Pluralism, Christianity, and America
Since America has been methodically massaged for some 50 years by pluralistic, humanistic, multi-cultural, politically correct influences, Christians are being marginalized and are facing forthright discrimination and persecution. To see where America is logically headed, look carefully at what is happening to those nations that historically have been affiliated with Christianity, but are further along in their abandonment of the moral and spiritual principles of the Christian religion. For example, Fritz and Marianna Konrad live in Herbolzheim, Germany with their two children Rebekka and Josua. As professors of the Christian religion who avow strong attachment to the Bible, in 2000, the Konrads opted for homeschooling and sought exemption from public school attendance for their children for religious reasons on the grounds that “school education does not suit their beliefs because of sex education, the appearance of mythical creatures such as witches and dwarfs in fairytales during school lessons and the increasing physical and psychological violence between pupils at school” (Konrad v. Germany, 2006, p. 2, emp. added). The school authorities rejected their petition. So the Konrads took their case to German court.
In its 2001 ruling, a German court conceded that, indeed, “Basic Law granted the parents both freedom of religion and the right to educate their children with regard to religious and philosophical convictions, which also included the negative aspect to keep their children away from convictions which would be harmful in their opinion” (Konrad..., p. 2). Though the court did not question the ability of the parents to provide an academically suitable education for their children, nevertheless, the court ruled against the parents’ freedom to homeschool on these astounding grounds:
That freedom, however, was restricted by the State’s obligation for education and tuition. Hence compulsory school was not a matter for the parents’ discretion. The applicant parents’ wish to let their children grow up in a “protected” area at home without outside interference could not take priority over compulsory school attendance. Even if children could be sufficiently educated at home, the State’s obligation to educate under the Basic Law would not be met if the children had no contact with other children. Attending a primary school, with children from all backgrounds, would enable children both to gain first experiences with society and to acquire social competences. Neither would be possible if the parents were authorized to educate the children at home” (pp. 2-3, emp. added).
Unbelievable! The government’s right to educate children takes precedence over the parents’ right to do so (especially since the State must not be deprived of tuition money).
The Founders of America insisted that the parents had sole authority and discretion to educate their children. It was not only not the obligation of the State to do so, the State had no authority to do so. The American government was designed to receive its authority from the people—not vice versa. Indeed, the Founders of American government insisted that the people derived their rights and authority from God—not from the State—and that the State has no right to interfere with the people’s inalienable rights. Indeed, the Bible teaches that God invested the authority to educate, train, and raise children in parents and the home (Genesis 2:24; Ephesians 6:1ff.). Yet, the humanistic European judicial system maintains that the government has the right to override parents’ wishes in order to ensure that the children socialize with children “from all backgrounds,” i.e., Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and atheists.
When the case went to the Court of Appeal, the court reinforced the lower court ruling, further insisting that
even though the applicant parents’ right to educate their children included religious education, they were not entitled...to the exclusive education of their children. The State’s constitutional obligation to provide children with education was on an equal footing. The court stressed that the decisive point was not whether or not home education was equally effective as primary school education, but that compulsory school attendance require children from all backgrounds in society to gather together. Parents could not obtain an exemption...if they disagreed with the content of particular parts of the syllabus, even if their disagreement was religiously motivated. The applicant parents could not be permitted to keep their children away from school and the influences of other children (p. 3, emp. added).
Further, the court commented on the State’s right to indoctrinate children with evolution—the very circumstance that Americans have been enduring for half a century: “As far as the applicants complained that the school’s syllabus was too scientific and denied any divine influence on the creation and the history of the world, the court found that freedom of religion did not grant the freedom to deal with any possible conflicts between science and religion” (p. 3, emp. added).
Having lost their case in the German courts, the Konrads appealed to the European Court of Human Rights in hopes of achieving their aim. They made their petition on the basis of Article 2 of Protocol No. 1 which reads:
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 to teaching, the State shall respect the right of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions (Konrad...,” p. 6, emp. added).
Seems clear enough. Regarding the views of the Konrads, the court noted that they
find that it is their obligation to educate their children in accordance with the Bible and Christian values. They infer from numerous quotations from the Bible that their children’s education is an obligation on them which cannot easily be transferred to third persons. They submit that, by teaching their children at home, they fulfil a divine order. Their children’s attendance of a primary school would inevitably lead to grave conflicts with their personal beliefs.... Compulsory school attendance would therefore severely endanger their children’s religious education, especially regarding sex education (p. 6, emp. added).
Yet, like the German courts, this international tribunal ruled against the parents on the misguided grounds of the alleged value to society of diversity and pluralism:
The provision...aims [at] safeguarding pluralism in education which is essential for the preservation of the “democratic society”.... In view of the power of the modern State, it is above all through State teaching that this aim must be realized.... Therefore respect is only due to convictions on the part of the parents which do not conflict with the right of the child to education.... This means that parents may not refuse the right to education of a child on the basis of their convictions (pp. 6-7, emp. added).
Observe that these declarations contain misrepresentations and erroneous hidden assumptions, i.e., that parents are unreliable determiners of their own children’s education and that the “right to education” means the right to be educated in public school by the State—not the right to be educated at home by the parents. The Konrads did not “refuse the right to education” of their children. They simply refused the right of the State—with its anti-Christian bias—to educate their children. They want their children to be educated; but they want them to be educated by themselves at home.
Americans would like to think that such things do not and cannot happen in this country. Yet, the indications are that America is moving swiftly in the same direction. American judges have commenced to cite foreign and international law in their decisions. For example, retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor repeatedly declared the necessity of relying on international law (“O’Connor: U.S. Must...,” 2003; “O’Connor Praises...,” 2004). Likewise, parents increasingly are being overruled by school and political officials in their efforts to shield their children from liberal ideology. Last year, the “Left Coast” 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that parents do not have a fundamental right to control when, where, and how their children are taught about sex (Parker, 2005). The Lexington, Massachusetts Superintendent of Schools recently insisted that the school system had no legal obligation to notify parents when children were being exposed to materials that advocated homosexuality and same-sex marriage (Jan, 2006). What a shame. And what a far cry from the convictions of the architects of American civilization who insisted that public education should have as its first concern the teaching of Christian principles. As Noah Webster so poignantly expressed:
In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government, ought to be instructed.... No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people (1843, p. 291, emp. added).
Jan, Tracy (2006), “Parents Rip School Over Gay Storybook,” Boston Globe, April 20, [On-line], URL: http://www.boston.com/news/local/articles/2006/04/20/parents_rip_ school_over_gay_storybook/.
Konrad v. Germany (2006), European Court of Human Rights (Fifth Section), September 18, 35504/03, [On-line], URL: http://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/KonradDecision.pdf.
“O’Connor Praises International Law” (2004), WorldNetDaily, October 27, [On-line], URL: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=41143.
“O’Connor: U.S. Must Rely on Foreign Law” (2003), WorldNetDaily, October 31, [On-line], URL: http://www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=35367.
Parker, Kathleen (2005), “Parents Take Another Hit in the Culture Wars,” Orlando Sentinel, G3, November 6, [On-line], URL: http://pqasb.pqarchiver.com/orlandosentinel/access/922392231.html?dids =922392231:922392231&FMT=ABS&FMTS=ABS:FT&date=Nov+6%2C+ 2005&author=Kathleen+Parker%2C+Sentinel+Columnist&pub=Orlando+ Sentinel&edition=&startpage=G.3&desc=Parents+take+another+ hit+in+the+culture+wars.
Webster, Noah (1843), A Collection of Papers on Political, Literary, and Moral Subjects (New York, NY: Webster and Clark).