Progressivism in Europe and Parental Rights
by Stefan Sandor
The right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children might be a bygone thing. Today, parental rights are coming under assault in Europe from governmental agencies that deny or refuse to recognize rights that hitherto have been recognized as fundamental rights by all free democratic societies. There is a portentous tempest seething on the horizon seeking to undermine the child-parent relationship. Like a “perfect storm” that looms over the child-parent relationship coalescing on the horizon carrying a number of crises at once. No one predicted the outcome, or if people saw the signs no one took them seriously. Certainly, no measures were taken to prevent them or minimize their effects. Today, we suffer the effects and our rights have come under assault by agencies such as The Child Welfare Services of Norway ( Norwegian: Barnevernet) established by the Norway Child Welfare Act of 1992.
The Barnevernet agency was created under the veil of an auspicious plan, “to ensure that the children and young people who live in conditions that can harm their health and development are given the necessary help and care at the right time” and “to help children and young people have a safe childhood.” Prima facie, this goal is certainly a noble one but as with all actions we judge according to results not the intention of such actions. Some might say their intentions were of a noble cause but the results have proven detrimental to many families. Suffice it to mention just a few where the violations of basic fundamental rights, e.g. parental rights, due process of law, and the assumption of innocence until proven guilty, by the Barnevernet agency, would outrage the mind of any decent human being.
The most recent example is the Romanian family Bodnariu. This past November their children were taken in custody by the Norwegian child protection agency, Barnevernet, on allegations that the parents “occasionally slapped” their children’s behind, and indoctrinated them with Christian faith.  According to Mircea Dolha, a member of the Romanian Parliament who is involved in the litigation process, the allegations are unfounded and malicious. Barnevernet has not provided any evidence or proper basis which supports the allegations being made.  Moreover, the allegations are malicious in that the agency has been engaged in deliberate acts to deceive and mislead. The agency tried to pit the parents against each other by promising the mother that if she denounces her husband of child abuse she will have her children returned.  A similar case is the Indian family Chakraborty whose two children, a 2 year old son and a 4 year old daughter, were taken by the agency on similar allegations. Barnevernet determined the parents unfit to raise their children because they hand fed their children rather than using silverware.  Moreover, the agency deemed the behavior of the son – not making eye contact with the mother – as indicative of a bad parent-child relationship demonstrating parental unfitness. As a result, the agency forcefully broke up the natural family and erroneously terminated their natural relationship. These are but a few of the many recurrent cases of abuses and violations against the child-parent relationship and the family institution in Norway.
According to the Norwegian human rights lawyer and activist, Marius Reikeras, it is estimated that 70,000 children are in Barnevernet custody.
When confronted with these evidences one is flabbergasted at the fact that such a nation, which was committed to human rights, which spoke and acted “like an angel,” now turns a blind eye to the apparent violations of fundamental human rights, and seems to be “working for the Devil.” The explanation is simple. They believe they are fighting for a worthy cause, a noble cause. Almost all their actions they justify under an emerging human rights application which takes as its mantra equality and the venerable phrase “in the best interest of the child.” A noble cause that brings about something very destructive not only to the sanctity of the family but to human flourishing as well. Destructive, because the institution of the family has been the basis of all successful civilizations. Before we go any further it is important to note the following insight.
One of the problems with the way in which we discuss now issues of moral import and issues that have an impact on the foundational premises of free democratic societies is that we often do it in terms of an understanding of those issues that is no longer informed by the premises, principles, and logic of our society and our way of life. Therefore, it is crucial to review and clarify the logic of those principles because if we do not we will not be able to really understand the nature of the issues we are dealing with. What mostly happens as a result is that we end up falling into a trap. The trap of believing that what we are mostly defined by is what we stand against, a most erroneous and false believe. If we end up fighting against something in the world it is not because we are disposed to fight, nor is it because we believe that such and such is evil therefore we must stand and fight against it. On the contrary, it is because we have a good that needs defending. Now, if that is the case then we must have an understanding of what that good is and what threatens it. That comes first. We do not deal first with what is the enemy, what is bad, what is wrong. We deal first with what is right, what is good, and what is just, and with what is required in order to do right. When we have an understanding of these goods we will then be able to know what is required to defend them, and we will be disposed to sacrifice our time, property, personal pursuits, and the like to defend them. Therefore, what follows is a dignified acknowledgment that there are rules which must be respected, and that there is a decent way of behaving as human beings. Moreover, that there are certain rights that define who we are as human beings, and when we depart from the limitations and constrains that these rights impose on us, we erase the contours that shape and define our human dignity and who we are as human beings.
