Just Another Reason to Pray for Religious Liberty in our Country

The Obama administration singled out for deportation a home-schooling German family that recently fled their country because of Nazi-era laws that required all German children to attend only government sanctioned schools. The Obama administration argued to the Supreme Court that the German government’s desire to “promote socialization, pluralism, tolerance and democracy” outweighs the human right of parents to decide how their children are educated. So, the law that supposedly promotes tolerance and diversity is being used to brutally enforce rigid conformity. Somewhere, Joseph Goebbels is smiling.

As near as I can see, they are guilty of homeschooling while German. I don’t see why the Administration’s arguments would not likewise apply to American homeschoolers. And I wonder if they might not well be taken as a precedent for crushing American homeschoolers if they gain currency. Any lawyers out there wanna comment?

"My guess: Mark said he's on vacation this weekend, so he set this to auto-post ..."

An Irish reader sends along a ..."
"Look at the transcripts. They don't believe it is torture but rather enhanced interrogation (though ..."

The Return of Torture
"Actually, my response was to address points that you brought up regarding a group that ..."

An Irish reader sends along a ..."
"I mean you, personally, for starters. You don’t get to use abortion or progressives as ..."

An Irish reader sends along a ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Andy

    The reason the DOJ argued this way is that not wanting to follow your country’s rules about schooling is not a reason to grant asylum. Although it has been cast as an attack on homeschooling – it really wasn’t.
    As far as taking this precedent if it one, to the American world – such as it is – there is no national standard yet about whee one has to go to school. I tend to doubt there will be.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      not wanting to follow your country’s rules about schooling is not a reason to grant asylum.

      It depends on how you phrase it. You say “not wanting to follow your country’s rules about schooling,” I say, “being stripped of the freedom of how to raise your own children,” a universal human right.

      • Andy

        The question is – does this lead to the right to grant asylum – we grant asylum for in theory “far greater issues” – usually involving violence. THis does not suggest that the right to raise your own children in anyway is diminished. I do understand the concern, but this is one time where I , and this hurts me, have to say that under our urgent laws the DOJ was correct.

        • HornOrSilk

          It’s also not a “religious liberty” issue per se. “Home schooling” is not a religious concern. Nonetheless, the way some act, I fear some may have turned it into an idol which they worship.

          • Andy

            I agree wholeheartedly – it is not a religious issue and many Homeschoolers no see homeschoolers as a matter of religion.

      • Dan C

        We spent the 1980’s turning back the victims of client states of the US. These were Catholics often. These were folks who were all victims of violence, it just happened to be violence approved and designed by the Reagan administration. This was done with much applause by certain political partisans in the US, again, many of them Catholic.

        I am all for more open borders. There would be a hierarchy. Of those who are persecuted for religion would come several South Asian minorities, including a small number of Christians. Also, again, some African Muslims are persecuted.

        This German homeschooling family may be persecuted. THere are others and they are not Christian. I am all for opening up the borders to all of them.

        But then again, I think it would have been an act of justice to open the borders to Haitians after 2010. There are not that many Haitians.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          I don’t disagree with any of that, except that you seem unable to post anything without taking shots at the Right.

  • Brian

    Didn’t the law actually originate in an earlier Prussian government?

  • Sally Wilkins

    Agreed – asylum is generally only granted to people who are in danger of violence if they return. If we want our government to begin granting asylum to people seeking religious freedom, we must be prepared for a huge influx of immigrants (the majority of whom, incidentally, will not be white Northern-European Christians). Now granting asylum to people who just want to be able to practice their religion in peace would seem to be symbolically perfect, given the origins of our nation, but if so it should be done deliberately and with the implications and implementation well-thought out in advance.

    • MikeinCT

      I wonder if having your children forcibly taken from you if you fail to comply counts as “danger of violence”.

      • I’m not familiar with the German laws. Is this in fact what would happen?

        If so, I would agree that it would count as “danger of violence.”

        • Imrahil

          It would. Alas.

        • entonces_99

          Yep, that’s what would happen. Unless they make their submission and send their children to government-sanctioned schools. Just as in Saudi Arabia, Christians who are sentenced to death for “blasphemy” will probably avoid execution if they make submission (i.e., “islam”) and become Muslims.

        • IRVCath

          On the other hand the German states in question would treat it similarly to situations where a parent won’t allow the child to get any education under the truancy laws – by indeed removing the children from parental custody. Similarly, failure to pay taxes can result in most societies in the confiscation of some things you own to satisfy the obligation, usually by force.

    • Dan C

      I think of large groups of folks in Asia and South Asia who suffer in this manner. Additionally, I can think of Muslims in parts of Africa.

      I am actually all for opening up the borders to these folks.

      • Andy

        I agree with changing why grant asylum, I think we are far to non-accepting of what counts as persecution. We, if we want to keep saying we are a Christian nation have to open our borders more.

  • Andrew Simons

    Adding another “Andy” to this thread, I agree with Andy below: “The reason the DOJ argued this way is that not wanting to follow your country’s rules about schooling is not a reason to grant asylum. Although it has been cast as an attack on homeschooling – it really wasn’t.” I also think that being forced to attend public school in a Western democracy is hardly “persecution” in any meaningful sense of that word. Parents aren’t barred from educating their children or inculcating religious values, they just can’t homeschool their children. Having said that, I don’t understand the German policy on schooling (but the Germans probably don’t get our policies on some things, either — our gun laws spring to mind).

    • Imrahil

      Hm… what strikes me here first (I’ll come to your points in a moment; and yes, I’m German and have even run through a German state school) is the following. If I live in a country which persecutes me for doing what I wish, and think of emigrating… I’d love to go to a country which permits it. And it would certainly serve as a plus-point if the country in question… say… speaks my own language… is not the farthest way from my birthplace… allows me to immigrate freely… is reasonably economically prosperous…

      The odd thing is that such a country exists. People call it “Austria”.

      As for understanding the German policy on schooling… the point simply is that the very idea of homeschooling is absent from the general focus of “what might parents wish to do”. Largely still so, and at any rate was some 65 years ago.

      Which is why the fathers of the Constitution, who well saw that schools can be tools of indoctrination, dealt with that problem in a different problem. They enshrined it as a basic right to have privately-run schools (Art. 7 BL) – so that every group wishing to school their children in their own way can do so on their own principles.

      What I don’t really get about German practice is the dogmatism about “penal law ultima ratio”. I consider taking childs away a far ulterior “ratio” than many penalties distributed according to criminal law. But, you know, technically it is treated as bureaucratic measure and thus officially less harsh than a fine. But that’s how it’s treated; and not because Germans would feel this way, but because the juridic thought-edifice would be slightly more complex in another.

      So, we have a law that decrees the duty of being schooled. And while, certainly, some have found its way round it depending on the friendliness and silence of the officials involved, the only one that can really change the law are politicians, and if they should consider the matter, they’d at once be terrified by some spectres and perhaps some justified fears.
      But most of the time they don’t consider. It’s long along the sacred principle (I’m being humorous, but sympathetic and not sarcastic) “first: that’s how we’ve always got things done, second: then anyone could come [and plead his own cause], and third: and just think about it” (“erstens: das haben wir schon immer so gemacht, zweitens: dann könnte ja ein jeder kommen, und drittens: und überhaupt!”).

      As for the Nazis, they have little to do with it. It may be that they eliminated the one or the other posssibility of dispensation. They may have raised homeschooling to a misdemeanor (now apparently it is a misdemeanor in three länder – otherwise an infraction). I don’t know much about that. But I guess that in any case, the Nazis didn’t really recognize themselves what they did about the school-obligation. They changed some subject contents of the schools, types of schools, but school in general they just took from previous Germany, and even found it insufficient to indoctrinate the children (which is why they made the Hitler Youth compulsory).

      The origin is in the governments of the Enlightenment era and aimed to raise the level of education. Previously there had been schools run by the Churches and attended on a voluntary basis – this, and the connection of education with religious edification is the reason why education is still in the responsibility of the Minister for Religion (“Kultusminister”) – or homeschooling. The reason why people preferred homeschooling seems, in general, not to have been to school them better, but that the children have more time to work in the fields.

      (This was not an opinion piece, but general information. The right to educate one’s own children is still something important, and I understand a family to leave a country for it. My only opinion here is that I do not understand why they didn’t leave to Austria.)

      • IRVCath

        Thanks for providing the necessary context!

        • Imrahil

          You’re welcome!

  • BillyT92679

    One thing I’ve noticed that’s been so weird lately is a strange hodgepodge among my fellow Catholics, wherein they are extremely libertarian when it comes to America, but so very pro-Russian/pro-Putin (and traditionally pro-Habsburgs, Holy Roman Empire et.al) Catholics really hate being told what to do when their guys aren’t in charge and will defend liberty at all costs (and rightfully so with the HHS Mandate and bullying tactics like what the Obama administration is doing), but man do they love autocracy when a guy is in charge who supports their beliefs.

