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Religious couple fined for home schooling their children
Photo: DPA

Religious couple fined for home schooling their children

Published: 26 Nov 2009 12:30 GMT+01:00
Updated: 26 Nov 2009 12:30 GMT+01:00

A German couple who tried to teach their children Christian values at home has been fined by a Kassel court for refusing to send them to school.

The couple from the Hessian village of Archfeld bei Herleshausen has seven children between the ages of two and 17, who they told the court they had hoped to “give the Bible their unlimited trust” through lessons at home.

Rosemarie (43) and Jürgen D. (48) were sentenced on Wednesday to pay a daily €1 fine for 60 days for defying the country's compulsory school attendance. The ruling was a lenient judgement compared to a June 2008 court decision, which handed the pair three months in prison without parole. But the Frankfurt upper district court sent the case back to the Kassel district court due to legal errors.

Judge Jürgen Dreyer justified the new sentence with the fact that other confessed first-time offenders are usually fined with the expectation that they will change their behaviour.

“They will have to do something,” Dreyer said, adding that if the couple defies the court they will face jail time.

But after the trial concluded, the parents did not say whether they would obey the court’s orders.

The couple told the court they had home schooled their children because they believed they could do a better job than the public education system, adding that their secondary goal had been to impart Christian values.

On the first day of the trial last week, the father said that they home schooled because doubt in the existence of God was a normal facet of public school culture. The couple also criticised public schools for allegedly failing to educate children properly.

While the case's prosecutor admitted that their teaching methods were “certainly good,” he explained that the content of their home lessons did not change their violation of compulsory school attendance and called their actions “criminal.”

Judge Dreyer said the couple’s light fine was not symbolic, but reflected their low monthly income of €1,500.

“They should be punished, not the children,” he said.

Home schooling is generally not allowed in Germany, where all children are expected to attend public schools. Exceptions are made for illness or physical disability in some cases, however.

DDP/The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

14:25 November 26, 2009 by ibth123
What is common in other countries is a big deal in Germany. It is time to change this. Here in the US you can teach your kids yourself and lots of them are better off than the ones that go to school. It takes a lot to teach all of your kids on time and money and love. Not everbody is patient enough nor knows it all. I hope they change the law or the couple leaves, come on over here. At least we have freedom here. :-)
17:13 November 26, 2009 by pepsionice
Bottom line? The rules aren't going to change....so if one is unhappy....one needs to leave Germany. Thats the simplest way of fixing the situation. After observing the lousy years my son spent in German school....and the marginal teachers that he had.....I could have done a better job myself....and thats a sad statement for all the money flushed into the German education sector.
21:34 November 26, 2009 by Baynik
Some of these comments are just proof of why this family wants to educate their own children. This educational system has effectively brainwashed you to believe the nonsense, liberal agenda they have been forcing into your brains! My children do not belong to the state, they are mine to educate, mine to raise in the moral convictions that I have and make sure they survive in this world so hostile to anything good! If you have no faith in God and any moral values and couldn't care less as to how your kids end up, go on and criticize those who care! Teachers can't handle rebellious kids anymore, parents are at wits end, school shootings seem to baffle those who think they know why it happens and now this government wants to take kids away from parents who care enough to protect their kids from all this! This family is willing to fight for their kids while most are happy to throw them to the wolves! Shame on you!
08:23 November 27, 2009 by wood artist
ibth123:

I believe you are overlooking one significant difference between Germany and the US. While your observation about home schooling vs. public schooling is accurate, it is also true that if you wish to send your children to a "Christian School" in the US, you must pay their tuition. As I understand it, and I may be wrong here, in Germany you could send your child to a "public school" or a "Christian school" and the cost would be the same either way as both are a part of the German educational system.

If I'm wrong about that, then I'm sorry, but if that is correct, it is a significant difference between the two systems.
18:21 November 27, 2009 by Cincinnatus
Congratulations Germany! Punish those dangerous Christians! After all, if the children don¦#39;t attend public schools, however will they learn how to operate those baby dumpsters, where your irresponsible biological ¦quot;parents¦quot; DISCARD the disgusting refuse of their unprotected lust?
18:42 November 27, 2009 by onemark
I'm personally torn on the subject of homeschooling (it can be good, it can be bad) but I don't like the statist position of the German government in insisting on blanket school attendance - it's too authoritarian and undemocratic.
06:12 November 28, 2009 by Cincinnatus
The danger of MANDAORY public schools should be more alarming to Germans. Only governments, which feel the need to propagandize the children would REQUIRE children to attend public schools. "Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted." - Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
08:33 November 28, 2009 by daisydear
A large part of the problem in this case and with homeschooling in Germany in general is that after reunification of East and West Germany, most of the laws regarding education were amended to reflect those of East Germany - a communist state, where independent education or independent thinking or independent anything was strictly taboo.

My guess is that the "something" that was reported was merely that they were not following the status quo. From my own experience, the German government is overly involved in the daily lives of its citizens, requiring information one wouldn't dream of giving the government in the US. Marching to the beat of a different drummer is not encouraged or allowed.

Like in the US, requiring mandatory school attendance is not necessarily in the best interests of the children, but instead best serves the purposes of the state in maintaining its own existence and a predictable and manageable populace.
16:45 November 28, 2009 by YankeeT
If they can pass the academic tests other school children their age pass, what's the problem? The German law ought not be centered on attendance, but on scheduled academic achievement.

As for socialization, homeschooled children have an advantage over those stuck in government buildings for set blocks of time - only if the parent teaching them actually takes the child out into the world and challenges them to communicate with other generations on a variety of subjects under different circumstances on a regular basis.
17:11 November 28, 2009 by J Mark
The vitriolic anti-Christian bias in some of these comments is remarkable. This story has generated 62 comments so far, most of which seem to assume that because these parents are Christian they are automatically disqualified from being effective teachers. The story about 90 Islamic jihadists living in the German underground, on the other hand, generates only 3 comments....

So-called intellectuals who have never bothered to learn what Christianity actually teaches (from a true biblical perspective) will not realize that their visceral bigotry is not only predicted, but well-described in Romans chapter 1.

I can't say what these children are learning (and neither can any commenter who does not know their parents) but if it is a biblical worldview, I would say their understanding of the world easily surpasses the understanding of some of the earlier commenters...
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