Despite Supreme Court Decision, Homeschooling Family That Fled Germany For U.S. Is Allowed To Stay

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Most people looking for asylum in the United States say they’ve been persecuted in their home country — sometimes imprisoned and tortured. Life-and-death stuff. Real terror, real danger.

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike are a little different. They hail from Germany, and the worst that happened to them there was that their government told them they were expected to abide by the national Schulpflicht — mandatory state-sponsored schooling for all children aged six and older.

Not wishing to taint their Christian purity with the worldly teachings of Germany’s schools, the Romeikes fled to the United States — and applied for political asylum — on the invitation of a network of Christian homeschoolers represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).

On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the Romeikes’ case, setting off a choir of right-wing voices howling that if we needed more proof of the Obama administration’s hostility towards Christianity, this was it.

The reliably awful Todd Starnes wrote a desperate screed for Fox headlined

Team Obama wins fight to have Christian home-school family deported

But then, within a day, the already-doubtful prospect that the Romeikes and their six children would be kicked out of the country vanished altogether, after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security suddenly gave the family ”indefinite deferred status.”

“We’re not entirely sure what it all means, but it’s definitely good,” Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) attorney Jim Mason told Christianity Today. “It permits them to stay in the country and work here.”

A little background:

While private and public schools are allowed in Germany, homeschooling is not. [Back in Germany,] The Romeike family was threatened on multiple occasions, fined about $10,000, and had three children forcibly removed from home and driven to school by police, according to [a legal] brief.

… While the German government was not motivated by religion to persecute the Romeikes, it was frustrating the family’s faith.

An article in Der Spiegel explains what bugged the parents:

The couple wanted to safeguard its children from the “unchristian tendencies” in German schools; the curriculum was “neither Christian not value-neutral,” grumbled Uwe Romeike. The kids were educated “according to an anti-Christian world view,” school books were chockfull of obscene expressions, cursing, and blasphemy: “They focus more on vampires and witches than they do on God.” For a strict Christian [said Romeike], this is simply unendurable.

Written By: Terry Firma
continue to source article at patheos.com

43 COMMENTS

  1. According to St Paul these suckers are messing with their God and will end up in the Lake of Fire: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever rebels against authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves (Romans 13:1-2).

    • In reply to #1 by Bob Springsteen:

      According to St Paul these suckers are messing with their God and will end up in the Lake of Fire: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever reb…

      I never did like the Romans…..
      I

    • In reply to #1 by Bob Springsteen:

      According to St Paul these suckers are messing with their God and will end up in the Lake of Fire: Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, whoever reb…

      Yeah, I think after Germany’s experiences in WWII not even hardcore Christian fundamentalists there can take that one seriously anymore.

  2. It should be clear by now that the right to, say, freedom of speech or freedom of religious expression is not an unlimited one. In the UK, for example, recent court cases seem to suggest that, while one is free to believe whatever s/he wants, how s/he expresses that belief is subject to restriction. So you may believe — based on your Holy Book — that homosexuality is a sin, but you cannot discriminate against gay people based on that belief.

    Cases like the one in the OP just go to show that religious people may be able to have their cake, but they can’t be allowed to eat it as well, especially when eating it denies others the right to a piece of the same cake. That’s called equality under the law — or, as some religious prefer to call it, being persecuted.

    p.s: are we to expect floods of Christian German refugees to the US following this decision?

    What if Nigerian Islamists Boka Haram, which means “Western education is forbidden,” start fleeing Nigeria because the country’s government wants to impose “Western” education on their kids; can they, too, claim asylum in the US (as the OP points out)? Oh, the irony. It would be fun to see how the State Department parses that one!

  3. At least the family have not been granted asylum – that would have made nonsense of the asylum process. But the current politicoreligious situation in the United States seems to have played in their favor, and the Romeikes have bypassed the immigration queue. One is left with a sense that the US Department of Homeland Security has not been as independent of religion in this case as its constitutional status requires it to be.

  4. They may not deserve asylum, but I hope people here support the right of families to educate their own children as they see fit, rather than be compelled by the state. Without this freedom, what defense is their against totalitarianism, theocracy, etc.?

