Aaron Goldstein wrote a thoughtful response to my post on the Justice Department denying asylum to the Romeike family. Mr. Goldstein points out that Germany is a democratic state and that there is nothing stopping the Romeikes from petitioning their government to change its laws. That is true.
However, Germany is the epitome of post-Christian Europe. Hundreds of churches are being torn down because no one attends. The number of self-identifying Christians is down 30 percent since 2008. Fifty percent of Germans believe there is nothing after death. My point is that active, evangelical Christians are indeed a small minority, and the chances that the Romeikes will succeed politically are dim. That a country is a democracy does not speak to its record on religious liberty.
What is more galling about this case is that the Justice Department is actively working to deport the family. In a case where parental rights and religious liberty are so clearly being violated, one would think the United States would err on the side of free exercise of religion. The German law that Holder is fighting for so dearly resulted in this:
German law requires all children to attend public or state-approved private schools. The Romeikes feared that the public school curriculum would “influence [their children] against Christian values.” A.R.478. When the parents chose to homeschool their children, the government imposed fines for each unexcused absence. When the fines did not bring the Romeikes in line, the police went to the Romeikes’ house and escorted the children to school.
Mr. Goldstein rightly notes that the U.S. grants asylum to people “seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to: Race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.” It seems to me that the Romeike’s religious beliefs, which led them to pull their kids out of public school, qualify. And beyond all of the legal wrangling, this one just doesn’t pass the smell test.
Do the right thing, Mr. Holder.