The long dormant United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child has yet to be submitted in treaty form to the United States Senate, but its rumblings have recently been heard in France, one of the 136 nations which has adopted the Convention.
Evangelical Christian churches and human rights organizations from around the world are decrying the use of the U.N. Convention as partial justification for the seizure and reeducation of Christian children. According to News Network International, “Seven children, all former members of the Protestant church in Paris, were forcibly taken from the 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.” The French government has prevented the children, who range in age from 25 months to 17 years old, from communicating with their parents for more than six months now.
According to Christian Solidarity International (CSI), a worldwide human rights organization, 17-year old Celine Antoine, having been separated from her parents and kept under strict surveillance in a state facility, managed to secretly mail a letter stating that she was being “imprisoned” and wanted to return home.
On July 30, the juvenile court judge in Versailles levied a judgment against the parents in which the parents were described as fanatics whose religious convictions and influence are a psychological and physical threat to their children. The judge accused the parents of depriving their children of contact with the world. The parents were told that their children would be in the hands of the French government for at least another two years.
CSI reports that Paul Dick, an American living in France who attends the evangelical church, stated that the case against the parents is “built on unfounded, twisted and distorted testimonies.” According to Dick, the Association for the Defense of the Family and Individuals (ADFI), an atheistic organization, is behind most of the efforts against the families. He also said that “ADFI is a particularly powerful organization which has been known to use deprogramming methods to convert people to their way of thinking.” ADFI has published literature which lists more than 200 organizations identified as cults including the Assemblies of God denomination, the Full Gospel Businessmen’s Association and various evangelical churches. CSI also reports that ADFI defines a cult as any group causing “behavioral changes.” Lawyers for the four families are appealing the case, and are filing a complaint before the European Court in Strasburg. The Home School Legal Defense Association is sending a team to France on October 3 to investigate this incident. The team members will include a human rights expert who is also a law professor at Virginia’s George Mason University and a human rights researcher from Zurich, Switzerland. A third member of the team has yet to be designated; it will either be a psychologist or a congressional staff person.