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BOTH the first and the second submitted autobiographies pertain to single Jehovah's Witnesses looking for marriage mates at District Conventions, Circuit events, and via the internet. Things are not always as they appear in "JW World". JWs are marrying other JWs who live hundreds and even thousands of miles away, and often one or both parties eventually learn that they have married a stranger, or worse. Naive Jehovah's Witnesses are marrying JWs from other JW families who have serious ongoing problems which were hidden from them during the courtship. Bankrupt JW in-laws. Criminal JW in-laws. Incestuous JW in-laws. JWs with serious mental health and physical health problems are not fully disclosing their personal "baggage" to prospective marriage mates. In the following two autobiographies, both JW Husbands believe that they were deceived during the courtship period by their future JW Wife, by her JW Parents, by her Congregation Elders, and by other Members of JW Wife's congregation. CLICK ON LINK TO READ:
MY TEENAGE JEHOVAH'S WITNESS WIFE:
EXEMPLARY CONGREGATION PUBLISHER & SERIAL ADULTERESS
MY TEENAGE VIRGIN JEHOVAH'S WITNESS BRIDE
CARRIED ON HER OWN SECRET SEX LIFE BEFORE & AFTER WE MARRIED
The third submitted autobiography relates the account of a recently married non-JW Wife who converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses and soon thereafter disowned her loving and trusting Husband. JW Wife then began using her busy JW witnessing and meeting schedule and her morally-corrupt JW friends to hide serial "cheating", and eventually something so SHOCKING that you will have to read the autobiography to believe it. Readers are put on notice that this account contains some sexually explicit material which we have attempted to edit as best as we could and still retain the info and image that the victimized husband wants readers to take away from his unbelievable REAL JW WORLD marriage. CLICK ON LINK TO READ:
MY BUSY-BUSY JEHOVAH'S WITNESS WIFE:
REGULAR AUXILIARY PIONEER & PARTTIME BROTHEL PROSTITUTE
Visitors may also be interested in reading the "Real WatchTower World" account posted in our JW EMPLOYEES website about a JW Elderette who put on a "burlesque show" at her home during a business appointment with a lone out-of-town businessman. Foolish JW Elderette never even considered that the out-of-town businessman might possibly have JW connections.
DUDLEY v. DUDLEY was an Oklahoma divorce case which occurred sometime in the latter 1970s or early 1980s. Around 1967, shortly after James Dudley was assigned to Bryan County, Oklahoma, by the United States Department of Fish and Wildlife, James Dudley's wife converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses. Years later, James Dudley claimed that he objected to his wife's conversion from the very beginning due to the WatchTower Society's teaching that his employer, the Government of the United States, was "of the Devil". Dudley also objected to the WatchTower Society's teachings against blood transfusions given that one of his three daughters had already needed a life-saving blood transfusion. After many years of contention over his wife's WatchTower beliefs and practices, and such being taught to their three daughters, the marriage finally ended in divorce.
In July 1985, James Dudley learned that his ex-wife was going to re-marry to another JW, who lived in the Bennington, Oklahoma area. Dudley lost his composure when he learned that he had been wrongly accused of having committed adultery in order for his ex-wife's re-marriage to be approved by her local Body of Elders ***. James Dudley retaliated by attempting to hold a barbeque at that local Kingdom Hall. Dudley was eventually convicted of second degree arson, and was sentenced to one year in jail.
Interestingly, also in July 1985, there was a somewhat similar Kingdom Hall incident which occurred in Australia. Given that this was pre-internet, it is doubtful that either perpetrator knew about the incident in the other country. Click HERE to read a summary of the Australia incident. (Use FIND function with keyword "BOMBING".)
*** Over the decades, there have been numerous incidents of divorced Jehovah's Witnesses falsely swearing that their ex-spouses had committed adultery, or falsely swearing that their ex-spouse had admitted to having committed adultery, so that the ACTIVE JEHOVAH'S WITNESS could get their local BODY OF ELDER's approval to re-marry another active Jehovah's Witness. The LIAR is always the ACTIVE JW "in good standing", while the SLANDERED FORMER SPOUSE is no longer a Jehovah's Witness, or never was a JW. The satanic GOVERNING BODY of the WatchTower Society knowingly established the procedures for this SCAM, and its' local BOE underlings knowingly turn a blind-eye to the sworn falsehoods, so as to allow older unmarried ACTIVE JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES to re-marry.