    • In reply to #10 by Imperius:

      They may not deserve asylum, but I hope people here support the right of families to educate their own children as they see fit, rather than be compelled by the state. Without this freedom, what defense is their against totalitarianism, theocracy, etc.?

      They need to show that the children have reached a reasonable standard, otherwise parents could have them harvesting the crops or performing other labour intensive tasks. I think the homeschooled require constant monitoring .

    • In reply to #10 by Imperius:

      They may not deserve asylum, but I hope people here support the right of families to educate their own children as they see fit, rather than be compelled by the state. Without this freedom, what defense is their against totalitarianism, theocracy, etc.?

      What of the right of children to receive a proper education ?

      Michael

    • In reply to #10 by Imperius:

      They may not deserve asylum, but I hope people here support the right of families to educate their own children as they see fit, rather than be compelled by the state. Without this freedom, what defense is their against totalitarianism, theocracy, etc.?

      That is a silly comment. The Romeikes don’t want to home school their children to teach them secular, democratic values. State education is meant to protect children from totalitarianism and theocracy.

    • In reply to #10 by Imperius:

      They may not deserve asylum, but I hope people here support the right of families to educate their own children as they see fit, rather than be compelled by the state. Without this freedom, what defense is their against totalitarianism, theocracy, etc.?

      The “defence” is based on the fact that these parents are are not fit to teach any children, espesially their own. They are not even fit to be parents.

    • In reply to #10 by Imperius:

      They may not deserve asylum, but I hope people here support the right of families to educate their own children as they see fit, rather than be compelled by the state. Without this freedom, what defense is their against totalitarianism, theocracy, etc.?

      Children are not the property of their parents, to be treated as the parents see fit. Children have a right to a good education, and they have a right not to be isolated from society. Please do not resort to hyperbole. No-one is advocating totalitarianism.

    • In reply to #10 by Imperius:

      They may not deserve asylum, but I hope people here support the right of families to educate their own children as they see fit, rather than be compelled by the state. Without this freedom, what defense is their against totalitarianism, theocracy, etc.?

      Nope. I much dislike this common misconception that you have some ‘right’ to educate your kids as you see fit.
      Instead, the children have the ‘right’ to share the same education standards as their peers and be made fit for the needs of their society.

  5. As inscribed on the Statue of Silly

    “Give me your delusional, your non law abiding

    Your home schooled classes yearning to teach lies,

    The wretched refuse of your educational system.

    Send these, the mindless, logic-lost, to me:

    I lift my lamp beside the back door.”

  6. Look at the bow on the baby’s head, reminiscent of the Duggar family babies, who without fail sport the ‘Easter egg’ look.
    And these fine folk also show a predilection for lots of children, and no regard for the limited resources on our much abused planet. Oh, what the heck, the Lord will provide.

    Wonder what the godly couple do for a living?I guess there’s always showbiz…”Six children and counting…”

    • In reply to #18 by SaganTheCat:

      religious bigots flee europe to america claiming persecution

      old news

      Good one!

      A very distinguished US lawyer friend once told me that story was a pile of horse poo though. Mostly they were bankrupt wool merchants fleeing their creditors, at a time when creditors could amongst other things vote on whether a bankrupt should be hanged, though this was rare.

      They were determined to set up a society where debtors could be forgiven and start over. Which is fair enough, though there have been unforeseen consequences, not excluding America’s current infatuation with $15 trillion in debt and growing….

  7. German bureaucracy is severe!
    My son was educated at a British public school ; I was visited by a bureaucrat who accused me of having a non existent son.
    Ironically his visit coincided with a visit from my son who showed him his passport.
    I criticised him for making an unsubstantiated accusation,which angered him on the basis that it was his job to be positive.
    However,these German religious head cases pleading for asylum is ridiculous!
    Religion and absurdity are common actions;as demonstrated by Muslims!

  8. Without being very familiar with the German education curriculum, somehow I doubt it involves vampires, witches, satanism, blood offerings, saying the Lord’s prayer backwards, midnight cemetery trips, hexes, head rotation, projectile vomiting or the use of sacred objects for the purpose of sexual gratification.

    More likely, these are two seriously deluded and paranoid parents who would put their own religion above the wellbeing of their own children. It’s hardly surprising they found a warm welcome with the homeschool movement in the US. Why the US government should tolerate their presence or grant them leave to stay is bizarre to say the least.

