Hessian´s State Court of Appeals: Compulsory school attendance is more important than religious faith

Appeal for revision was turned down: Christian parents must send their children to school

July 29, 2004

Frankfurt am Main (idea) – Even if parents do not agree with the content taught in public schools because of religious reasons, the obligation for their children to attend school remains. This was the decision of the Second Senat of Frankfurt´s State Court of Appeals. The press spokesman of the Court, Wolfgang Weber, stated that the judges refused the motion of the couple Sigrid and Michael Bauer (Gemuenden/Vogelsberg) unanimously as unfounded. The Bauer’s wanted a revision in their case about the compulsory school attendance of their children. The parents, who belong to the “Professing Evangelical-Reformed Church” in Giessen, withdrew in August 2001 their 5 school-age children from school because of their conviction that the school education, like the theory of evolution, religious instruction and sex education are not compatible with their Christian beliefs. Public schools rather undermine Biblical educational ideals like purity and obedience to parents. According to the Hessian school law, parents who “continually or obstinately prevent their children from fulfilling the compulsory school attendance” face up to 6 months of prison or a fine of up to 180 daily rates.

[b]The state is not required to listen to parents’ concerns when creating the school curriculum guidelines[/b]

While the Local Criminal Court of Alsfeld acquitted the Bauer’s, the state’s prosecution appealed the ruling. The [next higher] District Criminal Court of Giessen issued a warning by fining the parents. According to the judges in Giessen, the state does not need to heed parents’ educational principles when creating contents for public schools. On the contrary, the parents must accept the educational aims, contents and methods of the public school even if they contradict their religious convictions. The sex-education is within reasonable limits of “what the school may teach to sensitive, different-minded people.” When creating school lessons they have to take into consideration the influences that children are confronted with in their daily life through the media and classmates.

[b]Parents say the judgment is a violation of the constitution[/b]

Mrs. Bauer told idea on July 29 that her family has not yet decided whether they will file a constitutional complaint against the decision of the State Court of Appeals. They feel that they were not treated fairly, particularly since the judges in Frankfurt made a decision without a hearing. “We think that this judgement is a clear violation of the constitution”, said Mrs. Bauer. This is not at all an isolated case. More and more parents, especially Bible believing Christians, are brought by the public schools into conflict with their beliefs and conscience. They want to teach their children at home. In many countries it is possible to homeschool; for example in the US, France, the UK, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands and Austria. Most countries have laws requiring the parents to educate their children but leave it up to the parents how to fulfil this requirement. It is estimated that there are 2 to 3 million homeschoolers in the US. According to Helmut Stücher, the founder and director of the Philadelphia School in Siegen, who is a pioneer of the German Homeschool Movement, at least 500 children of more than 200 families are taught at home.The organization School Instruction at Home (Schuzh) represents the interests of homeschool families and offers legal advise.

[i]Translation: Schuzh[/i]