This exact scenario occurred to this editor. The morally-corrupt, satan-directed BODY OF ELDERS at the BEREA KENTUCKY CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES gave my JW ex-wife permission to re-marry after she signed a sworn document stating that I had admitted to her that I had committed adultery (which is one of the most hypocritical allegations committed in the history of planet Earth given that JW ex-wife can't even count, much less name, all of her paramours during the past 30 years). I would never have admitted any such thing, because I have NEVER committed adultery. In fact, I've been so happy since JW ex-wife finally moved out that I have never even had the desire to date again.
No ELDER from the BEREA KENTUCKY CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, nor anyone else, even bothered to come and ask whether my JW ex-wife's sworn statement was truthful or accurate, or get my side of the story, despite the fact that JW ex-wife was a known pathological LIAR.
Even my own JW relatives, who knew that I was not the type person to commit adultery, demonstrated their personal support for the STD QUEEN by attending her 2006 wedding to a JW Elder held at the BEREA KENTUCKY KINGDOM HALL OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES. A circuit-wide prominent JW ELDER escorted the STD QUEEN, who wore a WHITE GOWN, while a circuit-wide prominent JW ELDERETTE served as STD QUEEN's maid-of-honor. Whatever EVIL HOLY SPIRIT "directs" Jehovah's Witnesses was certainly working overtime that day!!! May every attendee ROT IN HELL!!!
I look forward to the day when I will confront not only the STD QUEEN, but all of her satanic JW co-conspirators, in the courtroom presided over by Jesus Christ with evidence not only of my JW ex-wife's LIES and DECEIT committed against me, but also evidence of ADULTERY and TRUCKSTOP PROSTITUTION committed during the very time that JW ex-wife was under the supervision and guidance of the "holy spirit-directed" BODY OF ELDERS at the BEREA KENTUCKY CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES.
Until that day in court before Judge Jesus Christ, I am collecting "interest payments" on the future judgment from my morally-corrupt half-wit relatives, and there is a certain degree of satisfaction and amusement in knowing that, per WatchTower interpretation, a JW Elder is biblically "fornicating" with my still biblical wife in a congregation in Owensboro, Kentucky.
For those readers wondering why I did not pursue a civil lawsuit against the above parties, it was because I was afraid that JW Elder would want to give the STD QUEEN back after I and my own "witnesses" disclosed everything that we know about JW ex-wife. In fact, I would LOVE for someone to challenge anything I have stated above. However, they should first ask the STD QUEEN how much of her ADULTERY and PROSTITUTION she is willing to have very-publicly disclosed. I've finally reached that point in my own senior life that I will no longer keep JW ex-wife's illicit secrets hidden merely to protect my own ego and reputation. Rack 'em up. I'll break.
The DUMBASS "holy spirit-directed" BODY OF ELDERS at the BEREA KENTUCKY KINGDOM HALL OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES was NOT the first "holy spirit-directed" BODY OF ELDERS conned by JW Wife. Before JW Wife could divorce and re-marry, she first had to get the permission of the DUMBASS "holy spirit-directed" BODY OF ELDERS at the MOUNT VERNON KENTUCKY KINGDOM HALL OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES to SEPARATE from her then Husband. Notably, the DUMBASS Body of Elders at the MOUNT VERNON KENTUCKY CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES didn't have the testicles to then attempt the "admitted adultery" ruse against Husband, so the JW Elders and the STD QUEEN pulled out the "spiritual endangerment" card, which was hilarious given STD QUEEN's level of fake spirituality.
The DUMBASS "holy spirit-directed" BODY OF ELDERS at the MOUNT VERNON KENTUCKY KINGDOM HALL OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES essentially acted as CO-CONSPIRATORS to conceal a THEFT committed by JW Wife against Husband. The reason that JW Wife needed precisely at that time to "separate" from Husband was because "tax filing time" was fast approaching, and JW Wife's 1099s would reveal to Husband the THEFT of the contents of a FIVE FIGURE IRA ACCOUNT, which equitably belonged to Husband.
