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BRAVE NEW SCHOOLS

'Pesky religion freedoms obstruct German society'

Minister of justice also says churches cannot monopolize faith teaching

A nation where the law bans homeschooling, and police have been known to physically haul children from their homes to public school facilities, now has a judicial official who says those pesky religious rights are getting in the way of society.

Brigitte Zypries, who serves as the German federal minister of justice, has been quoted by ASSIST News Service as calling for limitations on religious freedoms, too.

“We should not place any behavior under the protection of this important basic right,” she said in a Berlin speech about “Religious Policy.”

The report said Zypries claims no religious affiliation and when the cabinet of Chancellor Angela Merkel was sworn in, she was the only person not to use the affirmation, “So help me God.”

Decisions by the German supreme court in matters of religion, the 53-year-old said, have produced “a kind of freedom for all sorts of behavior.”

Religious freedom needs to be defined far more precisely, she believes, to prevent citizens from trying to use those excuses to avoid following the general laws of the land.

She’s also challenging churches’ involvement in religious instruction in schools, saying those religious organizations simply cannot be allowed to claim a monopoly on teaching values.

Subjects like ethics, law – and politics – also could be used to teach those values, she said.

And students in the mandatory public school system should be taught about all religions, she said, because only people who are informed about other religions can treat them with dignity.

Religious instruction is given in public schools in Germany’s 16 federal states in partnership with churches, and separate classes are offered for Catholics and Protestants. About two-thirds of Germany’s 82 million people profess church membership.

ASSIST News is sponsored partly by Gospel for Asia, which serves missionaries throughout that part of the world, establishing 29,000 congregations over the years.

WND reported earlier that the European Human Rights Court had affirmed the German nation’s Nazi-era ban on homeschooling, concluding that society has a significant interest in preventing the development of dissent through “separate philosophical convictions.”

The Strasburg-based court addressed the issue on appeal from a Christian family whose members alleged their human rights to educate their own children according to their own religious beliefs are being violated by the ban.

The specific case addressed in the opinion involved Fritz and Marianna Konrad, who filed the complaint in 2003 and argued that Germany’s compulsory school attendance endangered their children’s religious upbringing and promotes teaching inconsistent with the family’s Christian faith.

The court ruled that their parental rights didn’t extend as far as controlling the education of their own children.

WND also reported when police in Germany obeyed that law. Officials confirmed in October that children in a family in Bissingen, in the state of Baden-Wuerttemberg, were forcibly hauled to a public school by officers.



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