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The Spirit of the MS St. Louis

Obama Administration to Send Homeschooling Family Back to German Prison?

by Brian McCall POSTED: T4/29/13


Enemies of the Big, Bad, Brave New State

Unfortunately the United States has a black mark on a history otherwise rich in generosity.  During the Nazi persecution in Germany, the United States, among other nations, turned away many who tried to flee the tightening grip of totalitarian persecution.  Some were forced back to their homeland only to end up in prisons and concentration camps. 

One highly publicized case involved over 900 Jewish refugees who sailed on the MS St. Louis from Germany.  After being denied permission to land in the United States, the ship was forced to return to Europe. Of the 908 MS St. Louis passengers who returned to Europe, 254 (nearly 28 percent) are known to have died in Nazi prisons or camps. Sadly, history is repeating itself. 

Uwe and Hannelore Romeike (see above photo) fled Germany in 2008 in the face of fines, prison sentences, and loss of custody of their children.  The cause of such severe legal sanctions was that the Romeikes removed their children from German state schools so they could homeschool them consistently with their Christian religious beliefs, something they believed impossible in the state schools.  Where did the Romeikes turn to escape such threats?  The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave!  The United States has for much of its history been seen as a haven for those persecuted by totalitarian regimes.  Sadly, as with the MS St. Louis in 1939, the reality of U.S. history is once again proving inconsistent with the reputation.

In 2010, U.S. immigration judge, Lawrence O. Burman granted the Romeikes asylum in the United States so that they would not have to return to Germany and face legal sanctions and maybe the loss of their children.  In his decision, Judge Burman observed that the rights being denied the Romeikes were “basic human rights that no country has a right to violate.”  The judge went on to explain that notwithstanding Germany being an ally of the United States this policy of punishing homeschooling is “repellent to everything we believe in as Americans.”

The Obama administration obviously believes in something very different than Judge Burman when it comes to American values.  The Obama immigration team could not let Judge Burman’s decision stand and has now sought to overturn it. 

In a federal court hearing April 25, a panel of judges heard arguments before they decide if a lower court’s overruling of Judge Burman’s asylum decision can stand.  The result could mean the Romeikes would be shipped back to Germany like the 908 people on the St. Louis

Home School Legal Defense Association president Michael Ferris, citing German court decisions, explained to the federal judges that Germany justifies its persecution of homeschooling families to  prevent the development of religious or philosophically-motivated “parallel societies,” and because the German government considered it  dangerous for a child to be taught by his mother.  When questioned about this, the Obama administration attorney, Justice Department attorney Walter Buchinni, admitted he didn’t know what was meant by “parallel societies’ and that Mr. Farris was taking things out of context.  In questioning Mr. Farris was told that the German law did not discriminate against any particular religion and that a purpose of Germany’s mandatory education system was to teach tolerance. “If that’s tolerance,” Farris replied, “it’s a tolerance unknown in a free society.”

Mothers teaching their children are deemed dangerous by the German State because they might teach their children that there is such a thing as truth, and the children might learn that the radical liberalism forced on Germans from kindergarten onward is not true.  Why, too much of that and they might decide not to march in nice neat lines behind the banner of tolerance of the liberal police state of modern Germany.  Germany cannot tolerate any parallel societies; all must join the master liberal State. 

From such totalitarianism the Romeikes thought they would escape to the Land of the Free.  Unfortunately the president of that Land of the Free and his attorneys want to send them right back to be indoctrinated in “tolerance” that shows an equal persecution for all who dare question the liberal State.

Contrary to Germany and the Obama administration, the Church has always taught that parents are entrusted by God with the responsibility to form and educate their children for their return to their Creator.  Although parents are not obligated to do all the educating themselves (they can entrust their children to schools so long as those schools give a true and good education), the buck stops with the parents.  They bear the responsibility for seeing that a proper education is given to their children.  They will have to answer before God that they discharged this duty. 

Whenever God imposes an obligation on someone, being perfectly just, He provides them with the means, the freedom, to fulfill that obligation.  Thus God gives parents the necessary authority over their children’s education as the means to fulfill their obligation to provide for that education.

Pope Pius XI reiterated this fundamental truth in Divini Illius Magistri:

The family therefore holds directly from the Creator the mission and hence the right to educate the offspring, a right inalienable because inseparably joined to the strict obligation, a right anterior to any right whatever of civil society and of the State, and therefore inviolable on the part of any power on earth.

That this right is inviolable St. Thomas proves as follows: The child is naturally something of the father . . . so by natural right the child, before reaching the use of reason, is under the father's care. Hence it would be contrary to natural justice if the child, before the use of reason, were removed from the care of its parents, or if any disposition were made concerning him against the will of the parents. And as this duty on the part of the parents continues up to the time when the child is in a position to provide for itself, this same inviolable parental right of education also endures. "Nature intends not merely the generation of the offspring, but also its development and advance to the perfection of man considered as man, that is, to the state of virtue" says the same St. Thomas. (Emphasis added)

Germany’s desire to indoctrinate all German children into their liberal notion of “tolerance” is trumped by the parents’ anterior right (flowing from their obligation) to see to the education of their children.  Germany cannot compel parents to violate their sacred duty by placing their children in schools that will undermine their faith.

We can pray that the federal court in Cincinnati will have heard enough of the rights of Germany and will determine to protect the God-given authority of the Romeikes over their own children’s education and allow them to stay in this country as long, since obviously they are subjects of persecution in Germany.  May this federal court make up for the travesty of sending the St. Louis back to Europe and protect the Romeikes and their six young children. 


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