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Christian movement's home schooling 'unacceptable'

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11:21 CEST+02:00
Stockholm's top education official has vowed to shut down homeschooling by a revivalist movement that advocates spanking and calls evolution into question.

“It's unacceptable and illegal,” said Stockholm's deputy mayor for schools Lotta Edholm to the Dagens Nyheter (DN) newspaper.

The move comes after a documentary by Sveriges Television revealed that the Maranata movement was home schooling children without permission.

A revivalist religious movement founded in Norway in the late 1950s by breakaway Pentecostalists, the Maranatas have been operating home schools in Sweden since the 1970s.

“We're considered fundamentalists,” said Tage Johansson, a preacher and chair of Maranata, to DN.

Currently, three students between 7- and 10-years-old participate in Maranata home schooling lessons, which are conducted by the children's parents and modeled on a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Edholm has promised that Maranata will not be allowed to continue educating children in the autumn 2008 school term and that she would force the children to attend regular schools.

“When parents fail in their responsibilities, as has happened in this case, the municipality ought to be able to issue a fine if the parents don't send their children to school,” she said.

But Johansson isn't afraid of the city's threats, arguing that his students receive a better education than they would at regular schools.

“If that happens, then we'll be law breakers. Like the Apostles said, ‘we ought to obey God rather than men,'” he said to DN.

“We see our lessons as very effective. Because there are only three students, each one receives much more attention than in an ordinary school.”

Johansson admits that Maranata's home schooled students are subject to spankings, but “only in extreme situations”.

“As the Bible says, ‘the Lord disciplines those he loves' and ‘he that spareth his rod hateth his son.' We don't back down from God's word,” he said.

Johansson also said that evolution was simply a “viewpoint held by many” and that the children were “brainwashed” by Maranata in order to free them "from the degrading effects of society”.

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