicisim for many years and was raised in the Catholic Faith. She read the "Book Of Mormon," "Doctrine and Covenants," and "Pearl of Great Price". She found answers to questions she could not find in her own faith and after praying for resolution to her questions converted and joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. She is still very close to the Catholic faith and Sisters she served with as a youth still write her. She visits the Catholic Church she attended in her younger years and I encourage it. In this Nation if we serve the Lord and continue to commune with God daily in our prayers we will stay a free Nation. I hope that all of us regardless of our religious afiliations will continue to do so. We should embrace one another in all good causes and not dispute or be intollerant, for those that do so do not represent the God most of us worship.

Lorie
Lorie

That shouldn't be possible. How is it possible for a court to make ANY ruling on a persons right to religious worship!

robin
robin

first of all i find it funny that all of of you people can really sit down and believe that a man who has been a mormon all his life. would agree to his kids being raised catholic! 2nd of all all women think they are supposed to be granted custody of the kids in the case of divorce. and im a woman so don't even attempt to go there with me. lawrence wrote that the parents wedding gift to the couple was a 1,000 off of her debt. a debt she incurred before he met her. something in me tells me that emily is and was a gold digger. and also a control freak and that the husband refused to allow himself to be controlled which is his right. as for the judge chomping at the bit to get back at franco. it more then likely happened or are all of you attempting to ignore the fact that the judge himself is catholic, and judges are known to be corrupt and not liking their decisions challenged. and to be honest YOU HAVE TO WONDER ABOUT A WOMAN WHO ALREADY HAD ONE CHILD OUT OF WEDLOCK. SHE KNEW HE WAS A MORMON WHEN SHE MET AND SLEPT WITH HIM. NOT USING PROTECTION. yet now she wants to use that against him. HAHAHAHAHA SHE'S A DIVORCED WOMAN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH DOESNT CARE ANYTHING ABOUT HER OR THOSE KIDS.she nor them will be allowed to be buried on scared ground. that is unless her next husband or parents can bribe the church. which these days will probably be easy. seeing as how much scandal is going on in the church these days.

I also went and read the court minutes and i don't believe one word of what was said. why? because emily would know darn well how to push francos buttons and get him angry and most of what was printed in the court documents is hearsay. how does the kids parenting coordinator know exactly what the father was saying on the other end of the line? was he/she on the phone extension or just listening to the mothers side of the conversation?

3rd many of you are attempting to ignore the fact that it was the mother who kept filing motions which forced the father to respond "Mother filed a Petition to Modify Custody asking that she beawarded sole custody on June 22, 2007. Father filed his Responseon July 16, 2007 (asking that joint custody be maintained) and alsofiled his own Petition for Enforcement of the Decree and a Requestfor Sanctions based upon his allegation that Mother did not allowhim make-up time (from April 13), had prevented him on anotheroccasion (July 11, 2007) from visiting with Anthony (as allegedlyAnthony told Mother and his grandfather that he did not want tovisit with Father that day), Mother�s unresponsiveness with theParenting Coordinator process with Dr. Larry Waldman, and thenegative influence that Mother is imposing on the children relative to Father�s religion.

4th At the time of the Hearing when the agreement was adopted adispute immediately arose relative to a weekend activity ofAnthony�s that would prevent Father from exercising parentingtime on the April 13, 2007 weekend with Anthony and the partiesagreed, and the Court ordered, that Father would be entitled tomake-up time for the initial lost weekend. With regard to this issueMother believes that Father indicated to her that he was notintending to make up the time but Father in his testimony statedotherwise. The April 13 missed day was never �made up�.

5th On May 30, 2007, Mother filed a Petition for Enforcement of theConsent Decree based upon her allegation that Father did notreturn the children to her on time after his Memorial Weekendvisit. Father filed a Response to the Petition to Enforce and aCounter-Petition for Contempt on June 8, 2007, alleging failure ofMother to allow him his make-up time. Mother believes that thechildren were to be returned to her by 6:00 p.m. on Sunday, May27, 2007, and Father believed that he could keep the children until 6:00 p.m. on Monday, May 28, 2007 (to exercise his �make-uptime�).

6th Mother filed a Petition to Modify Custody asking that she beawarded sole custody on June 22, 2007. Father filed his Responseon July 16, 2007 (asking that joint custody be maintained) and alsofiled his own Petition for Enforcement of the Decree and a Requestfor Sanctions based upon his allegation that Mother did not allowhim make-up time (from April 13), had prevented him on anotheroccasion (July 11, 2007) from visiting with Anthony (as allegedlyAnthony told Mother and his grandfather that he did not want tovisit with Father that day), Mother�s unresponsiveness with theParenting Coordinator process with Dr. Larry Waldman, and thenegative influence that Mother is imposing on the children relativeto Father�s religion.7. Extensive testimony was presented at the September 6, 2007,

the allegations of the father being rude and aggressive to the mother. i would be rude and aggressive also if the itch was attempting to interfere in my time with my children!!! and so would many of you!!!

