A Utah mother is fighting a divorce court’s order that bans her from speaking to her children about her religion.
The Salt Lake Tribune reports the woman, who has been left unnamed to protect the identity of her three children, currently attends a fundamentalist Mormon church. The Apostolic United Brethren Church preaches polygamy, according to the children’s father. The woman has not converted to the fundamentalist church but is reportedly considering doing so.
The father, a member of the mainstream Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has sole custody of the children. The mother is currently allowed only supervised visitation.
“This court order is about religion,” the woman recently told FOX 13 News. “And it’s in place to prohibit me from discussing any religion with my children and it’s anti-constitutional.”
The order, which was put in place in October by 3rd District Court Commissioner Kim Luhn, is only temporary.
“Respondent is restrained from discussing other religions, including the AUB, with the parties’ children until such time as Respondent decides to join another religious group,” Luhn wrote in the original order.
Tuesday she admitted the order might have been too broad and amended it slightly.
“I tried to make it very, very clear in my rulings that my problem is not with [the woman’s] religion. I don’t care if her conduct is as a result of believing in the UAB (sic),” Luhn said. “I care that her conduct is creating chaos for these children and in essence, rising to the level of emotional abuse. I want focus here on conduct.”
Luhn said all discussion of religion and politics between the mother and the children should be “age appropriate.”
The older two children are 5 and 7 years old. The youngest is 18 months old.
The woman’s attorney and family members said the order came about solely because the father wants to keep the kids from the polygamous church.
The father, and his attorney, Kendra Shirey, dispute that.
Shirey said that while the woman’s exploration of fundamental Mormonism was a factor in the divorce it was not the only reason.
She said the current hearings are about the terms of the visitation.
“The court has made it clear from day one, her initial ruling, that this is not about religion or her intent to restrict the respondent’s religious views or beliefs,” Shirey said. “What (the commissioner’s) goal has been about is caring for the children.”
The father testified in court that he had not heard his estranged wife discussing religion with his three kids, but he did know she had been discussing aspects of the divorce case with them.
“She would say things about the court case in front of the children. She would talk about what was going on with the court case, as far as her version of the truth,” he testified.
The temporary order will remain in place until the couple’s next hearing Jan. 8.