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Dr. Paul J. Dean Christian Blog and Commentary

Parents’ Rights May Disappear

  • Paul Dean
    Dr. Paul J. Dean's Weblog
  • 2006 Jun 09
  • Comments


Threats to freedom abound and threats to Christians abound all the more. As my mother agreed in a recent conversation, we do not live in the same America in which we were born. She remembers a time when America actually affirmed the U.S. Constitution and the principles of liberty upon which it was founded. It is not that America hadn't radically changed from its inception, as she did in fact note a massive paradigm shift in American government after 1860, but agendas destructive of liberty and activist judges were not as prevalent or at least not as bold, open, or noticed in her younger days as they have been in recent years. In our current America, a new American current is fast washing away Christian influence in public policy and liberty for all is being washed away with it even in the area of parents and their now curtailed influence over the lives of their children. reports that the U.S. "faces the threat that home schooling may be deemed illegal due to international law. The Home School Legal Defense Association's (HSLDA) Chairman and General Counsel, Michael Farris, warns that even though the U.S. has never ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the convention may still be binding on citizens because of activist judges."


Issues have been raised in other contexts regarding the usage and influence of international law on judicial rulings handed down from the U.S. Supreme Court. Never in our history have liberal judges been so willing to discard the will of the American people and the protections we have heretofore enjoyed by virtue of being a sovereign nation. And yet, despite warnings from certain members of the Court itself, it only gets worse.


Consider this: "according to a new 'interpretation' of what is known as 'customary international law,' some U.S. judges have ruled that, even though the U.S. Senate and President have never ratified the Convention, it is still binding on American parents."

So, international law is now considered by some to be binding on American parents. Because international law is now considered to be part of American jurisprudence, American parents are now at risk of being subject to said law despite their citizenship and supposed rights as American citizens.


Further, "under the Convention, severe limitations are placed on a parent's right to direct and train their children. As explained in a 1993 Home School Court Report by the HSLDA, under Article 13, parents could be subject to prosecution for any attempt to prevent their children from interacting with material they deemed unacceptable. Under Article 14, children are guaranteed 'freedom of thought, conscience and religion' - in other words, children have a legal right to object to all religious training. And under Article 15, the child has a right to 'freedom of association.' 'If this measure were to be taken seriously, parents could be prevented from forbidding their child to associate with people deemed to be objectionable companions,' the HSLDA report explained."


Of course, what this means is that parents have no right to monitor what their children are taught and children now have the right to dictate to their parents what they will be taught and with whom they will associate. The biblical notion that parents have the responsibility to train their children in the way they should go is turned on its head. Parental authority is done away with and children have become autonomous. The notion that children know what's best for themselves is part of the convoluted thinking activist judges are now imposing upon the American people in an effort to maintain the appearance of being enlightened before the spiritually bankrupt European world.


Lest anyone be skeptical of a real and present danger, the long arm of international law has real power over those who sign on. "Farris explains that, in 1995, 'the United Kingdom was deemed out of compliance' with the Convention 'because it allowed parents to remove their children from public school sex-education classes without consulting the child.'  Farris argues that, 'by the same reasoning, parents would be denied the ability to homeschool their children unless the government first talked with their children and the government decided what was best. This committee would even have the right to determine what religious teaching, if any, served the child's best interest.'"


Farris offers some insightful solutions. He first suggests that "congress needs to address this issue of judicial tyranny by enacting legislation that limits the definition of customary international law to include only provisions of treaties that Congress has ratified."


He then points out that "Congress could pass an amendment to the Constitution, stating explicitly that no provision of any international agreement can supersede the constitutional rights of an American citizen." Agreed, but, as he notes, "two such amendments have been proposed in Congress, but neither was ratified."


Farris further proposes that "the specific threat to parental rights can be solved by putting a clear parents' rights amendment into the black and white text of the United States Constitution." After all, the Constitution serves to protect the citizenry.


Of course, the question remains, what happens when the U.S. ratifies objectionable treaties? And why has congress not ratified the proposed amendments ensuring that the Constitutional rights of American citizens can not be superseded? Further, we fear that if Congress is not willing to amend the Constitution to say that no provision of any international agreement can supersede the Constitutional rights of an American citizen, why would they be willing to add a parents' rights amendment? The most likely answer is that they would not. Implications in addition to those offered by Farris emerge in the wake of such difficulties.


First, as Farris implied, judicial activism has run amok in this country and must be checked. The system of checks and balances will work if politicians will simply cease being such and return to being statesmen and uphold the principles upon which the nation was founded. Thus, the people must be united in one voice against judicial activism and elect representatives who will do something about it.


Second, international law must not be a determining factor in American jurisprudence. We well understand how precedent works. At the same time, the principles upon which America was founded are diametrically opposed to certain principles that under gird international law. Further still, the values of the American people are at odds with the values of the rest of the Western word in large measure. We cannot maintain our own sovereignty if we submit ourselves to international law whether openly by way of treaty or slowly and deceptively through new precedent in court decisions. Again, this issue must be raised by the people in such a way that those in power are moved to act.


Third, much has been said about a new world order in this country. It seems that not only are certain executive leaders enamored with changing the shape of the American philosophical landscape, but that many congressmen are committed to the same and therefore completely out of step with the American people. It is not that they are out of touch and do not know the will of the people: it is that they are out of step and do not care. Again, the status quo will not do and a political paradigm shift is in order. But, until the people wake up to the reality that the America we read about in our history books, founded upon Jeffersonian principles, is no more, nothing will change.


Fourth, Christian influence in the West is all but non-existent. Os Guinness has pointed out that Europe is no longer influenced by a Christian worldview both in its leadership and in its populace. In America, the leadership has been lost as well. Only in the context of the American populace does Christianity still hold any sway, and sadly, in that context, both the understanding and commitment to a Christian worldview is weak. We stand on the precipice of history. The West will be completely lost to Christ unless the Lord of the harvest intervenes with revival in His church and the church herself regains a commitment to true truth and the taking of that truth to the culture in which she finds herself.


Fifth, Christians are called to submit to authority including that of state power even if that authority is oppressive. At the same time, we must not violate biblical principles in that submission as our ultimate allegiance is to Christ. When the Hebrew midwives were told to kill the firstborn, they refused. When the apostles were told to cease from preaching the gospel, they too refused. Similarly, if the state orders parents to cease from training their children and turn them over to state sponsored indoctrination programs, Christian parents will have to determine where their allegiance lies.


Sixth, the current trend and the continuing secularization of the West places the onus upon Christians to be prepared for the worst. The Christian should not give up hope of and prayer for revival. Kingdom work should never cease. Pessimism should not rule the Christian's heart, regardless of the circumstances, as God can change the world with the utterance of one word. Yet, according to the Scriptures, all who live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer. Again, genuine believers should be prepared.


Seventh, because we live in such a pivotal time, now more than ever, we must challenge and equip one another in the church of Jesus Christ. Christians who see such must be in prayer now and make a concerted effort to propagate the gospel in their providential spheres of influence. We must ground ourselves in Christ and His truth, put on the armor of God, and in the words of Richard Baxter, preach as never sure to preach again, preaching as a dying man to dying men.


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