Defining Persecution Down: Under New Bill, U.S. Will Grant Asylum To Homeschooling Parents From Western Countries
Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about a German family that sought asylum in the United States because Germany wouldn’t allow the hyper-Christian parents, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, to homeschool their six kids. It was hard to argue that the Romeikes had truly been “persecuted” by not following the normal Schulpflicht (German parents’ obligation to send school-age children to, you know, school), so the family, which had moved to the U.S., faced deportation back to Germany for a while. However, a sudden reprieve from the Department of Homeland Security allowed them to stay.
Now that single case has led to a new bill, H.R. 1153 (the Asylum Reform and Border Protection Act of 2015). It is scheduled for a vote in the House Judiciary Committee today or tomorrow.
H.R. 1153 says that up to 500 people per fiscal year will be granted asylum in the U.S. if they fall under this description:
“[A] person who has been persecuted for failure or refusal to comply with any law or regulation that prevents the exercise of the individual right of that person to direct the upbringing and education of a child of that person (including any law or regulation preventing homeschooling), or for other resistance to such a law or regulation, shall be deemed to have been persecuted on account of membership in a particular social group, and a person who has a well-founded fear that he or she will be subject to persecution for such failure, refusal, or resistance shall be deemed to have a well-founded fear of persecution on account of membership in a particular social group.”
Mark my words: That “particular social group,” in practice, will be Christians only. The bill was developed by the Christian Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA), in collaboration with supportive members of Congress.
There are few things I dislike more than a lack of curiosity. To be curious is, by necessity, to ask questions, and asking questions is the engine for creativity, innovation, and growth.
Journalist and author Warren Berger – an old friend from my days as a New York City magazine editor – is a fellow question-lover. Not only has he written a book about it (A More Beautiful Question: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas), he is also the father of Question Week, a celebration of inquisitiveness and a challenge to ask more (and better) questions. Question Week 2015 just kicked off, not coincidentally concluding on Albert Einstein‘s birthday, this Saturday.
– What prompted you to start Question Week?
The idea is, it’s good for us to pause at times and ask questions and think about why we’re doing what we’re doing. But there never seems to be a time on the schedule marked “Ask meaningful questions.” People in general are moving at a faster pace, they’re more bombarded with noise and messages, and they’re caught up in “doing.” Questioning requires slowing down and stepping back. So Question Week is about giving yourself permission to take the time to ask some thoughtful questions about your career, your life, the world around you.
Dear Bishop Doran:
“It doesn’t include the openness to procreation, which is one of the essential dimensions of marriage; … and the reason for the state or society to get involved in marriage was because it has to do with the important business of children.”
It so happens that, a few years ago, two of our closest family friends — they run a Christian conference center a few states away — lost their eight-week-old child in utero. That is, she miscarried. She told me and my wife on the phone that night, sobbing. They hadn’t been able to conceive before, and at her age, it wasn’t very likely that they’d have children in the future. (They’ve indeed remained childless.)
Is their long and happy marriage a sham? Is it worthless to you, and to God, because they have not successfully procreated? Does the fact that they have touched hundreds of people’s lives, including mine, with much thoughtfulness and generosity mean anything at all?
If you agree that the marriage of my friends is a legitimate bond, perhaps even a sacrament, why do you give them a pass while insisting that (childless) same-sex couples make a mockery of marriage?