In a previous post to this Blog, I wrote about a Wall Street Journal columnist who challenged liberals who are appalled by the failure of authorities in Florida to return Riqfa Bary to her family in Ohio. He argued that we should be equally outraged by a New Hampshire court that forced a home schooling mother to enroll her child in public schools because the court didn't like the way the mother was educating the daughter concerning religion.
I wrote that the columnist was right about the New Hampshire case – and also called it to the attention of a very good columnist in that state, who wrote a column condemning the court decision. But I argued that the columnist had flunked his own test, since he could not bring himself to take on his fellow conservatives and argue for Rifqa's return.
But another conservative has done just that. He is someone in a particularly good position to know the facts of the case and he has been there, almost literally, from day one. He is Craig McCarthy, an evangelical Christian and, for the first three weeks of the case, the court-appointed lawyer for Rifqa's mother.
Once the Florida Department of Law Enforcement released its report finding no evidence for Rifqa's claim that she'd be killed if she returned home, McCarthy was free to write about what he knows of the case – and to urge his fellow evangelicals to reconsider. He did so in this op ed column in the St. Petersburg Times.
I was annoyed as a Christian, as an officer of the court and as a litigator (in that order) that many with whom I agree on many issues were so willing to disregard the notion that a parent has the right in this country to raise and influence a child without governmental interference, unless there is evidence of abuse or neglect that is credible and not based on stereotypes or based on the beliefs or actions of what people who are not the parents might think, feel or do.
I know that feeling. It's the same one I get when my fellow liberals forget everything they claim to believe about civil liberties whenever someone whispers the words "child abuse" in their ears. (The FLDS case being one example, the common liberal willingness to deny due process protections and open, public court hearings to families in these cases being another.)
There have been two other noteworthy columns on the Rifqa Bary case. Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Thomas offers another dose of common sense. And, taking off from a point first raised by Thomas, fellow Sentinel columnist Scott Maxwell writes a hypothetical news story in which a Christian child runs off to the home of a radical Imam and claims her Christian parents will kill her because she's embraced Islam.