Verdict Regarding Custody
A marriage ended in divorce after the wife joined the Holic Group. In the subsequent custody battle, the father obtained custody for both of their children. These excerpts from the opinion of court deal with how children are handled in the group:
“ … The expert comes to the conclusion, in his document of 1 February 1995, that this is a matter of the Christian community, of the socalled ‘Holic’ cult, to which the petitioner belongs. In his document, he has dealt with how the status of small children in the community is to be evaluated, because the two children of the parties would have to grow up in this community, if the petitioner were to obtain parental custody.
He arrives at the conclusion that the parenting style and parenting methods in this community do not allow an ageappropriate positive development of small children, because the children’s wellbeing is not a primary focus.
He has confirmed this conclusion in the context of his judicial testimony.
The expert indicated that the rigorous parenting style and parenting methods of this Christian community are strongly oriented toward discipline. This was confirmed by the witness N.N., who was herself a member of this Christian community for some months ...” (District Court of Hof, file number: F224/94)
The mother, who belonged to the cult, filed an appeal against this verdict. But in the second trial, the following was confirmed:
“ … Of decisive significance, and speaking against the appeal is, however, [the fact] that the mother has never distanced herself from the accusation that she intends to, and would, spend every weekend outdoors with the members of her group, taking the children along. Such a lifestyle tends to both endanger the health of the children and to compromise their healthy development in body and mind. For example, A. was taken along to such meetings in late autumn or winter, when only a few weeks old, sometimes with a fever. It cannot be considered appropriate for children, especially in the tender age of those concerned here, to spend every weekend at continually changing locations with adults who are praying and explaining the Bible. The description, too, given by the fostermother about the developmental status of the two-year-old B., when she was taken in by the foster family, argues against the care which might be expected from the mother, as it is already conspicuous that the child, who is after all two years old, only has a vocabulary of a few words. In addition it is to be noted that the child neither asks for its mother nor yearns for her at all. Finally, the unusually aggressive behavior of the child is to be noted. All of this indicates that the hitherto existing parenting environment was not contributing to the child’s wellbeing.
In addition, it is to be taken from the testimony of all witnesses, including those called by the mother, that the group’s main goal is “brotherly” encounters with all members as frequently as possible. [This testimony] is consistent with the previous statements. No priority is given to the parents’ relationship with each other and to their relationship with their children, which does not correspond to the spirit of Article 6 of the German Constitution. It is especially to be noted that the children’s welfare is in no way the highest guideline for this group. This is clear from the credible testimony of the witness N., which depicts the group’s parenting style, which is not appropriate for children. This style’s impact is apparent in the conspicuous behavior of child B., as testified by witness K., at the time of B.’s being taken into the foster family. This core behavior in the group calls into serious question whether it accurately understands the interests of children, affirms these interests, and can dedicate the necessary efforts to such interests ...” (Appellate Court of Bamberg, File Number 7 UF 80/95)