Bodnariu, Norway and Parenting in the Age of ISIS  

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The current culture clash about some Norwegian child welfare agency having seized a Romanian couple’s children over physical discipline and the ensuing protests coming mostly from religious groups has a recognizable background: it’s a rehashing of the century-old conservative vs liberal quarrel. I have respect and admiration for Norway and their altruistic, enlightened and generous foreign policy and foreign aid, but this case may be more than just that.

Fam_Bodnariu_NorwayFirst and foremost, parenting is tough. Most of us come from imperfect families, had imperfect parents, but somehow we survived childhood and became functional adults. We carried some resentments over our education growing up, but we got over it, the resentments being replaced by understanding and sometimes regret for our dead parents and that time of our lives when we had no bills to pay, no worries and everything except us was free.

The above is, obviously, where I am, but others may be elsewhere in “making peace with dad”, depending on their biological and mental age, as well as their circumstances. This may be enough of a factor to understand why people perceive this story differently, but there is far more.

LE: Before going any further, let me be clear: I do not believe that children should be beaten at all. I've been reading parenting books since my primary school days, so I know the theory and I've had some limited experience baby-sitting a stepbrother, but I know enough to realize that despite my best intentions, there is a chance I could end up applying some sort of physical discipline. That's why I'm reluctant to criticize other parents - if I'll ever make a difference, I'll make it with my own kids.

When they hear about a child being “removed” from a family, most people think of parents and their guilt, or lack thereof. But what if you were the child? What could have happened if back when you were a kid, the state “intervened” and took you out of your family because of real or imaginary abuse? Would you have turned into a better person? Or a criminal, maybe? How would your mom, who kept you in her tummy 9 months, and your father, who’d been fidgeting around all that time felt? How would their lives be changed? Could foster parents, who are usually getting money from the government for their “trouble” provide love and the nurturing environment necessary for a child to thrive?


In short, the Norwegian state child welfare agency, Barnevernet, did its job, applied the Norwegian law, seized the children of the Bodnariu family, a Pentecostal Norwegian-Romanian couple, and then put them up for adoption. The details were not made clear for “privacy reasons” (this old escape route used by governments and corporations all over the world wishing to avoid public scrutiny), but according to Christian Today, the couple have been charged with "Christian radicalism and indoctrination." The Bodnariu parents admitted to using “spanking” to discipline their children, which in Norway is illegal, but court papers do not identify signs of physical abuse, though they mention having subjected a 3-month old to MRIs and Xrays. The Christian press took this as another sign of Christian persecution and rallied support for the besieged family (petition, fb).

Barnevernet (the Norwegian Child Welfare Agency, henceforth referred to as B) already has at best a checkered history. In its modern incarnation, it was established by a law in 1992, but approximately 4000 former children in care have sought compensation for the suffering and abuse while living in orphanages or child protection between 1945 and 1980. Of them, 2637 have received compensation, in total $220 million (2010) – wiki-b.

  1. Maxine. In late March and April 2015 B took away 2.5-month-old Maxine girl whose mother is deaf Norwegian and father is Slovak. As the main reason given was "lack of eye contact between girl and her parents".
  2. In April 2015, Lithuanian TV reported that B removes children from foreign families in order to combat the consequences of “a history of incest”
  3. Bhattacharya children: B took the 2 children of an Indian couple working there. Berit Aarset, who heads Human Rights Alert, Norway, has called the incident "state kidnapping". She said [back then], "This is not the first time such a thing is happening in Norway ...the legal system favours the Child Welfare Services and they do what they want all the time... quite often when a Norwegian is married to a non-Norwegian they also do the same thing; they also do this to asylum seekers and in almost every case they say one of the parents have a mental problem just to make their case strong ...that is what has happened in the Bhattacharya case too."
  4. Rutkowski kidnappings: In two widely publicized cases, the Polish private investigator Krzysztof Rutkowski has helped children (a Russian-born boy and a Polish girl) escape Norwegian foster care and reunite with their parents. Later Norwegian authorities claim for return of the children has been declined by Polish court as unjustified.
  5. Michalák case. In May 2011, the two sons of Eva Michaláková and husband who originate from the Czech Republic were removed by the Child Welfare Services due to suspicion of child sexual abuse by the father; allegations denied by the couple. Michaláková has since divorced her husband and continues to reside in Norway. Michaláková continues to pursue custody of her children through various channels, including the European Court of Human Rights where her complaint was rejected without prejudice for non-exhaustion of domestic remedies.

I bet that most people who have an opinion in the Bodnariu case have never heard of the aforementioned facts. Even to a militant atheist and bleeding heart liberal the above “interventions”, taken from Wikipedia, are bound to be seen as controversial and heavy-handed at best.

But perhaps the biggest failure of B is widely known yet not considered such: Breivik and his attack.


In case you did not know or forgot, Anders Breivik is a “home-grown” terrorist / mass murderer who is the perpetrator of the 2011 Norway attacks.

Here’s what I was writing in a comment on krossfire’s blog (kross-dem) about one year ago:

“Breivik’s ideas” do not exist. I tried to read his manifesto and I stopped after the first two sentences – don’t even remember what bothered me. In short, Breivik was abused by his mother to get back at his father, who had divorced the madwoman [and fought and lost a custody battle]. He was "sexualized" early in his childhood and she told him daily she was going to kill him. That, according to reports from social welfare services in his childhood.
Breivik was angry at a society that failed to protect him and allowed his mother to destroy his childhood. Rather than confront his own demons, he chose revenge.

