I have longed for thy salvation, O L-RD; and thy Torah is my delight. Let my soul live, and it shall praise thee; and let thy judgments help me. I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. Psalm 119:174-176

28 September 2013

German Homeschooling case - The Russian-Baptists

Tree near the Odenwald - Photo by A. Stahl

One of the recurring themes that I keep finding in my research on home educators in Germany, is that many of them happen to be Russian Baptists. From what I can gather, their beliefs are much along those of the Independent Fundamentalist Baptist Church. There are, of course, some Southern Baptists in the mix.  (source 1, source 2, source 3, source 4, source 5, source 6, source 7, source 8)

Apparently included in this group, are the Romeike, Rudolph and Dudek families.
In fact, hundreds of children are not allowed by their parents to attend school in this country. In Baden-Württemberg alone are 60 cases... and the "Philadelphia School" in Siegen, which is powered by its own account nationwide and not recognized by the German state  has around 300 children under its school umbrella. Most religious parents... are convinced that educators are a morally deleterious influence on their little charges - especially in matters of reproduction.
2003, Der Spiegel: Pauken in der guten Stube [Timpani in the parlor]

  Many in Germany who rebel against compulsory school are fundamentalist Christians who are primarily disturbed that sex education and evolution are taught in state schools. About 400 families in Germany oppose compulsory education on religious grounds.. and this includes the "Twelve Tribes"...
Compulsory education has been mandatory since the German Weimar Republic and with it the state curriculum to which all schools, including private schools must abide. German children spend at the very least, nine years in school, and stay at least until they are eighteen when compulsory education ends.
December 2004: Der Spiegel: Flucht ins Exotische [Escape to the exotic]

The violation of  compulsory education is a legal offense, which is punishable under Article 119 paragraph 1 No. 2 BayEUG with a fine. Article 118 paragraph 1 No. 2 provides that the district administration authority may carry the compulsory school-age children to school by their agents [the police]. To carry this out, the school officers...  may enter homes, places of business and ... exercise direct coercion. The fundamental rights to physical integrity, liberty and inviolability of the home are thus limited.
2005: Schulboykott aus Gewissensgründen [School boycott on conscientious grounds]

Schneider decided to distance from "illegal small schools...." In the BEFG, the largest free church, Baptists see themselves as "an integral part of society."
Representatives belonging to BEFG Baptist churches in Paderborn and Detmold are also separating themselves from the truants. "If individual parents violated the compulsory education, it should be understood that this is against Baptist doctrine," said Pastor Maik Berghaus (Detmold). BEFG communities adhere "to the principles of the rule of law," said community officer Robin Malloy (Paderborn).
2005: BEFG distanziert sich vom Schulboykott baptistischer Aussiedler [The Federation of Evangelical Free Churches Kdö.R. (BEFG) distanced themselves from the school boycotting Baptist emigrants]

 In Paderborn, members of the Baptist faith community have kept their children out of compulsory school for months. In December, the county had imposed fines [250€] in seven cases...
These parents, relying heavily on their religious faith, have contientiously objected to religious and sex education in their children's school. In their opinion, sex is spoken of too freely in primary school - they therefore want to teach their children at home; relying on material from remote schools that are not offically recognized by the German government.
January 2005: Der Spiegel:  Schulboykott: Baptisten nehmen Kinder aus der Grundschule
[School boycott: Baptists take children out of primary school]

 First, there were two devout Baptist families who registered their families with the authorities in Austria, then more applications came into Belgian and Austrian authorities from four other families. In these countries, there exists a teaching, but non-compulsory school law as in Germany. A total of seven pairs of parents from the Paderborn area have refused to send their children to elementary school for religious reasons since 15 October [2004].
 August 2005: Der Spiegel: Schulboykott: Baptisten melden Kinder im Ausland an
[School boycott: Baptists move their children abroad]

 After warnings, fines and the threat to remove children from parental custody; the seven pairs of parents would not change their minds. Now the endless controversy over the religious truants seems finished. The parents agreed to a visit to another school in Heidelberg...
The first couple had removed their children from school in October 2003, and several couples followed after in September 2004.
 August 2005: Der Spiegel:  Paderborner Schulboykotteure: Baptisten flüchten in den Süden
[Paderborn school boycotters: Baptists flee to the south]

 The problem with the loss of custody: children should only be removed from a family, if they are neglected, or abused physically or psychologically. ...Nevertheless, several courts have found that the behavior of parents - with all the good will - is deeply harmful to their children. 
2006: Christliche Schulverweigerer: Die Geduld ist erschöpft [Christian truants: Patience is exhausted]

The parents concerned appealed to the court for their fundamental rights...
They argued that religious education is not ensured in public school, and their children would be taught to be humanists instead of loving God, be subject to the government... and not be allowed to question authority. Instead of modesty, they would begin learning about reproduction and sex as early as the second grade... instead of chastity they would prematurely exposed to discourse on and the practice of sex.
Instead of school being a place to warn against witchcraft, stories were recommended where individuals practiced esoteric beliefs or one would be encouraged to paint mandalas. Instead of creation, they would teach evolutionary theory as proven science...
2007: VG Stuttgart: Keine Befreiung von der Schulpflicht aus christlichen Gründen[VG Stuttgart: No exemption from compulsory education from Christian reasons ]