    Putin is as anti-Catholic in his own way (especially as a KGB guy and a cultivator of a New Rome kind of Russian Orthodoxy) as Obama is. They are both bigots.

    We’re in an odd era where America is a new Sweden and Russia is like a new Francoist regime.

    • BillyT92679

      Caesaropapism is sinful

    • kenofken

      Putin has become the darling of social conservatives in this country of late. Rod Dreher and Pat Buchanan are some of his biggest cheerleaders. I wonder if the violence in Ukraine has tempered that enthusiasm any. The only reason we don’t like Putin’s Russia in the West, you see, is because he stands firm for traditional marriage! He’s a great guy and the last guardian of moral uprightness in the orbit of the Western world!

      • BillyT92679

        Well Dreher is Orthodox isn’t he?

        Buchanan I don’t get. Why advocate against Greek Catholics?

        • kenofken

          I don’t think Dreher even thinks of it in sectarian terms as much as making Putin out to be a hero for standing against the supposedly decadent values of the West.

      • BillyT92679

        Making an icon of Putin, especially when Catholics do it, is the ultimate example of conservative anti-charism of discernment

      • IRVCath

        Sad to say that in some quarters it has not. I mean, of all the social conservatives to pick, you pick Putin? There are plenty other socially conservative statesmen who have achieved the same things via ballot, not bullet.

    • Imrahil

      I’d think that liking a government that – let’s assume by hypothesis – does what is right and resisting a government that does what is wrong is a rather sound principle.

      So is appealing to America’s own principles when it is about getting America to allow something.

      That said, I don’t see Catholics loving un-freedom per se.

      In addition, I don’t see where the Habsburgs or Wittelsbachs were particularly known as antagonists of freedom and subsidiarity.

      • BillyT92679

        Some were better than others. Blessed Karl of course. Joseph II most certainly. But the Habsburgs were autocrats for the most part, even if the Church benefited. And Franco (and South American juntas) most definitely were antagonists of liberty and solidarity/subsidiarity, even if they were better than the revolutionaries.

        I think your argument is begging the question here. No one dislikes standing up for what’s right. But even a benevolent despot, is still a despot. Autocracy is the issue, because of its corollaries of oppression and repression that often come with it. Autocracy is often consequentialism in action.

        • Imrahil

          Well, a “benevolent despot” is a category outside the scope of classical philosophy, and if we understand “despot” with its usual signification viz. tyrant, then such a thing as a benevolent tyrant does not exist. There is (at least theoretically) such a thing as a good ruler, but he is called a monarch.

          In fact, interesting, I would not particularly have brought up the case of Joseph II. He was one of the very few emperors that was loathed by his populace. (In addition, we might say in Chestertonian spirit that he was perhaps the least ridiculed.) There is no reason not to say he had good intentions, and at least he was persuadeable (his stand on Catholicism became recognizably more friendly after Pius VI had paid him a visit and presumably spoke a few quiet words with him), but Joseph II really *was* infringing people’s liberties. Though not as much as the American Constitution the way it stood between 1919 and 1933.

          Generally, though, I was not specifically bringing an argument. I highlighted a perspective.
          Catholics are – most of the time, I do believe, critically – appraising some of the traits (which they think, and which sometimes are, worthy of appraisal *in themselves*) of “autocrats” who the world shuns generally, or defending them from unjust accusation. Correct.
          Catholics love it when a government does the right thing* and praise them for it, without asking whether they are democracies. Correct.

          [*Note: If we really do inquire what is the right thing, it can nowise be simply said that hindering wrong done at the price of a freedom would generally be. It may be, of course, that Catholics – but like the rest of mankind – overlook this and just rejoice in the bad guys getting their share.]

          Correct, but there’s nothing wrong to it.

          As for the general discussion of political forms, that theoretical point is little approached by the great mass in a political manner, beyond that much of them, yes, loves the splendour of the dynasties to whom their forefathers had pledged loyalty, and who after all were not criminals or enemies of mankind, without being democrats.

          They do not, though, would seem to generally love “autocracy”, if we understand it in the sense that the monarch, good or not, does all and leaves nothing in a subsidiarian way (Joseph II being a good example). The idea of participation-in-power which the Bl. John XXIII put in words and (somewhat) into Church doctrine w.r.t. businesses in “Mater et Magistra” is certainly felt by them w.r.t. to states also (which, I think, figures in “Pacem in terris” but it’s been a bit of time that I read that). On the other hand, the idea that they had lived in slavery until 1918 (and that God’s headquarters on Earth had courted the slave-masters) has, understandably, somewhat little ground in their feelings.

          • Imrahil

            Annotation for hairsplitters such as myself: “put (somewhat) into Church doctrine” does not mean that the thing would be questionable. The “somewhat” only reflects the fact that, well, Church doctrine is not really changeable or really (other than by further precisation, development etc.) enlargeable.

          • BillyT92679

            I look at Joseph’s patronage of the arts as him supporting a populace that often, by many rulers, would be suppressed.

            • Imrahil

              Ah, I understand. Only that is not by traditional monarchs but by 20th century dictatorships.

              In fact, I can hardly think of an area where the old monarchs really are free of blame (they were human beings), but patronage of the arts comes closest.

              • BillyT92679

                I agree. This is a good discussion

                • Imrahil

                  thank you!

          • BillyT92679

            I think, it’s ultimately a bit more subjective than that though.

            Hungary fought hard for the hyphenation of their country, as they did feel at the very least, as an ethnolinguistic minority that was so dissimilar to anyone else in Europe (other than, maybe, the Finns which Magyar isn’t that dissimilar of a language) that they were treated as a mere vassal state, a Hercegovina even though they had a sizable population and a robust center(s) in Buda and Pest (though they also did have sizable German populations always).

            Hungarians, and Czechs for that matter, I think had such an embrace of Protestantism within their ranks because they did feel softly “enslaved.” and saw the Jesuits as an embodiment of that slavery.

            The Czechs had been fighting that battle since Jan Hus of course, so they predated everything.

            It was the lack of subsidiarity. It was the centralization of authority in Vienna over Prague, over Bratislava and Buda that did alienate a lot of people.

            Realpolitik vis a vis the Church and the Emperor certainly helped the Church grow, but it also did engender a lot of resentment. And I think the reaction to that resentment by these groups emboldened many Catholics to have Caesaropapist tendencies.

            • Imrahil

              Good points.

              Only that the Hungarians did receive their independence (in real union); and the reason why the Emperor was loth to grant it was the, slightly, complicated relations with other populaces. After all, Hungary claimed all of Croatia to be, somewhat, Hungarian. Also, Hungary is largely Catholic.

              The Czechs, though… really have seen large Decatholicisation once Austria was gone. Interesting. (I’d certainly agree by the way that, much as the joy over the result of the White Mountain Battle was justified, the “Bohemian Reconstruction” of the 1620 was a largely problematic thing.)

              The very simple thing is, to be honest, that I know more Bavarians, Austrians (and Croatians) than Czechs. An Austrian acquaintance pitied me once that as a German, I cannot revel in my glorious past like she can (meaning Francis Joseph).

            • IRVCath

              There was a long tradition of loyal Czech servants to the Habsburgs, though (for example Kolowrat). Also, it was the anti-Habsburg forces in the 19th century that most strongly opposed Czech cultural aspirations, for example, replacing German with Czech as the default medium of instruction in Czech schools.

              It’s a bit more complicated that suggesting the Hussite rebel tradition was the only tradition.

              • Imrahil

                Interesting. I didn’t know that.

                That is, yes, I suspected there were loyal Czech servants, but I didn’t know that the nationalists (neutral term) actually would have opposed Czech cultural aspirations.

                • IRVCath

                  Not the Czech nationalists, but the German nationalists. For a lot of the Pan German people, who by the way were largely anticlerical in orientation like Schonerer, the Czech lands were part of Germany, and the Czech were just country bumpkins who should be made into good Germans. So the conservatives, moderate liberals and Czech nationalists were naturally opposed to the German nationalist agenda.

                  • Imrahil

                    Ah I understand. Sounds logical. Thank you!

              • BillyT92679

                Of course there is. I didn’t suggest the Hussite tradition was the only.

                But it certainly, most definitely, was a historical antecedent.

        • entonces_99

          Jospeh II? Are you kidding? The guy who tried to turn the Church into a department of the Austrian state?

          • BillyT92679

            SO many people tried that back then, it doesn’t mean that they didn’t have benevolent tendencies.

    • D.T. McCameron

      I think appreciation for autocracy stems from an appreciation of efficiency over bureaucracy. A bit like the vigilante who simply kills the rapist as opposed to the legal system that drags on for years and then spits him out on parole.

