Boy removed from devout Jehovah’s Witness

Children|May 26th 2015

A seven year old boy has been removed from the care of his devout Jehovah’s Witness mother after a judge ruled that her beliefs had caused him emotional harm.

The boy had been described by a teacher as “very confused”, and “one of the most worrying children in our school”.

The boy, identified in the judgement as ‘N’, has, she continued, “presented as anxious, confused, distressed and distracted. This has impacted directly on his learning capabilities. He appears pre-occupied and slow to engage with the learning activities and social elements within school. On many occasions he does not wish to leave his Mummy when he arrives at school.”

A family court hearing in Leicester heard that the boy had begun refusing to see his father because he did not believe in “Jehovah”. N’s father is separated from his mother and does not share her religious beliefs. He was granted a shared residence order in 2010 and holds parental responsibility with the mother despite a reportedly acrimonious relationship with her.

Comments made by the boy suggested a troubled relationship with his father. He described his father as ‘mean’ and said he didn’t love him. He described a conversation with his father in which he told him that him he loved his mother more than him. This was, said N, the “biggest mistake of my life” and a “secret” he should have kept. He now wanted to live with Mummy every day, for ever and ever – and not Daddy.”

In his judgement, Judge Clifford Bellamy said the comments gave rise to concerns about the boy’s “emotional welfare”.

The Judge also referred to an incident in which N had cut up materials being used in a religious education lesson because it hadn’t been “telling the true stories about Jehovah”. He had a physical reaction to ideas which contradicted Jehovah’s Witness dogma and unsurprisingly, few friends at school.

Last year the father launched proceedings claiming that the mother claiming she was in breach of the shared residence order, but attention quickly shifted to the impact on N of continuing conflict between his parents and his mother’s religious beliefs. Earlier this year, the family’s local authority, Warwickshire County Council, launched full care proceedings.

In a ruling held to determine whether N should be removed, the Judge quoted the views of the boy’s legal guardian.

“Over the last 10 months N has changed from being a happy, smiling, friendly, enthusiastic and caring little boy who used to love being in school. He is now a very confused, angry, unhappy, troubled little boy and whilst he can still be enthusiastic and entertaining, there is a very evident underlying sadness and anger in his presentation.”

At one point during the proceedings, the mother made a number of undertakings to try and avoid losing her son to the care system. She would cease “immersing” her son in her religious beliefs, no longer take him to the local ‘kingdom hall’ (place of worship) and stop saying grace with him at mealtimes.

But she later asked for a relaxation of her promises, saying:

“The question is whether there should be a relaxation of the moratorium on religious involvement and I would like to be able to take N to the Kingdom Hall once a month. I believe that N misses going there and to be able to pray at mealtimes. This is a simple grace for the food and I will continue to refrain from any further discussion about religion in accordance with my undertakings.”

Judge Bellamy concluded however that it would be very difficult to monitor the mother’s commitment to the restrictions, and without an ability to effectively do so, the boy remained at risk of emotional harm.

N was sent to live with foster carers under a temporary care order requiring his immediate removal from his mother.

The judgement, Re N (A Child) is available here.

Photo of the Jehovah’s Witnesses headquarters in Brooklyn by Andy via Flickr

Author: Stowe Family Law

Comments(13)

  1. Dave says:

    The judge is a bonehead.The boy was acting out, so what, many boys do. He is distressed because his family is disfuntional. He clearly loves his mother and wants to stay with her. The religion has nothing to do with his misbehavior. The judge is clueless

  2. Gary says:

    The judgement had little to do with the beliefs of the religion and more to do with the judge’s interpretation of the “devoutedness” of the mother. But, hey, that headline isn’t as sexy.

  3. RodeJong says:

    I am totaly missing the boys welfare in school!
    Is he being bullied for his beliefs? Then I can understand that he is acting up. I used to do so too when I was that age. Never cut the materials. But I often said that it was not according of what I had learned allready.

    So it’s okay for other religions to say Grace at meals, but not for JW? What’s that about?

    How many young boys grow up alone with their mother, and say that they never want to leave their mum? Are they all going to be removed because of that?

    It’s just a way of saying that they feel secure and loved. But can a child at age 7 really explain it in that way? No, they say that they want to stay with mum!

    We don’t know everything about this case, there is a lot of background missing. But with the knowledge of the article and the judgement, I can only conclude that this judge is a fool, and aparently has no social awareness!

  4. Ryan says:

    Good decision on the part of this judge. 23 years ago I was very much like this boy. Its only the last few years have I been able to overcome the anxiety and end of the world fear the this “religion” engenders. I wish courts in the USA had the strength to remove children from fundamentalist cults, like Jehovah’s Witnesses.

  5. Andrew says:

    None of us was born with a religion. It gets imposed on us by our parents (think Larkin!) although many people manage to break free when they reach years of discretion.

    I suppose if both parents insist on doing it, well, it must be allowed; but if either parent says No it should be No. Then if the child wants to join a cult in adult life, so be it.