Early in the marriage, for tax purposes, Husband had opened an IRA Account under JW Wife's name. Husband deposited EVERY SINGLE PENNY that went into that account. Unbeknownst to Husband, during the previous tax year, JW Wife had secretly CASHED-IN the FIVE FIGURE IRA ACCOUNT ($10.00 BJs down at the Truck Stop simply weren't making a dent in JW Wife's 8-10 secret, hidden credit card accounts.) JW THIEF's only option was to move out and leave Husband BEFORE the tax filing deadline approached and she was forced to turn over her 1099s to Husband. So, JW THIEF went to her local BODY OF ELDERS at the MOUNT VERNON KENTUCKY CONGREGATION OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, where they and the "Holy Spirit" insightfully gave JW THIEF permission to leave Husband on the grounds of "spiritual endangerment" -- thus concealing the THEFT from Husband until the later Divorce proceedings. (The WatchTower CULT -- which publicly claims to practice "restitution" -- knows about this THEFT, but has made ZERO effort to require restitution from its active member. Equitably, the two conspiring BOEs are just as liable for the amount of the theft as is the thief. They can repay the loss, or their children or grandchildren will pay. It is not a question of "if", its a question of "when". With interest -- $30,000.00, in cash, or in-kind.)
It is anyone's guess as to how the STD QUEEN showed her appreciation to the Elders at the MOUNT VERNON KENTUCKY KINGDOM HALL OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, or the Elders at the BEREA KENTUCKY KINGDOM HALL OF JEHOVAH'S WITNESSES, for their complete and total failure to verify a single allegation in the previously described events.
FAYE HENDERSON v. DENNIS HENDERSON was a 1978-85 California divorce case. Dennis Henderson, age 38, and Faye Henderson, age 35, were African-American Jehovah's Witnesses who married in Los Angeles, in May 1978. Several brief separations followed, with the final separation occurring in December 1978. The couple's daughter was born in February 1979.
Thereafter, Faye Henderson filed this divorce action, which came up for its first hearing in August 1980. Faye Henderson later alleged that the Jehovah's Witness Attorney whom had been representing her turned her case over to an attorney named Hiram Martin, whom Faye Henderson alleged also was a fellow Jehovah's Witness. Faye Henderson alleged that JW Attorney #1 admitted that he was not actually a licensed attorney. Faye Henderson later alleged that Hiram Martin negotiated a settlement with Dennis Henderson which gave Dennis Henderson "visitation" on alternating weekends, holidays, and vacation periods. Faye Henderson alleged that on Hiram Martin's advice, she signed the settlement without reading it, and without knowing that Dennis Henderson was receiving "visitation".
Around March 1981, Faye Henderson began to accuse Dennis Henderson of sexually molesting their two-year old daughter during his agreed visitation periods. Faye Henderson took her two year-old daughter for examination to Centinela Hospital in Inglewood, California, where two Jewish doctors discovered what they said was evidence of "possible abuse". A detective with the Inglewood Police Department investigated the matter, and declined to pursue the matter.
However, Faye Henderson refused to allow Dennis Henderson to have further visitations. In December 1981, the court ordered Faye Henderson to allow visitation, or go to jail. After Dennis Henderson returned his daughter to Faye Henderson, Faye Henderson took the child to Martin Luther King Junior Hospital, which discovered that the child had "serious vaginal injuries". MLK Hospital reported the matter to the Inglewood Police Department.
In early 1982, Dr. Gloria Powell, a UCLA Psychiatrist, began treating the three year-old daughter for sexual abuse. In April 1982, Dr. Powell testified for Faye Henderson in a court hearing which suspended Dennis Henderson's right of visitation. Dennis Henderson was thereafter investigated for child molestation, but NOT charged as of May 1984. In 1983, Dr. Powell alleged that the daughter was so traumatized by Dennis Henderson's sexual abuse that she elected not to speak to anyone but Faye Henderson, plus the daughter was "fearful", and "emotionally troubled". Outcome unknown.
