Posts Tagged 'Schmidt family'

Why The German Response To Home Schooling Confuses Me

            I have some trouble understanding just what troubles German juvenile officials so much when it comes to the issue of parents taking an active, daily role in the education of their children.  They are fighting too hard for it to merely be something that they are uncomfortable allowing to happen.

            If they merely were uncomfortable it would not make sense to insist that parents do not have the right to control the education of their children to the point of moving from a position of discrimination to a position of persecution against these parents and their children.

            I do not use the word persecution lightly and I know that there are many who will take exception to its use here.  When parents face heavy fines it is discrimination in my book.  When parents are in court defending their right to control the education of their children it is discrimination to me.

            When, however, parents are serving short sentences in the local jails without the benefit of a hearing and without legal appeal it becomes persecution in my book.  When those same parents have their children taken into state custody just because they are home schooling their children it goes from discrimination to persecution.

            That is what is happening in Germany.

            The Germans gave us the Reformation.  They have long been on the forefront of cultural changes in a positive way.  There are many things we must be grateful to the Germans for, including their incredible engineering skills and their scientific work that lead to some of the greatest breakthroughs in technology and medicine that we have ever seen.

            Something has happened though.  I have a couple of photos that sum up the confusion I am experiencing much better than words ever could.

            The first photo is one I personally took during the 2009 Octoberfest in Munich, Germany.  I was there just a few days after I had experienced a moving meal with the Schimidt family in nearby Otting, Germany.  Just before we ate they offered a family prayer to bless the food and our time.

Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany

Schmidt family praying before lunch

            The confusion comes from the fact that one of these activities is highly acceptable in modern Germany.  The other has begun to lead to many problems for families in Germany—particularly those families who are trying to control the education of their children.

            Maybe the problem is that God is okay as long as we do not take Him too seriously.  That is a problem in American as well as Germany.

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Schmidt Family Update From The Road In Germany

Let me begin by saying that recently a new German friend of mine expressed concern that my reports on German home school families made it sound like I thought Germany was evil. 

Nothing could be further from the truth.  I have loved the German people since I was in the third grade, my next door neighbors were from Germany.  The father was a professor of German at Berry College and I learned to like the sound of English spoken with a Bavarian accent and the sharp sounds of German spoken by a native.

Germany has given much to the world, including the Reformation.  They are a wonderful people and I have never experienced anything other than great hospitality from the people and the government.

With that said, let me update you on our trip.

David and I landed in Stuttgart, Germany on Monday—just hours before a Lufthansa flight with 73 people on board made an emergency landing on the same runway.  No one was killed; one was injured, when the plane landed amidst flames without its landing gear.

We immediately began a four train trip to Otting, Germany where the Schmidt family lives.  In addition to the legal help the IHRG is giving to the family we have been blessed to work with CBN developing a television report on the plight of the parents and their youngest child.  Right now the family faces about 9000 Euros in fines.  Next week they have a hearing in family court where the Jugendamt, Youth Welfare Office is seeking to have legal custody of the 14 year old son of Hans and Petra Schmidt taken from the parents and given to the Jugendamt.  This is a legal tactic that has been used in Germany before.  In fact, if you remember Melissa Busekros, this is the same thing that happened in her case.

In Melissa’s case this lead to Melissa being taken from her family by the police and placed in a psychiatric ward and eventual a youth home for girls for nearly three months.  The parents had very limited access to their daughter until she returned home on her on.

The Schimdts are facing the same predicament.  If the court grants the transfer of custody to the State it means that at any time afterward the police could arrive at the Schmidt home, during the day or even in the middle of the night to take their youngest child away.

What a terrible pressure for parents to be forced to live under by their own government.  There are no accusations of child abuse, no accusations of neglect.  The only problem with the Schmidts is that they are exercising their constitutionally guaranteed right to control the education of their own children. 

In Otting this right is guaranteed by the Bavarian State Constitution, the German Federal Constitution, and the European Convention on Human Rights.  Three times it is guaranteed, yet here we are on the last leg of a lengthy legal journey.

I was surprised to find Hans and Petra peacefully dealing with their situation.  They have set their face like flint to stand strong no matter what happens.  With great resolve they told CBN that they will not retreat from their fight to raise their child according to their faith, without interference from the State.

Both Hans and Petra looked into the camera’s eye, with great effort to control the emotion rising in them, and told us that they knew that God would stand with them—no matter what happens next week or thereafter.

I wish I had that type of courage.  I am here as a Christian attorney standing with them, but my family is not on the line.  I will return home to my “normal” life.  They will stay home and fight.