 Last week, a court in Paderborn in the German state of Westphalia ruled that two Baptist couples lose their parental authority over their own children in educational matters. The court said it was interfering “in order to protect the children from further harm.” It stated that the parents had shown “a stubborn contempt both for the state’s educational duty as well as the right of their children to develop their personalities by attending school.” The court appointed the local Paderborn social service as guardian over the children to ensure that they attend public school.
2007: Hitler’s Ghost Haunts German Parents by Alexandra Colen

 The judge ruled... that religious motives do not justify an exemption from the general and compulsory primary education. The teaching and educational mission of the public schools encompasses not only the knowledge but also the education of children to become "self-reliant members of society."
2007: NGO: Keine Befreiung von Schulpflicht aus religiösen Gründen [No exemption from compulsory schooling for religious reasons]

 The Administrative Court also has refused the application submitted by the approval of Bible-believing Christians... of a "Christian elementary and secondary school" in Windischenbach. The court said that the school did not have an adequate amount of teachers and skills. The plaintiffs may appeal the judgement with the Administrative Court of Baden-Wuerttemberg
2007: Religiöse Schulverweigerer unterliegen vor Gericht [Religious parents who pulled children from school stand before the courts]

 ...the parents registered their children in an Austrian village where - the mother who is not trained as a teacher - has since begun schooling the children at home. The Supreme Court alleged that the nurse had apparently proved inadequate to address the risks to the children's welfare effectively. ...  The courts decision still weighs heavy on this family as they have maintained their home in Germany.
2007: Glaube befreit nicht von Schulpflicht  [Religious grounds do not exempt from compulsory education]

Integration presupposes that religious or ideological minorities are not able to distance themselves or completely close off dialogue with others who believe differently. Is an important task of elementary school therefore to practice such "working tolerance"..
2007: Deutsches Bundesgericht: Sorgerechtsentzug bei religiös motivierter Schulverweigerung
[German Federal Court: loss of custody in religiously motivated school refusal]

The city of Paderborn argued the Paderborn Court has expressly declared in its judgment, the departure of the parents with their children was always possible. The Court is upholding the case of the Bavarian Higher Regional Court in 1985. The city had simply met the requirements of the Paderborn judge and Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe with respect to the withdrawal of custody rights for parents. "The city has proposed from the beginning, the Baptist parents wish to escape custody," said Paderborn Youth Councillor Walter Wolfgang.
2007: Religiöse Schulverweigerung - Sorgerechtsentzug möglich  [Religious truants - possible loss of custody]

  The general public has a legitimate interest in counteracting the formation of religious or ideological motivated parallel societies and to integrate minorities. The repatriated family belongs to a community of "Gospel-believing Christian Baptists".
2007: Gericht verbietet Hausunterricht [Court forbids homeschooling]

...The persistent refusal of parents to send their children to public elementary school or an approved alternative school, ...(prepared according to the Federal Court of Justice) ... is an abuse of parental authority. Therefore, parents are not entitled to withdraw their children out of compulsory education if lessons or methods in the school are contrary to their individual beliefs. This applies at least as long as the government responsibly fulfills its educational mission within the meaning of the Basic Law.

2007: Schulverweigerung: Paderborner Baptisten verlieren vor Bundesgerichtshof[Truancy: Paderborn Baptists lose before Federal Court]

  A conflict between freedom of religion and parental rights on the one hand and the state educational mission on the other hand could not warrant a general denial of school attendance, was the Court of Appeal. 
2008: Schulpflicht: Bußgeld gegen streng religiöse Eltern [Compulsory education: fine against fundamentalist parents]  
You can find the 2008 Court Decision here
and here

 Finally, the Federal Administrative Court stressed in a similar case in mid-October, that the parental rights do not entitle a state-regulated domestic education. Compulsory education is top priority with the State. (case 6 B 27.09).
2009: Christliche Familie: Schulverweigerer kommen mit geringer Geldstrafe davon [Christian family: truants come off with low fines]

 Dissatisfied parents can possibly start a private school but need state recognition. Parents whose children - for whatever reason - can be easily taught at home, are liable to prosecution...
Behind the compulsory education is "the idea that the collective learning in school builds social skills," says Martina Elschenbroich, school law expert of the Standing Conference of the Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs of the Länder in the Federal Republic of Germany...
2010: Asyl für Schulverweigerer: Fundi-Christen feiern Sieg über "peinliches Deutschland"
[Asylum for truants: fundamentalist Christians celebrate victory over "Torturesome Germany"]

Now they have been sentenced to 14 and 40 days, "Erzwingungshaft" [coercive detention] which they must serve in prison Hamm, Westphalia. The families concerned are shocked.
2011: Deutschland: Baptisten inhaftiert [Germany: Baptists detained]

It seems to me that the courts have this tied in a neat little bow.

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