Norwegian Gov’t. Seizes 5 Children From Parents for Alleged ‘Christian Indoctrination’

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by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  December 5, 2015   

Family loses appeal for reunion

NAUSTDAL, Norway (ChurchMilitant.com) - A Christian family in Norway has lost its appeal to have its children returned, after the government forcibly removed five children from their home. The public is reacting with outrage.

Marius Bodnariu, a Romanian, and his Norwegian wife Ruth, former members of the Pentecostal Church in Bucharest, moved to Naustdal, Norway 10 years ago, where they raised five children. As reported by Marius' brother Daniel, on November 16, Norway's child welfare services took away the Bodnarius' two oldest children, showing up at their school and removing them from class without their parents' knowledge. Police later that day arrived at the Bodnarius' home and also forcibly removed the two older boys, leaving Ruth with her three-month-old baby, who was taken away the following day by police as well. 

Two days later, child welfare services notified the parents that their children were in the care of two separate foster families and were "integrating" well. One of the officials reportedy said to Ruth, "The kids don't even miss you. What kind of parents are you?" Marius and Ruth were later informed by the government that they were guilty of "Christian radicalism and indoctrination."

Apparently, the children's removal was instigated by the school principal, who complained to child welfare services that the Bodnarius were "very Christian" and their belief that God punishes sin "creates a disability in the children." Accordingly, the principal believed the parents needed "guidance" from the government in raising their family. The principal also cited concerns over discipline in the family home, as occasional corporal punishment is used. But after physical examination of the children (the three-month-old was subjected to x-rays and a CT scan), no physical abuse was discovered. Child welfare services is claiming, however, that Marius is physically abusive, while he and Ruth are vehemently denying the claims.

A hearing held November 27 dismissed the Bodnarius' appeal to be reunited with their children. The court ruled instead that they were to remain in the care of their foster parents, while Marius and Ruth could visit their three-month-old son twice a week for two hours. They could see their two older sons as well, but the court refused to grant them visitation rights for their daughters. The parents are considering further legal action. 

Meanwhile, a petition begun in support of the family has collected nearly 30,000 signatures, and a Facebook page has been set up documenting the family's ordeal.

On December 2, Romanian senator Titus Corlatean spoke on the Bodnarius' behalf to the Commission for equality and nondiscrimination of the Parliamentary Assembly of the European Council (PAEC) in Paris. Corlatean condemned what he deemed abusive conduct on the part of the Norwegian government, and asked that the Assembly investigate. He also noted prior actions on the part of Norway's child welfare services that involved splitting children from their parents based on groundless accusations.

Marius' brother writes: 

I testify, and vehemently vouch, for Marius and Ruth having given birth to and raised a 'normal' family with Christian values. These parents love their children and have taken every imaginable step in raising their children with loving caring in all aspects of their well-being. The tearing apart of their family by the Barnevernet [child welfare services] is a living nightmare for Marius and Ruth. Their hope is founded, and rests, in God; He can change any situation and He is always in control!

mass protest is being urged this weekend on their behalf. Instructions for sending emails are available on the relevant Facebook page, and request as many emails as possible be sent to Norwegian officials by Monday, December 7.

Christine Niles is an executive producer at ChurchMilitant.com.

Follow Christine on Twitter: @ChristineNiles1