Swedish Family Persecuted for Homeschooling
December 28, 2009
PURCELLVILLE, VA, (christiansunite.com) -- Christer and Annie Johansson, a Christian homeschooling family, are in the unimaginable position of permanently losing custody of their only child, seven-year-old Dominic Johansson, simply because they homeschool.
Swedish authorities boarded a plane bound for India in June of this year (Annie's home country) and removed Dominic from his parents. They did not have a warrant nor have they charged the Johanssons with a crime; they simply did not believe homeschooling is an appropriate way to raise a child and insist the government raise Dominic.
"This is one of the most disgraceful abuses of power we have ever witnessed," said HSLDA attorney Mike Donnelly. "The Swedish government is exercising its authority under the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child to unnecessarily break up this family."
The suffering being imposed on the Johanssons is hard to imagine. Visitation was limited to two hours per week but now Swedish social services have curtailed that to one hour every fifth week and no visit at all for Christmas because the social workers will be on vacation.
"This is a very dark time in Sweden," said Donnelly. "The Swedish Parliament is reviewing an essential ban on homeschooling. We have heard that other homeschooling families in Sweden are having more difficulty with local officials. We fear that all homeschooling families in Sweden are at risk in what could be the beginning of a widespread persecution."
Incredibly, on December 17th, a Swedish court ruled that social services was right to take the child. The court cited the fact that Dominic had not been vaccinated as a reason to remove him permanently from his parents and also repeated the false charges that homeschoolers do not perform well academically and are not socialized. Dominic is making academic progress, but the intervention by the government has left his parents and Dominic traumatized.
In light of the unprecedented actions taken by Swedish authorities, the Alliance Defense Fund and Home School Legal Defense Association are joining forces and making themselves available as legal advisors to the Johanssons in order to persuade the Swedish government to return Dominic to his parents. The two organizations also plan to increase the visibility of this case to help reunite the family. ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like- minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith.
"Parents have the right and authority to make decisions regarding their children's education without government interference," said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. "This is about a socialist government trying to create a cookie-cutter child in its own image. Without help, the parents in these cases are really powerless since the system is so one sided."
Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is a 26-year-old, 85,000 member non-profit organization and the preeminent association advocating the legal right of parents to homeschool their children.