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Sweden revokes parental rights of homeschooling family after three year ordeal

LifeSiteNews staff
By LifeSiteNews staff
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This article was written by staff at the Home School Legal Defense Association.

December 12, 2012, (HSLDA.org)—On Monday, December 10, 2012, also International Human Rights Day, a Swedish appeals court reversed a lower court ruling in favor of Annie and Christer Johansson and terminated their parental rights in regard to their son, Domenic.

The boy and his parents were on board a jetliner minutes from departing Sweden for Annie’s home country of India when Domenic was seized in June 2009. The reason authorities initially gave for taking Domenic was that he had been homeschooled.

During subsequent medical evaluations, Domenic was found to have missed some vaccinations and “had cavities” in his teeth.

During the first months following his seizure the parents were only permitted to visit Domenic once every two weeks. This quickly became once every five weeks, and in 2010 all visitations were cut off.

The United States Supreme Court has written that terminating parental rights is the Family Court equivalent of the death penalty. Every party to such an action, the court wrote in Stanley v. Illinois, must be afforded every procedural and substantive due process protection. In American courts this means that clear and convincing evidence, the civil equivalent of “beyond a reasonable doubt,” is necessary before parental rights are terminated.

The case of the Johanssons in Sweden demonstrates what can happen when the family is not respected as an integral unit of society.

Hopes Dashed

The parents’ hopes had risen after nearly three-and-a-half years of forced separation from their son when a district court ruled in June 2012 that they would retain their parental rights. Christer and Annie learned shortly thereafter that the Social Welfare Committee had appealed their victory.

According to the family’s attorney, the Social Welfare Committee had ignored a request to review the case for over a year. The law requires that such a request be acted on within four months. However, the agency did not schedule such a review until the appeals court seemed ready to rule on the case.

The December 19 date set for the review will likely be ignored as the social authorities have won their appeal and now have unrestricted guardianship over Domenic.

The case has attracted international attention, and two official representatives of the Indian government attended to observe the proceedings at the appeals court. In an interview after the hearing, Mr. Rakesh Misra, the Indian Embassy to Sweden’s first secretary, made a statement during a break in the hearing.

“I don’t see how they can claim that these are not good parents. My impression is that these are good parents,” he is reported to have told the family’s attorney.

“The Embassy [of India] may send a letter to the Swedish State Department and the Justice Department with our views on the case,” stated Mr. Misra after the case in an interview with a Swedish newspaper, noting that the embassy has full respect for the legal process and will not intervene in it. “However, we believe this is a case where you must carefully weigh both child’s rights and parents’ rights. One also cannot ignore the great cultural and social differences between Sweden and India.”

According to Misra, the embassy became involved in the case on Domenic during the past three months, given that the mission in Norway recently helped resolve a custody dispute concerning two Indian nationals.

“Grave Injustice”

Michael Donnelly, HSLDA’s director for international affairs, called the decision “brutal.”

“The United States Supreme Court has called the termination of parental rights of the Family Court equivalent of the death penalty. After a district court victory we had hoped the end of this nightmare was approaching. At this point we can only hope that the Swedish Supreme Court will intervene to correct this grave injustice,” he said. “The facts have shown Annie and Christer Johansson to be good parents. It is unconscionable that a court in a democratic country like Sweden could find it is in the child’s interests to remain separated from these parents. The pain, suffering and harm done to this family are incalculable.”

Ruby Harrold-Claesson is president of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights. She says this ruling on International Human Rights Day is atrocious.

“This is a despicable act,” she said. “I don’t know how these judges can have done this. The chief judge wrote a strong dissent that I hope will make an impact on the Swedish Supreme Court. We will appeal this horrible decision.”

She added that the family is under unbearable pressure.

“Annie collapsed when she heard the news. How can anyone endure this kind of torture for so long, I don’t know. It’s unbearable to see how the pride of government officials is wrecking the lives of the Johanssons and others like them. These people have broken the law by taking this boy without justification and keeping him for three-and-a-half years. It’s uncivilized.”

Harrold-Claesson told HSLDA that she is filing extensive reports on human rights violations in the child protections systems of all the Nordic countries. As president of the Nordic Committee on Human Rights, and as an active practitioner, she is appalled by the way government systems treat families in the Nordic countries.

“Something has to be done,” she said. “Families are being trampled, and the court systems virtually always side with the social workers against families. It is a terrible situation.”

Prayers Needed

Please keep the Johanssons in your thoughts and prayers as their attorneys work for justice. HSLDA is pleased to be able to work on behalf of the Johansson with their Swedish lawyer, Ruby Harrold-Claesson, and the Alliance Defending Freedom.

