Atheist Mom Forced Into Court-Ordered Christian Counseling


ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) — Holly Salzman was hoping to get some help co-parenting her 11-year-old twin boys with her ex-husband. Instead she says she got 10 court-ordered religious sessions that she did not want.

While the court ordering counseling for this woman and her ex-husband would clearly be appropriate if it’s deemed necessary. It would seem a gross violation of the establishment clause to be forcing the mother into Christian counseling against her will. Particularly if she’s not Christian, which in this case she was not as an atheist.


Not speaking specifically about this case, this isn’t uncommon. The general case is that some type of counselling is ordered by a court and the only available counselling within an area is religious (not necessarily Christian) with no secular options available. I imagine this could also be a problem for any one of a religion that has any philosophy that disagrees with what is being said.


If there are no secular options available it seems a better option to find an alternative to counseling then. Rather than to force someone into a situation that is not only beneficial, but as in this case, offensive. I mean the point of counseling is to help the couple work through issues, but if the counselor is telling them things of a religious nature that they object to (or of a nature that is contrary to their religion if they’re members of a different religion), it hardly seems like the counseling would be of any benefit anyway. As in this case, those being counseled would be more focused on what’s wrong with the counseling itself than any benefit the counseling may be trying to convey.


I would agree. I think a potential block to recognizing what is going on is that some of these groups don’t describe themselves as religious or don’t see themselves as religious. Some might try to get people to acknowledge that they need the help of a “higher power” what ever or whoever that higher power may be leaving it open to interpretation. For some since this isn’t specific to any religion it may be seen as non-religious. But for a person that is not part of a religion this may be seen otherwise.

I think you are right. No one is being helped in this case. I think in some cases there may have been those that would sit through it just to satisfy the court. But that silence might result in the problem not being identified and corrected in many cases.


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