They’re Coming for Our Children

April 2018

State-napping. It’s often assumed to be a tactic of totalitarian regimes, in which armed government agents accost defenseless citizens, often in their private homes, and seize family members deemed to be troublemakers, who are often never seen or heard from again.

But such scenes aren’t confined to communist or other dictatorships. They’ve been happening in Western Europe for years — only there the government agents aren’t concerned with apprehending agitators or insurgents, at least not those who fit the classic description. Instead, in these liberal democratic regimes, they’re coming for a different kind of dissident.

They’re coming for homeschoolers.

Adolf Hitler outlawed homeschooling throughout Germany in 1938. His ban still stands. Today, German homeschoolers who run afoul of Hitler’s law are subject to crippling fines. Some, however, don’t get off so lightly. That was the case for Bert and Kathrin Brause, a Christian couple from Zittau, near the Polish border, who believe that homeschooling their children is their duty before God. The government, of course, has other ideas. For years the Brauses refused to register their children in the local public school, and so in 2007 a judge revoked the Brauses’ custody of five of their eight children and handed them over to the Jugendamt, a youth welfare office created by Hitler. The judge charged the parents with “child abuse” for denying their kids access to public schools, a crime punishable by up to two years in prison. With their “obedience” to God, the judge declared, they had put the interests of their children “second.”

And what is in German children’s interest? That they attend public school. Never mind that Bert and Kathrin’s children were well educated, as the judge herself acceded. In Germany, state-managed education overrides parents’ presumed duty before God.

In another notorious 2007 case, German authorities seized a 15-year-old homeschooled girl in a dramatic raid. A family-court judge, representatives of the Jugendamt, and 15 police officers — fifteen! — showed up at the girl’s home to take her into custody. That’s how seriously they pursue rebel educators. The girl was sent to a mental hospital, the location of which authorities refused to disclose to her parents, where she was diagnosed with “school phobia.” The teen was a captive of the state for three months before she managed to escape under the cover of night and find her way back home.

In 2009 a German family fled to France in order to continue homeschooling their children. They “de-registered” their German residence and became official residents of France. Nevertheless, French social workers and two police officers appeared at their home in Saint Léonard, saying they had come at the request of German authorities to take the family’s four young children, who, they said, were “in grave danger.” The long arm of German homeschooling laws reaches across international borders.

Germans aren’t the only ones at risk of having their children “state-napped.” In another 2009 case that garnered international headlines, Swedish officials halted a plane bound for India one minute before it was scheduled to leave the gate for takeoff. Armed policemen stormed the cabin, taking a seven-year-old boy from his parents. They too were homeschoolers. But were they homeschool criminals? Here’s where it gets tricky. Though they had removed their son from the public school, they were never charged with a crime. That’s because homeschooling was — and is — legal in Sweden. The family intended to relocate to India, where the mother has family. But there’s no escaping the forces of public education.

It makes you wonder: to whom do children ultimately belong, their parents or the state?

In the most recent update to this bizarre story (, June 4, 2016), the boy, 14, had been in state custody for seven years — half of his life. Since 2010 Swedish authorities had denied his parents contact with him. The parents filed lawsuits in the Swedish Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights to regain custody, to no avail. It’s no wonder only one homeschooling family reportedly remains in Sweden — a country without any laws forbidding it.

Such stories are troubling, but, you might be inclined to say, we in the U.S. can breathe easy. Nothing of the sort can happen here, right?

Tell that to Kiarre Harris. Early last year, this single mother of two from Buffalo, New York, was arrested and her children taken into custody by Child Protective Services (CPS). Why? You guessed it: She too had begun homeschooling.

Harris had withdrawn her two elementary-school-aged children from the Buffalo school system the previous November because, she told a local news station, “I felt that the district was failing my children” (, Feb. 6, 2017). When CPS agents and the police showed up at her door with a court order to take her children and she resisted, as any mother would, they arrested her for “obstruction.” Harris had taken all the appropriate steps, including filing the necessary documents at city hall and informing the district of her intent to homeschool. Yet she and her children ended up prisoners of the state: she behind bars, and they in foster care. It took ten weeks and several court visits before the charges against her were dropped and she was reunited with her children.

