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.
Greta Christina herself accused me of not arguing in good faith and asserted that I was being unreasonably skeptical in spite of “documentation of judges explicitly stating that they were granting custody to the religious parent and denying it to the atheist parent, and explicitly stating that they were dong so because the atheist parent was an atheist.”
I re-read the Volokh Conspiracy post to see if there was something that I missed when I had previously read it, then I thought that maybe Greta Christina had actually read the court decisions that were cited as evidence in that post.
A cool thing about court records is that they are public, so that’s what I’ve been reading for about the last 5 hours or so, looking in vain for a case where any court made a decision based upon one parent’s atheism. So far, I have not found one. Not a single one.
I’m 22 cases into the list cited at the Volokh Conspiracy, and I’ve got another 20 or so cases to read tomorrow, but I’m really starting to think that the allegations of discrimination against atheists in regard to child custody are almost entirely fabricated. I will be writing about each case individually over the next few days, with direct links to court documents and pertinent quotes.
I’m a little angry, in all honesty, to have such a prominent atheist take me to task as unreasonably skeptical, especially when it seems that she has not bothered to read these documents herself, choosing to trust hearsay and quote-mining instead. As I mentioned above, this list of court cases has been circulating through atheist blogs and being used as a reference for several years, and I’m frankly amazed that no one else seems to have bothered to read these cases either.
The interpretation of any of the cases I have read so far as discrimination against atheists would require an extremely active and creative imagination as well as a willful disregard for anything resembling intellectual honesty.
I’m looking forward to continuing my reading and sharing my findings over the course of this weekend.