An English judge has ruled that a 10-year-old Jewish girl may choose to be baptised a Christian despite her mother’s opposition.
The Romford County Court in Essex was told that the girl’s parents divorced in 2010 and her father subsequently converted to Christianity.
After attending an evangelical Christian festival with her father, the girl said she had “experienced an encounter with God”. She then talked to a Sunday school teacher about being baptised.
The girl’s mother, without telling anyone, then applied for a court order forbidding the father from baptising or confirming the girl into the Christian faith.
The girl’s grandparents accused her father of forcing her to give up her Jewish heritage, while a rabbi told the court that it would be “unnatural to their soul” to make a child change religion.
Judge John Platt was critical of these claims, saying that neither the mother nor the grandparents had made “any real effort” to consider what was best for the girl while the rabbi’s letter was made in “inflammatory terms without any supporting evidence”.
The judge ruled that the Jewish girl is mature enough to choose her religion, and alongside his judgement he wrote a personal letter to the girl explaining his decision.
“My job is to decide simply what is best for you,” he wrote, “and I have decided that the best thing for you is that you are allowed to start your baptism classes as soon as they can be arranged and that you are baptised as a Christian as soon as your minister feels you are ready.”
But the judge stressed that it did not mean the girl would lose her Jewish heritage. He concluded: “Finally, and this is the most important thing, both your mother and father will carry on loving you just as much whatever happens about your baptism.”
News category: World.