Hilary White

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European Life and Family Roundup: Sweden; Verona, Italy; Brussels; Rome; EU news

Hilary White
Hilary White

November 28, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - European Life and Family Roundup

Sweden needs Christian Advent in schools say MPs after officials order no mention of “Jesus”

STOCKHOLM – Swedish education officials have told schools that children may be taken to church for Advent services, but only so long as the name of Jesus is not mentioned. Teaching children about Advent, the liturgical season leading up to Christmas observed by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches as well as many Protestant denominations, is part of the national curriculum, but lessons on it, even those that include actual church services, may not include any prayer, blessings or declarations of faith.

The instructions have prompted a response from five Swedish politicians who have said that the attempt to erase Christianity from public view, in the name of the “chimera” of neutrality has resulted in Sweden becoming poorer, culturally.

“Advent is a Christian festival. Paying attention to Advent with no religious element is unreasonable,” the group wrote in a public letter on a political website.

“Schools should not take a position or force anyone to practice a particular religion. Thereupon, there is a strong consensus. But it is not the same as removing religious references,” wrote Andreas Carlsson, Hans Wallmark, Lars Stjernkvist, Birgit Friggebo and Staffan Danielsson on DN Debate on Wednesday.

The authors argue that just the opposite is needed; more knowledge of both the faith and the values ​​that have shaped Swedish society.

They write, “In the quest for neutrality, which we think is a chimera Sweden has become infinitely poorer. Should [school] principals have the confidence to find solutions locally, they must also have that confidence without unreasonable guidelines from the National Agency.

“Rewrite the law if necessary and release some of the nervousness that is associated with graduations in church.”

Verona conference says ‘fight culture of death’: Italian pro-life movement picks up momentum

VERONA – The pro-life movement is alive and wants to engage in an attempt to reverse the trend with respect to the “culture of death” rampant today, a conservative Christian group has reported. The Italian organisation Corrispondenza Romana reports on a conference organized by the March for Life organisation group,  Libertà e Persona (Freedom and the Person) and the European Movement Defense of Life (MEDV) which took place on November 17 in Verona at the prestigious school of the Stigmata.

Especially appreciated was a talk by prominent psychologist and psychotherapist, Roberto Marchesini, who proposed a reflection on the Biblical verse “male and female he created them”. Marchesini demonstrated that the sex of every human being is “naturally determined” and influences their role in the family and society to help young people build their identity as men and women, in accordance with the facts of nature.

The conference also featured the screening of a new video, “Eggsploitation,” a documentary about practices related to the sale of human ova, an outcome of legalisation of embryonic research warned against by many in the pro-life movement in the last decade.

The nascent group, Lawyers for Life, presented their plans for a “purely operational task force” that will work in the front lines of the law, given that - said the lawyer Gianfranco Amato – “it is evident that in recent years the issues at the beginning and the end of life have moved from scientific, philosophical, theological to the more purely legal fields”.

City of Brussels will ban Christmas trees out of fear of ‘offending Muslims’

BRUSSELS – Government officials announced this month that they would not be erecting the usual Christmas tree exhibit in the city center due to worries about offending the local Muslim population. Brussels News reports that the city will replace both the tree and the Nativity scene this year with an “electronic winter tree.”

The 82 foot tall electronic sculpture will be built of a group of television screens, according to the blogger, Brussels Expat, an Englishman who lives in the city. “During the daytime you can climb to the top of the tree where you will be able to enjoy a panoramic view of the city,” he wrote.

“As soon as it becomes dark the tree turns into a spectacle of light and sound. Every ten minutes an amazing show will unfold.”

City councilwoman Bianca Debaets called it a “misplaced argument” over religious sensitivities that has moved the city to build the sculpture. “I suspect that the reference to the Christian religion was the decisive factor” in replacing the tree, she said. “For a lot of people who are not Christians, the tree there is offensive to them.”

The Right Perspective website reports that a 2008 study showed Muslims make up 25.5 per cent of the population of Brussels, 3.9 per cent of Flanders and 4.0 per cent of Wallonia. Two Muslims elected to the Brussels city council last month have vowed to turn Belgium into a Muslim state based on Sharia law.

Confidence in EU leadership falling among Europeans

ROME – The International Herald Tribune, the European edition of the New York Times, has reported that since 2008, when the European economic crisis hit, the confidence Europeans have in the European Parliament has been in “sharp decline”. 26% of respondents in the Eurobarometer poll said they have a “negative” image of the European Parliament, an increase of nine points.

The Eurobarometer pollsters concluded, “In this context of crisis, the image of the European Parliament does not evolve positively. Neither does the image of the other European institutions, the parliaments and the national governments.”

The IHT blames “the current state of the parliament – including corruption scandals and the appearance of excessive lobbying”. They noted the decline in turnout for the European elections, which has fallen to “just over 40 percent from more than 60 percent in less than a quarter of a century”.

