Over 100 Attorneys Petition Norway Prime Minister for Return of Children Seized Over Parents’ Faith

bodnariu-compressedOver 100 attorneys worldwide have signed a letter petitioning the prime minister of Norway to intervene in the case of five children who were seized by the country’s child welfare services last November a school principal expressed concern over the children’s “religious upbringing.”

“We have familiarized ourselves with the facts of the matter and are deeply disturbed that the children’s seizure was motivated by the family’s Christian faith,” the letter to Erna Solberg reads.

“Barnevernet’s own documents attest to the fact that the family’s faith and religious values were at the core of the officials’ discussions when debating the children’s seizure,” it says. “Barnevernet disapproved of the parenting style of the parents because, it concluded, it was ‘based on the Bible.'”

As previously reported, in November, the Barnevernet seized Marius and Ruth Bodnariu’s two daughters, two sons and 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.

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Peter Costea, the president of the Alliance for Romania’s Families, an attorney who has had access to court records surrounding the case, has also concluded that the family’s faith was a factor in the children’s seizure.

“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 in February. “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.”

The Bodnariu’s were reunited with their infant son last month as a judge sided with the family, but the other four children remain in government custody.

“The Bodnariu children have been placed with foster homes. They no longer go to church, are raised by individuals who do not share the Christian faith or the belief in God of the children or of their biological parents, and have no interest in or appreciation for Christian values,” the letter sent on Friday to Norway’s prime minister outlines. “On the contrary, some of the foster parents have been dismissive and derisive of the children’s religious feelings when the children attempted to pray or display religious inclinations.”

It asserts that Barnevernet is violating Norway’s Child Welfare Act, which requires authorities to “preserve the religious identity” of the children, as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which says that States “shall respect the right of the child to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.”

“We find the facts of this international incident unacceptable not only on legal grounds but also on humanitarian and moral grounds. We view these transgressions as grievous breaches of domestic and international law,” the letter reads. “[W]e respectfully ask you Madam Prime Minister to use your position and the avenues available to your Office to ensure that the youngest Bodnariu child permanently remains with his biological parents and the remaining four Bodnariu children are immediately and permanently returned…”

Signees include Michael Farris of the Home School Legal Defense Association in Purcellville, Virginia; Robert Clarke, director of European advocacy for ADF International in London; attorney Martyn Iles of Canberra, Australia; Andrea Popescu of Strasbourg, France (a former staff attorney for the European Court of Human Rights); Tomas Zdechovsky, a member of the European Parliament in the Czech Republic and Hee Eun Lee of Handong International Law School in South Korea.


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  • Gal5:22-23

    Ah this story which has no facts still has legs it seems. The state of course won’t comment, they are respecting the privacy of the citizens involved which allows all sorts of 2nd and 3rd party ‘opinions’ to chime in.

    This family isn’t being persecuted because of their faith, they had their children taken away for their safety, as required by law. We don’t even have confirmation that this was about their faith those the ‘opinions’ seem to center on the secular fact the family was illegally treating their children and ‘opinion’ is that they were using the biblical excuse of having a right to physically hit their children and refused to back down when told they would have to stop treating their children illegally.

    If ‘opinion’ is correct then the government acted properly, its illegal to physically discipline children in Norway whether your atheist, Catholic, Christian, Jew, Muslim or whatever. You can’t stone people for their sins, you can’t beat children because they’re bad.

    And that lawyers ‘around the world’ are chiming in on legal issues in a country they don’t practice in means just about ‘zip’ to any thinking person.

    • Guest

      So what was your nic prior to your ban?

    • meamsane

      you make a few dogmatic statements on what this case is or is not about! Is your own opinion 2nd or 3rd party?

      • Gal5:22-23

        Absolutely! If we were going to go with the facts the story would be a line or two long. The repeating innuendo is that the children were removed because they were being struck and the parents made it clear to child services they had no intention of stopping because of some claim of religious freedom.

        Do we know that’s true? No. But without such a myth being woven there’s no real story.

        • meamsane

          Your reasoning is Inconsistent at best and Hypocritical since you yourself do not actually know the facts.
          You say the facts are only one or two lines long without actually knowing the facts and then asking whether we know if the story is true and answer no! And then stating dogmatically that it is a myth. This kind of poor reasoning is dizzying.

          • Gal5:22-23

            Only to those with an agenda. The article isn’t about religion since Christians throughout Norway have their children safe and snug at home in bed. There is innuendo of child abuse, there is innuendo that this child abuse is being rationalized because of religion. Obviously the state isn’t going to violate the citizens privacy, and the parents aren’t going to admit they are using religion as a justification for illegal treatment of their children.

            So the non-story keeps coming back – 100 lawyers talking about what they don’t know about in a country they don’t practice in. Its gossip that has taken on a life of its own.

