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They’re Coming for Our Children

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.

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