Now, there are any number of reasons why parents elect to homeschool their children, but it is well known that a significant number of the 1.7 million homeschooled kids in the U.S. come from conservative Christian families. And many of them reject public education due to its lack of moral formation, or because the type of “morality” inculcated in state-run schools is inimical to Christian morality.

American Christians like to believe that one of the most remarkable features of our system of government is the great latitude it grants us to practice our faith. We take pride in the “religious freedom” we think we enjoy. But Christian families increasingly are coming to realize that the government is willing to curtail that latitude whenever it sees fit. And when the government deems our free exercise of religion to be a threat to its own self-defined orthodoxies, it will come for us — and for our children. As Kenneth R. Craycraft Jr. wrote in The American Myth of Religious Freedom (1999), “The first and overwhelming priority of any regime, including our own, is jealously to protect its principles, rituals, and institutions…. The American regime always reserves the right to judge the content of a religious claim in order to determine its fitness and legitimacy.” And, like its German counterpart, our government will necessarily “condemn” a church member’s claim that he “must recognize” the “moral teaching of the church” as his “primary (or sole) allegiance.”

Not only must Christian homeschooling parents (and Christian cake bakers) confront this brutal fact, but so must parents who run afoul of one of our government’s newest principles, one it will protect most jealously: that transgenderism is one of a panoply of acceptable “lifestyle” choices and its practitioners a protected class of citizens.

In 2016 an Ohio teen began suffering anxiety and depression severe enough that her Christian parents took her to Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital for inpatient treatment. There the girl was diagnosed as having “gender dysphoria,” which the American Psychiatric Association (APA) defines as “a conflict between a person’s physical or assigned gender and the gender with which he/she/they identify.” (Gender dysphoria is APA’s gentler replacement for the term gender-identity disorder, which it no longer considers PC and therefore no longer catalogues in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.) It was discovered that the girl’s parents do not support her desire to “transition” to male, which, they say, goes against their “core beliefs.” Instead, they want her to undergo “Christian therapy” (, Feb. 13). They had enrolled her in a Catholic school, where — horrors! — she was made to wear dresses and answer to her birth name. She claims her parents forced her to sit in a room for hours on end, listening to Bible readings. This and their ongoing refusal to call her by a boy’s name had triggered her suicidal feelings.

So Hamilton County Job and Family Services got involved, taking temporary legal custody of the girl. This government agency assigned her a court-appointed guardian, who consented to her moving in with her maternal grandparents. Surprise, surprise: The grandparents support the girl’s new “gender identity” and have expressed their willingness to make medical decisions for her, including starting hormone replacement therapy “as soon as possible” to speed her “transition” to a boy.

The parents went to court in an attempt to reverse the state’s usurpation of their parental rights so they can make the medical decisions they believe are in their minor child’s best interest, at least until she turns 18. “It does not appear,” their attorney argued, “that this child is even close to being able to make such a life-altering decision at this time.”

The government disagrees. And so, this February, a judge awarded the grandparents permanent legal custody of the child. The judge did throw the parents a bone: they get visitation rights. In one of the more startling examples of governmental hubris, Donald Clancy of the Hamilton County prosecutor’s office said, “The parents in this case do not desire to parent their child. They merely have a desire to parent a child who, in reality, no longer exists” (, Jan. 26).

The state wins; parents lose — proving once again that our own natural children aren’t really ours to raise. We merely “desire to parent” them. And if our desire is misdirected in the eyes of the state — if we homeschool our children or we don’t sufficiently celebrate their self-proclaimed “gender identity” or we refuse to fund their “transition” — then our rights, in reality, no longer exist. We aren’t really free to believe whatever we want, to teach our children whatever we want, to raise them however we want — not even in the privacy of our own homes. Our right to “religious freedom,” as Craycraft claimed, is a “myth,” a theory that evaporates into the mist when our beliefs or practices contravene those of the omnipresent state. We are to have only one god, and his name is Caesar.

DOSSIER: America

DOSSIER: Catholic Home Schooling

DOSSIER: Transgenderism, Effeminacy & Conflation of the Sexes

New Oxford Notes: April 2018

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