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If you would like to contribute to humanitarian and legal support for the Johansson family who are under terrific strain, please consider a gift to the Home School Foundation’s International Fund. The Johanssons are in need of all types of support, and HSLDA is working with them and others to keep them going under this terrific stress.

Contact:
United States:
Embassy of Sweden
2900 K Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20007
Telephone:  (202) 467-2600
Fax: (202) 467-2699
E-mail: [email protected]

Canada:
Embassy of Sweden
377 Dalhousie Street, Suite 305
Ottawa ON K1N 9N8
Canada
Telephone:  +1 613 244-8200
Fax: +1 613 241-2277
E-mail: [email protected]


Reprinted from the Home School Legal Defense Association.

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Indiana Gov. Mike Pence signs the state's Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
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Indiana faces backlash as it becomes 20th state to protect religious liberty

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By Ben Johnson

INDIANAPOLIS, IN, March 27, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Thursday, Indiana became the 20th state to prevent the government from forcing people of faith to violate their religious beliefs in business or the public square.

Gov. Mike Pence signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (SB 101) into law, saying the freedom of religion is a preeminent American value.

“The Constitution of the United States and the Indiana Constitution both provide strong recognition of the freedom of religion, but today, many people of faith feel their religious liberty is under attack by government action,” Pence said.

Gov. Pence, a possible dark horse candidate for president in 2016, cited court cases brought by religious organizations and employers, including Catholic universities, against the HHS mandate. “One need look no further than the recent litigation concerning the Affordable Care Act. A private business and our own University of Notre Dame had to file lawsuits challenging provisions that required them to offer insurance coverage in violation of their religious views.”

The new law could also prevent Christian business owners from being compelled to bake a cake or take photographs of a same-sex "marriage" ceremony, if doing so violates their faith. In recent years, business owners have seen an increased level of prosecution for denying such services, despite their religious and moral beliefs.

The state's pro-life organization applauded Pence for his stance. "Indiana's pro-life community is grateful to Gov. Mike Pence for signing the Religious Freedom Restoration Act into law,” said Indiana Right to Life's president and CEO Mike Fichter. “This bill will give pro-lifers a necessary legal recourse if they are pressured to support abortion against their deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“RFRA is an important bill to protect the religious freedom of Hoosiers who believe the right to life comes from God, not government,” he said.

The state RFRA is based on the federal bill introduced by Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1993. The Supreme Court cited the federal law when it ruled that Hobby Lobby had the right to refuse to fund abortion-inducing drugs, if doing so violated its owners' sincerely held religious beliefs.

In signing the measure – similar to the one Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer vetoed – Pence and the state of Indiana have faced a torrent of venom from opponents of the bill, who claim it grants a “right to discriminate” and raises the spectre of segregation.

"They've basically said, as long as your religion tells you to, it's OK to discriminate against people," said Sarah Warbelow, legal director of the Human Rights Campaign, a national homosexual pressure group.

The Disciples of Christ, a liberal Protestant denomination based in the state capital, has said it will move its 2017 annual convention if the RFRA became state law. The NCAA warned the bill's adoption “might affect future events” in the Hoosier state.

Pence denied such concerns, saying, "This bill is not about discrimination, and if I thought it legalized discrimination in any way I would've vetoed it."

The bill's supporters say that, under the Obama administration, it is Christians who are most likely to suffer discrimination.

"Originally RFRA laws were intended to protect small religious groups from undue burdens on practicing their faith in public life,” said Mark Tooley, president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy. “It was not imagined there would come a day when laws might seek to jail or financially destroy nuns, rabbis or Christian camp counselors who prefer to abstain from the next wave of sexual and gender experimentation. And there's always a next wave.”

The bill's supporters note that it does not end the government's right to coerce people of faith into violating their conscience in every situation. However, it requires that doing so has to serve a compelling government interest and the government must use the least restrictive means possible. “There will be times when a state or federal government can show it has a compelling reason for burdening religious expression – to ensure public safety, for instance,” said Sarah Torre, an expert at the Heritage Foundation. “But Religious Freedom Restoration Acts set a high bar for the government to meet in order to restrict religious freedom.”

Restricting the ability of government to interfere in people's private decisions, especially their religious decisions, is the very purpose of the Constitution, its supporters say.

"Religious freedom is the cornerstone of all liberty for all people,” Tooley said. “Deny or reduce it, and there are no ultimate limits on the state's power to coerce."

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Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting.
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Porn is transforming our men from protectors into predators. Fight back.

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By Jonathon van Maren

Since I’ve gotten involved in anti-pornography work, I’ve met countless men who struggle, fight, or have beaten pornography. Each person seems to deal with the guilt and shame that accompanies porn use in a different way—some deny that it’s “all that bad,” others pretend that they could “stop whenever they want,” many insist that “everyone is doing it,” and most, when pressed, admit to a deep sense of self-loathing.

