Children Belong to Parents, Not Government

Rick Santorum
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Posted: Apr 16, 2013 12:01 AM
Children Belong to Parents, Not Government
My wife, Karen, and I are blessed with seven children, including one little girl with very special needs, Bella. There are many days when we are overwhelmed or dead-tired or frustrated or all of the above. I'm sure all parents can relate. It's just part of being a parent. But like millions of Americans, we also know it's the most important job we ever will have.

In 2005, I wrote a book, called "It Takes a Family," about the importance of a strong family in raising children and imparting virtue. The title was in contrast to a well-known book Hillary Clinton wrote, "It Takes a Village," which offered a very different approach to raising children. She believes, as many on the left do, that the family is secondary to institutions and governments when it comes to looking after the interests of children. Karen and I disagree. We believe in the primacy of families and have worked throughout our careers on creating and promoting policies and ideas that make stronger families. The fact is that without stable families as the bedrock, our country will fracture and collapse.

Since those books were published, we have seen an expansion of at times well-meaning early-childhood programs and laws that subtly replace parental responsibility and discretion with government indoctrination and edict. Well, if MSNBC's latest offering is any indication, it appears the left feels that the need for subtlety has passed. Last week, MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry, a professor at Tulane University, said in a network promotion spot: "We haven't had a very collective notion of, 'These are our children.' ... We have to break through our ... private idea that kids belong to their parents, or kids belong to their families, and recognize that kids belong to whole communities. Once it's everybody's responsibility and not just the household's, then we start making better investments."

So we go from telling the small-business man that "you didn't build that" to telling parents that "they don't belong to you!" It harks back to Marxism's trumping of the family in favor of the state. It's only a matter of time before we hear another MSNBC promotion message advocating the construction of collectives for children to be properly indoctrinated.

And though Harris-Perry's comments made some news and upset many, another case has not gotten the attention it deserves and is equally troubling. The Romeike family came to the United States from Germany a few years ago seeking political asylum. You see, Uwe and Hannelore Romeike and their five children are Christians, and they believe strongly that the textbooks used in German public schools teach against their values. However, in Germany, families must send their children to government schools. They refused and taught them at home instead. After suffering fines, threats of prison and having the police come and forcibly take their kids to school, the Romeikes left everything behind and came to the U.S., where they were granted asylum.

Subsequently, the Board of Immigration Appeals overturned the asylum and ordered them to be deported back to Germany. Later this month, the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the case. You may be surprised to learn that the Obama administration decided to weigh in on this case by filing a brief in the case advocating the deportation of the Romeikes. The president argued that there is no fundamental human right to educate your own children.

So it's not just MSNBC that thinks that your child's rearing belongs to the state. The president, like so many on the left, believes that the state should form the hearts and minds of our youths so they think the way the government wants them to think.

More than 100,000 signatures have been collected on a petition on the White House website from citizens who support the Romeikes' case. I have no illusions that Attorney General Eric Holder will alter his brief or that President Obama will change his mind on who can best raise children. However, I ask you to sign the petition, titled "Immediate Action Requested for Romeikes -- Grant Permanent Legal Status to Persecuted German Homeschool Family," to at least let the Romeikes -- and millions of others who look to America as the one place where dictators and bureaucrats don't control everything -- know that our president does not speak for you or America.