FAYE HENDERSON ET AL v. HIRAM MARTIN, CITY OF INGLEWOOD, CENTINELA HOSPITAL, ET AL. In September 1983, Faye Henderson filed a $20 MILLION civil lawsuit against Hiram Martin, Inglewood Police, Centinela Hospital, and the two Jewish Doctors. Outcome unknown.
IN RE HAWKINS and HAWKINS v. HAWKINS were related 1984 Pennsylvania cases. In 1984, a Pittsburgh area Jehovah's Witness Couple, named William Hawkins Jr. and Edith [Henderson] Hawkins, 43, were in the process of divorcing when Edith Hawkins was killed in an automobile accident. The two JW Families apparently fought over the time scheduling of the funeral at one of Pittsburgh's Kingdom Halls of Jehovah's Witnesses given that an uncle of Edith Hawkins, named William Lee, sought and obtained a court order delaying the funeral for several days, so that more of Edith's relatives could attend.
"We cannot agree with Father's argument that [state law] allows a critical examination of the religious beliefs, tenets, and practices of parents in custody proceedings. While this specific issue has not been addressed by the Colorado appellate courts, the general rule is that religious decisions and acts may be considered in a custody proceeding only to the extent that those decisions or acts will jeopardize the mental health or physical safety of the child. Thus, the trial court's limitation of evidence to practices which affect the physical or mental health of the children was correct.
"Evidence of religious practices, in order to be admissible must relate to more than just a possibility of future harm. We note that in a dependency determination under [state law], the court can consider only those religious practices which actually endanger the physical or mental well-being of the child. This is because of the heavy burden upon the states to justify any infringement of an individual's First Amendment freedoms. ... Thus, we hold that, in custody proceedings, for evidence of a religious practice to be admitted, the proponent of such evidence must establish that there is a substantial probability that such practice will result in actual harm or endangerment to the child's physical or mental health. Otherwise, such evidence may not play any part in a custody determination.
"Here, the trial court determined that the offered evidence did not tend to establish a substantial probability of harm and thus it was not relevant and would not be admitted. This determination of relevance is within the court's sound discretion. We have reviewed the record and we agree with the trial court's determination that the excluded evidence was not relevant to a determination of whether the children's physical or mental health was actually endangered by the beliefs, tenets, or practices of mother's religion. In this regard, we note that Father was granted substantial visitation rights with his children."
Trial and appellate court judges who actually believe that the WatchTower Society's teachings and practices relating to disfellowshipping, shunning, and others noted above, are not relevant to the determination of whether children's physical or mental health is endangered by the beliefs, tenets, or practices of mother's religion" are ignoramuses.
WILGER v. STATE OF ALABAMA were a series of state and federal court cases -- starting in the early 1970s and continuing into the early 1980s -- that involved a Jehovah's Witness Couple, named Anthony M. Wilger and Martha D. Wilger, and their eight children, some of whom include Dorothy Wilger, Sandra Wilger, Joseph Wilger, etc. The Wilgers apparently were originally from Wisconsin, where they reportedly started having children nearly every year starting in the early 1960s. The Wilgers relocated to Alabama in 1969, and not long thereafter started having encounters with child welfare officials. Starting in 1973, and involving multiple state "neglect" actions, custody of all 8 children was gradually removed from Anthony Wilger and Martha Wilger, and placed with various state agencies.
In 1977, the Wilgers filed a ONE BILLION DOLLAR lawsuit against various state officials and agencies. Outcome unknown, but it did reach the appellate level, but was probably eventually dismissed. In 1980, the Wilgers filed a SIX MILLION DOLLAR lawsuit against various state officials and agencies after the by-then 17 year-old Sandra Wilger became pregnant and had an abortion while living in a state-operated group home. By 1983, the last of the state claims were finally dismissed by the Alabama Supreme Court.
One media article reported that Martha Wilger suffered from a "brain disease", and that Sandra Wilger suffered from a "significantly low" IQ. The Wilgers reportedly blamed their many troubles on "white neighbors" who complained about their socializing with "blacks".
