The Rocky Mountain News, on April 11, 1993, painted a disturbing picture of a battle between a teen-aged boy who “desperately wants [to get] an education,” and his parents who want him to study at home. Gary and Jackie Martin, Jehovah’s Witnesses, chose to home school their son Josh for religious reasons. They were concerned that he was being drawn away from his family and church by his involvement with after school sports, and they also worried about negative peer pressure.
Josh resisted, and the ensuing dispute culminated in an eight-hour hearing before a judge. Three attorneys represented Josh. While Gary and Jackie elected to represent themselves, they obtained advice from an attorney in Denver who was also a member of their church. The judge ruled in favor of the parents. Gary Martin retained custody.
Obviously this was a painful experience for the Martin family, and we hope that there will be reconciliation between the parents and their son.
The most alarming aspect of this case, however, was the rationale expressed by Carl Lucas, one of the attorneys represented Josh, who asked: “Does a 15-year-old not have religious freedom?” Whether or not one agrees with the particular religious views expressed by the parents in this situation, it is obvious that this type of conflict will play directly into the hands of advocates for children’s rights, e.g. the authors and supporters of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Lauded by many as a significant advancement for child’s rights, if ratified, this treaty could undermine the family by granting to children a list of radical “rights” which would be primarily enforced against parents. These new “rights” would include the right to privacy, the right to freedom of thought and association, and the right to freedom of expression. Under the provisions of this treaty, cases like the one in Colorado would unquestionably be decided in favor of the child.
Does this seem unlikely? At present, 136 nations have ratified the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. An Australian Commonwealth Minister who was instrumental in pushing his parliament to adopt the Convention publicly stated that his goal was to "rid Australian children of the pernicious influence of Christianity."
In France, News Network International (NNI) reports that evangelical Christian churches are decrying the use of the U.N. Convention as partial justification for the seizure and reeducation of Christian children. According to NNI, “Seven children, all former members of the Protestant church in Paris, were forcibly taken from their families in February and placed in state reeducation centers. Police authorities allege the parents have indoctrinated their children with biblical teaching, home schooled them, ‘sequestered’ them, disciplined them by spanking, held them in confinement, and encouraged them to fast for religious reasons.” According to the May 26 report, the French government has prevented the children, who range in age from 25 months to 17 years old, from communicating with their parents since they were taken on February 10, 1993.
Preliminary efforts to work for the United States’ adoption of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child are beginning. Congressman Bernard Sanders [I-VT] has introduced House Concurrent Resolution 15, calling for ratification of the treaty. Senator Bill Bradley [D-NJ] is the sponsor of S.R.70, the corresponding resolution in the U.S. Senate. Under the Constitution’s Supremacy Clause of Article VII, section 2, treaties become the supreme law of the land, taking precedent over contrary state law. Thus, if ratified, the United Nations Convention would constitute legally binding law in all 50 states.
The two-page summary on pages 3 and 4 outlines the dangerous provisions of the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child and gives detailed information for action to fight this attack on the family. Since this information needs to go to as many people as possible right away, you are freed to reproduce it in its entirety. Ask your pastor if the church would allow it to be a bulletin insert.