InÂ aÂ continuing caseÂ in Germany aboutÂ theÂ denial of the right to homeschool,Â the parents of theÂ family involved plan to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.Â Information about this situation was supplied in 2004Â by the German organization Schulunterricht zu Hause.
The English-speaking homeschool cybersphere is agitated.
- WorldNetDaily, Medford, Oregon, 28 June 2006, Homeschoolers take case to Human Rights CourtÂ Â Â Â
The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe recently turned down an appeal by Christian parents. According to the justices, the parents are required to send their children to state registered schools.
The constitutional appeal was launched by Sigrid and Michael Bauer, members of the Evangelical Reformed Church in Giessen, 50 miles north of Frankfurt. The Bauers teach five of their eight children at home.
I was curious about the church because it is mentioned specifically in the article, and because the characterization of this denial of homeschoolingÂ as somehow anti-Christian, “The German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe recently turned down an appeal by Christian parents.”Â Finding any information about the church the parents belong to took a little bit of bilingual detective work.Â The name, probably, is, Bekennenden Evangelisch-Reformierten GemeindeÂ [‘Admitting’ Reformed Protestant (Lutheran? Evangelical in the American sense?) Congregation].Â The church appears to have been formed in 1999.Â Â A rosterÂ of Evangelische (Protestant/”Lutheran”) churches in the city of Giessen doesn’t list that congregation.
- Die Bekennende Evangelisch-Reformierte Gemeinde in GieÃŸen ist noch jung. Zum erstenmal kamen Christen im Sommer 1999 in einem Wohnzimmer zusammen.Â [literal translation by Google:Â The admitting Evangelist-reformed municipality inÂ pouring — meaning the city of Giessen, whose nameÂ literally translates as “pouring”Â –Â is still young. For the first time Christians in the summer met 1999 in a living room.]
An anti-Christian attitudeÂ seems out of character for a country whose states have legal Christian holidays.Â Easter and the 1st and 2nd days of Christmas (25th and 26th)Â are official holidays, and, depending on whether the state is Protestant or Catholic, Ascension Day,Â Pentecost and All Saints DayÂ (at the link, the city of Essen has a list of restricted activities for All Saints Day).Â The evidence of theÂ four Sundays of AdventÂ where booths at Christmas marketsÂ sell elaborate nativity figures, Three Kings DayÂ where children dressed as “Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar” (C+M+B)Â go house to house — and gasthaus to gasthaus — collecting money for charity, and priests stop by to bless houses and chalk C+M+B and the yearÂ on the front door lintel. On St. Martin’s DayÂ children parade with lamps,Â and soon after that,Â the day of Prayer and Repentance (Bus und Bettag)Â is observed.Â Â The implication from the articleÂ that Germany has it in for “Christians” is a stretch, unless the definition of “Christian” is parochial.Â
In the article,Â a referenced homeschoolÂ group, SchuzH (for Schulunterricht zu Hause) is featured at an Exodus Mandate webpage with the report titled, Germany/Report on Hitler’s birthday.Â (I must note that many incidents happen on 20 April, and that, in Germany, honoring Hitler’s birthday can result in a visit from the police:Â ob ihrs glaubt oder nicht Adolf Hitlers Geburtstag gefeiert AnschlieÃŸend kam Polizei und haben die Leute Ermahnt dass es nicht in Ordnunng istÂ [whether or not you believe Hitler’s birthday should be celebrated, the police subsequently arrived andÂ admonished the people that this [celebration] wasÂ out of order].)Â Being ‘in order’ is a hallmark of German society.
