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US grants German homeschoolers asylum. Will others follow?

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Professor Spiro says that other Germans who wish to homeschool children in the US could come here, claim membership in this persecuted group, and get asylum. “Germany is trying to suppress a social movement,” he says. “And they are very aggressive in doing it.”

Religion often cited – but not always

Donnelly says his group is not directly affiliated with a Christian church, but his website mentions staff members’ faith. He also said the homeschooling movement in the US was not just Christian – the National Center for Education Statistics says only 36 percent of homeschooled students are kept home primarily for religious reasons, although 83 percent of homeschooling families cite religious or moral education as at least one factor in the decision.

Still, the movement is largely recognized as a Christian one. Donnelly came to know Romeike though a German homeschooling group with ties to the church.

Most Germans who wish to homeschool cite religion. Jonathan Skeet, a Briton with a German wife who left Germany for Britain in 2006 after being fined, says he was not happy with the sex education in German public schools.

“Our Christian faith influences our whole view of family life, and of course, doing Christian home education was an opportunity to pass on what you think is important, the essence of our Christian values,” he says. “Our main motivation was the quality of the education and the school.”

Romeike, who could not speak with the Monitor because of an agreement with a German TV network, has charged that German schools are anti-Christian.

Insult to Germany?

The official German reaction to the decision was muted. The German Consulate in Atlanta released a statement that parents in Germany have a broad range of educational options and that mandatory attendance guarantees high standards.

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