The Romeike Family
The German homeschooling family that fled to America in order to homeschool their children has
been denied asylum by the Obama administration
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 21, 2013)
The verdict on a massively significant case
in the Sixth Court of Appeals has been returned. In a shocking development, the court has upheld the Obama Administration’s bid to deny asylum to the Romeike family, who fled to the US in 2008 after persecution in their native Germany for homeschooling their five children. The decision was announced
Tuesday by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA). The HSLDA has been representing the Romeike family throughout a seven-year struggle to educate their children in the way they think best.
Uwe Romeike and his wife Hannelore are music teachers and evangelical Christians who withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith, and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment. “As we were confronted with opposition to our choice we began to feel more and more that our faith required us to homeschool our children,”
Uwe explained Wednesday.
Unfortunately for the Romeikes, homeschooling has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed by Adolf Hitler in 1938. According to the German Supreme Court, the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
The family accrued the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and faced police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home. On one occasion, their children were dragged away and taken to school in police vans. Uwe explained in an interview with The Blaze
that current German law does not require police to obtain a court order before removing children from parental custody.
In 2008 the Romeikes fled Germany to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. In 2010, the HSLDA helped them to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights. Federal immigration judge Lawrence Burnam, who initially granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruled that they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. He called the German policy “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
However, it seems the Obama administration doesn’t concur. In 2012, the Board of Immigration Appeals tossed Judge Burnam’s ruling, forcing the family to head back to court, where Attorney General Eric Holder sought to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany.
HSLDA’s Mike Farris explained, “The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”
In Farris’ opinion, this shows that, “the US government does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right. Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups
A crowd of the American people agree with Farris and have rallied around the Romeike family by signing a formal petition
on the White House website. Part of the petitions reads, “Every state in the United States of America recognizes the right to homeschool, and the U.S. has the world’s largest and most vibrant homeschool community. Regrettably, this family faces deportation in spite of the persecution they will suffer in Germany. The Romeikes hope for the same freedom our forefathers sought. Please grant the privilege of liberty to the Romeike family.”
The number of signers has exceeded the threshold necessary to earn a response from the White House, and the response is still being eagerly awaited. However, the verdict from the court has created a major setback for the Romeikes and makes their status in the US uncertain. The family may be faced with deportation.
Michael Donnelly, an attorney for the Romeikes, told ABC News the family remains hopeful.
"They feel very comfortable that, in the end, things are going to work out for them
," he said. "There is a lot of support for this family in Congress, it is possible that Congress might take some action."
Farris expressed his indignation at the verdict, stating, "You can't look at the lenient attitude to 11 million people who came here for economic opportunity, why we would not treat people who come here for economic freedom on par with people who came here for religious freedom I don't understand.”
Farris said the family is planning to appeal the decision first to the entire Sixth Circuit Court and then to the Supreme Court, if necessary.
–Deportation of German homeschool family affects US homeschool freedom
–Interview with the Romeike Family
A mentally handicapped woman who narrowly escaped a forced abortion in Nevada has delivered a healthy baby
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on May 13, 2012)
In November of last year, the case of mentally-handicapped Elisa Bauer attracted nationwide attention when a Reno, Nevada judge asserted that he had the right to force the Catholic woman to undergo an abortion and sterilization against her will.
Elisa Bauer of Washoe County is a 32-year-old woman who suffers from fetal alcohol syndrome. Adopted by William and Amy Bauer in 1992, Elisa is an epileptic who reportedly has the mental and social capacities of a six-year-old. Her parents, who retained their guardianship over her and had legal authority to make final decisions concerning her health and welfare, sympathized with Elisa’s insistence on carrying the baby to term, and had six qualified couples lined up, who were eager to adopt the baby, even if he or she turned out to be a special needs child. The parents were also providing Bauer with appropriate pre-natal care for a high-risk pregnancy.
However, when Washoe County Social Services expressed their concern that Bauer’s pregnancy would be detrimental to her health and that of her then-unborn baby, the case went to court, where Judge Egan Walker reportedly asserted, “I have inherent authority to [override the wishes of Elisa’s parents] because the court appointed the guardians and they are agents of the court.” The court-summoned doctor recommended abortion and sterilization in no uncertain terms, stating, “End this pregnancy and tie her tubes.”
Fortunately for the Bauer family, the story prompted outrage across the nation, as readers scrambled to file petitions and place phone calls and express their views in strong terms. Kirsten Anderson of LifeSiteNews, who originally broke the story, writes,
“The stories we posted about the case spread like wildfire around Facebook and Twitter. Readers were understandably horrified that something like this could happen in America. They wanted to know what they could do to stop it. Rebekah O’Brien, our social media coordinator, suggested they call the judge’s office and make their voices heard. She provided his contact information. Our readers filled his voicemail box with messages until the system couldn’t store any more. After that, they called the governor. That was about the time the court started changing its tone.”
Elisa’s adoptive father, William Bauer, wrote on the facebook support page, Save Elisa’s Baby,
“Even though the judge proclaimed that our religious views were of no effect in his courtroom; even though the judge clipped our statements and said he wanted only expert opinions; even though he brought in several experts, including lawyers, who wanted death for the baby; even though the judge treated us parents as if we sat on the stoop of our trailer eating pork and beans out of the can and watching re-runs of He Haw... Elisa's baby won a right to be born. Our attorney, supplied by the Thomas More Foundation and by another pro-life group, arranged a mediated conclusion to the treachery planned. We gave up our guardianship in trade for the life of our grandchild. The due date is May 11, 2013. The baby appears normal, and, since Elisa's retardation is not genetic, the baby will probably have normal intelligence.”
On May 2nd, Elisa Bauer gave birth to Cierra Marie, a healthy, full-term baby. The Bauer family’s lawyer, Jason Guinasso, wrote, “She is sweet and good natured. By all measures, she is perfectly healthy and sublimely beautiful.” Guinasso said that a loving adoptive family has been identified for baby Cierra, adding, “I can't adequately express how seeing her face makes my heart full.”