8th Mother did preclude Father from exercising parenting timewith Anthony on April 13 (with his agreement that hewould get make-up time) and July 11, 2007, and Father isentitled to make-up time for those missed visits. Mother�srationale on July 11 that Anthony did not want to visit withFather on that day is not a basis for the parenting time tonot have occurred. Children do not choose the parentingtime, the Court order or the parents do.

9th The children have positive relationships with both extendedfamilies (although the families seem to be in conflict witheach other) and the children remain relatively well-adjustedin their school and extra-curricular activities.

10 During the high percentage of Father�s parenting timeperiod he takes the children to the Heber area where hismother and his extended family reside, which is notnecessarily bad for the children, and there is no reason thatthis cannot continue. i can go on and on but why bother.

lujlp
lujlp

A few things.1. What makes you think you can trust court munites to provide you an accurate picture of a court proceeding?Does the phrase 'stricken from the record' mean anything to you people?

2.All religon is crap steve from san diego, what makes earning a degree in mythological christian crap any more valid that a lay person teaching mythological christian crap?

3.Also as a I recall it wasnt mormons being charged with molesting kids behind closed doors. It was catholics who got that 'training' you consider so important.

4.No kid WANTS to go to church, the only reason they selected catholocism is because they were hassaled about it day in and day out by the catholics they lived and interacted with. Had the father gotten custody the would have chosen mormonism to shut their father up as they would have heard from him more often.

5. Who said he wasnt a happy camper if he didnt get his way? Apparently he didnt get his way for the entire 14yrs of marrige, why is it NOW such a problem?

6. Talk to any divorce attorney, they'll tell you the best card to play in a divorce is domestic abuse.

7.A question for all - why is it wrong for a judge to tell a child which church they may or may not attend, but its a parents right to do so? Shouldnt it be a child decision?

8.Last but not least, the easter bunny and santa claus are just as fictional as god is, incase you delusional dingbats didnt know

Jlee
Jlee

Bad Judge, bad mom.

Lisa Deasver
Lisa Deasver

All people should be protected from the sexist, judgemental and hyper-sexual cult they call the mormon religion. Joseph Smith was a criminal with a criminal record. Crime-FRAUD!!!! Look it up peeps!

Maxwell Dietrich
Maxwell Dietrich

I would like to make one correction in my previous post. I incorrectly stated that Judge Budoff was a Supreme Court Judge. He has been a Superior Court Judge since 2000. Wouldn't want to be accused of misquoting the facts.

Maxwell Dietrich
Maxwell Dietrich

Well, Lawrence�of Arabia. Here are my thought on your response.

Let's start off with the first issue I have with your statement about Richard not wanting to sign the divorce decree since "Judge Budoff told him that he would sign it if he wanted to be divorced and so he did under extreme protest." You do not have to sign ANYTHING if you do not agree with it. This is America. It was his right to either stop fighting and agree or continue fighting for what he believes to be right.

As for the $14k in attorney's fees, if you see my post on April 30th 2009 at 13:42, you'll notice that I stated "Sarah also points out that the father had to pay the ex-wife her attorney's fees of $14,000. I don't see this as a problem since if I was to sue someone and I lost, they would request that the attorney fees incurred be paid by me. Why shouldn't the mother receive compensation." It was Richard's choice to file an appeal that he lost. It would also be up to him to pay court costs since his ex-wife didn't want to go to court. I looked through all court documents and found this ony to be interesting. http://www.courtminutes.marico...It seems that during the first round of the divorce, on 10/2/07, the father made the following request. �Father has incurred attorney�s fees and costs totaling $13,007.50 and requests that he be awarded his reasonable attorney�s fees incurred.� So it is fine for him to request that Emily pay for his incurred fees. Strange how it�s ok for him to ask for attorney fees but Emily can�t.

The $7k that you said he paid her parents is another interesting point. If you check out Arizona community property laws, any debt each of them has before a marriage is going to stay with that person. Good luck, though, proving it was money the came into the marriage and not incurred during the marriage. It was his choice to pay his wife's debt. Again, everyone has choices. It was also rather nice of her parents to give a gift of $1000 for their wedding. It shows how generous they are. It makes me wonder what else her parents did for her and Richard. For most people, when they are in debt to someone, theywould try to settle the debt. It seems that she incurred the debt with her parents and they wanted to pay them back. That's what a responsible person does.

Now let's talk about your relationship with Richard. You said that you have been friends with him for over 15 years. After he married Emily, you probably spent time with both of them. You must know everything that he did with her as much as she did with him? I'll help you answer that question, you don't. Here is why you don't, because you were not with them 24/7. Neither was I. I'm looking at the facts of the case. If you look at my post that talked about "behind closed doors", I�m sure if all the information that was presided over in the case about him being aggresive, abusive, and intimidating was false, Richard would never have agreed to ANYTHING. According to the court minutes, "Father has been aggressive, abusive and intimidating to Mother in phone conversations, e-mails and in conferencewith the Parenting Coordinator." He did this in front of a court appointed Parenting Coordinator. That tells me he was abusive elsewhere, like "behind closed doors". Plus, if he wanted to look good to everyone outside her family, he would never tell anyone that he was abusive.

