Man faces jail for taking Jewish daughter to church

Joseph Reyes is accused of violating temporary restraining order which ordered him not to expose his three-year-old daughter Ela to any other faith than Judaism. His wife took out the order when he had his daughter baptised without her consent.


By Jessica Elgot, February 17, 2010
Follow Jessica on Twitter
The Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago where Joseph Reyes took his daughter

The Holy Name Cathedral in Chicago where Joseph Reyes took his daughter

A Chicago man could face jail for having his daughter baptised and taking her to a cathedral after promising his ex-wife she would be brought up as Jewish.

Catholic Joseph Reyes, 35, was charged with violating a temporary restraining order which ordered him not to expose his three-year-old daughter Ela to any other faith than Judaism. He took local television crews with him as he took his daughter to visit a cathedral.

Mr Reyes converted to Judaism to marry Rebecca, whom he later divorced, in 2004, but claimed that there was no specific agreement to raise their daughter as Jewish.

He told Chicago television that the couple did not keep kosher, did not observe Shabbat and rarely attended synagogue but said that they had held a baby blessing for Ela at their synagogue shortly after she was born.

After the couple divorced, Mr Reyes returned to practicing Catholicism and in November 2009 he sent Ms Reyes pictures of their daughter being baptised at Queen of Martyrs Catholic Church.

In December 2009 Mrs Reyes obtained a restraining order to ban her ex-husband from exposing Ela to any religion other than Judaism.

But he argued that this contravened the American Constitution, guaranteeing freedom of religion.

But Mr Reyes took CBS Chicago TV crews along with him when he took Ela to Holy Name Cathedral at the end of January.

Mr Reyes is now charged with contempt of court at Cook County Circuit Court. If convicted, he could face six months in jail and a $500 fine.

Last updated: 5:19pm, February 17 2010