(This article first posted at The Washington Times Communities.)
Pro-life protest on the US Supreme Court steps
40 years after the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling, where does America stand on abortion -- and how did
we get here?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on April 27, 2013)
Abortion has been legal in the US since 1973, when the passage of Roe v. Wade divided the nation on lines that still separate the champions of unborn life from the advocates of the woman’s right to choose. For a generation of young adults who have no memory of the years before abortion was legal, it may seem that this conflict is interminable and has no end. However, while the battle is still raging as fiercely as ever, in recent years some signs have appeared that seem to indicate a shift in the tide of popular opinion.
In 2009, a Gallup poll indicated that the majority of American adults were identifying as pro-life, rather than pro-choice. Gallup commented, “This is the first time a majority of U.S. adults have identified themselves as pro-life since Gallup began asking this question in 1995.” Since that date, subsequent polls show that the pro-life majority has remained more or less constant.
What occasioned the shift? While it’s hard to say for certain, it’s undeniable that technological advances have enabled physicians and ultrasound technicians to gain more understanding than ever before of the nature of life inside the womb. 3D ultrasounds allow parents to see lifelike photographs of their unborn children and the vast accumulation of medical experience that has occurred since 1973 points relentlessly to the complexity and humanity of the fetus.
Disillusionment with the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, may also have something to do with the trend towards cultural acceptance of the pro-life message. Virgina-based student activist group, Live Action, started by then-fifteen-year-old Lila Rose, has generated nation-wide media coverage with their videos exposing Planned Parenthood corruption. Other reports from former Planned Parenthood employees have drawn attention to the massive fraud perpetrated against taxpayers by the abortion giant.
However, it is not far-fetched to surmise that the biggest factor influencing this astonishing and even unexpected trend is the accumulated testimony of hundreds who have come out of the abortion industry or have experienced abuse at its hands. From abortion survivors to post-abortive women, to former employees of abortion providers, to victims of botched abortions at the hands of physicians like Kermit Gosnell, the cries proclaiming the brutality of the industry have becoming impossible to ignore.
Nurse Kathleen Malloy of Jacksonville Florida writes of her own experiences in this disturbing fashion,
“I worked the 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. shift, and when we weren’t busy, I’d go out to help with the newborns. One night I saw a bassinet outside the nursery. There was a baby in this bassinet – a crying, perfectly formed baby – but there was a difference in this child. She had been scalded. She was the child of a saline abortion.
This little girl looked as if she had been put in a pot of boiling water. No doctor, no nurse, no parent, to comfort this hurt, burned child. She was left alone to die in pain. They wouldn’t let her in the nursery – they didn’t even bother to cover her. I was ashamed of my profession that night! It’s hard to believe this can happen in our modern hospitals, but it does. It happens all the time. I thought a hospital was a place to heal the sick – not a place to kill. While doctors will go to extraordinary lengths to save the lives of premature babies such as these, babies born alive during abortions at the same age are left to die.
I asked a nurse at another hospital what they do with their babies that are aborted by saline. Unlike my hospital, where the baby was left alone struggling for breath, their hospital puts the infant in a bucket and puts the lid on. Suffocation! Death by suffocation!”
Supporters of legal abortion are quick to dismiss such heartbreaking anecdotes as addressing circumstances unique to late-term abortions, which they tout as being only a miniscule portion of abortions performed in the US. However, it is a telling observation concerning the entire industry that it has repeatedly opposed all legislation restricting these brutal late-term abortions. In a shocking incident in March, a Planned Parenthood representative from Florida went so far as to voice support for “post-birth abortions.” Fortunately for humanity, the vast number of Americans don’t concur, and the majority seems to be slowly but surely pulling away from this callous attitude.
Last month, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul introduced his long-awaited Life At Conception Act before the US Senate. Such bills have been ridiculed for years as useless, and dismissed as attempts on the part of politicians to pander to the pro-life voting bloc. But, despite the fact that Paul’s Life At Conception Act is unlikely to ever get a vote in the US Senate, there is still something different about this year’s bill.
What’s different is that this year, for the first time since the war on abortion became main-stream in the US, two states have already passed historic legislation stating that life begins at conception and that unborn persons must be afforded all of the rights and protections offered under the US Constitution to all persons.
Just a few years ago, it seemed this kind of legislation could never be passed. Yet Kansas’ bill was signed into law by Governor Sam Brownback last week, a testimony to how much can be done by dedicated activists with science on their side. The new law reads,
"On and after July 1, 2013, the laws of this state shall be interpreted and construed to acknowledge on behalf of the unborn child at every stage of development, all the rights, privileges and immunities available to other persons, citizens and residents of this state, subject only to the constitution of the United States, and decisional interpretations thereof by the United States Supreme Court.”
The new law bans abortion providers from providing sex-education materials for schools and from accessing public funds or tax breaks. It also requires doctors to provide material about fetal development and resources to help pregnant women. Additionally, the law bans sex-selective abortions.
North Dakota’s bill has not yet been signed by Governor Dalrymple, but provides for a statewide referendum to be on the ballot in 2014.
Obviously, neither of the bills directly address the issue of banning abortion entirely. Legislators say they are hoping the new language will prompt a lawsuit that will end up at the Supreme Court level and result in the annulment of the infamous Roe v. Wade ruling. That they’ve made it that far is a cause for great jubilation in the ranks of the pro-life movement, and serious consternation among the supporters of legal abortion.(First posted at The Washington Times Communities.)
Why are law enforcement agencies requesting practice targets featuring armed women and children?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Mar 2, 2013)
Minnesota-based Law Enforcement Targets, Inc (LET) has been awarded $5.5 million in contracts with the federal government, including $2 million with the Department of Homeland Security. In light of this fact, it’s no wonder that the American people were outraged last week when it was uncovered that the firm had released a series of practice targets featuring a pregnant woman, a child, a young mother and grandparents.
