A social media campaign is surging around the globe – tens of thousands already have signed a petition – in defense of a family whose five children were seized by the Norwegian government because of “Christian indoctrination.”
The case was profiled just hours ago by the Christian Institute in the United Kingdom, which advocates for religious rights.
Norway’s child welfare services, the Barnevernet, seized Marius and Ruth Bodnariu’s two daughters, two sons and subsequently their baby, Ezekiel, the report said.
Social services agents and police took the family’s two oldest children out of their school without their parents’ knowledge and hid them in an undisclosed location.
Then the agents and officers went to the family’s home, “where, apparently without any documentation, they seized their two sons and arrested Ruth – who they took to the police station along with baby Ezekiel. Marius was arrested while he was at work and also taken into custody.”
The parents were interrogated but later allowed to return home with their baby but no other children. Then the next day the baby also was seized, the report said.
Weeks passed while the parents were denied contact with their children. They just were told that the children “had integrated well into their separate foster homes and didn’t miss their parents,” the institute reported.
Finally, a lawyer obtained by the parents accessed some of the case documents and discovered the parents were accused of being “radical Christians who were indoctrinating their children.”
An online petition created on the family’s behalf already has collected nearly 27,000 signatures.
It says: “Please support this family reunite with their children! On charges of ‘Christian radicalism and indoctrination’, their five children were abusively taken away by the Norwegian government! The parents were interrogated and asked not to publicly reveal the situation so they wouldn’t aggravate their case! They are just a normal Christian family trying to raise their children in the knowledge of God! There is no documented or otherwise abuse of any kind in this family!”
Commenters voiced their outrage in various languages. One, Jana Holomkova of Portugal, wrote, “The Kingdom of Norway should consider to alter the name to ‘The Kingdom of Norway – Nazi.'”
Holly George of the United States wrote, “This is sick, what a world we are living in!”
Other comments came from Romania, Canada, the United Kingdom, Spain, Norway, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Italy, Luxembourg and Ireland.
“Words fail me that this is happening,” said Fiona Long of Harlow, England.
The campaign also included a Facebook page, which declared: “Norway, return the children to Bodnariu family!”
A post there from Daniel Bodnariu, Marius’ brother and a church pastor, expressed thanks for those concerned about his brother’s family.
He explained the action was initiated by a director of a school his nieces attend.
The girls are “challenging,” talk a lot and will not comply [with the ] school,” he explained. “But they are creative and smart.”
He said the girls, at the prompting of officials, confirmed occasions of corporal punishment but insisted there was no “abuse.”
And he warned that someone can make a telephone call and parents “wake up with … police at the door” and no option but to prove they are good parents.
He said Marius had worked as a professor of computer science in Romania. When he married and moved to Norway he worked as a professional designer and engineer.
Daniel Bodnariu wrote that government officials are destroying the family. “God have mercy.”
On the Facebook page, Mircdea Novac warned: “If you are a Christian and you go on vacation in Norway with your children you may risk coming back without them! … The ‘Aryan society’ doesn’t include Christians. Didn’t we understand anything from history?”
On that page, too, was a letter from Peter Costea, Ph.D., president of the Alliance of Romania’s Families to Norway Embassy in Romania.
The organization is “very much disturbed by what we conclude is a de facto confiscation by the Norwegian authorities of the Bodnariu family’s five (5) children,” he wrote.
He wrote of the Norwegian government’s decision to keep the children in foster care.
“We promote the right of biological parents to raise their biological children without state intervention. Once the state hijacks this relationship, the whole of society suffers and slides down a slippery slope.”
He wrote that based on information from those involved in the case, “leading questions” were asked of the children and that the family “has been accused of spanking its children.”
“The authorities translated this accusation into child abuse, which is the farthest from the truth. Biological parents have the inherent right to reasonably discipline their children. The fact that Norway has banned the corporal punishment of children does not mean Norway is right in this matter and the rest of the world wrong.”
He noted Romania only escaped the totalitarianism of the Soviet Union a generation ago.
“The excessive zeal of Norway’s Barnevernet [social services agency] reminds the whole of Romania of the inhumane practices of its totalitarian past. We can only hope that Norway will not drift in this direction.”
He also pointedly raised the issue of the government’s criticism of Christianity.
“In derisively commenting on the faith of the Bodnariu family, the Norwegian authorities have insulted 28 million Romanian Christians worldwide. Norway has lost the Bodnariu case in the court of public opinion. It will take at least a generation before Norway regains its respect with the Romanian people.”
He said: “What happened to the Bodnariu family in Norway would not have occurred in today’s Romania, a country which only a generation ago freed itself of the totalitarian regime. … We call upon the Norwegian authorities to immediately reunite Marius and Ruth Bodnariu with their children and to cease violating their parental rights.”
The Christian Institute noted that the family’s lawyer “pointed out that the Barnevernet had abused their power and broken Norwegian law by failing to provide documentation and separating a breastfeeding baby from its mother.”
An initial hearing days ago resulted in the government agency rejecting the family’s concerns.
The Facebook report said the family, “while seeking God’s will,” is considering their next course of action.
The conflict arises on the heels of a decision by the Supreme Court in neighboring Sweden not to allow parents Christer and Annie Johansson even to see their son, now 14.
He was “state-napped” from the family when he was 7 because he was being homeschooled.
Word of the court decision comes from the Home School Legal Defense Association, which has been working with other groups, including the Alliance Defending Freedom and lawyer Ruby Harrold-Claesson of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights on the case involving Domenic Johansson.
He was taken by force from a jetliner on which he and his parents were planning to move from Sweden to his mother’s native India. The initial charge were homeschooling, which was legal in Sweden at the time, although officials later added claims that his vaccinations were not up to date and he needed fillings in his teeth.
The Johannsons haven’t had custody of their son since he was taken by police and social workers, and they haven’t even been allowed to see him since 2010.
Michael Donnelly, the international homeschooling organization’s director of global outreach, said: “This is more of the same cold, callous indifference we’ve seen in the past from the Swedish Supreme Court. This court had multiple opportunities to correct a gross injustice, and each time they have turned away.”
He said the Swedish state has “destroyed this family and, sadly, even if the court agreed to hear the case and overturn the decision – the harm has had been done is virtually irreparable.”