For the first time in the EU’s history, the parliament has set up an ethics committee in the wake of financial scandals. For the first time, the parliament has imposed an explicit ban on members taking money in exchange for amending legislation.

The paper quoted Frederik Erixon, of the European Centre for International Political Economy who blamed the growth in influence of powerful lobby groups as diminishing the connections MEPs have with constituents. “On many days parts of the parliament building have the feel of a glitzy trade show,” he said. “Business lobbies organize conferences in meeting rooms and host meals in the dining rooms at the invitation of friendly members.”

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PBS defends decision to air pro-abortion documentary ‘After Tiller’

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By Dustin Siggins

Under pressure for showing the pro-abortion documentary "After Tiller" on Labor Day, PBS' "POV" affiliate has defended the decision in response to an inquiry from LifeSiteNews.

The producers of the film say their goal with the documentary, which tells the stories of four late-term abortion doctors after the killing of infamous late-term abortionist George Tiller, is to "change public perception of third-trimester abortion providers by building a movement dedicated to supporting their right to work with a special focus on maintaining their safety.” 

POV told LifeSiteNews, "We do believe that 'After Tiller' adds another dimension to an issue that is being debated widely." Asked if POV will show a pro-life documentary, the organization said that it "does not have any other films currently scheduled on this issue. POV received almost 1000 film submissions each year through our annual call for entries and we welcome the opportunity to consider films with a range of points of view."

When asked whether POV was concerned about alienating its viewership -- since PBS received more than $400 million in federal tax dollars in 2012 and half of Americans identify as pro-life -- POV said, "The filmmakers would like the film to add to the discussion around these issues. Abortion is already a legal procedure."

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"This is an issue that people feel passionately about and will have a passionate response to. We are hopeful that the majority of people can see it for what it is, another lens on a very difficult issue." 

In addition to the documentary, POV has written materials for community leaders and teachers to share. A cursory examination of the 29-page document, which is available publicly, appears to include links to outside sources that defend Roe v. Wade, an examination of the constitutional right to privacy, and "a good explanation of the link between abortion law and the right to privacy," among other information.

Likewise, seven clips recommended for student viewing -- grades 11 and beyond -- include scenes where couples choose abortion because the children are disabled. Another shows pro-life advocates outside a doctor's child's school, and a third is described as showing "why [one of the film's doctors] chose to offer abortion services and includes descriptions of what can happen when abortion is illegal or unavailable, including stories of women who injured themselves when they tried to terminate their own pregnancies and children who were abused because they were unwanted."

Another clip "includes footage of protesters, as well as news coverage of a hearing in the Nebraska State Legislature in which abortion opponents make reference to the idea that a fetus feels pain." The clip's description fails to note that it is a scientifically proven fact that unborn children can feel pain.

The documentary is set to air on PBS at 10 p.m. Eastern on Labor Day.

Kirsten Andersen contributed to this article.

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He defended ‘real’ marriage, and then was beheaded for it

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By Pete Baklinski

A Christian man was executed during the night by a high-profile ruler after making an uncompromising defense of real marriage.

The Christian, who was renowned for his holiness, had told the ruler in public that his relationship with his partner was “against the law” of God. The Christian’s words enraged the ruler’s partner who successfully plotted to have him permanently silenced.

John the Baptist was first imprisoned before he was beheaded. The Catholic Church honors him today, August 29, as a martyr and saint.

While John’s death happened a little less than 2,000 years ago, his heroic stance for real marriage is more pertinent today than ever before.

According to the Gospel of Mark, the ruler Herod had ‘married’ his brother’s wife Herodias. When John told Herod with complete frankness, “It is against the law for you to have your brother’s wife,” Herodias became “furious” with him to the point of wanting him killed for his intolerance, bullying, and hate-speech.

Herodias found her opportunity to silence John by having her daughter please Herod during a dance at a party. Herod offered the girl anything she wanted. The daughter turned to her mother for advice, and Herodias said to ask for John’s head on a platter.

Those who fight for real marriage today can learn three important lessons from John’s example.

  1. Those proudly living in ungodly and unnatural relationships — often referred to in today’s sociopolitical sphere as ‘marriage’ — will despise those who tell them what they are doing is wrong. Real marriage defenders must expect opposition to their message from the highest levels.
  2. Despite facing opposition, John was not afraid to defend God’s plan for marriage in the public square, even holding a secular ruler accountable to this plan. John, following the third book of the Hebrew Bible (Leviticus 20:21), held that a man marrying the wife of his brother was an act of “impurity” and therefore abhorrent to God. Real marriage defenders must boldly proclaim today that God is the author of marriage, an institution he created to be a life-long union between one man and one woman from which children arise and in which they are best nurtured. Marriage can be nothing more, nothing less.
  3. John did not compromise on the truth of marriage as revealed by God, even to the point of suffering imprisonment and death for his unpopular position. Real marriage defenders must never compromise on the truth of marriage, even if the government, corporate North America, and the entire secular education system says otherwise. They must learn to recognize the new “Herodias” of today who despises those raising a voice against her lifestyle. They must stand their ground no matter what may come, no matter what the cost.

