Jason and Tammy Barrett said through their attorney that they have never taken any of their children to the snake-handling services. However, that didn't stop Lifeway for Youth Kentucky from revoking their license, and removing foster children from their home. The agency had originally requested that the Barretts stop attending the services, but the couple refused.
Lifeway for Youth is a non-profit organization that helps find therapeutic foster care for troubled and disabled children in the Ohio, Indiana, and Kentucky area. Referrals come to them from state service agencies, social workers, and mental health professionals.
Now, depending on what sort of other things are at play here, this could have some powerful repercussions. If indeed the children were never exposed to snake-handlers, and thus never in any danger, then it will be interesting to see how Lifeway for Youth defends their position. Can a state-sanctioned foster agency revoke the license of foster parents based upon religious practices, if the children do not in fact participate? What will this mean for Pagans and Wiccans who wish to become foster parents, but have been unable to? Also, think about the effect this may have on custody issues involving Pagan and Wiccan parents who feel they've been unjustly discriminated against based upon their own spirituality.
Keep your eye on this one, folks. Despite the fact that it's about snake-handling churches and not Wiccans, it could set a very important precedent.