  6. Jess says:

    I agree. I was that child years ago, and what people dont understand is that some JW parent demonize the other parents, stating things about them as they dont “believe in Jehovah”. this confuses the child and makes for a huge problem. My mother did this in regards to my father when they separated, as my father didnt believe.
    Some parents dont treat the religion normally. they go over and beyond. At that point it isnt religious upbringing, its abuse.
    Constantly taking about Armageddon and everyone else dying and the last days etc, to a child is mentally damaging. If you say everyone who doesnt believe in God is going to die at Armageddon, he is old enough to think of his father. Teachers at school, any friends he may have.
    No wonder he is messed up.

  7. Chris says:

    Do any of you jws not know the first 5 years of their lives are the most influencial because they are the most learning years. But you would not know that because you are instructed by your governing body that you an not think on your own. So this little boy has been taught all his life to live by jws rules! Please type in jehovah witnesses and read and listen to Brie (a former witness) give a marvelous speech that exposes the lies and decept by the jws. Please feel free to allow yourselves to make your own decision and listen to it. Those of you that say she is wrong have been so brainwashed-so sad. I say this because my son knows a man (whose parents and sisters are jws-not him) because he was raised that way and as a young man could see thru it. I also have been to his parents house and as devout as they say they are, they are always breaking the rules! I have to laugh and feel sorry for such gulable people they are. As a Christian, I’m aware no one is perfect and all sin, but I would NEVER listen to some selff-appointed worldly person who claims to represent GOD!

  8. SR says:

    They should ask that boy some pointed questions to get to the root of it. My mom converted when I was under 5 and the things they expose young children to are very scary for a little kid.
    1. Do think your dad is going to die at Armageddon? Why do you think your dad would die?
    2. Do you think your dad does not love Jehovah? Do you think he should? Does that make him a bad person?
    3. Do you believe in Satan? Do you think Satan might use your dad to get you to not love Jehovah?
    4. Draw a picture of Armageddon.

  9. Chow says:

    Where was this judge for me when I was 7? 🙁

  10. Kellie Barton says:

    I grew up in a family where my mother was a Jehovah’s Witness and my father was no religion. Although when I became sixteen I was given the choice as to what religion if any I wanted to become. The beliefs my mother held to were ‘convictions’ and no Judge or Court would have allowed her conscience to waver. She would have explained her beliefs to the Court and I would have still grown up living with her. The fact that this mother wavered in her exercise of faith perhaps showed the Judge that her beliefs were not true convictions to a God. If she had not wavered perhaps things would have went differently for her. My parents had a ‘good’ divorce. The Judge in the courtroom (after the decree) called attention to the entire courtroom which was filled with people waiting for their turn to divorce and said these words: “THIS IS HOW A DIVORCE SHOULD BE. NO NAME CALLING. NO BICKERING. IF THE MARRIAGE HAS ENDED THERE IS NO NECESSITY FOR BATTLE. THEIR CHILDREN WILL BE OKAY I IMAGINE.”

    It would be nice if ‘N’ could have stayed with his parent… Being a Jehovah’s Witness as a child is NOT a crime. It does not cause lasting scars. It’s a study of the bible. The bible does indicate that birthdays are bad. It does say that you shouldn’t cut down a tree and decorate it. It does say that the cross began with the worship of Tamuz. I know all of this because for sixteen years I was to respect my mother and attend meetings of Jehovah’s Witnesses with her.

    Now, I smoke… which I wish I could quit. I’ve married a military man and so I’m always moving. I have a daughter from a one night stand when I was 18 years old. And for the last 16 years (yes I’m 32) I’ve been searching for another religion that would suit my interests. I have found that I can be of any other religion I want to be. There are no ‘demands’ or ‘real purpose’. I’m sure there are no cigarettes in heaven.

    Just think about it. If you were gay, straight, a chain smoker, fornicator, adulterer drug abuser or pimp you could still be whatever religion you are today UNLESS you were a Jehovah’s Witness. Now to me that makes sense. God should at least get respect from humans. His standards never change, people change.

  11. carl cooper says:

    It’s sad that the young boy was removed from his parents. But the truth is they indoctrinate these kids at such a young age. They say they follow Christ but they don’t live up to his example. Christ Jesus was baptized at 30 years of age. But they baptize the kids as young as 6 years old. It’s not legal for a child get married, get a drivers licence, sign a binding contract but they let them join an organization that will disfellowship them and shun them when they commit the,smallest of sins.

    He is better off without that Cult.

  12. CAROL says:

    It’s amazing how people lie about the Witnesses of Jehovah. But as these people are next to the Devil himself, would not expect anything else. However, that this anarchic and lying people know one thing: Zechariah 2:8 “After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of my eye.”
    Isaiah 54:17: “no weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the Jehovah, and this is their vindication from me,”
    Matthew 5:11-12 “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
    So let people know: who keep lying and slandering the true people of God, God will give you the deserved punishment! Hitler and his Nazis were just an example! So they began to persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses in Germany, his government fell!
    Now who want to know the Truth about Jehovah’s Witnesses, just analyze our website: jw.org

    • Laura says:

      I suggest before you comment on anything you educate yourself with an open heart about the organisation you are a part of.

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