Canadian Couple Claims Stuffed Lion, Speaking for God, Is Their Lawyer in Custody Hearing
A British Columbia couple has just lost custody of their child after a bizarre court hearing. The parents of the one-year-old girl hold extreme religious beliefs — so extreme that even the Christian churches and pastors they have encountered are at odds with them.
Both parents, whose names have not been released to protect the privacy of their daughter, were raised in Christian homes in Canada but developed more extreme views of religion when they married in 2014. The couple moved around a lot, and according to the Vancouver Sun, several churches "banned them and even called police for assistance when the couple set out to 'purge churches of evil influences,'" according to court records. They wanted to cleanse the churches of "demonic influences" and were intolerant of anyone whose beliefs did not exactly match their own.
When the woman became pregnant, she complained to a social worker about abuse by her husband, such as instances of choking and binding her hands together. A month after the birth of their baby, the couple refused all medical tests, procedures, and vaccinations, including routines things like blood and hearing tests, and a vitamin K shot. Despite being monitored by the courts and ordered to have parental capacity assessments done, the couple refused, and the child was placed in protective custody (with allowed supervised access) a month after her birth.
According to the Sun, "The mother applied to change her daughter’s name to Jesus JoyoftheLord and her own first name to Risen Lord Jesus, her middle name to Refinersfire and her last name to Christ (with a hyphenation including her real name)." When it came time for the custody hearing in court, the family refused legal aid and said that their stuffed lion would act as their representation and that they could hear God through the animal. They proceeded to speak in tongues to the toy.
The Sun notes that they said Jesus Christ was their "lawyer, witness and judge." When they cross-examined witnesses, "they told each witness that their lawyer Jesus was asking the questions through them."
Ultimately the court found the couple to not be credible and ordered that the child remain in protective care. The parents argued that the decision was an example of religious discrimination, but the court said that the decision was made because of domestic abuse, ignoring medical and health care recommendations, as well refusing support from social workers, churches, medical staff, and legal representatives.