|Photo Credits: Chain the Dogma|
Ohio -- April Defibaugh and her husband Gregg filed a police report last September calling for criminal charges against everyone involved in unwanted baptism of their son. Their 11-year-old son was in the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) of Northeast Ohio program which is supposed to be educational and supportive program. According to BBBS website, the organization is dedicated to finding some great Big Brothers and Big Sisters who can bring stability and friendship to vulnerable children. Defibaugh’s son’s mentor took him to get baptized in order to somehow help him but after the pastor held him underwater, it resulted with recurring nightmares. Defibaugh said:
They held my son under water. It wasn’t like they sprinkled water on his head, it was like full immersion. He kicked; he screamed and told them beforehand that he was afraid. Every day since then he’s had nightmares, the same recurring dream, about being baptized over and over like he’s drowning.
It seems that the parents got nowhere with planned lawsuit because American Atheists is now filing a lawsuit on behalf of April Defibaugh and her husband Gregg. They’re suing the local chapter of Big Brothers Big Sisters, the Big Brother assigned to their son (David Guarnera), his church, the pastor (Matthew Chesnes), the court-appointed guardian ad litem who proselytized to the family and assigned Guarnera to their son (Margaret Vaughan), and her organization.
American Atheists today filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, Eastern Division, alleging that a developmentally disabled child was forcibly baptized against the expressed wishes of his parents by a minister and a court-approved mentor,” they announced on their website on the 27th March.
The child, referred to as “V” in the court filing, was taken to a church picnic in August 2016 by the child’s mentor. During the picnic, the mentor and the church’s pastor subjected V to a full-immersion baptism, against the wishes of V’s parents. The forced baptism was the culmination of more than a year of religious harassment by V’s guardian ad litem and V’s mentor,” as explained in American Atheists’ statement. It remains to be seen whether the court will punish those responsible for the baptism.