'Ordered, that said respondent/father shall refrain from instructing said children in the teachings of the Jehovah's Witnesses and shall also refrain from taking said children to any assemblies, meetings, conventions, religious services or other social or religious activities of the Jehovah's Witnesses during his periods of custodial visitation.'"
"... [Wayne Felton] shall hereafter have the right to visit and to take Deborah Jean Felton and Jennifer Lynn Felton, minor children of said parties, at reasonable times, provided that he refrains from giving his children any religious training or education which shall be in conflict or contrary with the religious training and beliefs of the custodial parent."
"'The courts have refused to restrain the noncustodial parent from exposing the minor child to his or her religious beliefs and practices, absent a clear, affirmative showing that these religious activities will be harmful to the child. ... The refusal to intervene in the absence of a showing of harm to the child reflects the protected nature of religious activities and expressions of belief, as well as the proscription against preferring one religion over another.'"... The parents together have freedom of religious expression and practice which enters into their liberty to manage the familial relationships. ... But the 'best interests' of the child are to be promoted, and when the parents are at odds, the attainment of that purpose may involve some limitation of the liberties of one or other of the parents. ... However, harm to the child from conflicting religious instructions or practices, which would justify such a limitation, should not be simply assumed or surmised; it must be demonstrated in detail. ..."If the dominating goal of the enterprise is to serve a child's best interests, ... then it might be thought to follow that a policy of stability or repose should be adopted by which the child would be exposed to but one religion (presumably that of the custodial parent) at whatever cost to the 'liberties' of the other parent. ... The law, however, tolerates and even encourages up to a point the child's exposure to the religious influences of both parents although they are divided in their faiths. This, we think, is because the law sees a value in 'frequent and continuing contact' of the child with both its parents ... and thus contact with the parents' separate religious preferences. There may also be a value in letting the child see, even at an early age, the religious models between which it is likely to be led to choose in later life. And it is suggested, sometimes, that a diversity of religious experience is itself a sound stimulant for a child. ... In all events, the question that comes to the courts is whether, in particular circumstances, such exposures are disturbing a child to its substantial injury, physical or emotional, and will have a like harmful tendency for the future. ... ... ..."We have noted the meagerness of the evidence on such elementary points as the precise manner of Wayne's Bible lessons. The more striking weakness is a failure of proof about Deborah's physical and emotional condition or about any causal connections between her visits with her father and that condition, such as it may have been. General testimony by Diane that the child was upset or confused (and that testimony was contradicted by testimony of like generality on the part of Wayne) will not suffice. ... There are few ground-level facts to be found in the record on this entire matter. The decisions hold such an infirmity to be fatal to an action seeking to limit materially or to cancel visitation rights. ... Thus there is clear error, for lack of foundation in the record, in the judge's findings of a 'deleterious effect' on the children and an 'undermining' of the custodial relationship by reason of the father's religious instruction or practice. The findings seem traceable to a predisposition on the judge's part. His remarks during the hearing would indicate that, despite some protestations by him to the contrary, he assumed that differences of religion, at least where one of the parents took his religion zealously, must have such grave damaging effect on the children as to require the censorship he imposed by the judgment. The assumption is far from self-proving. ... ... ..."Upon the reversal of the judgment of modification appealed from (which will have the effect of restoring the original judgment) and remand of the case to the Probate Court, Diane may, if so advised, again apply for modification upon additional and updated evidence. A suggestion of the kind of proof that might be influential on either side, and the likely sources of such proof, appears by implication in Pope v. Pope, ... where, upon reversing an order restricting visitation on account of religious differences, the court said the custodial mother 'gave no testimony whatever that his [child's] general demeanor, attitude, school work, appetite, health or outlook has been affected one iota by the so-called conflict in his mind. Her testimony was wholly uncorroborated. No church, school, medical or psychiatric authorities, nor any of the boy's associates, in or out of school, appeared in support of this charge.' We should mention, too, that a judge may seek correction of the possibly self-serving testimonies of the father and mother by appointing a qualified investigator (whether called a guardian or given some other title) who would look into the facts, render a report, and be subject to examination by the parties. ...
