Seeing how the President’s administration deals with matters of religious freedom, one has to wonder whether they understand the concept.
Of course, the Health and Human Services Mandate forcing religiously-based organizations to facilitate employee insurance coverage for abortifacient drugs strongly indicates disregard of – if not disdain for – religious liberty. The continued indifference to our First Liberty was revealed further with the Administration’s recent stance on a German family seeking political asylum.
In 2008, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike, along with their five children, fled their native Germany for the United States, seeking refuge from persecution for homeschooling. The Romeikes withdrew their children from local schools, and began homeschooling in 2006, concerned that compulsory education was undermining their Christian faith.
Homeschooling is banned by law in Germany, which caused the Romeikes to accumulate $10,000 in fines and have their children removed from their home. The Supreme Court of Germany upheld the law in disheartening fashion, explaining that the purpose of the ban is to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
This authoritarian policy strikes at the heart of basic freedoms American Christians hold dear. For this reason, many welcomed the Romeikes when they arrived in the United States and rejoiced with them when they were granted political asylum on January 26, 2010. Federal immigration judge Lawrence Burman ruled the Romeikes had a reasonable fear of persecution for their beliefs, rightly depicting the homeschool ban as “utterly repellent to everything we believe as Americans.”
Astonishingly, the President’s administration is appealing that ruling, challenging the permanent resident status of the Romeike family, thus, placing them in danger of deportation. The government contends that evangelical Christians are not being treated unfairly by the law since everyone is banned from homeschooling in Germany.
The law has already been appealed to the European Convention of Human Rights, to no avail. German parents were told that “integration into and first experiences of society are important goals in primary-school education.” The United States – being a country founded on religious freedom – was supposed to be the Romeike’s beacon of hope.
The Administration’s view is short-sighted and troubling. Though the homeschooling ban applies across the board in Germany, its impact is felt primarily by those maintaining Christian scruples. The Administration, in this and other matters, act as though religious freedom only relates to worship. This has been confirmed in multitude of speeches by President Obama, where he has highlighted the freedom to worship without mentioning our freedom of religion.
While our freedom to worship is certainly important, freedom of religion is a broader concept, encompassing more liberty, including the freedom to live out our lives – and parent our children – according to our deeply-held religious beliefs.
The freedom we enjoy as Christians does not dissipate as we leave the church parking lot. The framers of our Constitution – who embraced the reality of our inalienable, God-given rights – understood this principle well. Somebody should tell the Administration.