Violation of the School Laws –

November 6, 2003

Giessen/Gemuenden – In a case concerning the mandatory school attendance of their children, Bible believing parents from Gemuenden/Felda were reprimanded by the court. The State Court in Giessen sentenced the parents of eight children to pay a fine of €400. If during the next two years the parents again violate the mandatory school attendance law, they will need to pay an additional €800, said the presiding Judge on Wednesday. With that, the court overturned a surprising acquittal by the Administrative Court in Alsfield.

“Public school is unavoidable,” declared the judge. It is up to the administrative authorities to enforce the school attendance in the future, said Attorney General Volker Uhl. The court sided with the prosecution in their ruling. The sentence that the court pronounced is the mildest sanction provided under the criminal code. The parents, Sigrid and Michael Bauer from Vogelsberg, complained that public schools undermine their Christian educational values, such as modesty and obedience to parents. Because of this, they have been teaching their five school age children at home for more than two years. All eight children of the couple – ranging from 10 months to 16 years old – were present at the hearing. What especially disturbs the parents is the “exclusive” transmission of the theory of evolution and the alleged “constant confrontation” with the topic of sexuality.

In contrast to the lower court, the State Court in Giessen considered mandatory school attendance as being above the parents’ right to freedom of religion and conscience. Because the duty to attend school significantly limits the so-called parental right to raise their children, the instruction must be kept “strictly neutral”. In the present case, the court saw no “unlawful indoctrination” of the children. That the theory of evolution was being taught can not be objected to, said Judge Gertrud Bruehl. Also, the concept of sexual education is based on a broad societal consensus of sexual self-determination – even if the teaching employs in part “very borderline” examples. “The school reality reflects what children are confronted with every day.”

The defense, which brought the case to a standstill by filing a flood of petitions, asked for another acquittal. “By sending their children to school, they disobey God’s word,” declared Attorney Gabriele Eckermann. “Their relationship with God is thereby disturbed.” Sexual education in particular leads to an “early sexualisation” of students. On Wednesday, the plaintiffs did not say whether they would appeal to the Appellate Court in Frankfurt.

[Schulunterricht zu Hause translation]