This No More Hesitation series includes seven total targets, titled Pregnant Woman, Older Man 1, Older Man 2, Older Woman, Young Mother, Young Girl, and Little Brother. Each of the depicted subjects is armed. The “pregnant woman” is seen in front of the backdrop of a nursery. The “older woman,” is depicted in a bathrobe in her kitchen. The “young mother” is seen on a playground, holding a toddler’s hand. “Young girl” is standing in a driveway with a sack purse slung over her shoulder. “Little brother,” who is a very little person indeed, is depicted in a backyard with a privacy fence behind him. “Older man” stands in his home, in front of a bookshelf.
LET said that the targets were requested by law enforcement agencies and designed in order to “train police officers for unusually complex situations.” In a statement released to Reason’s Mike Riggs, they stated,
“The subjects in NMH targets were chosen in order to give officers the experience of dealing with deadly force shooting scenarios with subjects that are not the norm during training. I found while speaking with officers and trainers in the law enforcement community that there is a hesitation on the part of cops when deadly force is required on subjects with atypical age, frailty or condition (one officer explaining that he enlarged photos of his own kids to use as targets so that he would not be caught off guard with such a drastically new experience while on duty). This hesitation time may be only seconds but that is not acceptable when officers are losing their lives in these same situations. The goal of NMH is to break that stereotype on the range, regardless of how slim the chances are of encountering a real life scenario that involves a child, pregnant woman, etc. If that initial hesitation time can be cut down due to range experience, the officer and community are better served.”
However, the American people didn’t seem to concur, and the ensuing outcry resulted in LET withdrawing the targets from circulation.
"We apologize for the offensive nature of our 'No More Hesitation' products," they posted to their facebook page last week. "These products have been taken offline due to the opinions expressed by so many, including members of the law enforcement community."
While the removal of the targets from the online marketplace may seem like a step in the right direction, the fact that they are being used by our supposed peace officers in the first place is sinister in its own right. The fact that our own Department of Homeland Security may be spending our money on them is disturbing as well.
In the unlikely event that a domestic law enforcement official is faced with the unexpected threat of an armed eight-year-old or a threatening mother in the presence of her toddlers, hesitation is not only the natural response, but the moral and correct response. There are good and noble reasons why civilization has erected these constraints around the lives of the young and the aged and the vulnerable.
The first and most obvious of these is that pregnant women and grandmothers and little boys rarely constitute “threats” to police officers. And if an officer is being threatened by one of these civilians in their own homes or backyards, perhaps he should consider whether it is possible that they have a genuine grievance against him? There is a certain horror accompanying the idea of conditioning our homeland security officers to fire without hesitation or consideration on the women and children and elderly people of their own nation.
LET claimed in their statement about the No Hesitation campaign that hesitation was, “not acceptable when officers are losing their lives.” But a big chunk of the American people begs to differ. As much as we respect and admire our security personnel and police officers, we also understand the impossibility of eradicating suffering from the earth, and we prefer a humane society with traditional constraints and protections for the weak to a nation ravaged by fear and bereft of all codes of conduct. We prefer a society where the life of a child is not taken without hesitation by the officers employed to protect him. And if some – a very small number – of our officers are going to end up honorably sacrificing their lives for the sake of these codes, we prefer that to the alternative of a senseless, robotic police force that will not hesitate to riddle our disabled grandparents with bullets. (This article first posted at The Washington Times Communities)
The Romeike family fled Germany for the right to homeschool their children. Now they face deportation from the US. What does this mean for US
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 15, 2013)
In 1938, the practice of homeschooling was outlawed in Germany by Adolf Hitler and the infamous Third Reich. It was a rough period in German history, as thousands of young people were being pried from their parents’ direction and authority and drafted into the Hitler Youth program, where they were supposed to be trained as Aryan supermen (and women). In a few short years, vast numbers of these youth would be bleeding out on the battlefields of Europe, on the wrong side of the war for the soul of the world.
Sadly for freedom and for many families, Germany has never lifted this archaic and totalitarian ban on homeschooling. On the contrary, the German government seems to have stepped up its opposition to home-educating parents over the past decade, forcing several families to flee, and others to enroll their children in state-approved schools against their will. The German Supreme Court has stated that the purpose of the homeschooling ban is to, “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.” It sounds like they aren’t really big on religious or philosophical diversity over there.
Some notable victims of this small-minded and grasping totalitarianism are Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children. Uwe and his wife are music teachers and evangelical Christians who for years have been unsuccessfully seeking the right to homeschool their children. The Romeikes withdrew their children from German public schools in 2006, after becoming concerned that the educational material employed by the school was undermining the tenets of their Christian faith and that the school was not providing their children with an ideal learning environment. “I don’t expect the school to teach about the Bible,” Mr. Romeike said, but “part of education should be character-building.”
After accruing the equivalent of around $10,000 in fines, and facing police visits to their home and the forcible removal of their children from the home, the Romeikes fled Germany in 2008 to seek asylum in the land of the free and the home of the brave. Their case was taken up by the Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), which helped the Romeikes in 2010 to become the first family ever granted asylum in the US for the protection of their homeschooling rights.
The HSLDA explains, “The U.S. law of asylum allows a refugee to stay in the United States permanently if he can show that he is being persecuted for one of several specific reasons. Among these are persecution for religious reasons and persecution of a ‘particular social group.’ ”
On January 26th, 2010, Memphis federal immigration judge, Lawrence Burman, granted the Romeikes political asylum, ruling they had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs if they returned to their homeland. Judge Burman also denounced the German policy heatedly. In a statement, he called it, “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
HSLDA’s Mike Donnelley called the ruling, “an extraordinary recognition of the fundamental importance of the right of parents to raise their children according to the dictates of individual conscience.”