  9. school books were chockfull of obscene expressions, cursing, and blasphemy: “They focus more on vampires and witches than they do on God.” For a strict Christian [said Romeike], this is simply unendurable.

    These are school books? So how do they compare to some of the books in the old testament e.g. Daniel going into his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel? Or wasn’t it Lot that gave his daughters up for gang rape and then had sex with them himself albeit drunk but no so much as to be incapacitated?

    No they don’t have the right to teach their kids what the hell they like. Next it will be alchemy instead of science or astrology instead of astronomy or the demon theory of disease and health care by incantations.

    Pack them back off to Germany.

  10. Thought experiment: what if this were an atheist family from a strict Islamic country that had refused them the right to educate their children at home to avoid the mandatory religious curriculum in the government-sanctioned schools of that nation? What is they were Alabama atheists who wanted to home educate to avoid the unspoken (and spoken) religious curriculum in their state’s schools? How about a same-sex couple whose children were being tormented by teachers and children in their local public school? Principles have to cut both ways. If you want to ensure your own freedom to raise your children according to the dictates of your mind and conscience, you have to extend the same freedom to people with whom you disagree.

    • In reply to #24 by zonotrichia:

      Thought experiment: what if this were an atheist family from a strict Islamic country that had refused them the right to educate their children at home to avoid the mandatory religious curriculum in the government-sanctioned schools of that nation? What is they were Alabama atheists who wanted to…

      The Romeikes were free to give their children a Christian education in Germany, but perhaps the Christian schools there were not Christian enough for them. Apparently, homeschooling is not available in Germany, and that is what the Romeikes want. Homeschooling in the United States is said to be monitored by the state and so on, but of course it leaves the parents with more freedom to control what their children are exposed to than may be good for them, and this kind of control is also what the Romeikes want with regard to their children’s education.

      Your counter-example of the atheist family in a strict Islamic country does not work. In a strict Islamic country an atheist couple would not let that be known but would observe the practices demanded by the religious leaders of the country and would be happy for their children to learn how to behave in an Islamic country. They would be learning necessary survival skills, quite unlike the Romeikes in Germany. In Western democratic countries atheists are quite happy for their children to learn about religion at school; it usually serves as a vaccine against the religious mind-virus.

    • In reply to #24 by zonotrichia:

      Thought experiment: what if this were an atheist family from a strict Islamic country that had refused them the right to educate their children at home to avoid the mandatory religious curriculum in the government-sanctioned schools of that nation? What is they were Alabama atheists who wanted to…

      You raise an interesting point however I would say this argument has to be predicated on the assumption of an epistemologically level playing field and it is not difficult to demonstrate that this is not the case hence my use of parody to undeline that very issue. There is no possibility of respecting people’s views beyond that of respecting their right to hold those views. We do not however have to respect a view or proposition on equal terms purely as a rule, we have to evaluate people’s reasons. We tread a thin line that divides knowledge, judgement and action between allowing rational discourse or ideas that are pernicious and dangerous.

    • In reply to #24 by zonotrichia:

      Thought experiment: what if this were an atheist family from a strict Islamic country that had refused them the right to educate their children at home to avoid the mandatory religious curriculum in the government-sanctioned schools of that nation? What is they were Alabama atheists who wanted to…

      Nice experiment, except that I would compare the atheist family to the German government and the Romeikes to the strict Islamic country. There is no such thing as the right to educate your children at home. There is a right for children to be properly educated and protected form bigotry and indoctrination. I see no objections if that can be done at home, but that’s not what the Romeikes are up to.

  11. I listened to the host of a talk show on a local christian radio station (WMBI, Moody Bible Institute) discuss this. She was just beside herself that these folks had to come to the U.S. to give their cildren a “proper” christian education. I was fascinated to listen to her rationale (apologetics) for supporting this. WMBI rarely lets me down for eye-rolling entertainment… I generally don’t turn away unless they start playing christian “rock”.

    Steve

  12. German families who want to home school their children don’t have to go to the USA. Just hop over to the UK. School attendance is not compulsory and parents can stuff their children’s heads with religious dogma if they like.

