March 21, 2013
There is a case that has caught the attention of homeschool advocates on an international level. The Romeike family of Germany was granted asylum by a U.S. judge due to the persecution they had experienced for homeschooling their children in Germany. This persecution included police intervention well beyond simple fines or reprimands. The family believes that the school system in Germany does not teach what they as Christians believe should be taught to their children, so they wish to teach their children in an environment where their convictions are honored – their home.
This is not merely a question of the freedom to homeschool but a question of who determines what children are taught. In other words it is a question of religious freedom. Religious faith is often passed on through the teaching that parents give to their children. The Scripture clearly states in Deut. 6:6-7 “And these words which I command thee this day, [the Law of God to Israel] shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (KJV)
Many who homeschool wish to teach their children that God is engaged in everyday life. For them, the school is an extension of the home. Schools should serve parents in the education of children. However, when state-run schools begin to serve a wholly secular agenda and deny parents the ability to train their children, they begin to do what the First Amendment says the state must never do: Establish religion.
In the landmark case Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Supreme Court asserted that children are not mere creatures of the state and that the state could not dictate where they went to school. German law is essentially asserting that the state knows more about children’s needs than parents. This is a dangerous threat to religious freedom and the Romeike family was right in seeking to teach their children the things that they believed to be true. The U.S. should be a place where those threatened because of their beliefs can come for refuge. It is sad when the ICE division of our Federal government ignores the importance of education as an expression of religious belief and works against granting families like the Romeikes asylum.
Cases like this have become more common in the current administration. The current administration sees a “freedom to worship” that is confined to the church and ends when you exit its doors. They do not recognize James’ teaching in the New Testament when he stated that a faith without works is dead. Freedom of religion has everything to do with practice. It is time our government recognized that.
I am glad my mother exercised her freedom of religion and chose to homeschool me all the way through high school. She and my father wanted me to be taught reading, writing and, arithmetic, all of which I could have received at a public school. But with those they also taught me the old fashioned, life changing, sin cleansing, grace receiving, others loving, Bible believing version of the wonderful gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. And the freedom to teach those wonderful truths is priceless. If freedom of religion does not include a freedom to practice then freedom of religion is dead.