John the Baptist was not intolerant or a bigot, he simply lived the word of God without compromise, speaking the word of truth when it was needed, knowing that God’s way is always the best way. Were John alive today, he would be at the forefront of the grassroots movement opposing the social and political agenda to remake marriage in the image of man.

Click "like" if you want to defend true marriage.

If he were alive today he might speak simple but eloquent words such as, “It is against God’s law for two men or two women to be together as a husband and wife in marriage. Marriage can only be between a man and a woman.” 

He would most likely be hated. He would be ridiculed. He would surely have the human rights tribunals throwing the book at him. But he would be speaking the truth and have God as his ally. 

The time may not be far off when those who defend real marriage, like John, will be presented with the choice of following Caesar or making the ultimate sacrifice. May God grant his faithful the grace to persevere in whatever might come. St. John the Baptist, pray for us!

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The Wunderlich family Mike Donnelly / Home School Legal Defence Association
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German homeschoolers regain custody of children, vow to stay and fight for freedom

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By Thaddeus Baklinski

One year to the day since a team of 20 social workers, police officers, and special agents stormed a homeschooling family’s residence near Darmstadt, Germany, and forcibly removed all four of the family’s children, aged 7 to 14, a state appeals court has returned custody of the children to their parents.

The reason given for the removal was that parents Dirk and Petra Wunderlich continued to homeschool their children in defiance of a German ban on home education.

The children were returned three weeks after being taken, following an international outcry spearheaded by the Home School Legal Defense Association.

However, a lower court imposed the condition on the parents that their children were required to attend state schools in order for them to be released, and took legal custody of the children in order to prevent the family from leaving the country.

In a decision that was still highly critical of the parents and of homeschooling, the appeals court decided that the action of the lower court in putting the children in the custody of the state was “disproportional” and ordered complete custody returned to the parents, according to a statement by the HSLDA.

The Wunderlichs, who began homeschooling again when the court signaled it would rule this way, said they were very pleased with the result, but noted that the court’s harsh words about homeschooling indicated that their battle was far from over.

“We have won custody and we are glad about that,” Dirk said.

“The court said that taking our children away was not proportionate—only because the authorities should apply very high fines and criminal prosecution instead. But this decision upholds the absurd idea that homeschooling is child endangerment and an abuse of parental authority.”

The Wunderlichs are now free to emigrate to another country where homeschooling is legal, if they choose, but they said they intend to remain in Germany and work for educational freedom.

“While we no longer fear that our children will be taken away as long as we are living in Hessen, it can still happen to other people in Germany,” Dirk said. “Now we fear crushing fines up to $75,000 and jail. This should not be tolerated in a civilized country.”

Petra Wunderlich said, "We could not do this without the help of HSLDA,” but cautioned that, “No family can fight the powerful German state—it is too much, too expensive."

"If it were not for HSLDA and their support, I am afraid our children would still be in state custody. We are so grateful and thank all homeschoolers who have helped us by helping HSLDA.”

HSLDA’s Director for Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said he welcomed the ruling but was concerned about the court’s troubling language.

“We welcome this ruling that overturns what was an outrageous abuse of judicial power,” he said.

“The lower court decision to take away legal custody of the children essentially imprisoned the Wunderlich family in Germany. But this decision does not go far enough. The court has only grudgingly given back custody and has further signaled to local authorities that they should still go after the Wunderlichs with criminal charges or fines.”

Donnelly pointed out that such behavior in a democratic country is problematic.

“Imprisonment and fines for homeschooling are outside the bounds of what free societies that respect fundamental human rights should tolerate,” he explained.

“Freedom and fundamental human rights norms demand respect for parental decision making in education. Germany’s state and national policies that permit banning home education must be changed.

"Such policies from a leading European democracy not only threaten the rights of tens of thousands of German families but establish a dangerous example that other countries may be tempted to follow,” Donnelly warned.

HSLDA Chairman Michael Farris said that acting on behalf of the Wunderlichs was an important stand for freedom.

“The Wunderlichs are a good and decent family whose basic human rights were violated and are still threatened,” Farris said.

“Their fight is our fight," Farris stressed, "and we will continue to support those who stand against German policy banning homeschooling that violates international legal norms. Free people cannot tolerate such oppression and we will do whatever we can to fight for families like the Wunderlichs both here in the United States and abroad. We must stand up to this kind of persecution where it occurs or we risk seeing own freedom weakened.”

Visit the HSLDA website dedicated to helping the Wunderlich family and other German homeschoolers here.

Contact the German embassy in the U.S. here.

Contact the German embassy in Canada here.

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