"After careful examination of the record, however, we can perceive no basis for interfering with Family Court's exercise of its discretion in awarding custody to the mother ... . Five days of hearings were conducted before the court, which was in a position to assess the demeanor and credibility of the parents The discretionary power of the Family Court in matters of custody is broad and must be 'accorded the greatest respect'. .. Here, the court's exercise of its discretion is reasonably substantiated by the evidence contained in the record ... and in the absence of an abuse of discretion, an appellate court should not set aside a custody award upon the ground that the other parent is also fit to care for the child."
IN RE DIANE JACKSON LETT, RONALD LETT, AND CHARLES LAMB was a 1976-82 Kansas child custody court case which involved two children of three parents then living in Parsons, Kansas. The Kansas Court of Appeals affirmed the district court's decision to sever the parental rights of these three parents and place the two children into the state system for future adoption or foster care. Terrance Jackson (b1976) was the illegitimate son of Diane Jackson and Charles Lamb. LaRhonda Lett (b1978) was the daughter of Diane Jackson and Ronald Lett, who were married only two days before LaRhonda was born. The appellate opinion mentions that Diane Jackson attended meetings at the Parsons Kansas Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses.
OSIER v. OSIER was a 1980 Maine Supreme Court decision. Jay Osier and Barbara Osier were divorced on Jay Osier's petition in June 1976. No court order was made regarding the custody of their 4 year old son, although the parties agreed that Barbara Osier would retain physical custody due to Jay Osier's military duties in the U.S. Navy. Jay Osier subsequently remarried, and he then filed for custody in October 1978.
At the hearing, one of Jay Osier's arguments was that Barbara Osier was a Jehovah's Witness who would not consent to their son's receiving a blood transfusion if such ever became medically necessary. On December 12, 1978, a final order granted custody of the child to the father and his present wife, with visitation rights to the mother. In his "Findings of Fact and Decision thereon" the District Court judge stated that the mother's religious practice in regard to blood transfusions raised an "issue of major importance." On the basis of the mother's testimony that she would withhold her consent to a blood transfusion for her son even if it became medically necessary to safeguard the child's health, the court concluded "that the (mother's) religious beliefs are such that they would endanger the physical well-being or life of their child."
Barbara Osier appealed the judgment. She lost at the Superior Court level, but then the Maine Supreme Court concluded: "We conclude from the limited record before us that the District Court in granting custody to the father gave undue weight to the fact that the mother as a Jehovah's Witness would not consent to a blood transfusion for the son. Since the custody decision implicates the constitutionally sensitive areas of religious freedom and familial relationships, we vacate the judgments below and remand the case to the District Court for the purpose of making a custody determination in accordance with the principles here enunciated."
"When, as in this case, it appears to the divorce court that an appropriate determination of custody will involve inquiry into the consequences of the religious practices of one of the parents, the court must be alert to the impact that its order concerning care and custody may have on that parent's fundamental rights under the due process clause ... and the religious freedom clause. ... Second, any decision terminating or limiting the right of a parent to physical custody of his child also affects his constitutionally protected liberty interest in maintaining his familial relationship with the child. ...
"As a general rule courts should endeavor to resolve the controversies before them without deciding constitutional issues, reaching such an issue only 'if it is entirely necessary to a decision in the cause in which it is raised.' ... Therefore, in approaching a case of this sort the divorce court should make a preliminary determination of the child's best interest, Without giving any consideration to either parent's religious practices, in order to ascertain which of them is the preferred custodial parent. Where that preliminary determination discloses that the religious practices of only the Nonpreferred parent are at issue, any need for the court to delve into a constitutionally sensitive area is avoided.
"If, on the other hand, that preliminary determination discloses a preference for the parent whose religious practices have been placed in issue, the divorce court, in fashioning an appropriate custody order, may take into account the consequences upon the child of that parent's religious practices. Because of the sensitivity of the constitutional rights involved, however, any such inquiry must proceed along a two-stage analysis designed to protect those rights against unwarranted infringement. To summarize that analysis briefly: First, in order to assure itself that there exists a factual situation necessitating such infringement, the court must make a threshold factual determination that the child's temporal well-being is immediately and substantially endangered by the religious practice in question and, if that threshold determination is made, Second, the court must engage in a deliberate and articulated balancing of the conflicting interests involved, to the end that its custody order makes the least possible infringement upon the parent's liberty interests consistent with the child's well-being. In carrying out that two-stage analysis, the trial court should make, on the basis of record evidence, specific findings of fact concerning its evaluation of all relevant considerations bearing upon its ultimate custody order. ... ..."It is firmly established that 'the right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose ... the child ... to ill health or death.' ... Thus, the divorce court, where it finds that a particular religious practice poses an immediate and substantial threat to the child's well-being, ... may make an order aimed at protecting the child from that threat.
