The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a court order prohibiting a noncustodial parent from indoctrinating his child in the Jehovah's Witness religion did not violate his constitutional rights.
A married couple obtained a divorce shortly after the husband converted from Catholicism to the Jehovah's Witness religion. Prior to the divorce, the husband's conversion had led to bizarre and violent behavior in the home.
The court granted custody of the couple's 6-year-old son to the mother, and prohibited the father from involving the boy in any of his Jehovah's Witness beliefs or practices. This ruling was based on the testimony of a psychologist that the boy was afraid of his father and his religious beliefs and did not want to be with him. The father claimed that his constitutional right to freely exercise his religion was violated by the court's order barring him from exposing his son to Jehovah's Witness beliefs and practices.
He acknowledged that he wanted to take his son with him on his door-to-door evangelistic missions. The state supreme court concluded that the trial court's order was proper, since it in the best interests of the child. It noted that "courts have a duty to consider whether religious beliefs threaten the health and well-being of a child." If they do, as they did in this case, then a civil court is free to protect a child against such influences. LeDoux v. LeDoux, 452 N.W.2d 1 (1990).