One worry surfaces often in conversation: What do my past or current struggles with pornography say about me as a man? Can I ever move past this and have a meaningful and fulfilling relationship?

I want to address this question just briefly, since I’ve encountered it so many times.

First, however, I’ve written before how I at times dislike the language of “struggling” with pornography or pornography “addiction,” not because they aren’t accurate but because too often they are used as an excuse rather than an explanation. It is true, many do in fact “struggle” with what can legitimately be considered an addiction, but when this language is used to describe an interminable battle with no end (and I’ve met dozens of men for whom this is the case), then I prefer we use terminology like “fighting my porn habit.” A semantic debate, certainly, but one I think is important. We need to stop struggling with porn and start fighting it.

Secondly, pornography does do devastating things to one’s sense of masculinity. We know this. Pornography enslaves men by the millions, perverting their role as protector and defender of the more vulnerable and turning them into sexual cannibals, consuming those they see on-screen to satisfy their sexual appetites.

What often starts as mere curiosity or an accidental encounter can turn into something that invades the mind and twists even the most basic attractions. I’ve met porn users who can’t believe the types of things they want to watch. They haven’t simply been using porn. Porn has actively reshaped them into something they don’t recognize and don’t like. 

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Porn is this generation’s great assault on masculinity and the role of men in society. It is essential that we win this battle for the sake of society’s survival. Contrary to what the gender-bending and family-morphing progressive elites claim, good husbands and good fathers and good church leaders are necessary for a healthy society. But pornography is destroying marriages, creating distant and disconnected fathers, and, metaphoricaclly castrating men, hindering their ability and desire to make a positive difference in the society around us.

So, with this sobering set of facts in mind let’s return to the question: what do pornography struggles, past and present, say about a man?

The proper way to respond is with everything that is good about masculinity. We have to fight pornography as men have fought countless evils throughout the ages. We need to fight pornography to protect women, and wives, and children, and our society at large. This is how pornography threatens society, by castrating men, and turning them from protectors into predators. Rooting out the evil in our own lives allows us to better fulfill the role we are called to perform in the lives of others. Battling our own demons enables us to battle the wider cultural demons. Every day without porn is another bit of virtue built. Virtue is not something you’re born with. Virtues are habits that you build. And one day without porn is the first step towards the virtue of being porn-free.

Many men ask me if men who have had past porn addictions are cut out for being in a relationship or working in the pro-life movement or in other areas where we are called to protect and defend the weak and vulnerable. And the answer to that is an unequivocal yes. Our society needs men who know what it means to fight battles and win. Our society needs men who can say that they fought porn and they beat porn, because their families and their friends were too important to risk. Our society needs men who rose to the challenge that the evils of their generation threw at them, and became better men as the result. And our society needs men who can help their friends and their sons and those around them fight the plague of pornography and free themselves from it, too—and who can understand better and offer encouragement more relevant than someone who has fought and been freed themselves?

So the answer to men is yes. Fight pornography. Beat pornography. And join the ranks of those who support their fellow men and women still fighting. Lend them support and encouragement. We cannot change the fact that porn has left an enormous path of destruction in its wake. But we can change the fact that too many people aren’t fighting it. We can change our own involvement. And we can rise to the challenge and face this threat to masculinity with all that is good about masculinity.

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Red Alert!

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By John-Henry Westen

I don’t like having to do this, but we have always found it best to be totally upfront with our readers: our Spring fundraising campaign is now worrying us! 

You see, with just 6 days remaining, we have only raised 30% of our goal, with $125,000 still left to raise. That is a long ways to go yet.

We have no choice but to reach our minimum goal of $175,000 if we are going to be able to continue serving the 5+ million readers who rely on us every month for investigative and groundbreaking news reports on life, faith and family issues.

Every year, LifeSite readership continues to grow by leaps and bounds. This year, we are again experiencing record-breaking interest, with over 6 million people visiting our website last month alone!

This unprecedented growth in turn creates its own demand for increased staff and resources, as we struggle to serve these millions of new readers.

And especially keep this in mind. As many more people read LifeSite, our mission of bringing about cultural change gets boosted. Our ultimate goal has always been to educate and activate the public to take well-informed, needed actions.

Another upside to our huge growth in readers is that it should be that much easier to reach our goal. To put it simply: if each person who read this one email donated whatever they could (even just $10) we would easily surpass our goal! 

Today, I hope you will join the many heroes who keep this ship afloat, and enable us to proclaim the truth through our reporting to tens of millions of people every year!

Your donations to LifeSite cause major things to happen! We see that every day and it is very exciting. Please join with us in making a cultural impact with a donation of ANY AMOUNT right now. 

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