Chicago, IL – Joseph Reyes was doing Sunday what millions of parents do all across the country: taking his daughter to church.
But for this 35-year-old father walking through the door of Church – it could land him in jail.
“I have been ordered by a judge not to expose my daughter to anything non-Judaism,” Reyes said. “But I am taking her to hear the teachings of perhaps the most prominent Jewish Rabbi in the history of this great planet of ours. I can’t think of anything more Jewish than that.”
But last month, a judge issued a temporary restraining order specifically barring Reyes from exposing his daughter to any religion other than Judaism.
It happened after Reyes had his daughter baptized without first consulting his estranged wife.
Reyes and his wife are divorcing and are involved in a bitter custody fight. She says he always agreed to raise their child as Jewish. He says that’s not true.
“My daughter should be exposed to the religions of both my wife and myself … When she gets to the appropriate age, she’s going to make her own decisions on how she wants her relationship with God to ultimately be,” said Reyes.
This war veteran says it’s a right he fought for in the past and will fight for again.
“I was willing to die fighting for these rights in Afghanistan and there’s not a whole lot worse you can do to me than death,” Reyes said.
He said if he’s thrown in jail, voters should remember the judge come Election Day. Reyes said Judge Edward Jordan is the former head of the Decalogue Society, the Jewish Bar.
The order, as written by his estranged wife’s attorney, says that taking the child to church would cause irreparable harm.
Reyes says he simply wants to do what countless other fathers do every weekend.
“I think it’s really sad that as a country we’ve come to this point where a father can be jailed for being a parent to his child,” said Reyes.
Reyes did convert to Judaism shortly after the child was born. He says he was pressured to do so.
The attorney representing Mrs. Reyes chose not to comment. The judge could not be reached.