SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – A daughter of a polygamist who belongs to an offshoot branch of the mainstream Mormon church now wants to be instructed in beliefs of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Even though the 16-year-old girl was placed in state custody last June when a judge found she and her sister had been abused and neglected, her parents must approve any change in her religious instruction.
The Office of the Guardian Ad Litem, an independent agency that represents children in court, asked defense attorney Daniel Irvin on Tuesday to confer with the girl’s father, John Daniel Kingston, about giving parental consent for the instruction.
Guardian Ad Litem Kristen Brewer said Kingston is entitled to certain ”residual parental rights,” including the right to determine religious affiliation.
Other such rights include the responsibility for support, the right to consent to adoption and the right to reasonable visitation unless restricted by the court.
Irvin has asked for five days to respond to the request.
”Religion is a very important issue in this case and there is an important doctrinal distinction here,” Irvin told 3rd District Court Juvenile Judge Andrew Valdez.
Valdez said he isn’t opposed to granting the girl’s request.
”My inclination is to allow it. If the girl wants to talk to missionaries, what’s the harm,” he said.
The Kingstons are members of the Latter-day Church of God, or ”The Order,” which reportedly has about 1,200 members and practices polygamy as part of its religious beliefs.
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