It is possible that Breivik’s case, though little talked about in regard to his childhood and what has caused him to turn against the liberals who had nothing to do with his nightmarish childhood, may have “radicalized” the Norwegian Child Welfare agency (B). Compare that with the horrendous case of child abuse and neglect of Jeffrey Baldwin, one of many here in Canada, where child protection services had ample opportunity to act and proof of abuse and yet either did nothing, or did the wrong thing, leading to the death of innocent children under our very eyes and with the complicit silence of all the organizations and government agencies that are supposed to prevent this from happening.


The Romanian tradition draws significantly from an interpretation of the Bible that sees disciplining children as justified not just by a cycle of abuse that premeates through generations, but even divinely, by God. The Romanian Orthodox Church never fails to assuage parental guilt by reminding all “pravoslavnics” of a Romanian proverb: “[child] beating is taken from heaven” or, in Romanian, “bataia e rupta din rai”.

I have already written more extensively on this when the former Romanian president, Traian Basescu, was accused of having slapped a child during a political rally, while one of his blogger-supporters had earlier discussed how common and “understandable” beating children (including himself) was in Romania.


This is a “renewal” or “neo-Protestant” Christian church, distinguished by their emphasis on “speaking in tongues” (which includes glossolalia and xenoglossy) and “divine healing”. The connection to the early Christianity is called “Apostolic”. They also think that those who do not accept Christ’s sacrifice go straight to a literal hell. Baptism (both “water” and “spiritual”) is very important. Russell Spittler describes five Pentecostal values:

  1. invididual experience
  2. orality
  3. spontaneity (“Quench not the Spirit” – 1 Thessalonians 5:19)
  4. asceticism
  5. scripture literality / biblical authority

The Pentecostal faith (or “sect” as it is usually called in Romania) differs from the Norwegian Lutheran faith (a state religion) in its theatrics, which contrast strongly with the Lutheran serverity, but it has asceticism in common.

It is very easy to think of Norway as similar to Sweden and other Scandinavian countries in being “non-religious” and while that is true to a certain extent, it’s more inaccurate than accurate. All Scandinavian countries (as well as others, such as Switzerland, England etc.) have crosses on their flags, and that is not just about their history, it’s also about their present. Much like Romania and Denmark, Norway has a “state church”, Bokmål, which is financed by the state. As of 2007 Article 2 of the Constitution of Norway mandates Evangelical-Lutheran parents to provide a religious upbringing for their children. I bet the latter has something to do with Mohammed being now the most popular name in Oslo.

And that is why what the school principal, who is responsible for starting this process..

The process of confiscating the Bodnariu children started when the Vevring School principal, the middle school attended by Eliana and Naomi, called the Barnevernet and expressed her concerns regarding the girls’ religious upbringing, her understanding that the girls are being disciplined at home, and that she considers the parents and grandmother to be radical Christians; an overriding concern that the principal’s perception of the parents’ and grandmother’s religious beliefs inhibit and handicap the girls’ development. (via children’s uncle quoted in Christian press) probably more likely to have been motivated by xenophobic / anti-Pentecostals / inter-faith (where I include atheist vs Christian) friction rather than by concern for the childrens’ welfare.


As it happens, today is the anniversary of Charles Perrault, fairy tale author extraordinaire, and one of the leaders of the Moderns faction in their “quarrel” with the Ancients:

the great divide between ancients and modernists pertained to the understanding of the relation between liberty/reason and authority (wiki-q)

This is interesting to this blog, which borrowed its title from a “destroyer of the Ancients”.

I believe this old “quarrel” is what we’re dealing with here as well as what is being played in the population, immigration and many other debates of our times.


What should societies do? If middle-ground or perfection in child protection is impossible, is it better to err on the side of caution and remove children from potentially harmful situations, and place them in foster care, irrespective of whether their new environment is possibly worse and they suffer some unavoidable trauma as a result of the state action? Is it better to let parents go as far as they want to on the belief that “they know best”? Is the absence of corporal punishment the most important feature of early childhood education? Is the previous experience of institutionalization, orphanages and foster care in both Norway and Romania irrelevant?

This is particularly important for me, as not long ago, my close relative who more than a decade ago died to cancer had married a woman with a child from a previous marriage, who was “sexualized early” as well and also abused by her. I struggled with the dillema of whether I should be contacting child services as well and decided not to, but now I’m not so sure I did the right thing.

Sources / More info: fb, petition, wiki-b, patheos-no, cm-no, ct-bod, hn, wiki-q, kross-dem, wiki-p, yt.

Thank you for reading (mulţam fain pentru cetire)! Publicat Wednesday, January 13, 2016 . Similar articles under the following categories (poţi găsi articole similare sub următoarele categorii): (Subscribe), (Subscribe), (Subscribe) . Dacă ţi-a plăcut articolul, PinIt-uieste-l, ReddIt-eaza-l, stumble-uieste-l altora, trimite-l pe WhatsApp yMess şi consideră abonarea la fluxul RSS sau prin email. Ma poti de asemenea gasi pe Google. Trackback poateputea fi trimis prin URL-ul de sub Comentarii.
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