      Because though the bureaucracy was established to slow the rise of tyrants, it can become a tyranny of its own.

      And I think deep down, we’d all rather toast or raise our fists against a man than we would a “system.”

      • BillyT92679

        I think that makes sense… it’s not terribly dissimilar to the argument of what scares us more: tyranny or anarchy.

        The antidote to all of this is the Church.

        • HornOrSilk

          Problem is, to some, any government regulation is tyranny. Satan is pleased with such selfishness.

  • kenofken

    Granting asylum in this case would have made a mockery of asylum’s purpose. We’re proposing to shield this kid from what? Attending a school system which is much better than ours in a country with a much better human rights record. If that’s where we’re going to set the bar for asylum, we better prepare for 4 or 5 billion new neighbors in our borders. Absolutely everyone living in the Middle East, South Asia, the former Soviet States, China, India and large swaths of Africa have much more compelling religious freedom grievances than this kid.

    If this family wants to live here that badly, let them go through the usual immigration and naturalization process. This hardly constitutes a life-and-limb emergency or grievous human rights violation. And before we get too enamored of referencing today’s German school policy with Nazism, we would do well to remember that the very laws which protect Catholic schools from government interference and privilege the Church in many other ways are the very laws enacted in the Reichskonkordat in 1933.

    • erin

      Why should a government get to decide where your children go to school, against your will?? A government that will remove your children from your custody if they believe your lifestyle is setting up a culture that is in opposition to the dominant assimilationist culture?

      • Mike Petrik

        erin, I agre with you, but kenofken is still right. Not every injustice or shortcoming is or should be grounds for asylum. And the fact that I think Obama is a terrible president and very wrong about many important things does not mean his administration was wrong in this case.

        • Rosemarie


          If the Obama administration really did argue that the German government’s desire to “promote socialization, pluralism, tolerance and democracy” outweighs the human right of parents to decide how their children are educated, then the administration is very wrong. The Church teaches that parents are the primary educators of their children. They can delegate that right to schools if they so choose, but it remains their God-given right and they can certainly choose to educate their offspring by themselves.

          Does that mean this family should get asylum? I’m not sure. If they’re being threatened with having their children taken away because they are exercising their God-given right to educate them, then maybe that could be grounds for asylum. I’m no legal expert so I defer to others on that.

          Yet I think Mark’s main point is that the administration’s view could have disturbing consequences for homeschoolers in the US if it becomes established as a legal precedent.

          • HornOrSilk

            Saying parents are the primary educators of their children does not mean government has no role in the education, nor a role in determining when parents fail that obligation. And thus government does have a role in saying “these parents fail to meet standards.” Now we might think the government is wrong in standards, but, let’s say a family wanted to teach their kids nothing, and want their children not to even be able to speak. Would a government have a role in saying no? This disregard for the government and its role in regulating the state is a pox on libertarians, and their constant dismissal of any role for the government by making absolute (parents) what the Church does not says a lot. Primary doesn’t mean only nor does primary mean can’t be overridden.

            • Rosemarie


              Granted, but I don’t think the German government is arguing that this family has failed to educate their children. Homeschooling is illegal in Germany, regardless of whether the kids get a good education that way or not. The German gov’t is trying to deny them their right to educate their children, and that is wrong. The Vatican recently told the UN that parents have a right to homeschool their children:


              (EDIT: I replaced the link with a better one)

              • HornOrSilk

                Parents having a right to home school children is not the same thing as saying parents have a right to entirely distance themselves from government sanctioned schools. Sometimes, like in Germany, the parents would do it through supplemental education. It’s only a denial of home schooling alone in Germany.

                I find home schooling is a fundamentalistic trend which got brought over with some “converts” seeking to create their own separate sub-culture, even in Catholicism (they also reject Catholic schools, mock Catholic education, ignore catechesis on issues they don’t like — such as CST — etc). Home schooling is often used as a cover for deficit which is why government has a role.

                • Rosemarie


                  As a homeschooler who hangs out with other homeschoolers, both Catholic and otherwise, I disagree with your assessment of Catholic homeschooling. We’re not all “converts” (love the scare quotes) and we have a variety of different reasons for doing what we do.

                  And I never said that government has no role at all in making sure a child’s education is adequate, etc. I file all the necessary paperwork on time as required by my state. I’m not sure why you always attribute extreme opinions to those with whom you argue. I wasn’t even disagreeing with you, I was answering one thing Mike Petrik said, so there’s no need to jump down my throat about this.

                  • HornOrSilk

                    But how the government decides what is adequate is a part of the question. In Germany, it is through government sanction of education. No one is stopping the parents to educate on top of the government sanction schools.

                    And it is not just an issue of converts (I’m a convert). It is often many converts bring their false biases with them. The fact that they still attack the Catholic Church in one fashion or another (as is the case with attack on Catholic education from many of the homeschoolers) shows this. And yes, it is a fad which started with converts…. and I think it is an over-rated fad. I’ve seen the fallout many times. It’s not good.

                    • Rosemarie


                      I’ve studied the history of the modern Catholic homeschooling movement, and disagree that it started with converts. I’m pretty sure the earliest promoters of homeschooling back in the late 1970s – early 1980s were cradle Catholics. The converts started joining in earnest during the 1990s and have played a role in its growth, but they weren’t there in large numbers in the beginning.

                      I still stand by what the Vatican has said; parents have a right to educate their children and the government should not deny them that right by law. If the government wants to make sure the children are being taught sufficiently, that’s another matter and there are ways of doing that which respect the parents’ right to teach their children.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      The government is not denying parents the right to educate their children by saying the children should also go to a government approved source for education. That’s where you go astray (on top of the confusion of “primary” as it meant only and there is no way it can be over-turned).

                      How a government makes sure the situation remains just for children while parents keep the right to educate their children is, as is often the case, an issue of prudence. And prudence means many options, including what I said above. If a government took all children away from all parents and then put in a school with no contact with children, you might have a case. It’s not happening.

                    • Rosemarie


                      Homeschooling is illegal in Germany. Parents there are not allowed to choose how their children should be educated if that choice involves homeschooling. The Vatican says that parents have a right to choose to homeschool their children. Germany is at odds with the Vatican over this.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Wrong. Home schooling is NOT illegal. EXCLUSIVE home schooling is. A BIG difference.

                    • Rosemarie


                      The sources I’ve read online say that it’s been illegal since just after WWI.

                      “The German laws mandating public-school attendance date back to Germany’s first experiment with democracy in 1919…”

                      Source: http://www.dw.de/us-judge-grants-german-homeschooling-family-asylum/a-5174919-1

                      “German state constitutions require children to attend public or private schools, and parents can face fines or prison time if they do not comply.”

                      Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/germany/7080790/German-homeschoolers-granted-political-asylum-in-US.html

                      “Under Germany’s stringent rules, home schooling is allowed only in exceptional circumstances. Before emigrating, Mr and Mrs Romeike had been fined some €12,000 ($17,000); policemen had arrived at their house and forcibly taken their children to school. The Romeikes feared that the youngsters might soon be removed by the state.”

                      Source: http://www.economist.com/node/15469407

                      I’m sorry, but this is unacceptable harassment of a family that clearly was providing an education for their children, not shirking on it. They are within their God-given rights as parents to do so. Germany is wrong to fine and imprison parents for something God says they are allowed to do.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      You still have not followed.

                      One. Last. Time. Follow along, and prove you are capable of simple reading comprehension.

                      Exclusive home schooling is rejected. Home schooling is not.

                    • Rosemarie


                      Then define what you mean by “exclusive home schooling,” as opposed to “home schooling”

                      Because I’m pretty sure I have been talking all along about “exclusive home schooling,” but maybe we’ve been talking past each other.

                      As I’ve been saying all along, parents in Germany are not allowed to teach their children exclusively at home without sending them to school at all. The Catholic Church says that parents should be allowed that option. So Germany is wrong.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Parents have a right to teach their children. The Catholic Church has not said governments have no right to also want to teach children. Again, both can teach. So home schooling is not forbidden.

                    • Rosemarie


                      The Catholic Church has said that parents should have the freedom to choose how they wish their children to be educated, “inclusive of homeschooling.” Meaning they should have the right to choose to homeschool.

                      Homeschooling is typically defined as children learning at home and other places (field trips, museums, etc.) but outside of a school classroom setting. It is learning directed and facilitated by the parents rather than a school. This is what I have meant all along. And the Vatican says that parents have a right to do this and that government should respect that right.

