An Illinois appeals court ruled that a minor who had been placed in a foster home could choose her own religious training even though it was against the wishes of her natural parents.
The minor had been raised according to strict religious tenets, and had experienced excessive beatings, severe restrictions, and sexual abuse. She was declared an abused child by the state and was placed in a foster home. After her placement in the foster home, the minor immediately rebelled against the religious teachings of her natural parents, and severed all ties with her parents and their church.
The natural parents were upset that their daughter was not attending a church of their choosing, and they insisted that they had a constitutional right to determine the religious training of their child. The appeals court conceded that "freedom of religion and the right of parents to [determine] the care and training of their children are to be accorded the highest possible respect." However, neither right is beyond limitation. The court concluded that allowing the minor to choose the church she would attend was appropriate because of the "exceptional circumstances" of this case. In the Interest of C.L.T., 540 N.E.2d 1043 (Ill. App. 4th Dist. 1989).