Review of What Are Freedoms For?, by John H. Garvey
In 1988, Jeffrey Kendall and Barbara Zeitler Kendall were married. Though Jeffrey was Catholic at the time and Barbara was Jewish, the couple agreed to raise their children in Barbara’s faith. In 1991, Jeffrey joined Boston Church of Christ, a fundamentalist Christian church. The tenets of that faith include a belief that those who do not accept Jesus Christ are damned to Hell, where there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Barbara’s faith also underwent a change during the marriage: she became an Orthodox Jew. Citing irreconcilable differences, the Kendalls sought a divorce in November, 1994. Before their marriage dissolved, the Kendalls had three children, all of whom were under ten at the time of the divorce. In the divorce petition, Barbara sought to restrict Jeffrey’s ability to expose the children to his fundamentalist faith. The probate court was then faced with a choice: it could deny this aspect of Barbara’s petition or it could order such a restriction and thereby appear to endorse one religion over the other. Reasoning that it was acting in the best interests of the children, the divorce court prohibited Jeffrey from taking his children to church, exposing them to Bible study, or otherwise expressing to them his religious views, if such activities alienated the children from their Jewish self-identity or from their mother, or if the activities caused the children emotional harm. Though it had no evidence that any present harm had come to the children, the court nevertheless found that the likelihood of future substantial psychological harm was sufficient to justify the restriction. The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts upheld the order.