STRASBOURG, France — Alliance Defense Fund attorneys representing four German parents sent two letters asking the European Court of Human Rights to quickly review appeals filed last year on their behalf to free one of the fathers, who is currently serving his second prison term. ADF requests that the ECHR uphold national and international law against the German government’s unlawful incarceration and fines that violate parental rights.
Arthur and Anna Wiens, along with Eduard and Rita Wiens, chose to keep their four children--a 9- and 10-year-old from each family--from attending a mandatory play and four school days of “sexual education” that taught students an unbiblical view of sexuality. They were subsequently fined and sentenced to prison after they refused to pay. Arthur Wiens served two jail terms totaling 10 days last year. Eduard Wiens served five days last year and is now serving a 40-day sentence that will end April 23. Anna Wiens’ and Rita Wiens’ 43-day sentences were postponed, due to the former’s pregnancy and the latter’s nursing of her newborn.
“Parents, not the government, are ultimately responsible for making educational choices for their children, and jailing them for exercising this universal right is ridiculous,” said ADF Legal Counsel Roger Kiska. “Eduard Wiens was well within his rights under the European Convention of Human Rights to opt to teach his children a view of sexuality that is in accord with his own religious beliefs, instead of sending them to classes and an interactive play that they found to be objectionable. In addition to the concerns directly related to this case, ADF wants to head off any opportunity for activists in the U.S. to cite foreign court decisions as patterns to follow.”
In June 2006, the four parents, active members of the Christian Baptist Church, objected to their children’s attendance at both a mandatory stage play and four school days of so-called “sexual education” classes. Each parent believed the programs contradicted their sincerely held religious beliefs. The Wiens’ kept their children at home during the programs and instead instructed them in their own Christian values on sexuality. The parents were subsequently sentenced by a lower court in June 2008 and each was fined a total of 2,340 Euros (approximately $3,250 U.S.), which they refused to pay on legal and moral grounds.
School officials allege that the purpose of the compulsory play “Mein Köper Gehört Mir” (My Body Is Mine) was to introduce preventative measures for sexual abuse amongst children. Yet ADF attorneys argue that the play and “sexual education” lessons also promoted a view of sex and sexuality that strongly contradicts the Wiens’ Christian beliefs. Also, the Wiens’ contend that the programs didn’t deter sexual abuse, but instead taught children to become sexually active, ultimately teaching that if something feels good sexually, then it was an acceptable practice. ADF has three similar cases before the ECHR, involving the imprisonment of six other Christian parents.
ADF attorneys argue in their applications of appeal filed with the European Court of Human Rights in Wiens v. Germany that the state violated the Wiens’ parental rights under Protocol 1, Article 2 of the European Convention of Human Rights, Articles 4 and 6 of the Grundgesetz, German basic law, and other binding international treaties. Gabriele Eckermann is serving as co-counsel with ADF in this suit and four similar suits before the ECHR.
- Pronunciation guide: Wiens (VEENZ’)
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.