The Rights of Parents
Our country has maintained, as most societies throughout history, that parents possess a fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit. The liberty and duty of natural parents to direct the rearing and education of their children is a fundamental right. No Government, or any other Power, has the right to violate and infringe upon this aforementioned right without first demonstrating that its interest as applied to the respective person/s is of “the highest order” and not otherwise served. When a governmental interest of the highest order does exist governments ought to protect that interest by the “least restrictive means.” This is a fundamental truth under our current Supreme Court doctrine and throughout most free democratic societies.  In order to see this more clearly it is important to note a distinction of crucial importance. A distinction between rights that are fundamental and rights that are not fundamental.
A fundamental right cannot be violated or infringed upon unless a government can show that it has an (1) interest of the highest order and (2) protects that interest by the least restrictive means. For example, freedom of speech, while a fundamental right, does not permit for yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. In that case, government has an interest of the highest order – protecting the lives of those who could be unnecessarily trampled to death – which it protects by the least restrictive means. Government does not ban the use of the word “fire” in a sentence, but uses the least restrictive means by making it illegal to shout the word “fire” in crowded venue without cause. On the other hand, a non-fundamental right can be restricted or limited if the government simply shows reasonable cause. For example, ones right to drive down Constitution Ave in Washington DC may be preempted for a few hours to allow for the local Christmas parade. Thus, in cases in which fundamental rights are at stake, government must give a heighten scrutiny and are required to demonstrate that the law, or course of action taken to protect that interest, is of paramount importance and are of the least restrictive means. A merely rational, important, or legitimate purpose is not enough to infringe upon or violate a fundamental right.
Parents Have a Duty to Raise and Educate Their Children
It is cardinal for free democratic societies that the custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the natural parents of the child, whose primary function and freedom include the education and preparation of the child for obligations and responsibilities necessary for the adult life.  It is in recognition of this that we believe governments can neither supply the tools necessary for the upbringing of a child nor must they hinder the process of rearing children. The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all free democratic governments repose excludes any general power of the government to forcefully take children out of their natural environment and place them in foster care without first demonstrating that its interest is of the highest order, and not otherwise served. The child is not the mere creature of the State. Those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty to rear, educate, and prepare him for the obligations and responsibilities essential to a successful adult life. Thus, not only do natural parents have a fundamental right in raising their children as they see fit but also have a natural duty to give their children education suitable to their station in life without governmental interference.
Bonds of affection
A decent reflection on the nature of society and human beings shows that natural parents have a stronger bond and a greater concern for the nurture and upbringing of their children than governments, foster parents, or any other agency.  History has shown that the natural bonds of affection direct and guide parents to act in the best interest of the child. Therefore, even if a decision taken by a parent is not agreeable to the opinions or ideologies of some agency or officer of the state that does not automatically terminate the child-parent natural relationship. Moreover, even if the decision of a parent is not agreeable to the child that does not sanction government to violate parental rights nor does it automatically transfer the power to make decision form parents to some agency of the state. Unless the state proves parental unfitness – it becomes clear that parents are incapable of making decisions for the benefit of their children – the presumption of power (the authority to determine what is best for the child) must reside with the parents. Under the Norwegian Child Protection Services (Barnevernet), as with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (UNCRPD), the reversal is the case, i.e. the presumption of parental fitness is abolished. Under the aforementioned treaties, UNCRC, UNCRPD, and Barnevernet, the venerable phrase “the best interest of the child” becomes the default, rather than the last-resort reserved for when a parent has been proven unfit. The following quote, by the international law expert Geraldine Van Bueren, should suffice to show the emerging belligerent disposition of the above mentioned agencies towards parental rights and the presumption of parental fitness.