  13. I can’t look at that picture without thinking how much the mother looks like Andrea Yates, the fundamentalist wife and mother who suffered from severe postpartum depression and drowned all five of her kids. She was isolated from the rest of her family and society by extreme religious fundamentalism, constantly impregnated by her husband in spite of her history of PPD, and suffered from delusions of “sinfulness” that threatened her children’s souls. I look at this family and can’t help but feel a chill.

  14. I am posting this link here not because it strictly belongs here, there are dozens of threads here where it is germane, but it can go here, and it is an active thread, so it may, I hope get read.

    The link is to a Boston Globe article concerning a posited negative effect in presenting a fact that contravenes a belief. Rather than weakening the belief, factual argument may in fact have the reverse effect of reinforcing the belief. This may explain a lot, and provide a modified path to follow when discussing theistic belief.

    http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/ideas/articles/2010/07/11/how_facts_backfire/

    A brief taste:

    In the end, truth will out. Won’t it?

    Maybe not. Recently, a few political scientists have begun to discover a human tendency deeply discouraging to anyone with faith in the >power of information. It’s this: Facts don’t necessarily have the power to change our minds.

    • In reply to #31 by Sheepdog:

      I am posting this link here not because it strictly belongs here, there are dozens of threads here where it is germane, but it can go here, and it is an active thread, so it may, I hope get read.
      . Rather than weakening the belief, factual argument may in fact have the reverse effect of reinforcing the belief. This may explain a lot, and provide a modified path to follow when discussing theistic belief.

      This was a really interesting article and, as you said, would be worth reading by everyone. I remember a similar thought a few years ago about the consequences of demonising a particular group. The tendency is to consolidate in-group feeling amongst its adherents. Apparently Muslim women were choosing to discard religious dress prior to 9/11. Once they had become ‘the enemy’, there was a significant re-uptake of the veil.

  15. Since America sensibly separates the judiciary and the executive, and since Obama appointed hardly anyone (i.e. two people) to the Supreme Court, how do the right manage to conflate these two things into this being a defeat for Christianity “by Obama”? A majority of the serving Scotus judges are Republican appointees.

    As for the Romeike family, they may well be away with the fairies but it seems unjust that Germany does not permit home schooling (as does the UK, say) to those who want to do it. It need not be for religious reasons, and it can be done well. Whereas a lot of state schools sometimes leave a lot to be desired.

    And the family could easily have moved within the EU to a number of countries, including the UK, where home schooling is permitted. US immigration authorities may wish to note that small detail…

    • In reply to #35 by Stevehill:

      it seems unjust that Germany does not permit home schooling (as does the UK, say) to those who want to do it. It need not be for religious reasons, and it can be done well. Whereas a lot of state schools sometimes leave a lot to be desired.

      I’m sceptical of a father or mother having the education, teaching skills, dedication and financial resources to teach the entire curriculum on their own. Various arrangements are possible, it’s true. A number of home-schooling parents could work together, effectively setting up their own private school. Tutors could be hired for specialist subjects. In some local authorities, I believe, education can be part home, part regular schooling. That might work. I would expect, though, that home-schooling is likely to be poor. However, who would know? Is there any study of what goes on in home schools in the UK?

  16. *In reply to #37 by Nitya:

    Apparently Muslim women were choosing to discard religious dress prior to 9/11. Once they had become ‘the enemy’, there was a significant re-uptake of the veil.

    Speaking for North African women, by the mid 80′s the hejab was on it’s way to replacement of previous traditional cover-ups. By the early 90′s it was firmly established. It had more to do with Islamists frightening the hell out of people than anything else. Women were killed there for not wearing it.

    • In reply to #38 by LaurieB:

      *In reply to #37 by Nitya:

      Apparently Muslim women were choosing to discard religious dress prior to 9/11. Once they had become ‘the enemy’, there was a significant re-uptake of the veil.

      Speaking for North African women, by the mid 80′s the hejab was on it’s way to replacement of previous traditi…

      I was referring to Muslim women in western countries, but your comments make an interesting addition. I’m assuming the hijab replaced even more enveloping garb, like the burqa? (Hope I haven’t got my wires crossed).

  17. What I hear is: “We’re not allowed to keep our children ignorant in Germany. We have to go to the United States to do that.”

    How sad a commentary on the current state of things in the US.

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