SAN DIEGO, December 6, 2013 — They fled to the United States for religious freedom. Where will they go next if such freedom is denied?
An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is the latest dramatic chapter in an effort to save an Evangelical Christian family from being deported back to their home country of Germany where religious liberty was being pounded away by the government.
At stake is the determination of two parents (Uwe and Hannelore Romeike) to home school their children based upon their own religious convictions.
The Romeikes are being represented by the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA).
The Supreme Court appeal follows a major setback. The Obama administration sued the Romeikes to remove their asylum that had been granted in 2010. President Obama obtained his desired verdict from the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Uwe and Hannelore Romeike are committed Christians and parents of six children. Their beliefs include educating their own children. Unfortunately, home-schooling is against the law in Germany.
Back in 2008, the German government threatened legal action if the Romeiikes continued with their stand. They decided to flee to America and ended up in Tennessee.
At first it worked. Asylum was obtained from by a US judge. Then President Obama’s Justice Department decided to interfere and the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals backed them up. Their ruling stated that Germany’s ban on home-schooling could not actually be called “persecution” and therefore did not qualify as a reason for political asylum.
Supposedly, financial retribution and threats of losing custody of your own children are not to be viewed as persecution. Germany’s “non-persecution” of Christian freedom has been going on since 1918, when school attendance was made a matter of law.
Speaking to ABC News, Michael Farris, the Romeike family’s attorney and the chairman of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said, “We are very disappointed in the decision by the Sixth Circuit to deny political asylum to the Romeike family who wants the freedom to home-school their children…The decision of the court fails to even discuss the unchallenged evidence of Germany’s motive in banning homeschooling. The German Supreme Court says that they want to suppress religious and philosophical minorities.”
Evidently Germany’s court is not the only one where Farris smells an agenda. He also suspects an unstated motive beyond the Sixth Circuit Court’s stated decision. “I can’t think of any reason other than bias against Christians and homeschoolers…I have vowed to fight to the very end on this, this is an injustice of a significant magnitude.”
Another possible reason for the court decision was offered by Karla McKanders, a refugee law expert at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.
“They don’t want to open up the floodgates for similar asylum claims based on these grounds,” she suggested.
Since 2011, the Obama administration has followed a policy called “prosecutorial discretion” giving the Department of Homeland Security discretion in deciding who to deport and who to spare.
Legal maneuvers come and go. Lost in the shuffle are two concerned parents who merely want to raise a family as they see fit. The answer seemed simple and obvious: Leave Germany and move to America!
Unfortunately, the decision proved to be naive. It sounded like a good idea at the time. After all, America is known as the land of the free. In fact, our Constitution goes out of its way to mention religious freedom in the Bill of Rights. But times are changing. The Romeikes should have known that they were visiting a new and improved America which candidate Obama promised to transform back in 2008. As a matter of fact, this ended up being one of the few promises he actually kept!
School choice for religious purposes or any other reason does not seem to be an enthusiasm of the Obama administration. This was made abundantly clear by Attorney-General Eric Holder’s recent lawsuit in the state of Louisiana to stop a voucher system in 22 school districts.
For that matter, religious liberty in general does not keep our President up at nights. Just ask those Christian schools that are being forced under the Affordable Health Care Act to provide contraceptive insurance for their students. This includes coverage of the controversial “Morning After Pill” which can sometimes cause abortions. Whether or not Christian institutions have a First Amendment freedom to reject such insurance on religious grounds will soon be decided by judges. Obama has already made his decision.
In the meantime, immigrants seeking religious sanctuary need not apply. America is starting to have more and more in common with the countries people flee from!
Ironically, traveling to the New World from Europe for religious freedom was the very objective of the early Puritans and many other colonists. When those same colonies later became the United States of America, religious freedom remained a cherished ideal with constitutional enforcement.
Then again, embracing America’s rich heritage and Constitution may have contributed to the Romeike family’s ill-fated decision. They would have done better to make their way into Mexico and sneak across our border illegally. That seems to be what it takes these days to keep the Obama administration off your back.
This is Bob Siegel, making the obvious, obvious.
ABC News and the Christian Post contributed to some of the news items in this article.
Bob Siegel is a radio talk show host and columnist. Information about his radio show can be found at bobsiegel.net.