Ohio Court asked to oppose Demonic Divorce

Jesus’ General (with help from Bellatrys) brings to our attention news from Ohio on the Focus on the Family website:

An Ohio woman is asking a state court to turn her divorce proceedings over to the Catholic Church.

Bai Macfarlane says she and her husband had a legally binding agreement to seek help before they ended their marriage.

When Catholic couples get married, they make a verbal agreement to follow the laws of the church before getting a divorce. When Macfarlane’s husband left, she said, he broke that agreement…

Macfarlane is asking the judge to remand the case to the Catholic Church for counseling. In the process, she’s hoping to make it harder for any couple to divorce, according to her attorney, Robert Lynch…The real enemy Lynch is going after are the nation’s permissive no-fault divorce laws.

MacFarlane is being advised by her friend Judy Parejko, a “marriage advocate”. Back in 2001, Parejko was a relationship specialist at the Mediation Center of Menomonie in Wisconsin, and was the subject of an opinion column in the Michigan Daily Telegram:

[She] calls herself a “doubting liberal” when it comes to George W. Bush. However, Parejko, who teaches problem-solving and communication skills to distressed and divorcing couples, admits she finds herself gravitating toward “a conservative perspective” when it comes to issues of marriage and divorce.

Since then her situation and outlook appear to have changed. Parejko is described on one website as “an ex-family court mediator who lost her job after helping to save marriages.” Jesus’ General also notes this article from 2002, where she makes the following argument:

Robert Flores walked onto the campus of the University of Arizona at Tuscon and opened fire on three of his female instructors, murdering them in cold blood. In his 22-page letter, discovered later by investigators, Flores sketches the story of his failed marriage, poor health and tythe slights he perceived from a nursing school he claimed treated male students as “tokens.”

In the Washington area, accused sniper, John Muhammad, targeted innocent people, shooting them down like prey. His 17-year-old accomplice, John Malvo, was also believed to have pulled the trigger. The story reveals at least three divorces – two were Muhammad’s and one was Malvo’s parents – as well as several child custody battles.

It’s not politically correct to connect the dots but it’s time for someone to begin. Could it be that our family court system is causing blood in the streets? Somehow, these men came unhinged – turned into killers.

MacFarlane has written a book on her experiences, to which Parejko has given this endorsement:

The demonic nature of our domestic relations courts is an open secret, operating in the light of day. But history shows that the most sinister schemes have worked that way.

This is an account of one victim’s experience of the “final solution” for troubled marriages, designed years ago by legal experts intent on “unifying” this country’s response to the troublesome problem of divorce. No one would escape.

Parejko also features on Dan Dick’s No Divorces website, which, like her endorsement, shows the influence of the Charismatic movement, as this item from Dick’s site shows:

Removing the Curse of Divorce and Adultery

Every couple whether married or planning to marry should protect their relationship from this curse…

This curse comes about through sin. This can be our sin, the sin of a parent or grandparent, someone close to us, or sins of the society we live in. In any case, the curse needs to be uprooted.

She has also written a book and has a website titled Stolen Vows.

Meanwhile, MacFarlane heads up Mary’s Advocates, which tells us:

Millions of Catholic Mothers and Fathers are being forced to watch our children be harmed by our wayward spouses’ choice to divorce. We are MADDD: Mom and Dad Divorce Defendants, and we expect our antenuptial agreement to follow the Code of Canon law, and our marriage contract to be married till death to be upheld.

However, there is an interesting twist in the tale, as Bellatrys has pointed out. Bai MacFarlane (also known as Marie MacFarlane or Marie Christine “Bai” Tepas Macfarlane) is the estranged spouse of conservative Catholic author William “Bud” MacFarlane Jr, and it seems the story has been buzzing around the conservative American Catholic blogosphere for a while. In particular, Through the Narrow Gate and My Domestic Church have a number of links. The Cleveland Plain Dealer gives us some specifics:

Her husband, William “Bud” Macfarlane, has filed for divorce, accusing his wife of “extreme cruelty” and “gross neglect of duty” – a brutal legalese that she says cannot describe her marriage. So Marie, a devout Catholic, is taking a stand not often seen today: She’s fighting to stop the divorce altogether.

“I’m innocent. There’s no way my husband is going to prove that,” she said of the charges raised against her in Cuyahoga County Domestic Relations Court. “From my perspective, I’m being punished and my children have been punished because my husband is having a lapse in character.”

