Four children who were abducted from their parents because of the family’s Christian faith are returning home, according to the family’s advocacy team in Norway.
WND reported in December that the five children of Marius and Ruth Bodnariu, ranging in age from about 3 months to 9 years old, were seized by the government.
It happened reportedly after the principal of a school attended by several of the older children raised alarms about the Christian beliefs of the students.
On a website set up for the family, supporters explained the children were taken “because of their profound way of living as Christian evangelicals in a predominantly atheist society,” which led to their being labeled “radical Christians” and being accused of “indoctrinating” ‘their children.
The infant had been returned to the parents, and now the rest of the children are being allowed to go home, supporters announced.
The statement posted by Pastor Christian Ionesco said: “The Naustdal Municipality of Norway has come to terms with Marius & Ruth Bodnariu for the return home of all of their five (5) children. We thank you all for your love, support, prayers and active participation in the reunification of this family.
“May God richly bless you and repay you for all you have done to bring this family back together. It is very important for all of us to respect the privacy and uninterrupted intimacy of this family in the following period as the children resettle and reintegrated themselves in t heir natural family home and environment.”
There were no details in the statement about the particulars of the reunification, nor were any details available from the city, which had been the focus of worldwide protests, documented on Facebook.
The case had been profiled by the Christian Institute in the United Kingdom, which advocates for religious rights.
It developed when Norway’s child welfare services, the Barnevernet, seized the family’s two daughters from school and two sons from the home. Eventually, even baby Ezekiel was taken.
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.”
Weeks passed while the parents were denied contact with their children. They were told only 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.”
Worldwide support for the family quickly surged, and at one point, there were plans for more than 50 rallies worldwide to draw attention to the government’s action.
Only a few weeks ago, the family’s website explained, a team of psychologists help arrange a reunion for the family.
“The toll on the children of having been separated from their natural family is undeniable, very apparent in each of the Bodnariu children, and the children’s frustration is unavoidable. In turn, the Barnevernet impudently tries to spin the family’s time together, and children’s please for reunion, in such a way that all these tell-tale signs reflect negatively against the parents, Marius & Ruth,” the site reported.
WND reported the Christian Institute noted the principal “had concerns about how the girls were disciplined at home because the parents were ‘very Christian.'”
“She said the family had ‘a strong faith that God punishes sin’ that ‘creates disability in children.’ The principal noted although the girls were creative, intelligent, and showed no signs of physical abuse, she believed the parents needed ‘help and guidance’ in raising their children,” the Christian Institute said.
“”HSLDA is asking our members and friends to contact the Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C., to express their concern about this situation. Norway has a great desire to maintain a good image, especially with the United States. Your efforts can help Norway realize that this kind of behavior can cause that image to be tarnished,” the announcement said. “You can email Norway’s Ambassador to the U.S., Ambassador Kåre R. Aas, at [email protected]”
And extended family members immediately mobilized Romanian activists.
“It’s hard to understand this kind of ruthless act against a family,” said Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s director of global outreach. “All who know the parents report that they are caring and responsible. Even if there were legitimate concerns about the parenting of Ruth and Marius – which doesn’t appear to be the case – this kind of treatment would still be completely disproportionate. The actions of this agency violate basic human rights norms that Norway has committed to uphold.”
HSLDA said American and Norwegian lawyers also worked on the case.
Attorney Peter Costea of Houston said the government is claiming, according to the case files, the “Bible-based parenting style caused stress for the children.”
“There is no doubt in my mind,” Costea told HSLDA, “that this action was motivated in large part by the family’s religious faith. The Bodnarius are God-fearing, church-going folk – but this is not as common in Norway today.”
He continued: “Is it child abuse to teach children the Bible? The Norwegian government seems to think that if children believe and act according to their faith taught to them by their parents, then they are too ‘rigid’ or ‘strong-willed.'”