It’s No Longer Easy to be a Christian in Western Europe
Special Report by ICC
8/3/2013 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – Although Western Europe has an important place in Christian history it is increasingly difficult for conservative Christians to live out their faith in public without facing legal consequences.
Earlier this month, a family from Germany was refused asylum in the United States after they were forced to flee their country because German authorities demanded that they stop homeschooling their children.
“For the German government, it’s important to have first right on the education of children because they want to impose their worldview rather than having parents to form their children according to their worldview, which might be different,” according to Mr. Romeike, the head of the family.
Homeschooling is currently legal in every U.S. State, but it has been illegal in Germany since it was outlawed under the dictatorship of Adolph Hitler in 1937. But instead of being repealed, the law was strengthened in 2007, when the German Supreme Court stated that it was necessary for children to be sent to public schools to “counteract the development of religious and philosophically motivated parallel societies.”
If the U.S. government refuses to reverse its decision on granting asylum to the Romeike family, they will be forced to return to Germany where they will be welcomed by large penalties and possible jail time if they are unable to pay the penalty. Then they will be compelled to act against their conscience and send their children to secular schools.
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.
Although there is religious freedom in Germany, it stops when it comes to children. The government takes priority over the education of children with the clear intent of subverting the religious influence of the family on the upbringing of their children. Parents ought to be free to educate their children according to their own values, without the intrusive action that has been taken against the Romeike family.
Not Just Germany
On 1 July, Tony Miano, a U.S. citizen was arrested in south-west London for preaching on the streets. He was arrested for allegedly using “homophobic speech” after he preached about abstinence and sexual immorality. He was photographed, fingerprinted and had a DNA sample taken from him.
The investigating officer later said he would have to seek prosecution after Miano affirmed he felt his preaching had been acceptable in a public place and that he would do the same again the following day. Later, however, Miano was told the inspector had decided to release him with no further action being taken and he was freed at midnight, after just over seven hours in police custody.
In his defense, Miano said, “I did not speak solely about homosexuality as a form of sexual immorality but also about any kind of sex outside of marriage between one man and one woman, as well as lustful thoughts. All of these are considered mainstream Christian positions and have been taught and believed by Christians for thousands of years. It was very distressing to be arrested and interrogated for openly expressing my deeply held Christian beliefs.”
The arrest in the capital of England casts doubt over the actual practice of religious freedom in Europe. In a civilized society, you can disagree with someone’s religious views, and there is no just cause for arresting a person for exercising his religious freedom. Unfortunately, it is believed that things are only going to get worse.
“It’s clear that there is already a clampdown on freedom of speech where people publicly express mainstream Christian views on sexual ethics,” according to Andrew Minichielle Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which supported Miano in the U.K.
In 2011, a Christian civil servant was fired by the Dutch city of The Hague for refusing to oversee same-sex marriages. In response to his dismissal, Wim Pijl, 67, said, “I cannot discriminate gay couples, but I am discriminated against because of my views.”
As Europe moves further away from its rich Christian heritage, its governments appear to be determined to safeguard its secular interests, even if it be at the cost of religious freedom. But if it is to be a standard-bearer for the rest of the world, it must demonstrate a legal and political willingness to provide freedom for all worldviews, without discriminating against religion in general and Christianity in particular.