One of the nicest benefits of my job is that for two days I was invited into the Schmidt home.  I was told to act like I was home.  I was given coffee, tea, Coke Light (the German version of Diet Coke), pastries, and a meal of sauerkraut and homemade bratwurst straight off the grill served with cheese, bread, and potatoes grow in their backyard garden.

I left, after two days, encouraged that we have brothers and sisters in our faith who calmly face the persecution of a government willing to take their children away.

I am returning next week to be there at the hearing.  Hopefully, the court will allow me to enter the courtroom and observe the hearing.  Regardless, I will be there to encourage the family and their attorneys.  We are helping with the cost of their legal defense.

Check back later for an update on this case.  Thank you for all you do, praying and supporting our work financially.  We really do understand that without your prayers and support we could not be there for these families in their time of great need.  Because of your prayers you are here with us, in spirit supporting us.

Germany’s Continuing Battle Against Home Schooling–the Schimdt Family Story

with Richard Guenther 

Hans and Petra Schmidt live in Bavaria, Southern Germany.  From their home, they have been teaching their children, Josua and Aaron, for 9 years, with great success.  Were they in America this would be considered an appropriate way to educate their children.  Unfortunately for the Schmidt family, they are not Americans.  Since they are Germans and are educating their own children in Germany, the Schmidt family is considered to be violating the law.

To date the Schmidts have been forced to pay nearly 13.000 Euros ($18,300) in home schooling fines.  Like most German home school families, they have a very modest income.  Needless to say, the position of the government against them pushed the Schmidts to their limits.  When the family could not pay all 26 of their fines the government placed a lien on their home.

During this time there were talks with the chief district administrator.  These talks were entered into by the Schmidts in hopes of arriving at some type of settlement that would permit them to finish educating their children at home without being forced into bankruptcy by their own government.  At the same time the children were tested by the school authorities.  Testing both children showed that they have extraordinary academic abilities.  The tests also showed the children to be social competent.  This is critical as the Germans still hold to the disproven belief that home school children are socially retarded.

The oldest son, Josua,, who is 16, was tested at a local high school and scored very high.  As a result, Josua was awarded his high school diploma.  These exams are required of all students upon completion of their last year in high school.  This shows that the Schmidts have done an excellent job of educating their children at home.  As he is through with high school, Josua is no longer subject of the compulsory school attendance.

Aaron, age 14, has just successfully completed an internship at the big Stuttgart zoo. He is still subject to the mandatory school attendance laws. The authorities are attempting to force the parents to place him in school.

At the beginning of this year, the family court set out to take the custody for Aaron from the parents.  The sole reason for this was that the Schmidts continue to home school Aaron, something that is illegal in Germany. Pursuant to this attempt to remove Aaron from the family home legal proceedings began early this year. Aaron is 14 years old.  He is looking to complete his school education in another two years.

Mr. Schmidt has a heart and passion for the disadvantaged.  So he works in a handicap workshop where the handicapped are trained in a vocation. Both parents are  devoted Christians and have it in their hearts to preserve their two boys from the secular, anti-Christian culture in Germany. They believe that sending their boys to school would be traumatic for the whole family.

Working with the IHRG, Armin and Gabriele Eckermann, both lawyers with the German Home School Association SchuzH, are helping develop the legal strategy to challenge this case in the courts.  Johannes Hildebrandt has agreed to help the Eckermanns and is taking the case as it goes into the court of first instance. He is a successful lawyer in family issues and in addition to his law degree, holds a degree in social development of children.  He saw Melissa Busekros returned to her family, defending her successfully in the courts

The International Human Rights Group is standing with these lawyers and the Schmidt family.  We are doing everything in our power to protect this family and see that they are permitted to educate their children according to the dictates of their own beliefs—something that is guaranteed by the German Constitution and the European Court on Human Rights.  We will be there all along the way to stand with them. 

Your prayers are an important part of this battle.  Without your prayers we cannot stand as strong.


Books Worth Reading

C.S. LEWIS--Mere Christianity; CLAIRE BERLINSKI--Menace in Europe: Why the Continent's Crisis is America's Crisis, Too; BRUCE BAWER--While Europe Slept: How Radical islam is Destroying the West from Within; DAVID LEVERING LEWIS--God's Crucible: Islam and the Making of Europe, 570-1215; THOMAS SCHIRRMACHER--The Persecution of Christians Concerns Us All; PHILIP JENKINS--God's Continent: Christianity, Islam, and Europe's Religious Crisis

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