By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
You lost at me "goon": Thank you for writing such a well-thought-out article. This was the first time I had heard of this situation (I live in Kansas). Like you, I'm very disturbed that a judge would take it upon himself to establish a religion for these children.
I completely agree that having exposure to the various religions allows us to truly make our own decisions about how we believe. I also agree that it would be a good starting point to learn tolerance.
I must admit I almost stopped reading your article after the first few paragraphs. Your article was very well written and shows journalistic skill. However, when you interjected the comment, "I think Joseph Smith was a total goon," you completely lost me.
The only reasoning I can imagine for doing this is that you were trying to establish yourself as not sympathetic to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If that is what you were doing, I think you should have stopped short on that sentence.
David J. Lesher, Kansas City, Kansas
Judge dropped the ball in this divorce case: The judge in this case is an embarrassment to the legal profession. The audacity of a court trying to decide the religion of a man's children: When he has custody of the kids, they should go to his church. When she has custody, they should go to hers.
Mr. Smith was a criminal: All people should be protected from the sexist, judgmental, and hypersexual cult they call the Mormon religion. Joseph Smith was a criminal. Look it up, peeps!
Lisa Deasver, Phoenix
Mother's side of the story went unreported: It seems that only the father's side of the story is told in your article. What would the mother have said to Richard Franco'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 article, Sarah Fenske 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 [with the intention of looking] like "father of the year" and a "good practicing Mormon," why would he "swear like a sailor?" If he did this in 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 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 judgment were unreasonable, then it would have been overturned in the appellate courts. And if the appellate court's ruling were unreasonable, then the Arizona Supreme Court would have overturned the ruling.
You also point out that the father had to pay the ex-wife her attorney fees of $14,000. I don't see this as a problem since if I were to sue someone and lost, they would request that their attorney fees be paid by me.
Maxwell Dietrich, Salt Lake City
Thou shall not legislate religion: I think this was a well-written article. I think the author is right on point — courts should not legislate religious decisions in parenting, and I appreciate the author's respect for the Mormon religion despite her own beliefs.
Jasmine Jensen, Ashburn, Virginia
Mother should have the right to decide: The person with the most custody of the children should have the right to dictate their religion. Richard Franco is not the primary custodian, so he shouldn't be confusing the children on this point. The Catholic and Mormon churches have little in common.
The mother has the right to decide. This is just common sense; however, the father and the author of your article are offended by the judge's ruling. If Richard Franco were a good parent, he would get out of the way on the issue of religion.
Rae Ann Daniels, Phoenix
Bias against religion is prevalent — even in court: I am in a unique position to comment on your article, as I have worked closely with Richard Franco in his office for almost four years. I have been privy to what has gone on with this divorce case — the e-mails, the litigation, the unproven accusations.
I was even present in the courtroom when many of these decisions were rendered, and I must confess to leaving the courtroom astounded, saddened, and, yes, even fearful. Why? Because I am Jewish. I know what bias against one's religion can mean.
Richard's theology and mine have little in common. However, we have discovered that our value systems are identical. I saw the court take Richard's children away from their natural father because of his religion and deny him the right to instruct them as he sees fit. The children are permitted to attend the LDS church with friends, just not with their father?