You read that headline correctly. A North Carolina mother was sentenced to seven days in jail this week for baptizing her own daughter.
According to the Charlotte Observer, Kendra Stocks reported to the Mecklenburg County jail on Friday to begin her seven-day sentence after being held in contempt of court. The Observer described the matter as "a head-on collision between matters of church and state."
The reason for Stocks' jailing? Because she baptized her daughter without the consent of the father, Paul Schaaf.
The case goes all the back to August 2016 when a judge granted Schaaf full-custody of the young girl. That meant Schaaf got the final-say on decisions concerning religion. But just one day after the judge's decision, Stocks had her daughter baptized in private — without telling Schaaf.
Schaaf only learned about the baptism after he saw pictures on Facebook, according to WSOC-TV. He then lodged a complaint against Stocks.
That lead North Carolina District Court Judge Sean Smith to find Stocks in contempt of court last March. He sentenced her to 10 days in jail. Stocks appealed the decision, but the North Carolina Superior Court upheld it on Monday. However, the court reduced the sentence from 10 days to just seven.
What did the attorneys say?
Stocks' attorney, Nadia Margherio, argued her client didn't violate the judge's order because both parents, who are practicing Catholics, agreed their daughter should be baptized. She also argued Smith's order didn't include "a clear directive" requiring "one parent to notify the other about a christening."
Meanwhile, Schaaf's attorney, Jonathan Feit, emphasized that Stocks is not being punished for the baptism, but for disobeying the court's order.
"For our system to work, there ought to be consequences for willfully and intentionally violating a court order. I teach my children that. I reject the notion that anybody else is responsible for what is happening besides Ms. Stocks herself," he told the Observer.
Feit explained that it was a bit ridiculous Stocks didn't tell his client about the religious ceremony given they spent the day before the baptism in court.
"One would think that you would have the sense to say, ‘Oh, by the way, I’ve scheduled a secret baptism and it’s tomorrow, and you might want to know about it,'" he said.
What did Stocks say?
She told the Observer: "I’m scared. I’m sad about what has happened. I don’t regret having her baptized. That was in her best interest...I don’t see how this is in the best interest of the family. Her father is sending her mother to jail."