"We therefore agree with the mother's principal contention on appeal, that the first amendment guarantee of religious liberty prohibits the divorce court from taking her religious practices into account in determining custody unless such practices pose an immediate and substantial threat to the temporal well-being of the child. The mother further contends, however, that the mere remote statistical probability that a normal, healthy child may require a blood transfusion at some time in the future is as a matter of law an insufficient reason to impinge upon her religious liberty. Since we have no way of knowing what that statistical probability is, we decline now to rule upon that contention.
"If and only if the court is satisfied that an immediate and substantial threat to the child's well-being is posed by the religious practice in question, need it proceed to the second stage of the inquiry, requiring it to engage in an explicit balancing of the conflicting interests. In fashioning the appropriate order, the court should adopt a means of protecting the best interests of the child that makes the least possible intrusion upon the constitutionally protected interests of the parent. .. This balancing process requires the judge to conduct an evidentiary hearing on the alternative remedies available. Although this court is not now willing to say that an order completely denying custody may never be appropriate where the temporal welfare of the child is genuinely threatened by a religious practice of the parent seeking custody, the divorce court should explore every reasonable alternative before resorting to such a drastic solution. .. Although a less restrictive order does not completely remove the 'price tag' from the custodial parent's exercise of his first amendment liberty, it significantly lowers the price of its exercise, preserving intact the continuing familial relationship to which he is otherwise entitled.
"We emphasize that the court, when faced with a question of this nature, must never assume that a threat to the child's welfare exists. Rather, at this threshold stage of the inquiry, the court must conduct an evidentiary hearing to determine whether the religious practice at issue in fact poses an immediate and substantial risk to the temporal well-being of the child. ... An affirmative finding to that effect, supported by substantial evidence is a necessary prerequisite to a valid order concerning the care or custody of a child that infringes to any significant degree upon the religious liberty of one parent.
"At oral argument, counsel had no recollection of any evidence before the District Court that we view sufficient to justify a finding that the mother's religious practice posed an immediate and substantial threat to the child. The court's sole finding concerning the boy's health indicates that he is a normal and active 8-year-old. We do not know what specific evidence, if any, was available concerning his proneness to accidents or to illnesses requiring blood transfusions. Furthermore, facts such as the statistical frequency of blood transfusions for normal children aged eight and older and the degree of risk involved in taking or refusing blood or chemical substitutes, are not the proper subjects of judicial notice but must be proved by evidence, like any other facts, in the court of first instance. In the absence of any such proof of that threshold factual requirement, there could be no legitimate occasion for the court's impingement upon the mother's constitutionally protected liberty interests.
"Turning to the case at bar, the District Court was faced with a sensitive constitutional issue, and one that was novel to Maine. As we have indicated, the court's initial error lay in failing to make a preliminary determination of which parent would be the better custodian, independently of any consideration of the mother's religious practices But even if we were to overlook that error and to assume that some degree of inquiry was warranted in this case, our examination of what record is available on appeal, as explained by counsel for both parties, makes plain to us that the court neither purported to use, nor had before it, evidence legally sufficient to satisfy the requirements of the two-stage analysis we have described as necessary to protect the sensitive constitutional rights involved against unwarranted infringement.
"Remand to the District Court is therefore necessary for a completely new hearing on the father's motion seeking custody. As a preliminary matter, the court must determine, Exclusive of any religious factor, which parent is better suited to have custody. If the father prevails on that preliminary inquiry, the entire matter is settled. If, on the other hand, the court concludes that the child's welfare is best served by awarding custody to the mother, any subsequent inquiry into the consequences upon the child of her religious practices must be strictly in accordance with this opinion.