Churches other than Catholic or Evangelische/Protestant are not (or weren’t when we were there)Â part of the official scheme of things.Â Evangelische does not translate to evangelical in the American sense.Â In Germany, church taxes (Kirchsteuer)Â are automatically withdrawn from paychecks and deposited in the ‘appropriate’ pot of money — Katholisch or Evangelische (not individual congregations).Â If a person wants to have his or her donation go to a church other than Catholic or Evangelische/Protestant/”Lutheran”, that person must request that church taxes are not withdrawn because ‘other’ churches are not part of the official framework.Â I’m hazy on the exact process because we were military and not subject to German taxes, but I heard about it at the annual general meeting at our churchÂ when the annual financial pictureÂ (and how to pay the bills) was discussed.Â Â Anglican churches, being rooted in England,Â aren’t part of the official German governmentalÂ apparatus as the Evangelische/”Lutheran” churches are, and therefore not authorized to receive payments from the tax collections.Â
I’m assuming — from a great distance, and after the ‘Passage of Time’ — that a church that formed only in 1999 will haveÂ minimal official clout in a country where the official denominations areÂ historically ancient.Â Requests to the authorities to be released from the legal obligation to send children to school for religious reasons might fall on deaf ears because (if memory serves) Catholic and “Lutheran” classes are held in public schools, as well as “ethics” classes for those who are neither Catholic nor “Lutheran” (these classes wereÂ a topic of discussion among the mothers, and one dad,Â at Sunday school).Â Â
Because of all this, the impression that the parents are being targeted because they are “Christian” is imprecise.Â Denominations may be officially looked at askance, but Christians-in-Germany per se, weren’t targeted when we left Europe in 1999, and I haven’t seen any reports that this is a new political position overall.Â “Germanyâ€™s 82 million people include an equal number of Protestants and Roman Catholics, estimated at two-thirds of the population.”
The idea of children being kept from public schooling has an even greater ‘anti-social’ resonance in Germany than it does in the United States.Â The opinion is that not attending an approvedÂ school leads to indoctrination.Â Of course, American homeschoolers sometimes hold a similar opinion about school attendance, and the viewpoint of what is, or is not, indoctrination, may come down to considering ‘whose ox is being gored.’Â Often, regardless of location, homeschoolers are definitely looked at askance, regardless of denominational affiliation, but that’s not news.
If homeschoolers in Germany are to be seriously considered from a legal viewpoint, it seems that there must either be enoughÂ homeschooling citizensÂ to work with legislators to change the laws, or the European Court of Human Rights must rule in favor of people who apply to it for relief from theÂ local interpretation of the E.U.’s opinion.Â In the meantime, people without NATO military ID cards who object toÂ virtually all-encompassingÂ compulsory schooling lawsÂ should avoid emigrating to Germany,Â unless they intend to create a commotion and have deep pockets.Â My deep sympathies to immigrants who have come late to this position.
Americans applying American legalÂ expectations in another country is along the same lines of applying foreign law in the U.S., something that many AmericanÂ homeschoolers have found objectionable concerning theÂ U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Additional online pages are:
- Translation by Babel FishÂ [note:Â the translation site will translate the word “Sekt” (as in ‘religious sect’)Â as “sparkling wine”Â (SektÂ is German ‘champagne’), and “mutter” as “nut/mother.”Â Apparently,Â “mutter” is also a kind of nut that fits on a bolt, in addition to being the word for “mother.”]
- Heimschulen:Â Glaubensfreiheit gegen Schulpflicht (Homeschooling:Â Freedom of belief in conflict with mandatory school attendance)
- Geldstrafe fÃ¼r christliche Schulboykotteure (FineÂ levied onÂ Christian school boycotters)
- Salz und Licht (Salt and Light magazine):Â Schulunterricht zu Hause, was ist das?Â (School instruction at home, what is it?)
- Der Bote (NÃ¼rnberg): Christina geht nicht in die SchuleÂ (Christina doesn’t go to school)
- NÃ¼rnbergerÂ Nachrichten (NÃ¼rnberger News): Mama gibt Zensuren (Mama corrects)
- DMOZ Open Directory Project:Â World: Deutsch: Wissen: Bildung: Schule: Hausunterricht (World: German: Knowledge: Education:Â School:Â Homeschooling)
- Trying to homeschool in Germany (blog, much of it in English)
- Schulpflicht (compulsory schooling)
— Der Spiegel (The Mirror): Flucht ins Exotische –Â Immer mehr Eltern rebellieren gegen die Schulpflicht (Escape in the exotic — Ever more parents revolt against the compulsory schooling)
— Keine Ausnahme fÃ¼r KÃ¶nig-Fahd-Akademie (No exception for king Fahd academy)
— ZDFÂ (ZDF television network)Â Bibeltreuer Aufstand gegen Schulpflicht (Bible-faithful rebellion against compulsory schooling)
— Rhein-Neckar Zeitung (Rhine-Neckar Newspaper): Gericht: Keine Befreiung von Schulpflicht aus religiÃ¶sen GrÃ¼nden (Court: No release from compulsory schooling for religious reasons)
- Other Google results