                      The German government harrasses homeschoolers with fines, threats of imprisonment, police escorting their children to school, even seizure of children from their parents and has gone so far as to refuse to allow homeschooling families to emigrate to other countries where it is legal:


                      Sorry, but the Church is not okay with that. It is a violation of human rights.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Inclusive of home schooling means they should be able to include home schooling. Right. However, the Church has not said government has no rights, either. And this again is how libertarian rejection of government misreads the Church. Again, saying children need to go to a school does not deny parents the chance to educate either. You still ignore the whole like usual, because of your blind spot in regards to governmental authority.

                    • Rosemarie


                      It means that exclusive homeschooling is one of the choices they should be allowed to make for their kids.

                      Saying that children must go to school does deny parents the right to exclusively homeschool them, which the Church says that they should have.

                      Oh, so now you’ve divined in me a “blind spot” in regards to governmental authority. Despite the fact that I said above that the government should be able to step in if the child is being neglected educationally. Still reading souls, huh HOS?

                    • Rosemarie


                      I know HOS is gone, but I see what he was getting at now. He was making an atypical distinction between “homeschooling” and “exclusive homeschooling.” By the former, he apparently meant extra instruction that parents may give their children after they return home from school. By that definition, I could say I was homeschooled every time my mother helped me with homework, taught me drawing and art appreciation and brought me to museums and other educational institutions. Yet I attended school full time from 1st grade through high school, so I was certainly not homeschooled.

                      I, OTOH, used the widely-accepted definition of homeschooling: when children are instructed in academic subjects by family members (usually parents) outside of a traditional classroom. Granted, some homeschooled children get a little instruction from other people: they may go to art or music lessons, gymnastics or martial arts classes, they may get tutored in subjects they find difficult, and they may even attend a class or two at a homeschool co-op. Yet they are not enrolled in the local school as full-time students; once that happens, a child ceases to be homeschooled. Just ask the Home School Legal Defense Association; it tells its members that their memberships will cease if they ever enroll their child(ren) in school. Because the kids are then, by definition, no longer being homeschooled.

                      This is apparently what HOS meant by “exclusive homeschooling.” We misunderstood each other, not because anyone lacked reading comprehension skills, but because disagreement on the definition of a word caused a communication breakdown.

                      I still stand by the definition I used since it is the standard, commonly understood definition of homeschooling. If he had said, “There’s nothing in German law which says a child can’t receive additional instruction from their parents at home after school or on vacation days,” then what he was saying would have been unambiguously correct. Yet the fact would still remain that what he called “exclusive homeschooling” (which most of us simply call homeschooling) is illegal in Germany. And that was the point of Mark’s original post above.

                    • Rosemarie


                      And BTW, as my husband said above, we’re not libertarians. I don’t believe that the government must take a completely hands-off approach to education. The state is within its rights to set educational standards, require paperwork and testing, and to step in if the parents are actually neglecting their children’s education while falsely claiming to homeschool (which sadly does sometimes happen and as a homeschooling mom I find that disgusting).

                      However, if the parents/guardians are truly educating their children at home, the state has no right to treat them like criminals for doing what the Creator says they have a right to do. Though states derive their authority from God, that authority is not absolute. The laws of a state can sometimes be in conflict with the law of God and therefore immoral. That’s not libertarianism; unless all pro-lifers are libertarians for claiming that abortion remains immoral even if the state “legalizes” it. Unless the martyrs were all “satanic” libertarians for refusing to offer a pinch of incense to Caesar (God forbid we believe such a thing).

                    • MarylandBill

                      Unless you are arguing for Government by Divine Right (which I doubt you are), governments do not have rights, they have powers that are used to perform the necessary functions of government. The power of government to compel the action of private citizens should only be allowed in the narrowest of circumstances when it is demonstrably necessary to protect the people or individuals.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Catholic Social Teaching says government has rights. You reject this. This is why I don’t want children entrusted to you alone.

                    • MarylandBill

                      If Catholic Social teaching speaks of Government rights, I was unaware of this. Therefore, please provide me a reference to the Church document that states that governments have rights (not responsibilities or powers).

                      That being said, I was not referring to social teaching but political theory; I was referring to theories of the enlightenment that form the justification of democracy as a form of Government.

                      Further it would be impossible for governments to hold rights in the same sense that people do. My rights as an individual are endowed to me by God by nature as my individual. Government as we know it was created by people and therefore it cannot have rights endowed by God. Any “rights” it might have are by their very nature closer to powers granted to it in order that it protect the people under its care and their rights.

                    • IRVCath

                      Paul would disagree with you, as would Augustine. See Imhahil’s gloss on the countertheory, supra. Now there may be a contract between rulers and ruled, but it is kept, as all legitimate governments are, by the grace of God.

                    • Imrahil

                      There is no feasible argument for government that does not stem from Divine Right. (Well, right by natural law, actually, but it does appear in positive divine law too.)

                      Governments may not claim their Divine Right, but if they really, hypothetically, would not have it, and still make citizens comply with rules (which is the point of governing), then they would be no different than a band of robbers, as St. Augustine reminds us (on a slightly different but related point).

                      Note that while the Divine Right is somewhat associated with monarchies, there is no reason why we should not speak of a state “by the Grace of God a republic based on popular election”.

                    • MarylandBill

                      I am not sure I completely agree with this.. I mean I agree what Saint Augustine said. That being said, I am not sure I agree with the idea that there is no feesible argument for government that does not stem from Divine Right. Ultimately the argument (at least in post enlightenment democracies) for government is that it rules by a mandate of the people where the people give up some of their rights and grant the government powers in order to protect their other rights.

                    • Imrahil

                      Yes, that’s the modern theory. And I don’t deny there may be something to it if you really take a look… but still…

                      What of the member of the people who did not give up his some rights? And what of the member of the people who did so under the condition that government use it well, if he afterwards comes to see that government doesn’t? And what – that was subjectivism of course – if he makes some specific, objective factual conditions, such as “I mandate the government but not to establish same-sex-marriage under any circumstance whatsoever”? And what, on the other hand, of a different person, rather misguided, who does not make a good condition but a bad condition, as in “I mandate the government but not to abolish same-sex marriage”?

                      The people consists of different men with intellect and free-will. They may sometimes form a real entity called “the People” with even an “opinion of the people” (which might include obedience to the rulers) which is why I said there was something about it. But that happens occasionally, cannot really be foreseen and also not really scientifically testified. (Polls don’t do that. They would if they reported 100%, but if anything less, the distinction between “there is an opinion of the people and some dissent from it” and “there is dissent within the people” cannot possibly be answered by a poll.)

                      A factor of “I do not like it but my country, right or wrong, I do not withdraw my mandate” may exist in cases of sufficiently little importance (I did say there was something to the theory)… but it cannot be trusted upon.

                      For a final answer to “why obey government” I can thus only see two possibilities [if I throw Divine and natural law together and say “God”, Who, after all, did create nature].

                      God. Or bullets. And the latter is indeed indistinguishable from St. Augustine’s gang of robbers.

                      In fact, I guess the modern theory largely realies on a personification of the People, overlooking that the people consists of free men and even a majority is only a part of it. In fact, forgive me, that strikingly resembles the way myths are constructed [by “myth” I do not mean “completely untrue”, as I said. Neither are myths necessarily completely untrue].

                      Thus, enlightenment exchanged the strictly rationalistic theory of divine right with something in nature mythical. Go figure. 🙂

                    • NotStalin

                      Interesting name HornOrSilk – definitely bringing the Horn to the conversation.
                      Arguing over the semantics of Home schooling versus Exclusive home schooling is humorous and scary that folks actually buy into the government b.s you spout over faithful parents that are capable of schooling without the states propa… standards in place.
                      God help us if the majority of people in this country think the government should be required to play a role in education of our children, or else remove them from their parents because of “abuse”.
                      You need to read the post on the kid in Boston that Mark posted and not see how you would be on the side of the hospital and the all loving Mass. government in that situation with the logic you are using.

                    • MarylandBill

                      True, after the German state gets to indoctrinate the kids for 5 hours, the parents are allowed to try to fix their children.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Here with go with the “indoctrination” anti-government junk which goes against Catholic thought on government. Basically it shows what YOU want to do with children, indoctrinate.

                    • MarylandBill

                      So what exactly is being talked about in the quote, “promote socialization, pluralism, tolerance and democracy”? Almost by definition, promoting democracy would have to be considered indoctrination. Do they spend time actually considering the dangers of democracy? Do they consider the advantages of other systems of government? Is tolerance presented as forbearance in the face of the many sins of our society or is it presented as approval?

                      Someone is going to play the central role in forming my children’s world view, and I would far prefer it be me and my wife than the state.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Society must educate people to be members of society. To those who reject society, that’s indoctrination. The same argument, of course, is also given by atheists to Christians who educate their children to be Christian. Government has the right and authority to make sure some level of education is given so people will be members of society. Parents also have a right to educate their children. When you say government trying to make sure people are socialized is indoctrination, you basically destroy all education as indoctrination. That’s not the way to go.