“We were so relieved!” Hanne said. “We had been trying hard not to get our hopes up too high. [The HSLDA attorneys] had assured us that even if we lost at this level, we would appeal and that an appeal could take years. So we knew that we wouldn’t have to go right back to Germany. But to win at this point was such an answer to prayer. Our children were jumping up and down and everyone in the room was hugging us and celebrating. Tears were flowing in gratitude for God’s protection for our family.”
The Romeikes were able to continue quietly homeschooling their children in a small Tennessee town. For a time.
Sadly, their period of respite was not to last. The Romeikes’ case is now before the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, with the US government seeking to revoke their asylum and force them to return to Germany. And the details of Attorney-General Holder’s arguments in the brief for Romeike v. Holder are sinister, to say the least.
According to Holder, parents have no fundamental right to home-educate their children.
HSLDA Founder, Mike Farris, warns,
“[Holder’s office] argued that there was no violation of anyone’s protected rights in a law that entirely bans homeschooling. There would only be a problem if Germany banned homeschooling for some but permitted it for others.
Let’s assess the position of the United States government on the face of its argument: a nation violates no one’s rights if it bans homeschooling entirely. There are two major portions of constitutional rights of citizens—fundamental liberties and equal protection. The U.S. Attorney General has said this about homeschooling. There is no fundamental liberty to homeschool. So long as a government bans homeschooling broadly and equally, there is no violation of your rights.”
Farris goes on to reveal another argument presented by the Attorney-General,
“The U.S. government contended that the Romeikes’ case failed to show that there was any discrimination based on religion because, among other reasons, the Romeikes did not prove that all homeschoolers were religious, and that not all Christians believed they had to homeschool.”
The US Government, says Farris, “does not understand that religious freedom is an individual right.” Just because all adherents of a particular religion do not abide by a certain standard does not mean that individuals who feel compelled to abide by this standard do not have the right to do so. Religious decisions must be made by individuals, not by groups.
Farris contends, “One need not be a part of any church or other religious group to be able to make a religious freedom claim. Specifically, one doesn’t have to follow the dictates of a church to claim religious freedom—one should be able to follow the dictates of God Himself.
The United States Supreme Court has made it very clear in the past that religious freedom is an individual right. Yet our current government does not seem to understand this. They only think of us as members of groups and factions. It is an extreme form of identity politics that directly threatens any understanding of individual liberty.”
While Romeike v. Holder is clearly crucially and immediately important to one huddled family yearning to breathe free, the implications of the arguments currently being presented by the US government against them are ultimately important to all American people. Will our courts uphold the rights of parents to raise their children in the ways that seem best to them, or will a government standard be imposed upon the 2 million homeschooling families of the US?
A look at historical precedents puts me in a big hurry to be on the side of liberty.
I give you Friedrich Hayek, from The Road To Serfdom:
“There is scarcely a leaf out of Hitler’s book which somebody or other in England or America has not recommended us to take and use for our own purposes. This applies particularly to many people who are undoubtedly Hitler’s mortal enemies because of one special feature in his system. We should never forget that the anti-Semitism of Hitler has driven from his country, or turned into his enemies, many people who in every respect are confirmed totalitarians of the German type.”
For more information about the Romeikes, check out the following sources:
– Land of Liberty: The Romeikes’ Journey (HSLDA, January 2010)
– US grants home schooling German family political asylum (The Guardian, January 2010)
– Judge Grants Asylum to German Home Schoolers (NYTimes, February 2010)
– Give Me Your Tired, Your Poor, Your Homeschoolers (TIME Magazine, March 2010)
– German families look to US for asylum (Global Post, April 2010)
– The Romeike Family: Still Waiting on Asylum Appeal (HSLDA, October 2011)
– German Homeschool Case May Impact U.S. Homeschool Freedom (HSLDA, February 2013)
Does the new birth control mandate "compromise" really do anything to protect religious freedom?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on Feb 5, 2013)
The Obama administration sparked a massive controversy last year when it was announced that a new federal mandate would require all health insurers and employers to include coverage in their health plans for every form of contraception approved by the FDA. The mandate also required coverage for sterilizations.
Faith groups who teach against the use of contraceptives became immediately fearful that such a mandate would force violations of conscience. Some Catholics view every form of contraceptive use as sinful. A far broader base of Christian people accepts the use of most contraceptives but opposes the use of abortifacient “emergency contraception,” like the “morning-after pill.”
Unfortunately, the Obama administration did little to allay their fears. While the mandate included a religious exemption, it only applied to church organizations themselves. It did not apply to church-affiliated non-profit institutions, such as hospitals, or to employers. An amendment was proposed that would have made provisions for employers to “refuse to include contraception in health care coverage if it violated their religious or moral beliefs.” The Blunt Amendment was voted down 51-48 by the U.S. Senate last March.
Between then and now, nothing much has changed. After an unsuccessful appeal to the Unites States Supreme Court, the Christian owners of the craft store chain Hobby Lobby announced at the beginning of this year that they would refuse to add the contraceptive coverage to their employee insurance plan. According to NPR, their attorney stated that they consider the emergency contraceptives “tantamount to abortion.” The company faced up to $1.3 million a day in fines for defying the mandate. Two weeks later, however, it was learned they had discovered a way to delay the fines. Peter M. Dobelbower, the company's general counsel, stated, “Hobby Lobby discovered a way to shift the plan year for its employee health insurance, thus postponing the effective date of the mandate for several months.” But their time is running out.
Late last week, the Obama administration released a new version of the infamous birth-control mandate. Religious and pro-life groups were hoping the new regulations would spell out broader conscience rights for employers – like the Hobby Lobby owners – and institutions whose faith prohibits them from funding sterilization and various forms of contraception. Sadly, after examining the altered version of the mandate, pro-life legal groups have bad news. The new proposal barely changes existing policy and still allows for no business or individual opt-out, they say.
Dr. Charmaine Yoest, CEO and President of Americans United for Life, stated Friday, “With another phony compromise, the Obama Administration continues to insult the intelligence of the American people and trample our Constitutionally-guaranteed rights.”