Let's move on to Judge Budoff. I find it incredibly difficult to believe your statement "Budoff was just chomping at the bit to get back at Richard because he had the nerve to question his decision to mandate that the kids be raised Catholic in their actual divorce hearing in April." I don't think a judge who has been a Supreme Court Judge since 2000 is going to jeopadize his career to �get� Richard. That�s an inane statement on your part. If this judge, or any judge for that matter, held a personal grudge against everyone they presided over, we would have a record number of judges being kicked off the bench. I also noticed that Richard tried to have Judge Budoff removed from the case but failed. You can ready it here: http://www.courtminutes.marico... It proves, using the law, the Judge Budoff made an appropriate decision based on the facts. I�ll quote my favorite part �This Court has reviewed all of the allegations made by Petitioner/Respondent in support of removing the assigned judge, and finds that none of the allegations presented are supported by an affidavit alleging bias, prejudice or interest of the assigned judicial officer arising from an extra-judicial source. The allegations presented involve the judge�s participation in the case, and are insufficient as a matter of law to proceed with an evidentiary hearing on this matter.�

Let�s take a look at that �supposed domestic violence� charge. If the charge was totally without merit, then the divorce decree would have been maintained and it would be public record that the judge found no merit with the charge. I didn�t see anything in the court minutes to show that. In fact, the only thing I noticed in all the court minutes was a consistent reference to Richard being abusive, aggressive and intimidating toward Emily and the children. It is strange how you glanced over the recorded facts of the case. If everything Richard has told you about him being the victim and Judge Budoff is holding a grudge, then the court minutes are falsified. To me, it seems that Richard is the constant victim in this case. Should I say, �poor Richard�? I don�t think so.

You have a very interesting statement when you said �So, apparently Emily's problem with the LDS church only goes so far as Richard and his family is concerned...for her, its quite alright to maintain close relationships with other Mormons?� That just proves that this is not about religion. If she hated all Mormons and everything they stood for, why would she have Mormon friends? Let�s move on to the dance instructors. How does Richard know they lied? He is commiting slander against these instructors. Again, if he had proof that they lied, his attorney should have had their statements thrown out. Strange how it seems �poor Richard� is a victim at every turn.

As for the children, you keep failing to notice that the divorce decree stated �Notwithstanding that the Decree provides that the children would be raised in the Catholic faith and only attend the Mormon church if they desired to do so�. It shows that they don�t want to go with Richard to his church since both children are Catholic. It is their choice, not Richard�s.

I particularly enjoyed your statement that said �I'm not here to defend him and I know he certainly doesn't want, much less cares about, your sympathy.� If that is the case, why did you bother writing a comment? You just wanted to paint Richard in a better light as a victim. But looking at the court evidence, which is not personal opinion, it still seems to me that Richard is an abusive person. As for all your statements of how mean Emily and her family are and how Richard is the victim is quite comical. It seem, by reading the court minutes of the case, that everything that was written should have been thrown out, in Richard�s and your opinion. That everything in that document is wrong. The judge, the appelate court and the Arizona Supreme Court all said that everything presented is valid and it was upheld in Emily�s favor. One other thing to note, the whole case was reviewed with the court reporter�s notes, not just the court minutes. You can see from the wikipedia entry how the court reporter has to write everything that is spoken in the courtroom by everyone. Here is the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S... The first paragraph tells it all.

Now, Mr. Lawrence�Welk, the ball seems to be in your court. I�ve written with the facts presented through court documents. Now it�s up to you to give me recorded facts and not hear say.

Lone Danite
Lone Danite

Great article, don't listen to the Mormon-Haters that are posting on here, Mormon-Haters like these folks love any opportunity to lie about the LDS church. Thanks for writing it.

Steve
Steve

Thank you very much Ashley, for saying about 80 percent of what I was about to say, and more eloquently to boot. Glad I read the comments all the way to the end.

A couple of points I would also like to add that many may not be aware of is that being rasied in the mromon church is inherently abusive. Teenage boys and girls, actually beginning at age 12, are regularly grilled behind closed doors alone with middle aged men with no clerical or any other training about their masurbatory habits, and worse. The dangers of exposing children to mormonism go far beyond any theological differences people may have. All religions teach kids crazy things, true, but not all churches emotionally abuse kids like the mormons do.

And for those who object to Smith being called a goon, I agree, it is an insult to goons. Smith, at the age of 38, was having sex with the 14 year old children of his followers (Helen mar Kimball). He had sex with his teenage foster daughters (the Lawrence sisters). He would send his male followers on missions so he could bed their wives(Orson and Marinda Hyde). He started an illegal bank scam to con his followers out of their money and was convicted of bank fraud in abstentia after fleeing the state. He was convicted of being a con man (glass looker) in Pennsylvania. He ordered the assasination of a sitting governor (Boggs). He had a printing destroyed for printing the truth about his polygamous "marriages" and promising to tell in the next issue about his secret society with which he planned on taking over the US government. He started two treasonous civil wars (one of which he was gound guilty in a courtmartial and sentenced to death, but later escaped by bribing his guards). And he was in jail for treason again for calling out his private militia when he was finally killed by vigilantes.

Goon? Hardly, goon is being far too kind.