                      Those complaining about pluralism or tolerance as indoctrination also show how far they are from Catholic Social Doctrine, which promotes both. Saying there can be extremes of them is right, but denying them and their role in the formation of society and therefore the role education has in promoting these ideals is itself problematic. And it again demonstrates to be the anti-government, anti-society, and indeed anti-education bias which is indeed dangerous to society and creates the kind of ghetto we don’t want.

                    • MarylandBill

                      Note, I never actually said that making sure people are socialized is indoctrination. My primary gripe is the idea that tolerance, pluralism and democracy must be taught as virtues; specifically when it is the state defining those virtues.

                      Further, I will agree that the state has an interest and perhaps even a responsibility to make sure that children receive a minimum education. That being said, when you apply the principle of subsidiarity to education, then it is clear that the state’s role should be the minimum necessary to achieve that standard. If a family is capable of providing an adequate education, then the state should let them.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      In a democratic government, of course the socialization will teach democratic features as virtue. Pluralism has always been a virtue in the church, as has tolerance. The fact that people complain about this now makes me think about the debates over the “Dark Enlightenment.” Same problem I have with them I have with you.

                    • MarylandBill

                      Ah, so its personal now? Its not my position you have a problem with but me? Without ever meeting me, or knowing my general position on anything other than schooling? How tolerant and pluralistic of you.

                      Yes, to some degree tolerance and pluralism are virtues, but not as the United States government might define them. For example, I don’t want my kids to learn that all “lifestyles” are equally valid. I want him to understand that tolerance does not mean accept or embrace.

                    • Rosemarie


                      Yep. I disagree with him, therefore I am a selfish ignoramus who’s only homeschooling because I want to indoctrinate my child against Church teaching on social justice. You disagree with him, therefore you’re in the same class as racists. He’s never met either of us yet has full knowledge and authority to judge our hearts and motives. The ad hominems fly freely.

                    • MarylandBill

                      Sorry… my post didn’t come up right away.. I have deleted what is essentially the same post

                    • Imrahil

                      Well, the government has no right to indoctrinate children – leastways not false views, but even a Catholic government may at least not directly indoctrinate non-Catholic children with Catholicism. That’s not against Catholic thought, nor – I would say – is such a fear totally unreasonable these days.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      When all education is reduced as indoctrination when it goes against the ideology of the parents, if the parents want to promote racism, the state has every right to “indoctrinate” against racism. The problem is again the reduction to calling everything in education “indoctrination” which happens in these discussions.

                    • Imrahil

                      Well but I think the elephant in the room is the question of right or wrong.

                      Racism is false; hence we say that the State has a right to indoctrinate against it. (I would call it indoctrination without hesitation, whether or not it is justified.)

                      But if the parents want to indoctrinate their children that homosexuality against nature and that if they should misfortunately find themselves same-sex-attracted, they would dearly hope them to live chastely, and the State wants to indoctrinate them to the contrary?

                      It can sadly not be said that this fear is entirely a spectre.

                    • Just for curiosity’s sake, have you ever attempted to provide a child with additional hours of instruction in addition to their full-time attendance at a public school, homework and project completion, etc? Also for curiosity’s sake, what if you discovered your child absorbing an entirely relativistic, anything-goes ethic coupled with scorn or indifference for religious values? I’d honestly love to know a remedy that can be provided in a few, non-prime-time hours per day.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      I have no children of my own. Friends of mine, do. They teach their children as well as have their children go to public schools. It’s not much of a burden, and it is LESS than someone trying it ALL ALONE.

                    • “It’s not much of a burden, and it is LESS than someone trying it ALL ALONE.” Since you’ve never had multiple children in multiple schools, forgive me if I take your assertion with a grain of salt. There was a year, not too many years ago, when nine of my children were attending SIX DIFFERENT SCHOOLS. Different drop off and pickup times, conflicting school events, completely different vacation schedules… I’m not complaining, it was matter of different kids needing very different environments to thrive. (And even if I’d gone the completely vanilla public school route, and skipped pre-school entirely, they *still* would have been in three schools.) Let’s not romanticize public schooling.

                      As non-intuitive as it may sound, for *some* families, homeschooling is less, not more work, when an honest accounting of time, stress and frustration is made. Teaching one’s children after a full day in public school must necessarily be of the supplemental rather than primary variety.

                • Jared Clark

                  Or, y’know, they could be like my mother and note the deficiency of public school. I was better for it.

                  Oh, and I’m a “cradle Catholic”, not a “convert”. Can I keep the pointless scare quotes?

                • MarylandBill

                  Being neither a convert, nor a fundamentalist Catholic, but being the father of a family that is strongly considering homeschooling, let me explain the reasons we are considering homeschooling. Hopefully this will enable you to see past your prejudices about homeschoolers.

                  1. Catholic Schools can be a great option, provided they are good Catholic Schools. Fortunately near D.C. we have several. That being said, the schools can be very expensive. That being said, not all Catholic Schools are faithful to the magisterium of the Church. Some, for example, push the idea that Catholic Social Teaching is the essential aspect of faith rather than placing it in its proper place balanced with right belief and practice. Additionally church teachings are sometimes misrepresented; I actually had a religion teacher in Catholic High School who used articles published by the Jesus Seminar. This was not to refute said articles either. —
                  2. Public Schools have become intolerant of the behavior of boys. Kids in kindergarten are sometimes suspended for pretending their fingers are guns and pointing them at each other. Likewise, most schools seem to be oriented towards kids who are quiet and compliant. Very active kids (my eldest son), I feel would be a poor fit at this point in time with the traditional classroom. In fact, I suspect I would be pressured into giving him drugs to calm his behavior down.

                  3. Schools, at least in the early grades, place such a huge emphasis on reading and math, that other important subjects are neglected. At our local parochial school subjects like science and social studies are only taught once a week in the lower grades. At the same time we are talking about the need for people going into STEM careers, don’t you think we should be exposing them to how fun science can be at a younger age? I want my kids to learn about physics, astronomy, chemistry and biology at an early age.

                  4. Schools are generally incredibly inefficient with the child’s time, especially at the lower grades. The kids are grouped into different groups based on their particular abilities and the teacher spends focused time on them while the other kids are essentially given busy work to keep them occupied. Even then such groupings are at best approximations and kids who fall above or below the range covered can essentially be neglected.

                  I can come up with a dozen other reasons why we are considering homeschooling, but hopefully that will disabuse of the notion that parents are only doing it because they are reactionary converts. BTW, I would also point out that there are homeschoolers of every stripe, not just religious conservatives, but also atheistic socialists, progressive Christians, libertarian atheists, and every other combination of creed and political ideology you can imagine.

                  Final thought, the notion of supplemental education seems nice until you realize that kids are simply given too much too do these days. All that busy work they spend time on in school takes its toll. If you want them to study advanced subjects afterwards, it makes life even harder on them. Not to mention it is silly. I remember taking algebra 1 in an after school class while at the same time taking pre-algebra in my regular math class. It was a huge waste of my time. If anything, kids need more time to be kids, not to be robots.

                  • Imrahil

                    Slight annotation on a factual point. It may be that the parents are concerned about the faithfulness of Catholic schools to her own Magisterium, or they can’t bring themselves to give their children into Papist hands.

                    Expensiveness, though, is not one of them. German Catholic schools either charge no tuition fees or small ones. I mean very small compared to America (500€ per school year or so), and even then you can apply for exemption if you don’t have the money.

                    • MarylandBill

                      Note of clarification, I was talking about the general idea about homeschoolers stated by HornorSilk, not about the German situation in particular.

                  • dasrach

                    MarylandBill, you have perfectly described why my also-DC-area family is strongly considering homeschool. We can’t afford Catholic school unless we get a generous financial aid package (which we may, but we’ll see) and public schools have all the problems you mentioned and more (especially since we live in PG County–fun times!).

            • Rosemarie


              >>>Primary doesn’t mean only nor does primary mean can’t be overridden.

              Vatican II’s “Declaration on Christian Education” states that parents “have the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their children” (para. 6). An “inalienable right” cannot be overriden by the state.

              EDIT: Forgot the link: http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_decl_19651028_gravissimum-educationis_en.html

              • HornOrSilk

                You continue to prove yourself (as do the other anti-government types in here) unable to follow the Church’s teachings with regards to society. They have a right to teach, but not right to exclusive teaching if government also wants to teaching. Nothing the Church has said says they have no right to teach as well! NOTHING.

                Your central thesis is a rejection of governmental authority, period. This goes against all of 2000 years of social teaching of the Church.

                Your comments, as with people like Bill, show people who are more into libertarian denial of government than Church teaching. Authority of the government is a part of the Church’s teaching. While there are questions of prudence, disagreeing with one prudential application of Church teaching by the state with its own prudence doesn’t make the government a tyrant. This idea that the government has to fulfill YOUR desires is upside-down.