“Best interests provides decision and policy with the authority to substitute their own decisions for either the child’s or the parents’, providing it is based on considerations of the best interest of the child. Thus, the Convention challenges the concept that family life is always in the best interests of the children and that parents are always capable of deciding what is best for children.”
In other words, the parents’ private choices for their children and their fundamental right to raise their children as they see fit can be called into question any time a government personnel or some agency of the state disagrees with them. Therefore, it is imperative that we, as free people stand against the actions of these agencies, such as the Norwegian child protection agency Barnevernet, and proclaim that the natural relationship between parent and child ought to be protected. Abuses suffered at the hands of Barnevernet, such as in the case of the Bodnariu family, Chakraborty family, and the many other families should not be permitted in any free democratic society.
The Progressive Phrase “In The Best Interest of The Child
The phrase “in the best interest of the child” is truly a venerable phrase with which Barnevernet has led their Norwegian people by their nose. They, i.e. Barnevernet, as well as the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child have never given this phrase a clear and definable meaning. They won’t. For if they did, it could hardly fail to occur to the Norwegian people that such a phrase is but a mere veneer to obscure the real intentions of subverting the Judeo-
Christian family values that hitherto have been enjoyed by all free-democratic societies. The phrase “in the best interest of the child” is used purely as an incantation, i.e. purely for its selling power. It is a phrase they clamor with veneration, “best interests of children must be the primary concern in making decisions that may affect them.”  And of course it is connected, as it is with all progressive goals, to the political ideal that men should be equally treated. They then make a stealthy transition in their thoughts from this political ideal to a factual belief that all children and adults are equal. Therefore, they must have freedom of expression free of any restrictions. Children have a right to form and express their opinions, and when a parent makes a decision that affects the child, he/she should take into account the child’s opinion. It is the government’s responsibility to ensure that the child’s opinion is heard and due weight is given to their opinion, even within the family and inside the home. According to them there may be no restrictions to this right except as provided by law. Therefore, government has the obligation to intervene if the child and the parent/s disagree on religious practice within the home, e.g. regular attendance at religious service.  As a result they can now use the phrase “best interest of the child” to sanction in their thoughts the most degrading of human actions, child abduction. They have taken children out of their natural environment and forced them into foster care under the guise that it will benefit the child. Under the influence of this incantation Barnevernet has practiced, not only without shame but with a positive glow of self-approval, conduct which, if undefended by the magic phrase “in the best interest of the child,” would be universally condemned.
For more see here: Parental Rights Part II
 “Child Welfare Act of 1992”. NO: Lov data.
 “Child Welfare Act Chapter 1 Purpose and Scope”. NO: Lov data.
 SHERBERT v. VERNER, (1963) United States Supreme Court Case, and WISCONSIN v. YODER,
(1972) United State Supreme Court Case.
 TROXEL v. GRANVILLE, 530 U.S. 57 (2000) United States Supreme Court Case.
 See United States Supreme Court Case, PARHAM v. J.R., 442 US 584 (1979).
 Geraldine Van Bueren, International Rights of the Child, Section D, University of London, 46
 UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of the Child, 20 November 1989, United Nations,
Treaty Series, vol. 1577, Article 3(1), (2), (3),
Available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b38f0.html
 UN General Assembly, Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: resolution/adopted
by the General Assembly, 24 January 2007, Article 7 (2), Article 23 (4),
Available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/45f973632.html
 UN General Assembly, Convention on the Right of the Child, 20 November 1989, United Nations,
Articles 12, 13, 14, 15,
Available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6b38f0.html