Anna
Anna

Lawrence W.: Thanks for designating me a critical thinker, however, I'm not a "so-called" critical thinker, I just AM a critical thinker. And I like to have my thoughts grounded in fact.

Your post is interesting in its confusion of facts, as well as its ignoring of some other facts. You state that Franco was in the middle of appealing the court order that stated he had agreed to have the children raised Catholic. Odd, I don't find a notice of appeal in the court docket arising out of that decree. The only appeal I find in the Court docket is the one of the subsequent order that changed custody and stated that, with respect to the children's religion "that their only religious training shall be in the Catholic faith and that they not be taken to an LDS church or LDS church training." THAT is the Order that was appealed, NOT the Order that stated Franco agreed to let the children be raised Catholic. So much for that "fact."

You ignore the fact that the 9//13/07 Order -- while in no way painting the mother as a complete angel -- notes a NUMBER of problems with the father, not just disputes here and there. How about the part where the father lied to a cop about having his seat belt on, in front of his children? There is no such thing as a perfect parent, but here he is not only modeling unsafe behavior to his children, but then committing the crime of lying to a police officer in front of them. Not good, and I am SURE that the Mormon religion wouldn't agree with that kind of religion.

By the way, I certainly never referred to Franco as a "Mormon boy"; that is merely another misleading statement in your post. Regardless of my personal opinions about Mormonism, I wouldn't put someone down in a public forum based solely on their adopted religion.

You know, the rest of us really don't need to know the personal details of these folks lives that you spilled in your post, either. It's bad enough that divorcing families have Court minute entries as a matter of public record (although that is something that I would hesitate to change, in order that the public can see what goes on in family court). But we certainly don't need to get your perspective on what did, or didn't go on in this marriage and with these kids. Furthermore, no matter how long you may have known this family, you simply DON'T know what went on behind closed doors. That is precisely why it's called "domestic" violence.

SANDY
SANDY

Say what you will about the mom's family, but it was several years before anyone even met dad (I don't believe in using real names) because he never participated in family activities. His life was more important. In fact, it was only just before the filing for divorce that the extended family (cousins, aunts and uncles) met dad. He's a nice guy but when he doesn't get his way, he's not a happy camper. I wish him well, but dragging out the inevitable only hurts the kids and one day he'll wake up and find out that his relationship with the his kids are only "when it's convenient for them." I now may children of divorce and although they don't like it they can at least feel comfortable with both parents and even the steps if there are any. As for mom's eldest son, he was always accepted by dad but when he decided to meet his birth dad (only to connect and not really replace dad) he decided the eldest son wasn't that wonderful. How do you pick and choose how you treat children you've helped raised??

There wouldn't be so much legal expenses if the grown-up didn't have to have their way when things don't always look like it's going their way. It takes two to tango.

Ashley
Ashley

Right on Anna from Mesa! The first thing I did after finishing this article was read the Court's minute entry, which paints a much different picture from Ms. Fenske's. Frankly I find the column very concerning and reckless.

First, the author glosses over the history of domestic violence in the case. Domestic violence encompasses more then just physical violence, it can rear its ugly head as controling behavior or verbal abuse. The crimes that constitute domestic violence in Arizona are listed in A.R.S. sec. 13-3601. For more information and statistics on domestic violence check out the Arizona Coallition Against Domestic Violence's website: http://www.azcadv.org/ It is clear from the minute entry in this case that there was significant domestic violence.

Second, the author cited conversations that she had with a "coalition that advocates for Fathers." This is more commonly known as a fathers' rights group. These groups are often weary of the existence of domestic violence and often composed of abusers (whether physical, emotional, or verbal). They march under the banner of equal rights for Fathers, but really are a guised attempt at control and inequity. Why did the author only contact one side of the spectrum about the court's decision. For a more accurate column I would expect that the author would have spoken with a domestic violence advocate. This article really paints a one sided picture.

Third, the author clearly does not understand the difference between joint and sole legal custody. Giving Mother sole legal custody allows her to determine what faith the children are brought up in. Clearly in this case Father proved that he was incapable of co-parenting and making decisions with Mother. As such, the judge awarded Mother sole legal custody. The author complains that the Court is taking away Father's right to decided the children's religion. He did it to himself. If he had co-parented with mother as a joint legal custodian he would have been involved in those decisions.

Finally, here is a link to the Court of Appeals decision. http://www.cofad1.state.az.us/... It is very insightful and explains why the trial court judge did not step on any of Father's rights.

I hope in future columns that the author sticks to topics she actually understands, or at least spends the time properly researching them. Providing such misinformation in this column is detrimental to all involved and the community as a whole. 80% of litigants in Maricopa County are unrepresented, most of them in Family Court. They often times rely on articles like this one for information on the court system and their rights. The misinformation in this article will only further confuse and muddle the already dificult to understand Family Court.

Perhaps the author could write an article on the resources out there available to unrepresented litigants. that would be a much better use of her time (and probably within he level of comprehension).

Sasha
Sasha

If the children were already being raised as Catholics, then I don't think that it was such a stretch for the judge to insist that they continue to be reared in that faith. When they come of age, they can make their own choice or choices in the matter.