          • Josey

            I’m very sure they know more about it than you do and they very much get what the agenda is, you think the state couldn’t possibly persecute a person or in this case a family because of their biblical stance? Ok, obummer, since when did you find time to make comments like this on here? Isn’t it your golf time yet or maybe you have a man that feels like a woman that needs to go pee you need to deal with, hmmm?

          • Gal5:22-23

            That you are ‘sure’ isn’t very reassuring Josey.

          • meamsane

            Whether you are deliberately or Innocently avoiding my stated point to you I will spell it out…You are making statements of fact about a story you yourself do not have the facts on nor are involved in at all. Since the government is not speaking about it themselves, You cannot make dogmatic statements about what you do not know. Your reasoning is Inconsistent and even contradictory at times.
            You can say that 100 lawyers don’t know what they are talking about because they don’t practice law in that country. How do you know what info they do or do not have or have access too? So again, your making dogmatic statements about those involved in this story and yet you know even less than they do! Do you understand?

          • Gal5:22-23

            No, I’ve made it clear that this is all about opinions and restated those opinions. I am the one saying they aren’t facts and that the article saying the family is being persecuted because of their ‘faith’ is rumor and gossip.

            Try and keep up.

          • meamsane

            Except your own “opinions” are not mere opinions are they? Only everyone else’s, huh?

          • Gal5:22-23

            Thank goodness the app has a blocking function. Bye bye.

          • meamsane

            That’s kind of cowardly!!

    • Josey

      Costea outlined that “[t]he documents also mention that the children were ‘brought up to respect God and their parents’ values.’” Perhaps, you would rather they be brought up to have no respect for God or for others, change your icon, you fail to live up to it miserably!

      • Gal5:22-23

        Respecting God means respecting the law and in Norway you can’t use corporal punishment on kids no matter what religion you are.

        A Christian understands that.

    • bowie1

      But does that make it right to interfere with the parents who know what’s good for their kids? It is most likely part of their faith that if they love their kids then they should direct them in the right path even if how they do it may be painful at the moment – like athletes who know without pain there may be no gain. In that sense they are being persecuted because of their religious beliefs.

      • Gal5:22-23

        No the children are being protected from parents who are treating them illegally. Can’t keep slaves, can’t stone people, can’t hit kids, don’t care what religion someone has.

      • gizmo23

        Sorry hitting kids in the head is not bringing them up right

        • bowie1

          Spankings are usually administered on the rear not head and then only with the hand and not sticks, belts or other devices. My father usually just said he would slap his hand down on the table if we didn’t behave at the supper table. My fathers “bark” was usually sufficient to keep us from misbehaving.

  • Scott Davenport

    I’m sure we support those satan worshippers in Norway, so maybe the US should say we’re not sending any more support or defending your soulless country until you reunite that Christian family. Also, God said spare the rod and spoil the child, and I have more faith in his instructions than a godless gov’t….. 🙂

    • acontraryview

      So you think these folks should be above the law?

      • bowie1

        Only if it is an unjust law. Christians must give priority to God over a secular government – God comes first, then the government. Did the disciples stop preaching the gospel after the Roman government told them to stop? And so it is with believers now.

        • acontraryview

          So you believe that a law that forbids parents from hitting their children is unjust?

          • bowie1

            If it included even the most mildest of spankings I would say yes. I’m not talking about violent methods using sticks, belts or other devices. I was occasionally booted on the rear although it sometimes missed the target but mostly my father would raise his hand at the supper table and threaten to slap it down on the table if we didn’t stop fighting at the table as kids. I hope slapping the hand on the table is not illegal there!

          • acontraryview

            Well in Norway you are not allowed to hit a child in the head. That was what was purported to have happened in this case. I think that it is reasonable to remove children from a home where abuse is reported until a thorough investigation has been completed.

          • Jeremy Derby

            I don’t believe it is reasonable to remove a child simply based on a report, without any proof. I got removed from my home growing up due to a false report and left psychological scars that still effect me as an adult.

          • gizmo23

            As a teacher I have turned children over to protection services when the kids said they were being hit. It is my obligation to do so. Even if the kid is lying or joking I still have to do it.

          • Jeremy Derby

            So to you that justifies people suffering from abandonment issues, and all sorts of other issues because someone files a false report. You think it justifies the permanent psychological trauma? You think it justifies someone spending the rest of their life dealing with the psychological issues, and the impact that has on every area of there life. In my case neighbors filed false reports. And what is your definition of being “hit”. I was taken from a loving family to a system that cares nothing about the children under their care.

          • gizmo23

            I am obligated by law to report not make a judgement as to if it accurate or true. I also don’t determine if a child is removed from the home. The law is very clear on the subject. If a child said they were hit I MUST report it.
            You are directing your anger at the wrong person.

          • Jeremy Derby

            Or pointing out flaws in an unjust law.

          • gizmo23

            I don’t believe the law is unjust. Hitting children is a sign of weak parenting skills and should not be legal

          • Jeremy Derby

            Just to be clear what is your definition of hitting? Is a basic spanking considered this hitting and sign of weak parenting in your mind?

