The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to intervene in a lower court’s order that would send a Christian homeschooling family back to Germany to face what the parents describe as persecution by the government because of their beliefs.
The court on Monday said it would not review the case of the Romeike family, whose members were granted asylum in the U.S. by a federal court because they would be subject to fines, threats, jail time and even the loss of their children if they returned to Germany.
The penalties are based on a Hitler-era law that the German government still enforces against homeschooling. The Romeikes said they chose homeschooling because of anti-Christian and cult beliefs being taught in the public schools.
The Obama administration successfully fought to overturn the federal judge’s decision that would have given the family permission to remain in the U.S.
According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, the Romeike family was granted asylum in 2010 by a federal immigration judge who found that “Germany’s treatment of the family amounted to persecution.”
“As evidence he cited state officials’ threats against homeschoolers in general to levy crushing fines, file criminal charges and take away children, and against the Romeikes in particular for their sincere religious beliefs.”
But on the request of the Obama administration, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals sided against the family, saying Germany was just enforcing its law.
One year prior to enactment of the 1938 law, which made it a criminal offense not to send children to public school, Hitler declared the “youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow.”
“For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled,” Hitler said. “This Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”
The Obama administration initially refused even to address the issue when the request was submitted to the Supreme Court for review, but the court ordered Attorney General Eric Holder to respond.
Justice Department officials then contended that Germany wasn’t persecuting homeschoolers, just applying the Hitler-era laws to everyone. They cited Germany’s desire to “promote socialization, pluralism, tolerance and democracy.”
Michael Donnelly, the HSLDA director for international affairs, said the 6th Circuit “ignored critical evidence from Germany’s own Supreme Court which explicitly states German states may treat religiously or philosophically motivated homeschooling parents unequally and harshly.”
“The recent story of the Wunderlich family, whose children were seized just because of homeschooling and who are now effectively imprisoned in Germany, demonstrates how important this issue is. The fact that our own government is unwilling to support asylum for these families is troubling,” he said.
HSLDA had argued that nearly a dozen human rights documents and treaties around the globe, including the 1948 Universal Declaration on Human Rights, provide a groundwork for the belief that parents have a primary role in decision-making over the education of their children.
Thomas Schirrmacher, executive chair of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, who is based in Germany, recently touched on the homeschooling law in a lecture on religious freedom.
Germans, of all people, should know better, he said.
“The fact that the laws of a nation make something lawful doesn’t make it right,” he told the organization. “Everything Hitler did in Germany was allowed by the law. He never moved until the law allowed him. Applying the national law of Germany at the time you couldn’t have convicted Hitler of a crime. But what he did obviously and dramatically was a crime against humanity.”
He noted that the law against homeschooling was never changed after the war.
“I believe German leaders should take action to protect the right of parents to educate their children at home,” he said.
WND has reported on the case since it began 2006 with police officers appearing on the Romeike’s doorstep to forcibly take their children to a local public school.
HSLDA, in its petition, explained that German officials have confirmed the purpose of their ongoing repression of homeschooling is to prevent “religious and philosophical minorities” from developing into “parallel societies.” In short, the government wants all students to be taught the same information and think alike.
“Human rights standards make it plain that, although a nation may require compulsory attendance and may impose reasonable rules related to educational quality, no nation may exercise philosophical control over a child’s education contrary to the parents’ belief,” HSLDA statement said.
In Germany, children having been seized from their parents in several cases, most recently last September when armed police officers equipped with a battering ram forcibly took four children from German parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich because they were being homeschooled.
WND reported later the children were return to the parents after they were given no choice but to agree to have the children begin attending public school classes.
In the Romeike case, the original immigration judge, Lawrence O. Burman, granted the Romeike family asylum on Jan. 26, 2010, under the Federal Immigration and Naturalization Act. The judge ruled Germany’s national policy of suppressing homeschooling violated the family’s religious faith and German authorities were improperly motivated to suppress homeschoolers as a social group.
Uwe Andreas Josef Romeike, and his wife, Hannelore, have seven children,