Lawrence W
Lawrence W

To Maxwell and Anna and other so-called 'critical thinkers':

I can't help but take issue with your erroneous conclusions of this whole case and what you think of "Mormon Boy" Richard and what he supposedly is or is not. Most especially based on what a judge with an apparent agenda wrote about him. You say that there is more to this story than was printed? Fair enough, you are absolutey right and as someone who has known both Richard and Emily (his ex-wife's name)for over 15 years...I'll give it to you.

First off, I am Catholic and have been my entire life and I attended their wedding with my wife in an LDS chapel in the early 90s. Emily already one child that was about 3 or 4 at the time (out of wedlock) and with another on the way...Richard decided to honor her (and a son that was not his) by marrying her. He remained with her for over 14 years and accepted her child and her religion the whole time. Sadly, it wasn't exactly the same on her side as she and her family took serious aim and issue with his. I really don't why because he also repaid her parents over $7000 of her debt within the first 5 or 6 months of their marriage. (Incidentially, his wedding 'gift' from them was $1000 of off her bill...mighting generous!) Having daughters myself, I can't imagine even having the nerve or lack of class to even suggest such a thing to a future son in law, how insulting. But back to the facts...

All Richard has ever wanted in this whole process is a right to have a relationship with his children without his ex-wife's (and her parents) interference...or the state of Arizona's now. She was fixed on sole-custody from the onset and then finally agreed to jt. custody just long enought to make a deal for their home and other things. Once she got that...it was back in for sole custody within three months of their original agreement. She only had one problem...you can only come back in for a change based on some distinct parameters. Enter domestic violence allegations and viola'...shes back in. Judge Budoff was just chomping at the bit to get back at Richard because he had the nerve to question his decision to mandate that the kids be raised Catholic in their actual divorce hearing in April. In fact, Richard even refused to sign the decree because he openly disagreed with his ruling and told him so. Judge Budoff told him that he would sign it if he wanted to be divorced and so he did under extreme protest. This notion that he had somehow agreed that they be raised Catholic by Budoff is nothing less than an out and out lie and Budoff knows it.

It was this very ruling that he was in the middle of appealing when the next thing you know, he is right back in court again defending against his supposed "domestic violence" charge. He has told me more than once that he would have been better off had he not even showed up for that hearing, but instead he did what anyone of us would do, he defended himself against a false allegation full well expecting the court to rule correctly. That was his first 'mistake'. Once in court, he was slammed as being rude, overbearing, abusive...blah blah...and a funny thing happened, not one word was ever said about the supposed domestic violence incident. That was the SOLE purpose for him even being there in the first place. (As an aside, the closest thing to any domestic violence in their case came at the hands of is father-in-law one day when he came to pick up his son. He was accosted at the door, swore at profusely, and ridiculed for being a such and such Mormon, all in front of his son. How is that for conduct befitting a nice little innocent Catholic family? Of course, you won't see that in Budoff's notes either because he kept blocking Richard from telling the story when he was on the stand. Go figure!)

Want some more...how about that the dance instructors he was so rude to? Nothing was ever mentioned about how they lied to him to cover for their friend Emily, about a supposed dance practice that was inexcusable...on a Holiday. Or even better, that they are close friends of Emily and that they are also both...you guessed it...MORMON. So, apparently Emily's problem with the LDS church only goes so far as Richard and his family is concerned...for her, its quite alright to maintain close relationships with other Mormons? Notice how Judge Budoff conveniently left out that part in his infallable case notes. I would too if I were him...that would be quite embarrassing to rule as he did and then admit that the only two witnesses called to testify on Emily's behalf were actually...Mormon.

The appeal process was an even bigger shock when somehow, contrary to what three other intelligent judges said a year before his case, said: "Judges are not proper arbiters of religion." Amen...and Budoff knew this when he himself said that he would not choose the children's religion because it wasn't a court's responsibility. You got that right, pal! Somehow though...that all changed as we can now see. I mean, after all, he had to do something right? The children were suffering so badly...so much that they were reported to be "...thriving, articulate, and intelligent." So, with thier best interests in mind (of course), I guess he just had to improve on their 'poor' status by forbidding them to attend the LDS church...no others out there...just that one. So much for the courts doing what is best for the kids, and doing what they wanted to do all along, prove to Richard that he dare not question the decision of those on high. The proof of that...they slammed with $14k in fees just for having the audacity to ask them to rule according to their own laws. And herein lies the lesson to us all and the whole point of the article. I'm glad that Sarah took a stand and brought this out in the open...it needs to be.

Think whatever you want to about "poor Richard" the bad little "mormon boy". I'm not here to defend him and I know he certainly doesn't want, much less cares about, your sympathy. He wanted the article to be published so all who cared to know would see just how bad things can be in our far from perfect court system.

The truth is: Judges should NOT be ruling contrary to constitutional rights of citizens, whether they be fathers, mothers, children, or all of the above. And they certainly shouldn't be making rulings that promote intolerance and bigotry to children and then try and mask them as "in their best interests." Since when is it in anyone's best interest to be ignorant?

