Last week, I shared on these pages my exchange of correspondence with the German Embassy regarding the Wunderlich Family. Here was my response to the letter from Karlfried Bergner, Minister of Communications and Culture at the German Embassy in Washington, D.C. A copy was sent to both Ambassador Peter Ammon and to Chancellor Angela Merkel:
Dear Mr. Bergner:
Thank you very much for your recent letter regarding the German government’s view on the Wunderlich matter. In your letter, you cite how Germany is following the 2006 European Court of Human Rights (“ECHR”) decision in Konrad and others v. Germany “ to assert that “the German requirement to attend school is not a violation of human rights and that EU member states have the right to regulate their individual educational systems.” However, I remind your government that the Chamber decision in Konrad came down in spite of the spirit of the more recent Grand Chamber decision in Folgero and Others v. Norway, No. 15472/02 (ECHR, 29 June 2007, affirmed most recently in Case of Hasan and Eylem Zengin v. Turkey, No. 1448/04 (ECHR, 9 October 2007). As you know, in Folgero the court held that exemptions had to be allowed for students from religious education that offended the parent’s religious beliefs. The natural progression of this holding would be to allow for exemption from education that parents believe infringes upon their Convention rights, and is harmful to the educational development of their children.
Moreover, the decision in Konrad ignored the increasing trend of legislating in favor of parental rights and the right to home educate. As your government is aware, ample European treaty law exists to support parental rights in determining both the means and methods by which children are educated. In your letter, you cite the fact that parents have a range of choices for educating children in Germany, except for home education. However, your contention is a false freedom, for your government deliberately fails to recognize that home education is not a refusal of education, but rather is merely another mode of transmitting knowledge that falls within the spectrum of the definition of education.
I remind your government that in Folgero and Others v. Norway, No. 15472/02 (ECHR, 29 June 2007), the ECHR held:
It is in the discharge of a natural duty towards their children – parents being primarily responsible for the “education and teaching” of their children – that parents may require the State to respect their religious and philosophical convictions. Their right thus corresponds to a responsibility closely linked to the enjoyment and the exercise of the right to education.
Id. at § 84(e). Citations omitted. Emphasis added.
Second, and equally pertinent, the ECHR has further held:
Although individual interests must on occasion be subordinated to those of a group, democracy does not simply mean that the views of a majority must always prevail: a balance must be achieved which ensures the fair and proper treatment of minorities and avoids any abuse of a dominant position.
Id. at § 84(f). Citation omitted. Emphasis added.
Minister Bergner, I remind your government that any nation in which parents do not have the final authority over what and how their children learn is not a truly free country. The denial of fundamental freedom that is occurring in Germany in the Wunderlich matter is particularly shameful in light of Germany’s 20th century history, and as stated by the ECHR in Folgero, the entire world sees that the German state continues to abuse its dominant position of arrogance and power against the Wunderlich family. This is why the case of the Wunderlich family is so important to many liberty-loving people around the world. Please let the Wunderlichs go!
Most respectfully yours
Please continue to pray for the freedom of the Wunderlich family.