Letters from MacFarlane and Parejko followed. However, although Bud MacFarlane has declined to comment, Through the Narrow Gate reports that he has apparently associated himself with an odd group called e5. According to group founder Steve Habisohn:

To be an e5 Man one must register and fast once a month for 24 hours on bread and water for the benefit of his bride, whether that be his wife, his fiancée or his future, unknown bride. A celibate man can fast for Christ’s bride, the Church…

In Ephesians 5 — from which the group, e5, gets its name — St. Paul calls on men to “love their wives as Christ loved the Church.” He calls on men to be like Christ to their brides.

Besides the fact that Christ fasted, even more importantly Christ gave his very body up for his bride, the Church, on the cross. This idea of a groom giving his body for his bride is a basic tenant of married love. Ephesians 5:25 calls a husband to be like Christ in giving his body up for his bride: “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.”

Rather creepily:

The man who belongs to the e5 Special Forces can add fasts specifically for his bride, but also can fast for other women who are in great need… 

One of the first unmarried e5 Men who signed up fasted for his ex-girlfriend, unknown to her. She called him up that evening and told him how her experience at her Bible study that very night was amazing. She said that the words seemed to fly off the page and were seemingly written just for her. Needless to say, this new e5 Man started fasting more than the once a month.

… A husband is to orient his will to serve his wife’s needs ahead of his — like Christ, even unto death. In doing this, he subjects his entire self to her needs. She becomes his body. St. Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:29, “For no one hates his own flesh but rather nourishes and cherishes it.”

In a complementary response of total self-gift, the wife orients her will to her husband’s to allow for his gift of self to be given freely. She becomes submissive — which literally means “under” his “mission” — to serve her needs. A woman who dominates a husband does not allow his gift to be given freely, and it becomes no gift at all. Her gift of her will — within right reason, as Pope Pius XI writes — is therefore a complementary total self-gift.

My Domestic Church makes one interesting point concerning the dispute:

Previous case law shows that the prenuptial agreements of Orthodox Jews have been upheld by civil authorities. Mr. Lynch asks the court to uphold his client’s prenuptial agreement in the same way.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer also notes the development of covenant marriages, which have extra conditions to those required by law. However, this article by Miriam Colton (annoying undated) has a rather different take on Jewish marriage law in the USA. The purpose of these prenuptials are not to bind couples together in a way that secular divorce law would not recognise, but the opposite:

In recent decades there has been an intensification of concern for agunot [“anchored” women unable to get a divorce] in the Jewish community. A Jewish woman is halachically bound to her husband and cannot remarry until she receives a get, a Jewish divorce. Although a beit din, court of law, can call upon a man to give his wife a get, the beit din has no way of enforcing it Unfortunately, many men have used the get process to exploit their wives…

In response, a number of respected rabbis and organizations, including the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), have encouraged the use of prenuptials. The agreement, a halachic and civil document, consists of two essential parts, intended to provide for an expedient get process in the event of a divorce.

The first part, arbitration, states that in the unlikely case of marital dispute the couple agrees to abide by the binding decision of a specific beit din, court of law, clearly named by the couple. The second part is the husband’s assumption of obligation to support his wife on a daily basis upon separation. This payment, which is usually $100-$150 per day, is designed to give a strong incentive to the husband to accelerate the get process, and not to blackmail his wife into paying him a large sum of money.

Crucially:

This agreement is legally and halachically enforceable, though to date, no cases have reached civil court.

I would keen to hear if this is still the case.

Meanwhile, north of the border, religious marriage arbitration remains a point of controversy as some shariah looks likely to be introduced. According to one opinion in the Toronto Star:

Muslims can’t be excluded from Ontario’s 1991 Arbitration Act, which allows religious groups to resolve family disputes, says the attorney-general’s office. Hassidic Jews have been running their own Beit Din arbitrations based on Jewish law for years. Catholics, too, even Ismaili Muslims. Rulings are binding, but must be consistent with Canadian laws and the Charter of Rights.

UPDATE (25 September): Dan Dick has left a comment, on the basis of which this blog entry has been amended.

One Response

  1. Whoops–Judy Parejko just contacted me to let me know that you said she ran nodivorces.com and that I should contact you to correct this.
    I, Dan Dick, am the founder and creator of nodivorces.com. Judy and I have worked together on various things, and I endorse her book. Also, NoDivorces.com is not a Catholic web site and I am not Catholic myself.

    I am a member of Fresno City Blessing and International Full Gospel Fellowship churches, both of which are predominantly Indonesian and are non-denominational charismatic Christian churches. However, I do work together with many Catholics in saving marriages and appreciate their tremendous contribution to this effort.

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