Speaking of which...now you have the 'rest of the story' and can take your own advice to Sarah. I wonder if we will all see a follow-up to your comments...Mr. Maxwell...smart.

Sandy
Sandy

Just an additional comment. Both children we not even baptized as infants and over time, they son decided he want to be Catholic and he told and his dad and asked for his acceptance. The daughter, too, wished to follow in her brother's footsteps and also chose to practice Catholicism. Most Catholics today aren't as narrow-minded and we celebrate with people of all religions and participate in their service at times. No one, of course, wants to have anything shoved down their throats. So don't think the kids are being forced to be anything. Who knows, as they grow to adulthood, they may decide to make other choices.

In any event, these kids and their older brother and truly well-adjusted, wonderful children.

sandy
sandy

Very interesting article but just a few clarifications. I personally know that the mom's family (extended family) asked for and received from dad about the Morman faith and their beliefs. All of us found it interesting and most of us are Catholic, some Lutheran. It was disrespectful to call their founder a "goon" but that doesn't mean we of other faiths think so. The kids are old enough to know what they want and just didn't like not being able to participate in activities important to them just because it was dad's weekend. If you spent months preparing for the dance recital or sport activity or whatever, would you feel loved if dad wouldn't let you participate just because it wasn't convenient for him. Most parents spend a lot of time attending the different activities their kids are in whether they are divorced or not. In fact, that makes for more people to cheer them on. Kids have rights too and that's how they learn to be tolerant. If parents treated their kids with the respect they treat their friends, kids learn to be compromising. I know there's two sides to every story, but I know the kids are happy and I really don't think it's right to say that they are being ordered not to go to Morman services with their dad. They just want to be heard and treated fairly especially when they have a life too, without their mom or dad, like dance and sports and special school events and on and on.

Anyway don't always believe what you read in the paper.

Maxwell Dietrich
Maxwell Dietrich

I would like to thank Anna from Mesa for the link to the court minutes. It is amazing how much information Sarah Fenske left out, or you can ask yourself if it was actually Richard Franco who left out the information. It seems my reading of the article and my critical thinking about what was being said (and what wasn't being said) was dead on.

It seems that everyone who posted about Judge Budoff going against the First Amendment, with regard to religion, was wrong. In the court minutes it stated "Notwithstanding that the Decree provides that the children would be raised in the Catholic faith and only attend the Mormon church if they desired to do so, it is clear that Father has intimidated and coerced the children to attend Mormon church services when they are in his care". That means the children can choose to go to the Mormon church if the wish.

I hope that everyone who has been saying "poor man" reads the court minutes to see what this "good Mormon boy" did to his wife and children. The court minutes also stated "Father has been rude and intimidating to Tiffany�s dance director, Frances Campbell, and to dance teacher, Taani Farnsworth." Who else has he been "rude" and "intimidating" towards? Is this what is taught in the the Mormon faith? Does the Mormon faith teach fathers/husbands to be intimidating and abusive? Quoting the court minutes, "Father has been aggressive, abusive and intimidating to Mother in phone conversations, e-mails and in conference with the Parenting Coordinator." Again, if he can be aggressive, abusive and intimidating to the mother in front of the Parenting Coordinator, what did he do "behind closed doors"?

I would like to see what Sarah Fenske will do with this new information. Will she write a follow-up article that will bring to light all the information that she reported which wasn't the whole truth? Will she let everyone know that the children are the ones who actually have the choice to go with the father to the Mormon church? Will she let everyone know that the father was aggressive, abusive and intimidating towards the mother and children?

This doesn't seems to be an issue that the father is Mormon and the mother is Catholic. It seems more an issue that this abusive father didn't like losing. Was this article written so he could get everyone to said "poor man"? Let's get all the facts Ms. Fenske and report them all to everyone who reads your article. Once all the facts are reported, will everyone still believe this "good Mormon boy" was the victim in an unfair decision?

Maxwell Dietrich
Maxwell Dietrich

I actually meant to thank Anna from Mesa and not "Anna from Scottsdale" in my previous post. I want to give credit to the correct person.

Diane
Diane

Right on Anna in Mesa, it seems these liberal newspapers all focus on "father's rights" and NOT on what is best for the kids, and so do all of these court appointed custody evaluators and psychologists. THAT is the story that should be written, how these court appointed lawyers and psychologists are all raking in the big bucks at the cost of a stable life for the children they claim to be protecting. If Marlene Joy was the evaluator, she would have recommended sole custody to the father, even if he is an abusive man, that's how she (and many others like her) works. But I digress.....as usual, the story downplays abusive and controlling men and whine how mothers ALWAYS get custody. This mom was very, very lucky to get a judge like Budoff, they are far and few in between. Thank goodness these kids will have a fairly stable and normal life with the mom and sole custodian, other than the every other weekend they have to spend with the abusive dad. The best interests of the children truly have been fulfilled by Judge Budoff!! Way to go.

Anna
Anna

To everyone reading this article: Please read judge Budoff's ruling in this case regarding the issue of the father taking the children to the Mormon church. You can find the court Minute Entry here:http://www.courtminutes.marico...