          • gizmo23

            yes

          • Jeremy Derby

            Then how do you explain the direct correlation between kids that are properly disciplined with spanking growing up becoming more productive members of society on average while on average those that don’t receive physical discipline growing up go into criminal activity? The politically correct world view that leads to people reporting on simple spanking of kids its part of the problem of todays world.

          • gizmo23

            What evidence do you have for that. Many people grow up and have very productive lives and never have been hit. Spanking is very different than beating kids, I’ll give you that, but there is no correlation between hitting a kid and behavior.

      • Scott Davenport

        It’s a stupid law if it is one. No man on this planet has a right to tell me what to believe, and I’ll drop him if he say’s otherwise. That’s what makes us Americans.

        • gizmo23

          There are laws about hitting kids in the head

        • acontraryview

          So you believe that a law that says that parents are not allowed to hit their children is stupid?

          “No man on this planet has a right to tell me what to believe”

          What does that have to do with this situation?

  • Grace Kim Kwon

    The Western nations need Christianity for salvation but also for human rights and liberty. Without the Judeo-Christian values, mankind has no freedom or rights.

  • Guest

    I pray for this family daily.

    • gizmo23

      Why support child abuserS ?

      • Gary Whiteman

        Most gays associate pain with love.
        So, make up your mind. Is pain loving, or is it abuse? You can’t have it both ways.

        • gizmo23

          What does this have to do with someone being gay?

      • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

        Nobody is supporting you here.

        • 8xblessed

          So what

          • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

            He/she/it said, “Why support child abusers?” to slander the family in support the state’s abuse of these children. He likes seeing Christian children abused. Why support this child abuser?

          • 8xblessed

            The Bodnariu are not abusers. And to spank a child without leaving bruises is not abuse. It is discipline as it is stated in Proverbs 13:24. The parents should have the freedom in Norway to raise their kids according to the Scriptures But they don’t
            Norway is abusing the Bodnariu , the parents and children as well

          • gizmo23

            Hitting kids is the head is abuse and any hitting of children is illegal in Norway.
            If they don’t like the law they should try to change it or leave the country

      • 8xblessed

        What are you talking about… Child abusers ?
        You surely are not talking about the BodNarius?
        Because if you do you are totally ignorant and do not know what abuse is

        • gizmo23

          Hitting any child or shaking them is child abuse

        • gizmo23

          The Leader Council of the Pentecostal Movement of Norway also issued a statement saying that it doesn’t believe Barnevernet officials were discriminating against the faithful.

          “We have no reason to suspect that we are being treated differently than others in our country, due to our faith,” the statement said.

          After Barnevernet workers questioned the girls, the children claimed they hid things from their parents to avoid punishments including having an ear pulled or slaps across their bottoms or their head. Neither expressed fear in returning home.

  • Josey

    My heart goes out to this family, I can only imagine what they must be going through and the children also, I thank God that an host of angels are surrounding those children and the parents. I pray that the children be returned and the atheist school administrator herself find Christ through all of this, God please touch all of their hearts that are involved in this situation as only you can, rebuke the evil one and his plans and turn this bad situation into something good for their good and your glory in Jesus Name, amen.

    • gizmo23

      Why no mention that the children reported that they hit and slapped on the head. These people are childe abusers

      • Josey

        I’ve never read that the children said that and wouldn’t believe the state on that anyway, they are probably the best well behaved children at that school and they sure look healthy in that picture above. I’m sure that Norway could find some kids who are truly being abused, neglected and that are hungry if they opened their eyes.

        • gizmo23

          Read other sources. This matter is still under investigation so who knows what went on. To just proclaim them innocent is not wise at this time.

          • 8xblessed

            Read hundreds of articles so far … Really anything that I can pull up either in English or Romanian and it is clear to me that the Norvegian government is set on stealing any child they can esecially those that come from a family with religious values

      • 8xblessed

        Got to twist things around huh?
        The parents have said they disciplined their children and that is right and responsible.
        Hiting is not the same as disciplining
        But you don’t know anything about it
        You are ignorant!

        • gizmo23

          Thanks for the Christian insult

  • LadyFreeBird♥BlessedBeTheLord

    I pray for the Will of God for this Family.

    • gizmo23

      I pray they stop abusing their children

      • 8xblessed

        There was no abuse done in this family. Discipline yes but no abuse. Learn the difference

        • gizmo23

          Hitting in the head is abuse

  • http://www.bing.com/ Martin Smit

    The king of Norway can pardon crimes in his land. He must pardon this family’s “crime”, if he fears God and cares for the welfare of his country. If not, perhaps he wants to be like the rest of European royalty – living out the end of the monarchy like an animal in a zoo, trapped in idle luxury while the nation tears itself apart and is sold for nothing to barbarians.

  • 8xblessed

    I pray everyday that the remaining 4 Bodnariu children be returned to their living parents

  • 8xblessed

    Praying diligently for the Bodnariu family complete reunion