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Swallowing Camels/Straining at Gnats

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

This column was co-written by Bob Morrison

Some media types these days don’t like “Bible thumping.” But there are times when, as the author of Cultural Literacy, Prof. E. D. Hirsch noted, the Bible can be a useful communications tool. The retired University of Virginia prof made a splash with his thesis that people in India needed to read the Bible to understand their only common language: English. Let’s take that Jesus phrase, “swallow camels while straining at gnats.” That’s a pretty succinct way of describing our all-too-human tendency to commit huge mistakes in judgment while getting choked up on lesser things.


Take the current controversy over sequestration. Our colleague, Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council, notes that the Obama administration is releasing prisoners who have entered the U.S. illegally. But this Obama administration wants to deport a family of German refugees who are living a quiet and godly life in Tennessee.

Swallowing camels—releasing actual lawbreakers—straining at gnats—trying to harass harmless Christian parents and kids. Nothing so well describes the absurdity of government action under the Obama administration. The Romeike family (roh-MIKE-uh) fled Germany and sought asylum in the U.S. in 2008. This is because they are not allowed to homeschool their children in Germany. The Romeikes were initially granted refugee status, but the Obama administration is opposed to this and is seeking their deportation

Fortunately, the Home School Legal Defense Association ( is raising an alarm. This pioneering group has a long history of defending parental rights. HSLDA is asking us to sign a petition to the Obama White House to stop the cruel and unjust persecution of the Romeikes.

HSLDA recognizes that the position being taken by the Obama administration poses a grave threat to religious freedom for all Americans. The Obama view has recently been advanced that “freedom of worship” may be conceded, grudgingly, but freedom of religion—a broader right—is seriously questioned. The Obama administration went before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2012 in a critical case. There, a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod school was trying to defend its historic doctrine that Christian teachers are ministers. The Obama administration said, no, we will decide who is and is not a minister in your church schools.


The U.S. Supreme Court slapped down the Obama administration on a rare vote of 9-0. Even Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan voted to reject the extreme secularist views of the Obama administration. We can all be grateful that the High Court could not swallow that particular camel! But here they are again, persecuting these modern-day Pilgrims. The Romeikes and their children are as inoffensive and law-abiding a group of refugees as you could want.

Just contrast this hounding of the Romeikes with the slap-dash performance of federal officials who allowed dangerous terrorists to enter our country prior to 9/11. As our friend Terry Jeffrey wrote some years ago, the 9/11 Commission Report sharply criticized the failures to check Saudi visa applications thoroughly:

"In fact, the hijackers submitted a total of 24 U.S. visa applications, of which 20 were retained in U.S. State Department files. “All 20 of these applications,” a 9/11 Commission staff report concluded, “were incomplete in some way, with a data field left blank or not answered fully.” “Three of the hijackers submitted applications that contained false statements that could have been proven to be false at the time they applied,” said the staff report, entitled “Entry of the 9/11 Hijackers into the United States.” “During their stays in the United States at least six of the 9/11 hijackers violated immigration laws,” said the report. According to the report, the 9/11 hijackers who were given visas to enter and stay in the U.S.: “Included among them known al Qaeda operatives who could have been watchlisted; Presented passports ‘manipulated in a fraudulent manner;’ Presented passports with ‘suspicious indictors’ of extremism; Made detectable false statements on their visa applications; Were pulled out of the travel stream and given greater scrutiny by border officials; Made false statements to border officials to gain entry into the United States; and Violated immigration laws while inside the United States.”


The Obama administration today wants to boot dad Uwe and mom Hannalore Romeike and their children out of the United States because “homeschooling is not a fundamental right. ”Therefore, Obama officialsargue, these refugees are not really facing persecution at home.

We praise German Chancellor Angela Merkel for saying that Christians throughout the world are suffering the greatest persecution of any religious group. She’s right about that. But her own government has a blind spot when it comes to homeschooling.

The reason why Germany’s history was so tragic for a hundred years—from the 1840s to the 1940s—is because their government failed to recognize the fundamental religious freedom of their people. Our Supreme Court said it well as long ago as 1925: “The child is not the mere creature of the state.”

Therefore, we all need to rally to the Romeikes. Our own religious freedom depends upon it. If the Obama administration succeeds in trampling parental rights, we will see our government continuing to swallow camels.

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