If that link doesn't work, go to www.courtminutes.maricopa.gov, type in Richard Franco and look at the Minute Entry from 9/13/2007.

There is a good bit of significant information that Ms. Fenske left out of this article. Probably the most concerning aspect of her article is the downplaying of this man's domestic abuse toward his children, his ex, and other people in his children's lives. Have a read of the Minute Entry. Is this how a good Mormon man is supposed to behave?

Ms. Fenske also leaves out the fact that the Minute Entry reflects Franco's initial agreement that the children would be raised Catholic. I'm quoting the Minute Entry: "Notwithstanding that the Decree provides that the childrenwould be raised in the Catholic faith and only attend the Mormon church if they desired to do so, it is clear that Father has intimidated and coerced the children to attend Mormon church services when they are in his care." The Minute Entry goes on to describe Franco's initial agreement regarding the religious upbringing.

What is also left out of this article is the fact that the parent with sole custody determines the children's religious upbringing in any event. Arizona Revised Statutes 25-410(A) states that "Except as otherwise agreed by the parties in writing at the time of the custody decree, the custodian may determine the child's upbringing, including the child's education, health, care and religious training, ...." So, with sole custody in place the Court system can butt out of the rearing of children and leave it up to the decisions of at least one of the parents. The fact that the mother was initially willing to try to share legal custody with an abusive man says a lot about her attempt to work things out for the children's sake.

The other aspect of the Arizona Revised Statutes, Title 25, that Ms. Fenske ignores is that the Court is SUPPOSED to be making decisions in the best interests of children. That is not how decisions are always made in the Maricopa County "Family" Court; often, parental "rights" are paramount in Court decisions. Budoff should be applauded for putting the children's need for as peaceful and stable a childhood as possible first, rather than prioritizing the ownership "rights" of a bullying father. Ms. Fenske's flip comment about "cry me a river" is unwarranted. Do you think children are property, Ms. Fenske? They really aren't legal "people" in the court system, which is one reason why it's often so hard for parents trying to protect children via the "family" court from an abusive, neglectful, unstable, etc. parent. The court tends to place greater emphasis on parent's rights than on the child's best interests, in spite of the fact that the CBI is the standard by which court are mandated -- repeatedly, by statute and appellate decision -- to make such decisions.

Franco can't take his children to the Mormon temple, but maybe he could expose them to the Mormon religion by modeling better religious behavior that being "intimidating" and "coercive" to his children and "controlling" and "dictatorial" to their mother.

Cry ME a river. This was a demagogic article that left out way too many facts, including downplaying domestic abuse. Ms. Fenske, be ashamed, be very ashamed.

RiverStone
RiverStone

Hey Sarah,

Why are you hating on Joseph Smith in your otherwise classy article? He was a goon?!? Does it make you feel nice inside to ridicule the religious leaders of other faiths? Justified, maybe? It was a cheap shot on a man that continues to inspire millions of people all over the world to do good.

I guess Mormon-bashing will always be the fad.

Oh well, peace to all!

Jeremy
Jeremy

Joseph Smith is a goon? Are you sure? You can get to know him better at josephsmith.net. That way you can find out for yourself who he is and not rely on biased detractors. People who actually knew him thought very highly of him.

G
G

"Thanks to all our readers who were kind enough to point out my mistake on the temple v. chapel front. We've fixed the story so now it reads, as it should, that the Francos were married in a Mormon chapel. Further proof of my bigger point: We could all use a bit more understanding when it comes to other religions..."

The bigger point. I would point out to Sarah that calling Joseph Smith a goon is to me what calling the pope a goon is to a Catholic and also doesn't do anything to bolster understanding.

Spritom
Spritom

Thanks for an insightful article. It is becoming more of a rare situation for a judge to impose such a ruling on religion in a custody case as the country has moved quite a bit in the past number of years where parent/legal guardian may take the children to any such religion as they deem fit with the exception of proof that such religion is operating outside the law playing nude volleyball or sacrificing goats. This is also the case even for situations where religious preferences are written into the divorce decree. Parents can and do change religions post-divorce sometimes and as such, they can take the children along. The only way around it is to find the parent unfit or to find a judge that does not practice equal justice under law.

Maxwell Dietrich
Maxwell Dietrich

To Benito from Phoenix:

I notice that you state "Courts get it wrong all the time, and certainly seemed to be wrong here, too." Does that mean a guy who kills 10 people in front of many witnesses and get life in jail is actually innocent because the courts are always wrong? I bet you are a person who trust in the courts when it is beneficial to you and hate them when they go against you.

To me, Richard was allowed an attorney and so was his ex-wife. They both argued the law, not opinions, the law. The Judge listened to the arguments and made his ruling. Then Richard, with his attorney Phillip Escolar, appealed the ruling and lost. Again, they argued the law, not opinion. Then it went to the Arizona Supreme Court and again Richard lost.

The next question you have to ask yourself concerns the post from iltstt in Tucson. You'll notice that iltstt points to the Wall of Seperation which states "The separation of church and state is a legal and political principle derived from the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof . . .". That's fine. Now you have to ask yourself if Richard and Sarah told the full truth. If Judge Budoff said that the children are to be raise Catholic, period, then he would be in violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. To me, there seems to be another statement. What is that statement? Could it be based on what is best for the children? Is it the children's choice? I think there is more to this than is written in the article.

