Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent

New France president’s first deeds: get ready for more secularism and gay ‘marriage’

Jeanne Smits, Paris correspondent
By Jeanne Smits

PARIS, France, May 18, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Dismantling of the family, attacks against parental rights and times of trouble for faith-based, mainly Catholic schools are looming large in French politics since France’s new socialist president, François Hollande, took over office from Nicolas Sarkozy on Tuesday morning at the Elysée, in Paris.

Government nominations, as well as Hollande’s inaugural speeches, are making it clear that ideological choices have been made and can be expected to be implemented in the near future. The discussion of a law instituting gay “marriage” has been announced for the Fall by the new Family minister – that is, if the French legislative elections in June vote in a socialist majority, which is considered likely.

Hollande’s first public act after the official investiture ceremonies at the Elysée Palace in Paris, on Tuesday, was to drive over to the nearby Tuileries gardens to pay tribute to the founder of the French state school system, Jules Ferry, whose monument was erected there in 1910 by the secularist “Ligue de l’enseignement” (League of Education).

The timing and the symbolism of this first presidential act was seen as a clear indicator that Hollande aims to intensify the role of the state in education and to step up control over what remains of the private school sector.

The new president’s speech front of former education ministers – exclusively of the socialist variety – teachers and dozens of children, used military phraseology to make his point. “School is the weapon of justice. It is the weapon of republican equality,” he said. A weapon to force “equality”, or to put it more clearly, egalitarianism.

School, as François Hollande sees it, is “the locus of equality.” “Equality of opportunity,” according to the new socialist president, means equality that “knows no other measure of distinction than personal merit and effort, since birth, fortune and chance establish hierarchies which schools have the mission, if not the duty, to correct, and even to destroy.”

Interesting omissions and changes to the written speech were made by François Hollande in his spoken delivery at this point. He left out the word “talents” as a legitimate measure of distinction and changed the phrase saying that the mission of schools regarding these hierarchies is “if not to abolish, at least to correct” them, choosing the much more aggressive formula quoted above.

This agenda, to be implemented in a country where large sections of the poorer suburbs of many major cities are mainly populated by ethnic minorities, many of them Muslim, has already shown its limits: the level of general culture of most school-leavers has gone steadily down over the past decades in a system where exactly the same curriculum is supposed to apply to all pupils up to age 14 or 15. In state schools leftist teachers’ organizations and progressive pedagogues have had the upper hand since 1968. François Hollande clearly intends to enhance their power and to dismantle the few concessions made to parental rights by the Sarkozy administration, which gave families a bit more freedom to choose a state school for their children and stepped up financial aids to private, state-funded schools.

Secularism is also a master word for schools according to Hollande. He sees schools as the “locus of emancipation”: emancipation from traditions and “dogma” in view of the “sovereign liberty of the spirit,” of reason left to itself. And also of reason destroyed: in state-funded French schools, be they public or private, whole reading methods and other pedagogical aberrations are effectively preventing a large percentage of French children from learning to read and think independently.

This is a far cry from the school of Jules Ferry, which formed minds and intelligences effectively, albeit in open conflict with religious beliefs.

Jules Ferry himself was remembered by François Hollande for two laws: the one which instituted cost-free primary schooling for all in 1881, and the law which in 1882 made schools secular and compulsory. At the time these laws were accompanied with persecution of faith-based schools and Catholic teaching congregations, many religious being expelled from the country or driven into exile.

Over the years, elements of freedom were returned to parents and nowadays 20% of pupils go to private, mostly Catholic schools where state curricula are obligatory, and teachers are formed and paid by the State. Only a fraction of schools are completely independent, receiving no direct public funds but entitled to issue tax refund forms for donations. These tax refunds are at risk of being suppressed under Hollande’s period of office.

The French Republic has long seen secularist state education as a means to counter the influence of families and faith. Hollande’s first speech on the matter, from which the words “parental rights” and “liberty” were totally absent, has made it clear that securalism is back with a vengeance.

As regards families, the naming of Mrs Dominique Bertinotti, a close friend of François Hollande’s ex-partner Ségolène Royal, as delegate minister to the Family, is seen as an insult to its defenders. Wednesday morning, hours before taking up her new office, she committed herself during an interview with the nationwide news radio “France-Info” to reduce tax relief associated with the number of children for richer families – less tax is owed when more persons form the “fiscal home” – in order to increase social aid to poorer families at the beginning of the school years. This would break with the French tradition of compensating a fraction of the extra charge children bring with them, whatever the social status of their family.

Bertinotti immediately promised to work on legalization of homosexual “marriage” and homosexual adoption and to “redefine” the meaning of the word family which should include, she says, not only the “classic” type but also “recomposed, single-parent and homoparental families,” so that they can obtain “exactly the same rights and be seen the same way by society, whatever their way of life.”

Mrs Bertinotti also intends to step up availability of public childcare systems, and to increase the number of 3, and even 2 year-olds in State schools.

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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 millions 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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