LifeNews reports of the new proposal that it will not have any impact on businesses run by people of faith, such as Bible publisher Tyndale House or Hobby Lobby. They also explain that it “provides no options for individuals seeking plans that accommodate their values on the exchanges.”
So, what does the new proposal do? Well, the only major difference for people of faith seems to be that the religious exemption has been modified so that it no longer specifies that churches must have “inculcation of religious values” as their purpose and primarily employ and serve people of their same faith in order to qualify for the exemption.
This doesn’t sound like much of a concession, once you get down to it. The change only broadens the definition of a church for the purposes of the exemption, and does nothing to protect the conscience rights of for-profit employers and individuals.
The absurdity of this state of affairs is truly remarkable. To state it plainly, the Obama administration has conceded the right of churches to opt-out of participating in the funding of procedures their faith prohibits, but won’t provide the means for members of these same churches to avoid violating the dictates of their faith in their workplaces. What is the point of protecting the rights of a church as an institution and then trampling the rights of the individuals that comprise that same institution?
Will legalization of same-sex marriage result in religious persecution?
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on January 28, 2013)
Earlier this month, 1,067 UK priests, bishops and abbots prompted a significant stir by collectively signing what is being called one of the largest open letters ever produced in British political history. The letter was issued as a warning against the legalization of same-sex marriage. Such a development may spark religious persecution against Catholics, who oppose same-sex marriage based on the tenets of their faith, cautioned the multitude of priests.
The letter comes as British Prime Minister David Cameron has announced his intentions to push through a bill legalizing same-sex marriage in the UK by the end of the month.
“The natural complementarity between a man and a woman leads to marriage, seen as a lifelong partnership,” the clergymen declared in their statement. “This loving union – because of their physical complementarity – is open to bringing forth and nurturing children. This is what marriage is. That is why marriage is only possible between a man and a woman.”
“Legislation for same-sex marriage, should it be enacted, will have many legal consequences, severely restricting the ability of Catholics to teach the truth about marriage in their schools, charitable institutions or places of worship,” they went on to warn. Those who signed the letter make up about one-fourth of all the Catholic clergy in Britain.
Regardless of where we stand on the issue of same-sex marriage, it’s important for us to determine whether or not this statement is backed by evidence and by the collective experience of states and nations that have already enshrined homosexual marriage in law. Surely the rights and religious liberties of the proponents of traditional marriage must be protected even as same-sex partnerships become more widespread and more widely accepted.
Is truth on the side of the UK clergy and should Christian people be taking a warning from their words? Is legalization of same-sex marriage a doorway into an era of universal goodwill and harmony? Or is it merely a sign that a new form of bigotry is at hand – a bigotry of hatred and violence unleashed against the traditional family and its supporters?
The obvious question is, have opponents of same-sex marriage suffered persecution and loss of religious liberty in other countries that have embraced this radical redefinition of marriage? The answer is in no way elusive. Let’s take a look at a little very recent history.
“Tolerance” in Brazil
Last week, members of the Catholic Plinio Correa de Olivera Institute gathered in the Brazilian city of Curitiba to protest abortion and the homosexual ideology and stand in support of the traditional family. Homosexuality has been legal in Brazil since 1830 and enjoys widespread acceptance in that country.
However, the Catholic demonstrators, who marched peacefully and carried signs, were not greeted with tolerance and acceptance. In fact, an angry mob soon gathered around them and began yelling threats and making obscene gestures. The Catholics were spat upon and one of them had an object thrown at his head which drew blood. As he held up his bloodied hand to show the camera, the crowd cheered. These incidents were caught on camera by the Institute and by an onlooker sympathetic to the unruly mob.
In 2007, the Brazilian Association of Gays, Lesbians, Bisexuals, and Transgender People (ABGLT) filed several lawsuits against opponents of the homosexual movement in Brazil. One of these suits targeted the websites that had just exposed homosexual activist Luiz Mott for his promotion of pedophilia and pederasty.
Another motion was filed against psychologist and therapist Rozangela Alves Justino, who provided counseling and therapy for homosexuals who wished to change their sexual orientation. Because Brazil’s Federal Council of Psychologists prohibited psychologists from performing reparative therapy for homosexuality, the ABGLT asked that Alves Justino’s license be revoked.
Several years ago, Christian pro-life writer Julio Severo fled Brazil after charges were reportedly filed against him for his “homophobic” coverage of Brazil’s 2006 Gay Pride parade. Severo left the country abruptly with his pregnant wife and two small children. At the time, there was still no official law in Brazil criminalizing “homophobic” behavior.
In February of 2009, LifeSiteNews reported that, “the Brazilian government has determined that 99% of its citizens are ‘homophobic,’ and therefore must be reeducated.” According to Brazilian newspaper O Globo, the federal government of Brazil intended to use the data from the study to “plan new policies.” Those new policies were implemented in May 2012, when the senate in Brazil passed a law criminalizing ‘homophobia.’
In the summer of 2012, Julio Severo interviewed Brazilian Christian psychologist Marisa Lobo, who said that the Brazilian Federal Council of Psychology pressured and terrorized homosexuals who were looking for help in overcoming their unwanted same-sex attractions. Marisa was also attacked by the Council when she questioned the “gay kit” that the Brazilian government attempted to distribute to students in public schools for the purpose of fighting “homophobia.” Due to explicit content in the kit and its favorable portrayal of homosexual behavior, the program was eventually suspended by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
“When they learned that [I was] a Christian, they began to persecute me,” Marisa explained, “as a psychologist who categorizes herself as a Christian, and later in the process as a homophobe, because I said on Twitter that I love gays, but I prefer for my child to be heterosexual. And I still don’t understand why having an opinion instigates violence.”
It seems that the range of tolerated activity in Brazil is fairly narrow, despite decades of campaigns by same-sex marriage advocates against “hate” and “bullying” and “harassment.” And it is becoming increasingly evident that Christian family virtues are not included in the group of “tolerable” ideas.