I have no problem with a father taking his children (you only referenced his son and not his daughter) to church. My issue is with the fact the whole story isn't told (Please refer to the previous paragraph). No Judge, appellate court, or Supreme court would violation the First Amendment of the Constitution.

Benito
Benito

To Maxwell Deitrich in SLC:

Yours is precisely the position that Ms. Fenske's article rightly seems to be very wary of -- The wacked out notion that courts always get it right, and that there is some rational basis underlying all court rulings. Do you really think that court systems are infallible? Your position ("there must be a reason the court ruled this way") seems to suggest that they are. Also, you don't seem to be at all disturbed by the fact that the dad here is blocked from taking his son to church, and simply shrug and say that there must be some good reason why the court said that. I think that kind of blind acceptance and passivity is kind of dangerous, especially when such important first amendment rightts are in play or at the mercy of a county judge.

I, for one, harbor no such illusions. If court systems are infallible, then Japanese internment was OK (the Korematsu case), and slavery was just dandy (Dred Scott case), all the while DNA evidence continues to exonerate hundreds and hundreds of inmates that our 'infallible' court systems (including appellate and supreme courts) convicted.

Yeah, no such faith on my part, sorry. Courts get it wrong all the time, and certainly seemed to be wrong here, too.

Sarah Fenske
Sarah Fenske

Thanks to all our readers who were kind enough to point out my mistake on the temple v. chapel front. We've fixed the story so now it reads, as it should, that the Francos were married in a Mormon chapel. Further proof of my bigger point: We could all use a bit more understanding when it comes to other religions...

Maxwell Dietrich
Maxwell Dietrich

It seems that only the father's side of the story is told. I also notice that the mother was never quoted in the article which leads me to believe that Sarah Fenske never made any attempt to contact her. What would the mother have said to Richard's statements? To me it seems biased to the father's side. I suggest Sarah Fenske find out the mother's story before saying "Poor Richard."

In the author's article, Sarah states "Reading the court file, it's clear that Judge Budoff found Franco abrasive, arrogant, and annoying, which certainly seems possible. (In our conversations, he's always been perfectly pleasant, but he swears like a sailor � and I couldn't help but notice that his e-mail address begins with "macho.")"

If Richard is going to talk to a person interviewing him to make him look like "father of the year" and a "good practicing Mormon", why would he "swear like a sailor". If he could do this for the interview, what did his say to his wife and children while married. Did he berate and belittle them? What about after the divorce and through all the appeals?

I don't think Judge Budoff would just say "Nope, they will be raised Catholic and you can never teach them about the Mormon faith" unless he had just reason to rule this way. And, if his judgement was unreasonable, then it would have been overturned in the appellate courts. And if the appellate court's ruling was unreasonable, then the Arizona Supreme Court would have overturned the ruling. It just seems that Richard is just trying to get everyone to say "Poor man. He can't take his children to his church. What a mean woman." You might just ask yourself what this man is all about that the Judge, the appellate court and the Arizona Supreme Court all agreed that he could not take/teach his children about the Mormon faith.

Sarah also points out that the father had to pay the ex-wife her attorney's fees of $14,000. I don't see this as a problem since if I was to sue someone and I lost, they would request that the attorney fees incurred be paid by me. Why shouldn't the mother receive compensation.

RKIrvine
RKIrvine

I appreciate this article and your position on the ruling. In fact, I totally agree with you. The judge has definitely overstepped the mark here.

I did, however, want to point out an inaccuracy regarding LDS temples. I believe this article meant to say the children could not be taken to church in an LDS chapel on Sundays, not temple. LDS temples are completely different buildings that are not open on Sundays; temples and chapels have completely different functions. Additionally, the marriage had to be performed in a chapel rather than a temple as only faithful LDS members can enter temples (his wife could not have been there). I do not believe the inaccuracy was intentional, but thought understanding the distinction might help in making accurate statements in future articles that may come your way.

Thanks again for speaking up on this important issue.

MKR
MKR

The first problem is these days if you're a Mormon you are considered to be a bigot, at least in the media and in some segments of society. If the husband had been Methodist I would be willing to bet the judge wouldn't have made the same ruling. The second problem is that no one involved seems to realize that in the end the children will make up their own minds and if they are "forced" one way or another it will simply alienate them from that parent and his or her religion. Finally, if more people took the time to truly find out about the different religions of the world they would realize that at their base they are all very similar. And, all of us who believe in God should realize that in the end He will decide who is "right" and who is "wrong". Personally I think there will be a lot of people who will be shocked at how diverse heaven really is.

daveescaped
daveescaped

The author is being quite fair here and I appreciate his analysis (despite a minor detail about Temples and his dislike of my faith). Thanks for a well reasoned examination of Judicial over-reaching.

I think a second benefit of leaving many of the decisions of a divorced family left in their hands is that it simply magnifies how complicated divorce is. Divorce is not easy. And a society does not benefit from attempts to make it so.

 
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