                Nothing has been shown against Church teaching. And you show you fail simple reading comprehension skills in this thread. Another reason why government might want to make sure children are educated beyond knowledge of selfish parents who want to teach anti-social justice.

                I’m done with you. You have proven yourself to be constantly in the wrong, constantly incapable of basic reading comprehension.

                • Rosemarie


                  Well, I’m glad you’re done with me because your misinterpretation of Church teaching, ad hominem attacks, arguments from silence (“The Church has not said governments have no rights… Nothing the Church has said says they have no right to teach as well”) and lack of documentation of your claims make discussing anything with you singularly unpleasant. I’ve documented the claims I’ve made yet you say I’m “constantly in the wrong.” Whatever.

                  (EDIT: Have you even read a single article or Church document I’ve linked to? Your responses came too fast after my posts for you to have done that. Yet you’re so sure that I’m “in the wrong” anyway.)

                  And I’m homeschooling my son because he has special needs and the public schools don’t have an appropriate placement for him. How “selfish” of me to give up all my free time to provide him with a good education! It’s not because I want to teach “anti-social justice” – how dare you make such a slanderous claim against me.

                  BTW, I also have two other children who attend public school. Oh, how I must hate the government!

                  If I lack basic reading comprehension skills, you can thank my traditionally-schooled education for that: six years of public school and six years of Catholic school. Of course, there were also those four years of college from which I graduated magna cum laude; how did I ever accomplish that with no reading comprehension skills?

                  (Or maybe it’s just your strange definition of “homeschooling” as something that includes regular classroom schooling that threw me off.)

                  I didn’t want to argue with you in the first place; I was just answering someone else. If you don’t like the way I defend myself then don’t start an argument with me in the future.

                • BillyT92679

                  I’m anti-libertarian and I am not into homeschooling, but I really think you’re being extraordinarily strident here.

                • Sorry, but I think it is you who is wrong about Church teaching and government, including Catholic social teaching. CST does allow government rights and duties, of course. But the principle of subsidiarity also says that governments as well as individuals can go beyond or abuse their rights.

                  You forget the whole reason we have a Catholic School system in the U.S. to begin with is the concern of the bishops that government schools back in the 19th century were indoctrinating Catholic children with Protestant teachings. Clearly an abuse of government power. Indoctrination in secularism is nothing different.

                  • HornOrSilk

                    No one has said government can’t go against their authority as well. However, if you see the argument: parents have primary authority has turned into only authority and government has no right to interject anything. This is very much the kind of rhetoric from American libertarian views, not Catholic view which also recognizes the authority of government. That’s the whole point

                    Catholic school system is, of course, also approved in Germany. The funny thing is the home schoolers also oppose Catholic schools. Again, I’ve seen the Church go, ok, you don’t use your schools, your children need extra education from us, and the same home schoolers whine about Church interference in trying to educate children. Same thing.

                    Parents have a right to educate their children. Governments have a right to make sure children are given basics to function in modern society. There are many ways this can be done. Allowing home schooling with intervention from government to check up on the parents would also get “big brother is watching me” response. Prudence says a government can say, “We want to teach basics, you teach what you want.” That is what is being ignored.

                    • I am not a libertarian in any way shape or form. I was merely pointing out the fact that according to the Church, government can and does overstep its bounds. I’m glad you at least recognize that, since up to know you’d certainly given no sign of it.

                      I have no idea why the parents in question didn’t send their children to a religious school in Germany. Maybe their faith tradition has no religious schools. But the point is, the Church does say the government can overstep its bounds. The Church also says parents have the right to homeschool. Please point out somewhere in Church teaching that says this doesn’t include “exclusive” home schooling.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      I actually said from the beginning, “The government has always had some rights here, as do the parents. We
                      have to recognize both, and sometimes one or the other are off, to be
                      sure, but we must be careful and not make it some pure libertarian

                      What you ignore is the constant assertion that government has no role whatsoever, and has no right to say it wants to educate children. Saying parents are primary does not deny government the authority to also educate. The fact that many ignore the Church’s schools as well, and then complain when the Church wants to educate the children, under the same claim, says the confusion is as I have said: assume only the parents have authority over children, which is not the case. Primary, yes. But there is still a question of prudence as to how things work out, and just because the government’s prudence asks more out of parents than the parents want to give does not mean the government is out of bounds, but again, the argument is parents have sole decision: which is exactly the error.

                      Saying right to home school doesn’t say exclusive. Adding exclusive is just like Luther adding alone. The Church has yet to deny government and itself the authority to educate children. There is a reason for this: children often have bad parents.

                    • Who here has ever said that the government has no rights whatsoever in education? I have not said that, Rosemarie has not said that. No one here whose opinion I have read has said that. It’s you who is clearly failing in reading comprehension.

                      You are evidently misunderstanding the meaning of “exclusive” as we are using it. We are not saying the parents’ rights are exclusive and the government has none. The government does have the right to see that children are properly educated. NO ONE Is denying that. But the parents do have the right to have their children’s whole school day be at home if they wish. This is generally what is meant by homeschooling.. You can’t just change the definition of things to suit you. We agree with government overseeing the process, as long as it does not overstep its bounds. This is what is meant by “exclusive” homeschooling — a school day spent “exclusively” at home, not an “exclusive” right. I take it this is what the Church documents say. You have adduced nothing yet to prove otherwise.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Actually, the whole position is government has no right to tell parents they can’t be the only educators of their children. That is saying government has no right. Just as I said, if a government said parents have no authority to educate their children, then the parents rights will be violated. The Church has never said government can’t require specific levels of education and means to guarantee it is accomplished, but again, the same argument which is used here is the same one I’ve seen from trads in removing their children from official education programs in church. It’s again the assumption parents can override all others, which is not correct.

                      What is being said is that some think parents can take children out of society and be the only (exclusive) teachers for their children. The Church has never said this and it goes against what the Church says is the duty of government (promotion of common good, which includes, educating children).

                    • MarylandBill

                      Sigh, your biases are showing. While obviously there might be some who act like you claim, most homeschoolers I know are not trying to take their kids out of society. Many homeschool kids volunteer in social organizations, are involved in sports teams, after school music programs, etc.

                      Ultimately, if we decide to homeschool or children, it will be to ensure that our children get a balanced education and learn critical thinking (a skill that is often neglected in modern education).

                      Further, applying the principle of subsidiarity the state indeed should not interfere with the parental desire to provide a complete education to their child if they can demonstrate that they are meeting all the necessary requirements.

                      I would point out that we currently occasionally employ a homeschooled teenager as a babysitter. Her older siblings were also homeschooled. One is in graduate school for biology and the other is majoring in electric engineering; clearly a homeschooled child can excel academically.

                    • MarylandBill

                      BTW, I am still waiting for a citation on where in Catholic Social Teaching it says that governments have rights.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Begin with Scripture. St Paul on government. Or Jesus. You know, give to Caesar what is Caesar’s. That is a foundation for Catholic teaching on the authority (and power, therefore right) of government. Without positive authority, government could do nothing; the fact that government, for example, has a right to engage just wars is itself indicative of rights of government (often brought up by so-called conservatives in other debates). Seriously, the liberal rejection of government because they fear government could do bad is not just cause: you have to have an actual, not imaginary, cause.

                    • MarylandBill

                      There is a difference between power/authority/responsibility is not the same as rights. Further, that legitimate authority must be balanced against subsidiarity. So I will need something a bit more specific.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Power/authority is based upon right. I have given something specific: right to declare a just war. That is a very concrete example. This is not saying a government would be legitimate in making the declaration, but when a just war is possible, the government has a right to go to war.

                    • “The Church has never said government can’t require specific levels of
                      education and means to guarantee it is accomplished”

                      I agree with this completely. This would be what the Church teaches. Most Catholic homseschoolers are entirely in accordance with this type of government oversight. There are always extremists of the type you describe but no one here is arguing in their behalf. You’re basically arguing at empty air here.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      No, you ignore the generalization being used to justify a rejection of governmental authority here. And we are talking about a specific case as the foundation of this, a German family. What do German prelates say about it?

                    • I don’t see any such generalization being used on this blog, and if it is, I don’t share it. Please give some quotes.

                      Once again, I don’t know the German parents’ exact situation or why they made the decisions they did. Neither, I suspect, so you. So I won’t comment there.

                      Unfortunately, I wouldn’t look to German prelates nowadays to give authoritative Catholic teaching.

