The Homeschool Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is calling for a day of prayer and fasting on behalf of a Christian homeschooling family that is fighting deportation to their homeland of Germany.
Ewe and Hannelore Romeike have been battling the matter in the courts for several years while continuing to raise their six children in rural Tennessee. As previously reported, the Romeike family fled to the United States in 2008 after German authorities demanded that they stop homeschooling in violation of national law.
Homeschooling was made illegal in the country in 1938 under the dictatorship of Adolph Hitler, and the law has never been repealed, but rather strengthened. In 2007, the German Supreme Court ruled that the country’s mandate that children be sent to public school is necessary to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
German officials have been cracking down on families that keep their sons and daughters at home, and have threatened them with fines, imprisonment and even the removal of the children from the household. The Romeike children were taken from their parents for a time before fleeing to the United States for refuge.
In 2010, Memphis immigration judge Lawrence Burman granted the family asylum, stating that he believed the Romeike’s would face persecution for their faith if they returned to Germany. However, the Department of Justice later appealed the ruling to the Sixth Circuit, which overturned Burman’s decision.
“[T]he Romeikes [have] not shown that Germany’s enforcement of its general school-attendance law amounts to persecution against them, whether on grounds of religion or membership in a recognized social group,” the court ruled. “There is a difference between the persecution of a discrete group and the prosecution of those who violate a generally applicable law.”
In court documents filed by the Department of Justice, the Obama administration asserted that the requirement that German children be sent to public school is valid as the government seeks to create an “open, pluralistic society.” It asserted that German officials are not persecuting the family by mandating attendance since the law applies to all citizens, regardless of their religion.
Therefore, HSLDA appealed the matter to the United States Supreme Court as a last-ditch effort to avoid deportation. The organization notes that the Romeikes could be fined thousands of dollars and face possible jail time if they are forced to return to Germany and refuse to send their children to a secular school against their conscience.
HSLDA has now set Sunday, November 17th as a day of prayer and fasting for the Romeike family, as it anticipates that the Supreme Court will decide whether or not to hear the case on November 26th.
“I feel good about our argument, but we must all recognize that the Supreme Court takes a very limited number of cases—so please pray that the court will agree to hear our appeal,” founder and chairman Michael Farris wrote in a statement about the effort.
“The United States should be open to receiving the Romeikes and Wunderlichs of the world,” said Farris, “but unfortunately, our current administration doesn’t believe that banning parental choice is a violation of human rights. The Romeikes are modern-day pilgrims, and we ask that everyone joins us in praying for them on November 17.”