By Peter J. Smith

BRUSSELS, September 27, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The European Court of Human Rights gave another setback to German homeschoolers by affirming that the interests of the State trump the rights of parents to educate their children. Yesterday, the Court denied a request from the parents of Joshua and Rebekka Konrad to rule Germany’s ban on homeschooling violates their human rights as parents to educate their own children under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Fritz and Marianna Konrad filed the human rights complaint in November 2003 on behalf of their children arguing that Germany’s compulsory school attendance severely endangers their children’s religious upbringing, and promotes teaching inconsistent with their Christian faith, especially the State’s mandate of sexual education.

The Konrads had appealed under Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 of the Convention which states, “No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching is in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions.”

However, the Court decided in favor of Germany, stating that “Parents may not refuse the right to education of a child on the basis of their convictions” and adding that the right to education in Article 2 “by its very nature calls for regulation by the State.”

Although the Court admitted that “it cannot be formally said that the applicant parents are seeking to impose their religious convictions against their children’s will,” the Court upheld the findings of German Administrative Courts that “the applicant children were unable to foresee the consequences of their parents decision for home education because of their young age.”

The Court also agreed with the finding of German Administrative courts that “Schools represented society, and it was in the children’s interest to become part of that society. The parents’ right to education did not go as far as to deprive their children of that experience.”

While the Court postured itself as defending the rights of the child and declared the State to know better than parents the best interests of their children, it also endorsed a “carefully reasoned” decision of the German courts indicating the State had an interest in subordinating value systems competing with the state’s secular values. The Court agreed with the finding of Germany’s Federal Constitutional Court which stressed “the general interest of society to avoid the emergence of parallel societies based on separate philosophical convictions and the importance of integrating minorities into society.”

According to the Home School Legal Defense Association, nearly 40 homeschooling families are embroiled in legal battles with the assertive German state. HSLA reports in its September 22 E-lert that these families are facing persecution for trying to educate their children in a Christian (parallel) society without exposing them to the State’s harmful secular values, especially sex education.

Authorities have dealt with resistance to Hitler’s ban on homeschooling imposed on Germany in 1938 in a manner more consistent with Nazi Germany as families face imprisonment, heavy fines, the state seizure of their children, or are forced to seek asylum for their convictions in neighboring countries.

LifeSiteNews readers who wish to respectfully protest the German Government’s actions are urged to contact them via their embassies.
  US:
  Wolfgang Ischinger
  Ambassador
  German Embassy
  4645 Reservoir Road NW
  Washington, DC, 20007-1998
  (202) 298-4000
  The embassy can be e-mailed from its website: http://www.globescope.biz/germany/reg/index.cfm

Canada:
  Christian Pauls, Ambassador
  German Embassy – Canada
  1 Waverley Street, Ottawa, ON, K2P 0T8
  Tel.: 613-232-1101 Fax: 613-594-9330
  Email: germanembassyottawa@on.aibn.com

  LifeSite Readers interested in reading the EU Human Rights Court decision may find it here:
http://www.alliancealert.org/2006/20060926.pdf

HSLDA E-lert on the persecution of German Homeschooling Families
http://www.hslda.org/elert/archive/2006/09/20060922172314.asp

See Previous LifeSite coverage:
  Germany Uses Nazi Era Law to Imprison Mom for Homeschooling; Family Flees to Austria
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/sep/06091407.html

POLICE CRACKDOWN ON HOME-SCHOOLING IN GERMANY
http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2000/jul/00072604.html