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            Considering that a friend of mine remembers the sheriff coming to her house and taking her and her siblings away from her parents for homeschooling, and in light of the fiasco in Manhattan where the hospital decided that another hospital’s diagnosis and treatment were wrong so the girl must be kept from her parents, I think people have a right to be nervous in this area.
            People who do not home school are often quick to bring up any risk or examples of failure they’ve seen in homeschooling, just like many home schoolers are quick to point out the outrages and failure of the nation-wide public school system. Most homeschool families are working very hard to give their children a very good education. They love that time with their children, and some of them are in school districts where the public school environment is not beneficial to the students (I worked in such a school system–it played a large part in my decision to home school). The idea that a government would or could come in and threaten to remove my children just because I home school, without any consideration for whether or not I am doing a good job or it’s just an excuse for something (or a cover), is incredibly horrifying.

      • HornOrSilk

        There is room for the government to intervene, if parents decide not to educate their children whatsoever. That’s also child abuse, but the extremists sometimes ignore this. And the right of the government to interfere with parents often comes when the parents are actually hurting the children such as when someone denies blood transfusions to children due to “religious beliefs.” There is a limit, and often, it is an issue of prudence and debate, and just because you disagree with the prudential response doesn’t mean you can then seek other nations to just take you in and let you remain a bad parent to your children due to your negligence. This reminds me of the same kind of debates many libertarians have with any regulations. The government has always had some rights here, as do the parents. We have to recognize both, and sometimes one or the other are off, to be sure, but we must be careful and not make it some pure libertarian nonsense.

        • guest

          In the US, the right of parents to have custody of and to raise their children as they see fit, within minimum parenting standards, is currently a fundamental liberty recognized over and over again by the SCOTUS. The state has to demonstrate imminent serious harm to the child and no options to make the child safe in the home before the state can interfer with this right by removing the child from the parent. The constitutional implications of the parental right to raise, guide and teach children strongly favor keeping families intact. It certainly seems this standard is much lower in Germany.

          I disagree with the Obama Admin that the state’s right to essentially socialize children in the way the government sees fit trumps the parental rights as they exist in our country. I completely understand that in comparison to the violations of fundamental rights others have suffered this is mild.

          However – as others have noted, the Obama Admin did not have to argue that the state’s right to socialize children trumps parental rights. It could have just argued that this doesn’t meet standards for asylum. The fact that it took the opportunity to make this argument, combined with the inroads on religious freedom from this administration, leads me to believe it would be naive to ignore the implications of this argument.

    • SteveP

      You do not have the standing to even ponder what is or is not a mockery of a legal category. What you hear is the populist murmur, perhaps rising in full crescendo, that the action was an unjust discrimination. Disagree if you want but remember it is populism which defines what is justice.

      • Heather

        It is populism which defines what is justice?


        There is so much wrong with that notion that I don’t know where to begin. Well, here’s a start. By that logic, it was totally just for the Hutus in Rwanda to engage in their populist actions against the Tutsis (just to name one attempted genocide offhand).

        • SteveP

          While I agree the intersection of populism and justice is usually random I am at wit’s end in refuting the populist belief that populism is justice. Thus the previous response—his own cant.

    • entonces_99

      “a country with a much better human rights record”

      Only if you discount the human right of parents to raise their children. Germany seems to believe that children, contrary to the teaching of cour Supreme Court, are “mere creature[s] of the state,” cf. Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510,535 (1925); Wisconsin v. Yoder, 406 U.S. 205,233 (1972).

      • Imrah

        Certainly not.

        Disagree with our stand on homeschooling as much as you wish, but asserting that Germany would believe that children were mere creatures of the state is quite demonstrably wrong.

        That said, while that happens to be natural law, the truth, and so on, the teaching of the U.S. Supreme Court does not as such have force in Germany.

        • Imrahil

          I meant “Imrahil”.

      • kenofken

        Germany’s education policy, though controversial in some quarters, does not rise to the level of a “human rights violation” by any sensible standard. It certainly does not rise to the egregious sorts of human rights violations which asylum is meant to address. If we are to grant religious freedom asylum simply because the nation of origin doesn’t comport with our full understanding of the First Amendment, we better make room for another 6 billion or so on U.S. soil. The reality is that we cannot realistically alleviate even a fraction of the world’s true human rights abuses through asylum. To the extent we can let people jump the immigration lines on that basis, there are a LOT of people who should be ahead of this German family.

    • IRVCath

      Not precisely. In much of Germany (including the parts where most Catholics lived, Prussia I think excepted) there were already concordats that protected Catholic schools. Most of which were enacted either during the Kaiserreich and during the Weimar Republic. The Reichskonkordat merely made the provisions federal law, as opposed to state law. Furthermore, the concordat itself was formulated long before Hitler taking power was discussed as a serious possibility. A democratic Germany would likely have ratified the same treaty.

      • Imrahil

        On the factual points: in the Imperial times, it was only Bavaria that had a concordate, though the Holy See had erected his dioceses and circumscribed their territory in officious agreements (if I’m rightly informed). Under the Weimar Republic there were Concordates with Bavaria, Prussia and Baded, which, indeed, is most of Germany. Prussia alone would have been most of Germany.

        • IRVCath

          Thanks. My point being that to tar the Reichskonkordat with the brush of the Nazis is unwarranted, when it was formulated on, and based on, agreements made during the Weimar Republic.

          • kenofken

            My point was that the mere fact that a law existed or had roots in the era of National Socialism does not make it a “Nazi policy.” Likening Germany’s education policies to Nazism is a cheap headlong dive into Godwin’s Law.

  • HornOrSilk

    While not on home schooling, I think this is very important for the current discusison: http://news.msn.com/crime-justice/pa-couple-face-prison-after-sons-prayer-deaths?ocid=ansnews11 and it goes with the discussion in general, what role does government have in regulating the actions of parents, even if the parents claim religious liberty.

    • HornOrSilk

      I notice how all the debaters ignore this. Very telling. If they were right in their claims, they should be supporting these parents over government intrusion. The fact they don’t shows they know their claims are nonsense and over the top.

      • Rosemarie


        l have an answer but don’t want to get into another knock-down, drag-out argument with you. You’re “done with me” and I’ve had it up to here with your calumny. Maybe that’s how things should stay.

  • Mark, as a lawyer, I do not think the German anti-homeschooling law can serve as precedent in these U.S. to force American homeschoolers into public school.

    Since asylum law is not my area, I am unsure if the Romeikes even *technically* qualify for asylum, although it seems reasonable to me that a family might seek asylum from a threat to forcibly remove children from the home.

    However, the part that I find troubling is that in asserting the Romeikes should not be granted asylum, the Justice Department has affirmatively argued in its briefing that the German compulsory attendance law is defensible. It did not need to do that — it could have argued this particular application did not meet the legal standard for granting asylum — so it begs the question, *why* did Justice defend the law itself?

    In light of the fact that the law was originally intended as a means to propagandize children into National Socialism, I find comments here that attempt to argue that there’s nothing wrong with it (i.e., not *no* homeschooling; just no *exclusive* homeschooling) to be rather, well, foolish.

    This fight isn’t about educational opportunity or getting those Romeike kids to do well on standardized tests. This is about a government prioritizing its right to culture children in the school setting. Although Nazism is no longer part of curriculum, Jesus Christ is nevertheless excluded from it and His relevance is denied. There is no amount of “supplemental homeschooling” that can offset this detriment.

    Given the total lack of respect for religious liberty by this Administration, I would not be surprised to find it looking for ways to erode homeschooling protections here, and using this case as a springboard for arguments to support such a position.

    • Imrahil

      The Nazi law, if it did anything, outlawed largely unused possibilities of dispensation and raised an infraction to a misdemeanor. It is no longer in force. These parts of law are all regulated through laws enacted after the Second World War, most of which have lowered the disobedience to infraction again.

      Doesn’t mean your other points are not valid. But the obligatory school in Germany, as such, comes from the beginning of the 19th century, not from the Nazis.

      • HornOrSilk

        And what is also important, the Church didn’t reject such a position. What it rejects is particular teachings from governments, if they teach in error. But that has to be shown as a just cause for disobedience, not a phantasm of imaginary possibilities.

        • Imrahil

          Hm, well I don’t know about the Church’s stand.

          Fr. Messner wrote in Social Ethics with imprimature that the State has to look friendly to, encourage (and subsidize) schools set up privately. “If the lower entities suffice, the State must not usurp the power of schooling” (subsidiarity, of course). He had the Churches or parental ad-hoc associations in view, but there’s some good reason that would apply to home-schooling too, I think.

          And then below someone claimed the Vatican wanted the possibility of homeschooling. Wouldn’t sound illogical.

          • HornOrSilk

            The Church does want subsidiarity, however, not at the expense of the common good. Which is why I keep pointing out to others, it is an issue of prudence, which the Church also recognizes. And disagreeing with prudence doesn’t justify rejection of government, and that, I think, is the problem.

