In an unusual British Columbia case, a couple who was unrepresented by counsel lost custody of their two-year-old child after they were declared unfit parents. They relied on a toy stuffed lion that they said God was speaking from to give them legal advice. The ruling was pursuant to an appeal from November of 2017 when a lower court declared them unfit. The parents claimed that the lower court ruling violated their Christian values. Prosecutors alleged that the parents’ extreme Christian beliefs interfered with their relationships with others in their community. They argued that the couple promised to “purge churches of evil influences.” According to Fox News, several churches had already told the couple that they were no longer allowed in their congregations and had to call police on them.
It was also alleged that the parents tried to “cleanse demonic influences” from their baby when she was born. One court justice stated that “It appears that, due to their strong religious beliefs, they are intolerant of those who do not espouse identical views. This includes other Christians.” The case became increasingly strange after the wife allegedly told a social worker that her husband was raised in a cult. She disclosed that he believes sexual relations between children should be encouraged and that they should “role-play” sins where the girl plays the victim and the boy plays the perpetrator.
The parents also opted to refuse legal aid. In court, they used the stuffed lion to speak to God in tongues. In their cross examination, they allegedly maintained that Jesus was asking questions through them. The lower court justice found that the parents lacked credibility, and the child was placed in protective custody. An appellate court justice stated that placing the child in protective care was not based on religious grounds. Concerns were also raised about the mother’s mental health. In its decision, the appellate court wrote that “The parents obviously love their child and wish to raise her in their home with their Christian values.” It then remarked that there was clear and sufficient evidence to allow the lower court judge to affirm that a continuing custody order was warranted under the circumstances.