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Mother Could Face Jail Time for Baptizing Her Children

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(Memphis) - A Shelby County mother who baptized her two children at Independent Presbyterian church could face jail time for her decision.

"There are too many other things people need to be locked up for besides baptizing your children," said Cloria Sanders.

A Tennessee court of appeals says Lauren Jarrell will face criminal contempt of court for not getting her ex-husbands consent on the baptisms.

"He's got his rights and she's got her's, but she should have the right to baptize her children if she wants to," said Sanders.

However, that's not the case. The mother's attorney says anytime a couple with minor children get a divorce, they enter into a parenting plan where important decisions, like religion and education, must be agreed upon by both parents. The father, Blake Jarrell wanted to wait to baptize his kids until they were older, but Lauren Jarrell went ahead with it anyway, violating a court order.

"Maybe had they gotten them baptized before then, they would have nothing to worry about," said Sanders.

Both parents are Christians. Blake is Methodist and Lauren is Presbyterian. Both denominations encourage infant baptism. Shirlene Anderson doesn't understand where the problem lies. She says this ordeal could be back-biting that often happens when a couple gets divorced.

"Divorce can be nasty," said Anderson. "I'm hoping it'll work out on both parties where she won't have to go to jail for something like that."

Lauren could face up to 10 days in jail. Her attorney believes the parenting plan should not include religion. She says it’s a violation of the mother's civil rights. A court date has not yet been set.

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