            Here, from VII:

            In addition, therefore, to the rights of parents and others
            to whom the parents entrust a share in the work of education, certain rights and
            duties belong indeed to civil society, whose role is to direct what is required
            for the common temporal good. Its function is to promote the education of youth
            in many ways, namely: to protect the duties and rights of parents and others who
            share in education and to give them aid; according to the principle of
            subsidiarity, when the endeavors of parents and other societies are lacking, to
            carry out the work of education in accordance with the wishes of the parents;
            and, moreover, as the common good demands, to build schools and

            Parents who have the primary and inalienable right and duty to educate their
            children must enjoy true liberty in their choice of schools. Consequently, the
            public power, which has the obligation to protect and defend the rights of
            citizens, must see to it, in its concern for distributive justice, that public
            subsidies are paid out in such a way that parents are truly free to choose
            according to their conscience the schools they want for their children.

            In addition it is the task of the state to see to it that all citizens are
            able to come to a suitable share in culture and are properly prepared to
            exercise their civic duties and rights. Therefore the state must protect the
            right of children to an adequate school education, check on the ability of
            teachers and the excellence of their training, look after the health of the
            pupils and in general, promote the whole school project. But it must always keep
            in mind the principle of subsidiarity so that there is no kind of school
            monopoly, for this is opposed to the native rights of the human person, to the
            development and spread of culture, to the peaceful association of citizens and
            to the pluralism that exists today in ever so many societies.

            Now, the Church says the state has a right to promote the public good, and check those who are teaching children to achieve a particular level of integration into society. Yes, it also says no monopolies, but, that I don’t think is the problem in Germany: we have an “evangelical” family which distances itself from all religious schools as well as state run schools. They have a choice, I think Germany has given the options properly,and they do it to fulfill their rights as well as their obligations to children. Yes, things are messy, but the point still stands, the Church does recognize rights with the state and with it, their duties to protect the children. Germany has basically said that parents as sole teachers will not be good enough, and I think there is good reason to take that role, especially with the other options available. The family seems to want to distance itself from the state, which the state has a right to reject.

            • HornOrSilk

              So, in other words, you have the typical over-simplification by some: parents have rights (I agree) to parents have sole rights (which I don’t). The Church, in saying they are primary, still has the state with a right to check on teaching, and to help the children when that is not up to par (even if teaching is from parents).

            • Imrahil

              Well, I don’t know what they want to distance themselves from.

              In fact, if a family says they have specific problems with the state schools (such as bad examples of the students, the practice of sexual education – I don’t personally think this is, as at present the case, a case of conscience, but I see how others have that view -, and maybe some other things), thinks the Catholic Church is Catholic* and thus a danger to their Protestant Faith, and their community has no schools of their own…

              [*Or, Catholic schools are too influenced by the State’s curricula and teach virtually the same thing – somewhat true.]

              I see how they are rid of options, even without principally distancing themselves from the State.

              • HornOrSilk

                But just because they have problems isn’t necessarily right in saying they have a right to abandon state schools. “I don’t like they read… Harry Potter” for example would not be just cause, but it would be a “problem” they have with state schools. It’s that kind of thing which is why I pointed out, difference of opinion with what the state teaches, of itself, is not just cause. But I think we both agree.

                • Imrahil

                  Well, I don’t know if we agree.

                  I think that a dislike of reading Harry Potter is not a just cause. Objectively. And besides, they won’t read Harry Potter. Too long.

                  On the other hand, reading Nathan the Wise – which they do read – would, in itself, be a just cause. That doesn’t mean I’d think it prudent to throw out the baby with the bathwater, but a just cause it would be.

                  And I wonder whether it isn’t the parents, rather, who are to judge. They might still be tried for earnestness*, but I do think parents have a right to conscientously object* a part of the curriculum for serious reasons.

                  I do agree that “I don’t like the State whatever he does” doesn’t qualify as a reason, but I wonder whether that was the reason.

                  [I’m alluding to the German process of conscientous objection. The State opined, here, that soldiering is right, and ordered his citizens to do so, but he allowed them to opt out who had seriously considered the matter and came to a different personal judgment. He did, however, try them whether they really had seriously considered the matter and formed a decision of conscience.]

                  • HornOrSilk

                    Both parents and the state have to judge each other; the question, is again an issue of prudence, when the two go against each other. That is still the question, and just because the state comes with a prudential decision which parents do not like, if it is compatible with CST, then it still has its rights and authority. That to me is the issue: people still seem to ignore the right of the state, even when the Church says it has such right (and duty). This is again the same question with blood transfusions for children from parents who don’t agree with them: the state has the right to protect the children.

                    So it’s complicated, as I have said, but people seem to think “my prudential decision differs, therefore, I can reject.” That is what I object to.

                  • Rosemarie


                    Imrahil: Here’s the reason the Romeike family gave for homeschooling their children:

                    “In 2006 the Romeikes pulled their children out of a state school in Bissingen, Germany, in protest of what they deemed an anti-Christian curriculum.

                    “They said textbooks presented ideas and language that conflicted with their Christian beliefs, including slang terms for sex acts and images of vampires and witches, while the school offered what they described as ethics lessons from Islam, Buddhism and other religions. The eldest son got into fights in school and the eldest daughter had trouble studying.

                    “‘I think it’s important for parents to have the freedom to chose the way their children can be taught,’ Romeike told the Associated Press.”

                    Source: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/jan/27/german-home-schooling-family-asylum

                    • Imrahil

                      Well, it’s all mixed up, as they say.

                      I think it is not a valid objection against the German school
                      1. that a student gets into a fight (yeah these things happen, you know),
                      2. that a student has trouble studying (just such as 80% of his class),
                      3. language (I don’t think there is a right not to hear obscenity).

                      About these “ideas” – don’t know.

                      Aside, outside foreign language lessons, textbooks are rather unimportant.

                      What these images of vampires and witches are, I can’t imagine. Maybe an illustration in an English language book about how the British celebrate Hallowe’en. I really don’t know, but wouldn’t that seriously be harmless?

                      The ethics course – replacement for religion (I wonder why they don’t just take Protestantism) – does include “comparative religion”. It is generally not usually given by a Muslim or Buddhist. Maybe their teacher was flirting with Buddhism himself (I’d doubt Islam). I don’t know. The principle of comparative religion in the ethics course is, at any rate, is information, not proselytism; and the course is usually given by Christians and seculars.

                      The will not to be informed about the contents of other religions is not justifying. That belongs to general education, I expect an educated Christian to know so too.

                      I wonder why they don’t complained
                      – about the presence of sex education at all (there are some good arguments against it)
                      – that the ethics course was perhaps pejorative against Christianity (given that the course is taken by those who don’t want religion, and perhaps, though I don’t know, the subject is chosen by teachers accordingly).

                    • IRVCath

                      On the other hand, given that they would not be taking the ethics course anyway, or at least had another option, that would not seem to me to be reason to state a claim.

                    • Imrahil

                      Hm, but if they as members of a Free Church object to (Standard) Protestantism because they disagree… to Catholicism because that’s Papist… to Ethics because that’s wrong too… then we do have a problem.

                    • Imrahil

                      By the way, thank you! That adds some meat to the discussion.

                    • Rosemarie


                      You’re welcome. 🙂

      • I agree that the first compulsory schooling laws in Germany were enacted before National Socialism. However, they carried fines and not criminal penalties, and provided exemptions for “non-traditional” schooling. Once the Nazis came to power, they upped the ante by adding teeth to the compulsory attendance requirement. Regardless of the codified penalties and their respective reclassification as “infraction,” “misdemeanor,” “criminal,” or whatever, this is form over substance because Germany requires kids to attend school and refusal means forcible removal of children from the home, which seems like the worst penalty imaginable to me.

        • Imrahil

          A fine is a criminal penalty in Germany.

          That said, forcible removal is indeed the worst penalty imaginable (save for lawyers). I wonder whether that is the law, by the way, or only the decision of an official that “the good of the child is in danger”.

  • MarylandBill

    “promote socialization, pluralism, tolerance and democracy”

    These words frighten me… not because I am opposed to any of them per say but because of how the state might define pluralism and tolerance? Are they really teaching tolerance (i.e., live and let live) or that you must approve of alternate lifestyles?

    • HornOrSilk

      The fact that you are afraid that the government might teach improperly does not mean the government now has no authority to teach. You need to show when it does, in particular cases, and work with them in those, instead of creating an over-generalized rejection of authority.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        Likewise, a government should have to show that parents are abusing their right and authority to exclusively home school before removing that right (and the children). I have no problem with the public school system existing, nor do I have a problem with the government requiring that children are taught, but I do take issue with the government requiring that all children are in a “school setting” (public or private), and exclude exclusive homeschooling as a choice.

  • wlinden

    The Germans, like the Bourbons, have neither learned nor forgotten anything.