“Diversity” and “Freedom of Speech” in Canada
Canada Day in Ontario last year was marked by a disturbing incident when Rev. David Lynn and a small group of friends attended the Toronto Gay Pride Parade. Setting up a small stand on a street corner with a microphone and a video camera, Lynn preached, held conversations with passers-by, and handed out Bibles and tracts – that is, until Toronto police wearing LGBT rainbow stickers shut him down and forced him to vacate the area. Ignoring the profanity and violent behavior of angry parade attendees and demonstrators who verbally assaulted the group and even doused Lynn and his cameraman with water, police told Lynn he was ‘promoting hate’ and must leave. Videos of the incident are available here and here and here.
It seems only certain forms of free speech are protected in Canada nowadays. Criticism of homosexuality, even peaceful and motivated by loving concern, isn’t one of these.
When the Toronto District School Board revealed their new “anti-homophobia curriculum” in 2011 (Challenging Homophobia and Heterosexism: A K-12 Curriculum), many people were understandably disturbed. Naturally, things only got worse when the news came out that parents would not be able to opt their kids out of the program – not even their kindergarteners. Teachers would also not be permitted to decline to teach the course based on religious convictions.
It seems only certain brands of diverse thought are encouraged in Canada nowadays. Christian family virtues aren’t among them.
The curriculum taught students that “you can’t choose to be gay or straight, but you can choose to come out.” In 3rd grade, it is recommended that students read the book Gloria Goes to Gay Pride. Students are encouraged to have their own “Pride Parade” in their school.
Unfortunately, most real-life Pride Parades are scarcely suitable for elementary school children.
The disturbing and seemingly totalitarian approach embraced by the Toronto District is but a foretaste of what lies ahead, suggests an education minister in the United Kingdom. Elizabeth Truss, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of the Department for Education, warned in November that school teachers could be punished for not teaching pro-gay topics, should the British government follow through with plans to redefine marriage.
More Instances of Love and Acceptance
The adoption agency Catholic Charities has been systemically shutting down its branches in various states throughout the US, following a series of bitter legal disputes over the agency’s right to refuse to place children with homosexual couples. Similar laws have also forced church-affiliated agencies in Britain, such as Catholic Care, to separate from their churches or shut down entirely.
In January 2012, a New Jersey judge ruled against a Christian retreat house that refused to allow a same-sex civil union ceremony to be conducted on its premises, ruling that the Constitution allows “some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals.” Last September, a gay couple filed suit against two Illinois institutions that refused to host their civil union. Christian “Bed and Breakfast” establishments, which are often family-owned businesses, have been especially targeted by homosexual rights activists for this type of harassment.
In Ladele and McFarlane v. United Kingdom, plaintiffs Lillian Ladele and Gary McFarlane were fired from their places of work for declining to perform services involving same-sex partnerships and counseling. Ladele, a marriage registrar for Islington Council in London, “was disciplined after she asked to be exempt from registering same-sex civil partnerships.” McFarlane was a counselor who was fired after he “declined to unequivocally commit to provide same-sex couples with psycho-sexual therapy.” They appealed to the European Court of Human Rights, but the court refused to hear their case.
"It seems that a religious bar to office has been created, whereby a Christian who wishes to act on their Christian beliefs on marriage will no longer be able to work in a great number of environments,” commented Andrea Williams, the Director of the Christian Legal Centre.
Certainly this is a tragic remark and one that signals a gloomy answer to the question of whether or not the legalization of same-sex marriage will result in a loss of religious liberty. It is, of course, unfair of homosexual activists to expect people of faith to cast away their creeds and their dear, cherished ideals. But these activists make themselves odious indeed to civilized people when they force dissenters to violate their codes of morality and their very consciences by endorsing and promoting a lifestyle they consider abhorrent.
If the aim of legalizing same-sex marriage is, as we are so often told, to eradicate intolerance and bigotry, surely its activists should be alarmed to find that their efforts have been entirely unsuccessful. However, as shocking as it may seem, the advocates of same-sex marriage are proving repeatedly that they only endorse the toleration of one view and only believe in the protection of one speech – their own.
The United Nations Flag
The controversial UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities is pushing for a September vote in the US Senate
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on September 20, 2012)
At the end of July, the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations approved a controversial UN treaty: The Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (CRPD), which has been fought by family rights groups and defenders of US sovereignty for months. What exactly are the concerns being raised by the opponents of the UNCRPD? The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) summarizes them succinctly in a helpful list which breaks down the most disturbing elements of the treaty’s wording.
While one of their main concerns is the sovereignty issue raised in Article 4(1)(a), which demands that all American law on the subject be conformed to the standards of the UN, implied threats to parental rights are their biggest fear. They explain on their website,
“Article 7(2) [which states that ‘in all actions concerning children with disabilities, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration’] advances the identical standard for the control of children with disabilities as is contained in the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. This means that the government—acting under UN directives—gets to determine for all children with disabilities what the government thinks is best. Additionally, under current American law, federal law requires public schools to offer special assistance to children with disabilities. However, no parent is required to accept such assistance. Under this section the government—and not the parent—would have the ultimate authority to determine if a child with special needs will be homeschooled, attend a private school, or be required to accept the program offered by the public school.”
At the bottom of this heap of words lies a question hidden like a neon-orange hunter’s jersey walking around in a green field. Whose responsibility will it be to determine what is in the best interests of a disabled child? This is the question with the frightening answer that changes everything.
The HSLDA has also called attention to Article 4(1)(e), which demands that “ every person, organization, or private enterprise” must eliminate discrimination on the basis of disability. “On its face,” warns the HSLDA, “this means that every home owner would have to make their own home fully accessible to those with disabilities. If the UN wants to make exceptions, perhaps they could. But, on its face this is the meaning of the treaty.”
