Debunking Allegations of Anti-atheist Discrimination in Child Custody – Part 2

18 Aug

Staggs v. Staggs – Mississippi 2005

Read the full case here.

This case concerns a couple that divorced in 1999. At the time, they agreed that the mother would have primary physical custody of the children, with the father granted visitation.

In 2001, the mother moved to a different town for a new job. At this time, the custody agreement was modified to expand the father’s visitation privileges, including extensive visitation with the three children in the summer months.

Later in 2001, the mother was arrested for prescription forgery, after which she entered rehabilitation treatment and signed a “Recovery Contract Agreement” with the Mississippi Recovering Physicians Program. When he found out about the arrest, the father attempted to sue for custody but it was found that there was no material change of circumstances that warranted a change of custody. Continue reading

Debunking Allegations of Anti-atheist Discrimination in Child Custody – Part 1

18 Aug

Blevins v. Bardwell – Mississipi, 2001

Read the full case.

This case concerns a mother and father who were never married. The mother re-enlisted in the military, but in order to do so she had to give custody of their daughter to someone else. At the time, both parents planned to marry once the mother had finished her military training, and it was also agreed that the transfer of custody to the father was only temporary.

After some time, the mother and father ended their relationship. When the mother was assigned to an air force base in San Antonio, Texas, she decided that she wanted to take the daughter with her. The father refused to allow her to do so, as he had custody at the time. When the case went to court, joint legal custody was established with the mother as the primary custodian and the father granted visitation and ordered to pay child support.

The father appealed the judgment. In the appeal, the court answered the following questions:

  1. Did the trial court correctly determine that the [original] custody agreement was temporary?
  2. Did the trial court properly apply the Albright factors to the evidence presented at trial?
  3. Did the trial court use custody determination to penalize Adam Blevins, and if so applied, was it manifestly erroneous? Continue reading

Debunking Allegations of Anti-atheist Discrimination in Child Custody – Introduction

18 Aug

I wrote a little bit last night about an incident that happened yesterday that I found somewhat disturbing.

Greta Christina recently posted on Alternet and on her own blog a piece titled “4 Reasons Atheists Have to Fight for Their Rights.” I have, admittedly, become increasingly critical of organized, activist atheism over the last couple of years, and so I responded to the piece with my opinion that what Greta presented was essentially a straw man argument that dismantles criticisms that almost no one is making. Greta responded in turn, taking issue with what I said and accusing me of being uninformed, specifically in regard to my skepticism of allegations of discrimination against atheists in child custody cases, and suggesting that I had not bothered to read the links she included in her piece.

I of course had clicked the links, and the link that she included about the child custody issue was to a piece that I have seen floating around the atheist blogosphere for as long as I have been reading atheist blogs. It’s not something that I thought to question very much, even as recently as a year or two ago, but the allegations that atheist parents are denied child custody simply for being atheists are claims that I have become increasingly skeptical of, although I had not before now actually read the court cases that are cited in the Volokh Conspiracy post. Continue reading

Are Atheists Really Discriminated Against in Child Custody Decisions?

16 Aug

So, this post at The Volokh Conspiracy has been going around the atheist blogosphere since 2005 purporting to include documentation proving that atheists, agnostics, and otherwise “less religious” parents are discriminated against in child custody decisions.

I expressed skepticism regarding the whole issue in a comment at Greta Christina’s blog earlier today, saying that I find it suspect when people make simplistic statements (e.g. “I lost my kids because I’m an atheist”) about something as complex as child custody decisions. Continue reading

Atheism and Privilege (Cont.)

11 Jan

I keep feeling like I’m really struggling here, trying to explain a fairly complex concept in a concise way. I don’t think that I’m completely off-base, since there are other people who understood immediately what I was trying to convey, but I’m also (obviously) not being as clear as I would like.

After much discussion with my partner on the topic of atheism and privilege dynamics, I’ve realized that maybe I’ve been going about explaining it all wrong, so I’ll try to explain again in the way that helped him to understand what the heck I was talking about. Continue reading

In Which I am Disappointed in Hemant Mehta

8 Jan

Last week, I made a possibly ill-advised statement on my Tumblr, which led to quite a bit of further explanation on my part (here, here, and here) when several people misunderstood what I intended (admittedly, I worded things poorly).

After the original Tumblr discussions, I never expected to hear anything more about it, honestly, but a few days ago I woke up to find that someone had sent this screenshot of the original post to Hemant Mehta over at Friendly Atheist. After reading Hemant’s man-splaining of the sexism situation in general, I read through the comments on his post and basically hated everything far too much to be able to respond right away. I’m finally feeling at least somewhat up to that challenge. Continue reading

Skeptical Sexist Bingo

5 Jan

Skeptical Sexist Bingo

So, I was planning on writing a post tonight about skepticism and home birth, but then Hemant Mehta mansplained all over something I posted on Tumblr last week and I was going to respond to his post.

Instead, after I popped over to Friendly Atheist and read the comments, I made this. It’s like regular sexist bingo, but with SCIENCE!

My response to Hemant will be incoming tomorrow, but this is all I’ve got tonight.

Queereka and Myths About Trans Women

4 Jan

Skepchick has a new sister site, Queereka, which looks like it’s going to be exciting. From their About page:

Queereka is a place for skeptics and nonbelievers who are interested in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer issues. We seek to promote the inclusion of LGBTQ topics, voices and individuals in the skeptic and secular community and movement, promote rational and evidence-based approaches to LGBTQ topics, encourage critical thinking about gender and sexuality, and combat misinformation and mistaken pseudoscientific, superstitious, biased, religious, irrational, unsubstantiated or bigoted beliefs about LGBTQ topics, lives, individuals and experiences.

I highly recommend checking it out; although there isn’t a whole lot to see just yet, you can sign up for their RSS feed, follow them on Twitter, and like them on Facebook.

I’m particularly interested in reading the Perspectives column, which plans to examine queer genders and sexualities from an anthropological/historical/cross-cultural standpoint, but I’ve already learned some things from a pair of posts on 13 Myths and Misconceptions About Trans Women. Part One was posted at Skepchick, and Part Two is over at Queereka. Both seem worth a read, and there is some interesting discussion going on in the comments as well.

It’s good to see a space like Queereka being built in the skeptic community, which so often fails to address these sorts of issues, and I’m looking forward to seeing it grow.


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