A Canadian couple who relied on a stuffed lion for legal advice, which they said was transmitting the word of God, lost custody of their child Thursday.
The unusual custody case began in November when a British Columbia court declared the parents unfit and that their then-1-year-old daughter needed protection, according to the Vancouver Sun. The parents, who weren’t identified to protect the identity of the child, appealed the decision claiming that the court’s ruling violated their Christian values.
Prosecutors alleged that the parents' religious views began to interfere with their relationships in their community, the Vancouver Sun reported. Several churches had banned the couple and called police on them when they vowed to “purge churches of evil influences,” the newspaper reported, citing court documents.
The parents had also been accused of trying to “cleanse demonic influences” from their child when she was born, prosecutors told the court.
“It appears that, due to their strong religious beliefs, they are intolerant of those who do not espouse identical views. This includes other Christians,” Justice Diane MacDonald said in her ruling.
As the strange case continued, the Vancouver Sun reported the court learned that the woman once told a social worker that her husband was abusive and put his hand over her throat. She reportedly revealed that her husband “grew up in a cult and believes sexual relations between children should be encouraged and that they ‘role-play’ sins where she plays the victim and he plays the perpetrator.”
The woman later denied saying those things in an interview with police.
The Ministry of Children and Family development filed the complaint against the couple after learning the woman refused to get her daughter medically up-to-date and denied vaccinations, the newspaper reported.
The parents also refused legal aid and in court used a stuffed lion and reportedly presented “speaking in tongues.” When the parents cross-examined their witnesses, they told them that Jesus was asking questions through them, according to the newspaper.
MacDonald ruled that they didn’t find the parents credible and placed the baby in protective care. The parents appealed the decision, claiming it infringed on their religious freedoms.
MacDonald disagreed with the parents and said the decision wasn’t based on religion, but ignoring essential health care recommendations and concerns for the mother’s mental health.
“The parents obviously love their child and wish to raise her in their home with their Christian values,” she wrote in her ruling. “It is clear that there was sufficient evidence before the trial judge to allow him to come to the conclusion that a continuing custody order was warranted in the circumstances.”