There were nine total witnesses at the July hearing which was held by Sen. John Kerry. Only two people opposed to the treaty were permitted to testify. These were Steven Groves of the Heritage Foundation and Michael Farris of the Homeschool Legal Defense Association.
Farris expressed his concern, calling the hearing “a carefully-orchestrated attempt to get this treaty ratified without any serious consideration, adding, “It appears some in the Senate are counting on citizens’ ignorance of the Constitution. [They are] trying to downplay the impact of this treaty by arguing that ‘a treaty is an empty promise with no actual substance.’ Wrong. The Supremacy Clause of the Constitution overrules State Laws if it is ratified.”
Judging by the extensive video footage of the hearing, Sen. Kerry did indeed imply that the treaty would not place legal restrictions on the US, stating, “since the treaty is not self-executing in the United States, it’s hard for me to understand, given the reservations and declarations and understandings, there would be a change needed.”
However, Mr. Farris’ understanding of the matter appears to be the correct one, under this provision of the US Constitution: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”
It’s hard to see how that very lucid passage leaves any room for further debate regarding the binding nature of the UNCRPD, if ratified by the US Congress – even if it could be shown to make any ethical or logical sense to sign treaties that we don’t intend to abide by in the first place.
Following the Senate Committee Hearing and the subsequent ratification of the treaty by the Committee, there ensued a period of rest for the embattled partisans on both sides of the UNCRPD debate. This week, however, the issue reared its head again, with Tim Lambert of the Texas Homeschool Coalition sending out an alert warning that the convention is pushing for a September Senate vote on the treaty and urging defenders of liberty to not only contact their senators’ offices via phone but to visit them in person in order to stress the magnitude of the situation. (This piece was first posted at The Communities at the Washington Times)
Why public education is intrinsically unjust
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on August 7, 2012)
In March of last year, Education Secretary Arne Duncan told Congress that an estimated 82 percent of America's schools would fail to meet education goals set by No Child Left Behind that year. “We should get out of the business of labeling schools as failures and create a new law that is fair and flexible, and focused on the schools and students most at risk,” Duncan said. This statement is tragically amusing against the backdrop of the failure of American public schools to measure up to national standards time and again.
On the 2009 National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) Reading Test, one out of three fourth grade students scored "below basic". More than 67 percent of all US fourth graders scored "below proficient," meaning they are not reading at grade level. That means that well over half of America’s fourth grade students are failing in the field of learning that is the most important.
Unfortunately, these figures don’t seem to right themselves by high school. The same test showed that around 26 percent of eighth graders and 27 percent of twelfth graders scored below the "basic" level, and only 32 percent of eighth graders and 38 percent of twelfth graders are at or above grade level. In 2007, 69 percent of eighth grade students scored “below proficient” in writing.
However, although these damning numbers are prompting a creeping national distrust of the public education system, the case against government education does not rest on the discouraging nature of our test scores, or even on the demonstrable failure of the system, but on principles as lovely and as old as our country’s founding.
In the 1786 Virginia Act For Establishing Religious Freedom, Thomas Jefferson wrote,
“ To compel a man to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which he disbelieves, is sinful and tyrannical.”
Jefferson was referring to a law in Virginia which required Protestants to pay taxes to support the clergymen of the Church of England. The act he was drafting would liberate the people of Virginia from this seemingly absurd obligation, and acknowledge their right to choose which religious teachers they wished to support. Elsewhere in the document, Jefferson asserts that,
“the impious presumption of legislators and rulers, civil as well as ecclesiastical, who, being themselves but fallible and uninspired men, have assumed dominion over the faith of others, setting up their own opinions and modes of thinking as the only true and infallible, and as such endeavoring to impose them on others, hath established and maintained false religions over the greatest part of the world, and through all time.”
This same “impious presumption” which Jefferson so hotly condemned is at work today in public schools which are not only deplorably deficient but also shockingly arrogant and assuming.
It is impossible to educate children without imparting values, opinions and beliefs to them in some way or another. A young child’s mind is largely devoid of context, so that a teacher has no choice but to provide the persuasions of his or her own mind to fill the gaps in the child’s mind. As every truly educated person knows, there are at least two sides to practically every assertion save those regarding numbers and mathematics and some evident scientific laws. It is beyond naïve to suppose that teachers, even should they desire to do so, can present all sides of an issue objectively and give them equal weight in the consciousness of every child entrusted to their instruction.
What does this lack of objectivity mean for us, the taxpayers, who fund our local schools whether we want to or not? It may mean that we’re being compelled to furnish contributions of money for the propagation of opinions which we disbelieve. If it doesn’t, it means someone else is. There’s no way around that in a diverse society which welcomes people of all creeds, cultures and nationalities.
In the eons before the current multicultural era, the trouble of taking and giving offense was a far lesser one. In days before technology had knitted the globe together into one vast mass of symbiotic organisms, societies shared more common values because people were forced by the geography of the planet to remain in more or less one general location. Government education systems, although still problematic and potentially dangerous, rarely created the issues they create today, because people accepted that the prevailing popular opinions of a nation would be reflected in the education system provided by the state.
In this present age, we can no longer be governed by this system of the past, because the circumstances of the world have changed. Ideas are no longer geographically-bound, but travel the circumference of globe in seconds. So divided is the nation that on many issues of national significance, it is no longer possible to determine what the prevailing popular opinion is. A system that worked, albeit imperfectly, 150 years ago, will no longer serve for this bitterly contending country.
It is time for America to embrace the education option of the future: private institutions that will allow families to choose the best fit for their children and that will not rob one ideological group in order to give to the other. The political correctness mania that pervades our government and our schools should come to an end, and the stifling “orthodoxy” of the establishment should no longer be forced on our children. Thomas Jefferson would be proud.
Why the GOP must do a fast about-face or face disaster in November...
