It doesn’t get any more nightmarish for a parent than what happened to Christer and Annie Johansson. With their seven-year-old son, Dominic, the two were sitting on a plane at a Sweden airport, awaiting take-off for their new missionary station in India, Annie’s homeland. Suddenly, government authorities boarded the plane and forcibly took Dominic into custody. They had no warrant. They didn’t even charge the Johanssons with a crime. They merely objected to the fact that the parents were homeschooling their son, rather than sending him to a government institution.
Based on their belief that the state, not the parents, should have the final say in how a child is raised, the Swedish officials placed Dominic in a foster family, where his parents have been allowed to visit him … for one hour, every five weeks over the past year.
“Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their child’s education without government interference,” says ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska, who is based in Europe and is lead counsel on the case. “A government trying to create a cookie-cutter child in its own image should not be allowed to violate this basic and fundamental human right. The refusal of Swedish authorities to respect that right has left us no choice but to take this case to the European Court of Human Rights.” The Supreme Administrative Court of Sweden refused to review a lower court’s December 2009 ruling in Johansson v. Gotland Social Services that found that the government was within its rights to seize Dominic. The lower court cited demonstrably false statements suggesting that homeschoolers do not perform well academically and are not well socialized.
“We are gravely concerned about this case, as it represents what can happen to other homeschooling families,” says lawyer Mike Donnelly, of the Home School Legal Defense Association, an 85,000-member non-profit organization that advocates the legal right of parents to homeschool their children. Donnelly is one of nearly 1,800 attorneys in the ADF alliance.
In the face of these rulings, Donnelly and other ADF and HSLDA attorneys filed an application with the European Court of Human Rights on June 25, asking it to hear the case.
“In response to our inquiries,” he says, “Swedish authorities have cited the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child to explain and defend their actions. If the U.S. were to ever ratify this treaty, as the White House and some members of Congress have expressed a desire to do, then this sort of thing could occur here.” The horror of this case is magnified by its potential to affect parents throughout Europe and even the United States, where more and more federal courts are making it a point to cite European precedents that circumvent or ignore the U.S. Constitution. Homeschooling parents, in particular, are being targeted around the world by governments determined not to relinquish their authority to dominate children’s education.
Please be in special prayer for the Johanssons, and for Mike Donnelly and all the other ADF and HSLDA lawyers fighting for the Johanssons’ liberty, and for the fate of little Dominic.