A Romanian attorney in the United States who has access to court documents surrounding five Norwegian children who were seized by the country’s child welfare services last November says that records clearly show the children were taken from their parents because of the family’s Christian faith.
As previously reported, in November, the Barnevernet seized Marius and Ruth Bodnariu’s two daughters, two sons and their baby, Ezekiel. The two eldest children were reportedly removed from school without their parents knowledge, and then Barnevarnet representatives arrived with police at the Bodnariu home, where welfare services seized the remaining children, minus the baby.
The organization returned the following day and removed the infant as well after the family tried to resolve the matter after being arrested.
Marius Bodnariu’s brother, Daniel, who is a pastor, explained in an online statement that the matter began when the children’s principal contacted welfare services after expressing concerns over how they were being raised, including in regard to the family’s Christian beliefs.
“The process of confiscating the Bodnariu children started when the Vevring School principal, the middle school attended by Eliana and Naomi, called the Barnevernet and expressed her concerns regarding the girls’ religious upbringing, her understanding that the girls are being disciplined at home, and that she considers the parents and grandmother to be radical Christians; an overriding concern that the principal’s perception of the parents’ and grandmother’s religious beliefs inhibit and handicap the girls’ development,” he outlined.
Now, the president of the Alliance for Romania’s Families, an attorney who has had access to court records surrounding the case, says that the family’s faith was indeed a factor in the children’s seizure.
“[T]he evidence is plenty,” wrote Peter Costea in an online post on Monday.
“Documents and minutes of meetings have emerged since the abduction showing that as early as … more than a month before the children were taken into custody, the officials at Naustdal municipality disapproved of the parenting style of the Bodnariu parents, believing it, after questioning the children, to be based on the Bible,” he explained. “They plainly state that Barnevernet ‘is worried that this is a way of upbringing which is justified by the Bible.'”
Costea outlined that “[t]he documents also mention that the children were ‘brought up to respect God and their parents’ values.'”
“Barnevernet interpreted this as a possible conflict between the children’s assumed inability to live up to their parents’ value expectations and faith and that the parents’ religion could create an ‘inner conflict’ in the children and a stressful family environment,” he continued. “Religion is bad for children, Barnevernet’s minutes seem to say, and too much religion is lawful justification for snatching children away from their parents.”
During the course of the case, the discussion turned to abuse allegations as Barnevernet expressed concern that the children might have been spanked, which is illegal in Norway. The grandparents of the children, who have lived with the family at times, have rejected the allegations completely.
“We can assure that we have never seen that violence has been used against the children,” the grandfather said in a recent blog post. “Not even that they have raised their voices to them. The children themselves have never told us that the parents have been nasty to them.”