(Posted by Bryana Johnson on July 31, 2012)
Despite their spirited outward demeanor and cheerful speculation, is the Grand Old Party beginning to realize that they made a mistake in anointing Mitt Romney to lead the assault on socialism and Barack Obama? For their sake, let’s hope so. Because the only way for the Republicans to avoid the trap they’ve set for themselves is to understand the magnitude of their error and start back-pedaling as fast as they can.
The case against the GOP’s selection of Romney to carry the banner of conservatism on to the White House is easy to make. Our first premise is obviously that Romney is not a conservative. He is, in fact, a self-proclaimed “moderate” who “holds progressive views.” Needless to say, this makes his suitability for the afore-mentioned position rather dubious from the get-go.
Those few folks who are willing to look ridiculous by asserting that Romney is no longer left-leaning and that his opportunely-timed conversion to limited government and family values is genuine will be quickly hushed by a little research. Take, for example, these excerpts from an open letter signed by notable conservative leaders such as the Homeschool Legal Defense Association’s Michael Farris and Kelly Shackelford of the Liberty Institute.
“Romney changed his position on over thirty key issues as he prepared to run for President four years ago. We all expect a politician to change their mind on one or two issues over the course of their career, but when someone changes their mind on EVERY foundational issue of importance to conservatives, we must be skeptical. Indeed, it is hard to accept Romney’s conversion on so many issues as authentic….
…As Governor, Romney implemented an Executive Order that created a vast ‘diversity’ agency to make sure those of all races and ‘sexual orientations’ be hired throughout state government. Romney [also] issued a state proclamation honoring ‘Gay/Straight Youth Pride March’…
…Romney’s administration gave funds to Planned Parenthood. In November 2006, Romney’s economic development agency approved a $5 billion tax-exempt bond to be used by Planned Parenthood to build an abortion clinic in Worchester…
…For thirty years Mitt Romney was a strong advocate of abortion. His wife, Ann, contributed money to Planned Parenthood in 1994 at a PP event both her and her husband attended, but she was filmed during the 2008 campaign claiming, ‘I’ve always been pro-life…’ ”
Another video shows Ann Romney insisting that pro-abortion women have no need to worry about her husband due to his commitment to the abortion issue. (Once you’ve watched the 22-second clip, ask yourself if this is the voice of a pro-life woman!) To make matters worse for Romney’s record, even in the wake of his pro-life “conversion” experience in 2004, he continued to fund embryonic stem cell research and was recorded in 2005 stating “I am absolutely committed to my promise to maintaining the status quo with regards to laws relating to abortion and choice and so far I’ve been able to successfully do that.” In 2006, Romney introduced RomneyCare, which covers abortion and makes it easy for people to obtain a state-funded abortion for as low as $50.
The Cato Institute reported that in his first year as Governor, Romney “proposed $140 [million] in business tax hikes through the closing of ‘loopholes’ in the tax code,” and according to job creation experts Andrew Sum and Joseph McLaughlin of Northeastern University, manufacturing employment during the Romney years “declined by 14%, the third worse record in the country. Sum and McLaughlin also wrote that ‘from 2001 to 2006, Massachusetts ranked 49th in the nation in job creation…’
Having put to rest the myth that Romney is or ever has been “severely conservative,” as he now claims to be, it’s time to take a look at what that means for the GOP. The short answer is trouble.
Last December, former senator Bob Dole endorsed Mitt Romney. Let’s run that tape:
“The time has now come for us to decide who among [the Republican candidates] can defeat Barack Obama in 2012. I’ve made my decision, and I believe our best hope lies in Governor Mitt Romney. I’ve run for president myself and –”
Alright, stop. Stop it right there.
Let’s see what we remember about Bob Dole’s 1996 presidential campaign. One thing really stands out in my mind. He lost, and he lost big.
It was a rough year for Republicans. They were trying to take down President Bill Clinton, who was running for re-election, and they thought they had a clear lead over him. In 1994, a poll asked Americans to choose between Bill Clinton and " the Republican Party's candidate for President." Result? Clinton got 43% of the vote. The ghost Republican beat him with 50%. “Anyone can beat Clinton,” was the popular refrain, which has become so infamous today.
The Republicans nominated Bob Dole, an uninspiring moderate who did nothing to fan the flames of conviction. Dole didn’t understand that a huge portion of the Republican base was staunchly conservative and willing to take a stand for it at the polling place – even if it was going to hurt them. He failed to excite his base, and a third party candidate, Ross Perot, came in and snagged all of the votes his moderate stances didn’t bring in. Dole was a massive failure, and he gave us four more years of Clinton. His endorsement of Romney is anything but reassuring.
Fast-forward to 2008: the Republican Party’s next big loss. Faced with the alarming prospect of Obama as POTUS, the Republicans nominated another moderate, John McCain. McCain, just like Dole before him, did not succeed in capturing the enthusiasm of his base. Indeed, many Republicans were disgusted with him, and it wasn’t until his selection of conservative Sarah Palin for his running mate that his poll numbers began to climb. Palin ensured that the race would at least be competitive. McCain still lost.
This myth that moderates have the best chance to beat popular Democrats is just that: a myth. History clearly shows that Republicans do poorly when they nominate candidates who don’t pull in impassioned voters. Voters with strong opinions who care about real issues and will fight for them. Moderate voters by their very nature are a bad group to rely on in an election. Because their stances are less radical, they are less likely to be a virulent crowd and less likely to give sacrificially or inspire enthusiasm. While conservatives and liberals are people who feel strongly about ideas, moderates are people who delight in the muddy waters of the “middle ground”, and who, in large part, make decisions pragmatically rather than relying on principles.
The Republican Party ignores at their peril the fact that their candidate is a poor one. Their best hope for a comeback in November is to breathe life into their party by welcoming a staunch conservative darling into their ranks in the position of Vice President. If they fail to do this, I doubt if even Obama’s own alarming radicalism will keep him out of the White House for another four years. The question is, does the GOP want to hoist the banner of conservatism (and win) or slide back into moderate positions (and lose)?