The ruling also said Amanda told a counselor she was distressed by her father’s refusal to accept her religious beliefs and that “his choice to spend eternity away from her proves that he does not love her as much as he says he does.”
According to the brief filed by the child’s mother, Mrs. McLaughlin dismissed critical evidence and key witnesses in the case because they were “connected to Christianity.”
When the mother tried to give the guardian material on home-schooling, Mrs. McLaughlin reportedly said: “I don’t want to hear it. It’s all Christian-based.”
Mrs. McLaughlin did not respond to a request for comment.
Douglas Napier, senior ADF counsel, suggested the court has a bias against Christianity.
“What if this were Muslims who don’t want their children exposed to infidel thoughts?” he asked. “Can a judge come into my home — even if my wife and I agree to home-school our children — and say it’s to their best interest to put them in government schools?”
He added: “Does anybody seriously believe a public school will broaden this girl’s views on comparative religious thought? The schools are the number-one censors of religious thought.”
New Hampshire state law mandates the judge must find some evidence of harm to a child before removing her from a home-school environment, Mr. Napier said.
“The judge seems to have some allergic reactions to the fact this talented 10-year-old girl has made some decisions on her faith,” he said. “The judge didn’t consider and weigh the constitutional rights of the mother to raise the child in the way she sees fit.”
Elizabeth Donovan, attorney for the child’s father, said the father is basically objecting to the type of home-schooling Amanda is receiving.
“She is a beautiful, brilliant 10-year-old girl,” Ms. Donovan said. “Her classroom was the corner of her mother’s bedroom and a computer screen. She was not having interaction with other children, no group dynamic, no opportunity to share with other students in a day-to-day school setting.
“If she was excelling in a home setting, what might she do in a broader, more challenging public school setting?”
Ms. Donovan also denied that the court was anti-religious or illegitimately intruding into a family issue, noting that it was a custody dispute in which the parents had asked the court to intervene.
“It has been conveyed [that] the court is reaching into this family’s life and plucking the child out of her home,” the attorney said, adding the mother had earlier agreed to allow the court to decide the child’s educational future. “There have been three counselors for this child and all have recommended public school.”
Mike Donnelly, an attorney with the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Va., called the judge’s ruling “unreasonable and inappropriate.”